Program Options, Degree Requirements & Learning Outcomes
For those interested in working in a career where protecting the innocent and ensuring justice is paramount, an associate degree in criminal justice may be an ideal degree to pursue. With a criminal justice degree, students will learn how the criminal justice system operates and achieve an understanding of the principles concerning crime, the courts and correctional policy. Graduates will have an exciting range of careers available to them, ranging from police officer to court administrator. Read on to learn more about getting an online associate degree in criminal justice.
Top 10 Best Online Associate Degree In Criminal Justice
|#1||Kansas City Kansas Community College Kansas City, KS|
|#2||Chemeketa Community College Salem, OR|
|#3||College of the Ouachitas Arkadelphia, AZ|
|#4||Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee, FL|
|#5||Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville, NC|
|#6||Forsyth Technical Community College Winston-Salem, NC|
|#7||Coastal Carolina Community College Jacksonville, NC|
|#8||Wayne Community College Goldsboro, NC|
|#9||Holmes Community College Goodman, MS|
|#10||Fox Valley Technical College Appleton, WI|
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Best Online Criminal Justice Associate Degrees
OUR METHODOLOGY +
With so many online schools and programs to choose from, it can be difficult to know which schools are considered top choices for criminal justice programs. That's why we have found the best academic options for students by analyzing factors such as class size, institutional financial aid opportunities, and acceptance rates at schools across the country. Explore our list of 2017's top schools that offer online learning options for criminal justice students below.
Find the Right Online Associate Degree in Criminal Justice for You
There is a plethora of schools offering associate degrees in criminal justice, with many of the degrees offered online. With so many choices, it can be hard to figure out where to start a search for the right program. That's where the following search tool comes in, allowing students to narrow down potential schools based on various characteristics, such as size, tuition and acceptance rate.
What to Expect During Your Criminal Justice Associate Degree Program
As is true with many other associate degree programs, the admissions process for criminal justice is fairly straightforward. The steps needed in order to start working towards an online associate's degree in criminal justice generally consist of the following:
In order to be admitted, prospective students will need to submit proof that they graduated high school or earned their GED. This can usually be provided with a certified copy of the high school diploma, GED certificate or submission of official final high school transcript.Take the necessary standardized tests
Some online associate degree programs do not require incoming students to take the SAT or ACT, but many do. Prospective students will need to determine if standardized test scores are required and if so, prepare to take the test. Always allow ample time for the test to be graded and scores to be sent to the online institution.Demonstrate an interest in criminal justice or the law
This isn't a hard and fast requirement, but it can be very helpful when applying to a criminal justice program. Admissions officers like to see students who are genuinely interested in their chosen field of study, and might improve the likelihood of acceptance.Obtain the necessary technology for taking classes online
Access to internet connection and a computer with the necessary hardware and software for taking classes online is a must. Each school will have its own minimum hardware and software requirements, but generally speaking, students will need a computer with speakers (or ability to use headphones), CD/DVD ROM drive, microphone and/or webcam, and office productivity software, such as PowerPoint, Office and Excel.
YEAR 1 MILESTONES
Begin general education requirements
An associate degree program will include several general education courses that are not related to the student's major. The general education requirements cover a variety of subjects, such as history, science, math and social science.
Complete core and remedial coursework
In order to ensure that students begin their core studies at roughly the same level, some programs will require incoming students to take assessment tests or provide transcripts that prove they are at a particular academic level. If they are not, they will take remedial courses during their first year.
YEAR 2 MILESTONES
Learn core criminal justice theories and concepts
The bulk of a student's criminal justice studies will start at the beginning of their second year. Students can expect to take courses in areas such as criminal procedure, evidence, law enforcement and justice administration.
Take criminal justice electives
The criminal justice curriculum usually allows for students to choose which criminal justice courses they would like to take. This allows students to tailor their degree to more effectively suit their academic and professional needs. Most of the major electives are only available during a student's second year.
Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of criminal justice
During their final semester, students will often be required to take a course that demonstrates they possess the wide range of knowledge expected, as well as have the ability to apply that knowledge. Depending on the class, students may be asked to complete a final project or paper.
TRANSFER & GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS
One of the major selling points of an associate degree is the option to apply the credits earned to a future bachelor's degree program. Depending on the four-year college or university, incoming students with an associate degree can get their bachelor's degree in criminal justice in two additional years. Students who want to eventually transfer to a criminal justice bachelor's program should keep the following requirements in mind.
Research potential transfer schools
Students should start their research early, as some schools have very particular requirements for transfer students, such as maximum credits that will be accepted and minimum GPA requirements. The specific policies of the schools a student will transfer to and get their bachelor's degree from will shape the student's course selection in the associate degree program.
Meet with an academic or transfer advisor
At the very least, students interested in transferring should consult with their academic advisor to get help on creating a course schedule that will make it easy to make the move. Consulting with a transfer advisor at the potential bachelor's degree program is also a good idea.
Get the best grades possible in criminal justice courses
Most schools that accept transfer students have minimum GPA requirements. In addition to a higher GPA helping ensure acceptance, the better the GPA is, the more likely a student will qualify for merit-based financial aid. Having good grades in your major courses can help get a head start on your criminal justice bachelor's program.
Apply for admission to bachelor's in criminal justice programs
The earlier the student starts their admissions application, the less stressful it will be. The application may require standardized test scores, essays and letters of recommendation, usually related to criminal justice experience. These can all take several months to put together, so it pays to start as early as possible.
Career Paths for Online Associate in Criminal Justice Grads
An associate degree in criminal justice can open a lot of career doors. In fact, the associate is an ideal degree because it meets the educational requirements for many jobs in the field. For example, many criminal justice jobs, such as police officer, correctional officer or legal assistant, usually just require a high school diploma or a limited amount of post-secondary credits. This means students with an associate degree could be at an advantage when looking for post graduate employment. Some of those potential employment options are explored here.
BROWSE ASSOCIATE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE CAREERS
Police officers protect the general public and enforce criminal laws. They may also investigate crimes and gather evidence from a crime scene. Other duties of include testifying in court, executing search and arrest warrants, patrolling a given geographic area and responding to distress calls.
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4%
Median Annual Salary (May 2015) $60,270
Correctional Officers & Bailiffs
Correctional officers and bailiffs have the task of managing individuals who are under the custody of a court or correctional system. Correctional officers supervise individuals detained in jail or prison while bailiffs ensure the proper running of a courtroom, such as guarding judges and juries, enforcing courtroom rules and handling court documents.
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4%
Median Annual Salary (May 2015) $40,580
Paralegals & Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants provide administrative and legal support to lawyers and Judges. Some tasks include answering the telephone, drafting legal memos, correspondence and contracts, transcribing dictation, filing legal documents with the court, conducting legal research and reviewing client files.
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8%
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)$48,810
Private Detectives & Investigators
Private detectives and investigators search for various types of information on behalf of private clients. Often, the information sought is financial, criminal or very personal in nature. This information can be obtained by conducting surveillance of people or places, interviewing individuals, researching legal histories and collecting evidence.
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%
Median Annual Salary (May 2015) $45,610
A fire inspector examines buildings and plans to confirm they comply with applicable fire laws and regulations. In the course of a fire inspector's duties, they can expect to review building plans, inspect buildings, provide fire safety education, test fire safety equipment and identify fire hazards.
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6%
Median Annual Salary (May 2015) $54,790
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook
Key Learning Objectives of an Online Associate in Criminal Justice
Associate in Criminal Justice
Basic understanding of the criminal justice system
One of the most basic and fundamental areas of knowledge a criminal justice student will learn in an associate degree program is the criminal justice process. From the concept of probable cause before an arrest to the beyond a reasonable doubt standard in order to gain a criminal conviction, students will learn what takes place during these moments and everything else in between.
Intro to psychological underpinning of crime
Why are people motivated to engage in criminal behavior? How can criminals be rehabilitated? Why do people become repeat offenders? Students who earn their associate degree in criminal justice will be able to provide an answer to these and similar questions. In addition to learning the "what," students will also learn the "why."
Think critically about crime & corrections
By getting a degree in criminal justice, students will be able to analyze and apply facts, policies and statistics about crime. Students will not just be able to rehash theories and numbers, but apply those pieces of information to create or modify criminal policies in order to improve society.
PHD in Criminal Justice
Master's in Criminal Justice
Bachelor's in Criminal Justice
The criminal justice field is broad, with a great deal of information to learn and understand. The following is a brief list of organizations that can help advance a prospective student's criminal justice career.
The ACJA-LAE is an organization open to both criminal justice professionals and students studying to work in the criminal justice field. The ACJA-LAE has numerous resources available to students, such as scholarships, academic competitions and career information.
The ASC is an international organization with the broad task of increasing the practical and scholarly level of knowledge concerning crime, crime prevention and delinquency. Part of the ASC's goals is to promote academic research in criminology.
The NCIRC is a hub of criminal justice resources designed to assist criminal justice professionals. The information contained at the NCIRC website can also be informative to criminal justice students by exposing them to key points in the criminal justice field.
Because the NCJA is intended to represent government entities found at multiple levels, the association addresses current issues in crime and prevention on a broad scale.