Online Colleges Offering Associate Degrees in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice professionals in both public and private sectors work to protect the public well-being, and three branches of the judicial system – legislation, courts and corrections – work together to accomplish this goal. For example, local governments can establish curfews for individuals under a certain age, reducing the propensity for youth to be involved in dangerous activities at night. Offenders may be detained by law enforcement officials and tried in juvenile court. Perpetrators can face a variety of punishments, depending on the severity of the offense. An associate degree in criminal justice from an online college helps students develop a working understanding of the judicial system.

What Does an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice from an Online College Entail?

Some online colleges offer associate degrees in criminal justice, while others offer associate degrees in justice studies with a specialization in criminal justice. Both can be earned as an associate of science, associate of applied science, or associate of arts. Associate of science and associate of applied science programs tend to be more technical and degree-specific, mainly consisting of criminal justice courses, with little to no electives. An associate of arts program consists of a more generalized curriculum, incorporating some criminal justice courses. No matter which degree option is chosen, students study community policing, correctional systems, criminal investigation, evidence processing and security management.

Some online colleges allow students to apply their training to real-world scenarios. For instance, interactive modules where students watch videos or animated slideshows may be employed. Students are then prompted to choose the next appropriate action in the given situation. Based on the selection, students witness the favorable or unfavorable consequences of their response. These virtual simulations may be applied to anything from routine traffic stop procedures to youth counseling sessions. This kind of training can help students make proper decisions quickly, and may transfer well to a professional environment.

Related Careers for Graduates of Online Associate Degree Programs in Criminal Justice

An associate degree in criminal justice can help graduates qualify for basic careers, such as administrative clerks, police officers, private investigators and security officers. While a candidate’s required level of education tends to differ between agencies and positions, associate programs help instill the foundational knowledge and critical thinking required for an assortment of criminal justice careers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012) provides information on relevant careers for those with an associate degree in criminal justice. Related professions include private detectives and investigators, security guards and gaming surveillance officers. Bls.gov projects that between 2010 and 2020 these careers will grow 21 percent, 19 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Furthermore, bls.gov notes that there will be a sustained demand for public safety work, as crime rates are expected to rise with the growth in population, leading to more opportunities for employment in local and regional public departments.

Individuals ready to take the next step in their education can request information from one or more of the online colleges below to speak with an admissions counselor about available programs, degree options, and other details.

Private Detectives and Investigators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

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