The Best Online Associate's in Criminal Justice

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An online associate degree in criminal justice can put you on a path towards a lucrative and rewarding career focused on making the world a better place. Law enforcement officers make an average of $61,600 annually, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in this field to see steady growth over the next decade, depending on job location.

Criminal justice professionals serve the public, uphold the law, and help keep people safe. To that end, law enforcement officers and criminal justice professionals serve as critical members of society.

Online Associate in Criminal Justice Degree Program Ranking Guidelines

We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

The Best Schools for an Online Associate's in Criminal Justice

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Indiana Wesleyan University 

Marion, IN

About this school

IWU, established in 1920 in Marion, is a Christian-affiliated university that focuses on liberal arts and professional training programs. The school offers more than 90 degrees online and at regional education centers throughout the Midwest, including pathway programs and transfer-friendly options. One such program, the AS in criminal justice, caters to first-time students as well as those with college experience through a unique bridge-to-bachelor's option.

IWU's online associate degree in criminal justice comprises 60 credit hours in criminal justice and the liberal arts. Students learn the importance of homeland security operations and procedures and the value of strong communication skills in the context of practical issues affecting criminal justice. The curriculum emphasizes coursework in criminology, corrections, and modern police problems, with requirements in foundations of lifelong learning, the New Testament, and philosophy and Christian thought. Students complete a criminal justice colloquium to conclude the degree.

IWU students can complete the online AS in criminal justice in 26 months. Applicants with at least 36 hours of previous college coursework may qualify for the bridge program, allowing them to jump ahead to start earning a bachelor's degree. The online program offers four start dates per year. Online and on-campus students pay the same tuition regardless of their geographical location.


Shoreline Community College 

Shoreline , WA

About this school

Opened in 1965, SCC claims a long history as the premier professional education facility in its community in Washington state. With more than 100 academic programs and 25 degrees and certificates offered online, SCC ranks among the state's best two-year colleges. Approximately 41% of SCC students enroll in online and hybrid programs each year, which includes an online criminal justice associate degree.

SCC offers two options for first-time college students interested in criminal justice: an associate in applied arts and sciences (AAAS) and an associate of arts direct transfer agreement (AA-DTA). The AAAS requires 90 credits exploring the history, administration, and governance of criminal justice. Students must complete an internship to conclude the degree. Online students looking to continue on to pursue a bachelor's degree should consider the AA-DTA program, which is designed to meet general education requirements and grant junior-standing admission at Washington's four-year universities. AA-DTA graduates qualify for bachelor's programs in law or criminal justice. Both of SCC's online associate degrees in criminal justice emphasize communication, analytical reasoning, and human relations skills.

Distance learners complete online coursework through Canvas, with access to technical support by phone or live chat at all hours. SCC offers start dates in fall, winter, and spring for online programs, though advisers recommend a fall start for the AAAS degree. Applicants should take the SmarterMeasure survey to assess their readiness for online coursework before applying. Students can access online tutorials, live librarian assistance, and virtual counseling services.


South Texas College 

McAllen, TX

About this school

As Texas' largest higher education institution south of San Antonio, STC serves more than 34,000 students across five brick and mortar campuses, two teaching centers, and online. One of more than 32 online programs, STC's AA in criminal justice provides students with the general education foundations required to transfer into a four-year program or begin a career in public safety, private insurance, or security technology. Students earning the associate degree online in criminal justice learn about the juvenile justice system, the court system, criminal justice, and policing procedures and practices.

STC's criminal justice program requires 60 credits in core and field of study courses. The core curriculum includes social and behavioral science and math, as well as language, culture, and philosophy. Students may choose to conclude their field of study requirements with an immersive course exploring either the juvenile justice system or criminal investigation. The recommended degree plan spans five semesters with a sequence of three to five courses at a time.

Students complete assignments online using Blackboard. STC, a transfer-friendly institution, considers all relevant college credits with a grade of C or better for application toward an undergraduate degree. The school offers comprehensive online support services, including counseling, testing and assessment, and virtual advising. Active military students may qualify for tuition assistance programs.


Southern New Hampshire University 

Manchester, NH

About this school

Founded in 1932, SNHU now ranks among the nation's fastest growing universities. The school also holds several awards for educational innovation and excellence in online technology, supporting its mission to expand and transform the learning experience. SNHU serves the majority of its students through distance programs, hosting an enrollment of more than 90,000 and offering more than 200 degrees and certificates in 14 academic areas online.

SNHU's online criminal justice associate degree introduces students to law enforcement, criminology, and the American justice system. Students focus on building a strong core of foundational skills in English composition, writing and research, judicial administration, and criminal law. The curriculum follows a simple, straight-forward approach, encompassing 60 credits primarily in the major, with additional elective options. SNHU's AS in criminal justice favors students looking to immediately launch their careers as well as those seeking entry into a bachelor's program. Applicants may submit up to 45 transfer credits toward the associate degree.

Distance learners complete online coursework asynchronously using Blackboard and Brightspace. SNHU's criminal justice associate degree online offers multiple start dates and comprises six eight-week terms per year. Students can join SNHU's online student union, as well as access tutoring services, library archives, academic advisers, and career services at any time of the day or night through email or chat. The school also provides technical support around the clock. Online students pay a flat tuition rate, per credit or per course, regardless of their geographical location.


Bucks County Community College 

Newtown, PA

About this school

Bucks offers more than 25 degrees and certificate programs entirely online. The school began offering two-year degrees in 1994. Bucks' online criminal justice associate degree favors students planning to transfer into a bachelor's degree at a four-year university, as the program fulfills general education prerequisites for criminal justice majors.

Students must complete 62 credits to earn the AA in criminal justice. The school recommends a sequence of 15 credit hours per semester over four semesters. The curriculum emphasizes a strong foundation in the basics of criminal justice, including comprehensive coursework in courts, police, sanctions, and criminal law. Graduates possess a working understanding of the Constitution, criminal legal defense procedures, and software programs specifically designed for data analysis in criminal justice. While the program prepares students for bachelor's-level study, graduates may qualify for entry-level jobs in local law enforcement or corrections.

Bucks students complete online assignments using the Canvas platform. The program recommends an orientation course for all prospective online students before enrolling in online coursework. Students complete the majority of online courses asynchronously. Applicants may submit admissions materials at any time and enroll at multiple start dates throughout the year.


Bismarck State College 

Bismarck, ND

About this school

BSC, located in North Dakota's capital city, is the third-largest college in the North Dakota University System and serves nearly 4,000 students in Bismarck and the surrounding areas. The school offers 20 online degrees and dozens of additional courses online. Roughly 44% of BSC students participate exclusively in online courses and programs. Most fully-online AAS and AA degrees at BSC prepare graduates to transfer completed credits toward a bachelor's degree program at a four-year university.

Among such transfer programs, BSC's online criminal justice associate degree provides an introduction to the field of criminal justice and its various subsystems, including corrections, law enforcement, courts, and security. The program approaches the criminal justice curriculum from a holistic standpoint, emphasizing professional skills such as communication, initiative, stress-management, and objectivity. BSC's AAS in criminal justice comprises 60-61 credits over two years, combining technical program requirements, general education, and criminal justice elective courses. BSC upholds direct-transfer partnerships with state schools, including Dickinson State University and Minot State University.

Distance learners complete online assignments using Blackboard. The program may include synchronous or asynchronous delivery. Students follow the same process to register for online and on-campus courses. Applicants may submit admissions materials at any time and can choose between 58 online start dates throughout the year.


Keiser University 

Fort Lauderdale, FL

About this school

Keiser in Ft. Lauderdale stands as a flagship among its 18 Florida locations. The Ft. Lauderdale campus also maintains the school's online division. Keiser ranks as Florida's third-largest, not-for-profit university, with a student body of more than 20,000. Students may choose from more than 100 programs at all levels of academic study, including a criminal justice associate degree online.

Keiser's associate of arts in criminal justice program provides an overview of the fundamentals of the field. Courses explore law enforcement, the juvenile justice system, criminal investigations, and criminology. Like all Keiser programs, the curriculum emphasizes hands-on experience, though all coursework in the AA program can be completed online. The program comprises 60 credits in major and general education coursework. Students focus on building criminal justice and professional skills simultaneously through courses in writing, communications, and computer technology. Graduates qualify for entry-level positions in corrections and law enforcement and are also prepared to apply to a four-year program. KU maintains articulation agreements with several Florida universities, allowing students to transfer prerequisite credits from the AA directly into a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

Distance learners complete online coursework through Blackboard. Keiser offers monthly start dates for online programs. Students can choose to complete courses entirely online or through hybrid study, attending some day or evening classes on campus. Applicants must submit a high school diploma or GED.


Saint Leo University 

St. Leo, FL

About this school

Saint Leo serves more than 16,000 students through its main campus, 40 regional locations, and online programs. The school boasts small class sizes, averaging a student-to-teacher ratio of 14:1. An overwhelming majority (95%) of Saint Leo students receive financial aid, and the same percentage of graduates would recommend the school to their friends. The school offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs, including one of the nation's best online criminal justice associate degree programs.

Saint Leo's AA in criminal justice introduces students to the fundamentals of criminal investigation, law enforcement, and the courts system in the U.S. Courses emphasize diverse methods of interrogation, interviewing, hostage negotiation, and nonverbal communication. The curriculum also explores specialized topics such as sex and organ trafficking, crime scene investigation, and homeland defense. Saint Leo's criminal justice program receives approval from the FBI National Academy Associates. The 60-credit program comprises general education requirements, liberal arts electives, and criminal justice components.

While students complete the majority of coursework online, the program facilitates hands-on experience through mock courtroom trials, simulated forensics investigations, visits to local corrections facilities, and training opportunities with the Pasco-Hernando Police Academy. Students may qualify for internships with national agencies including the secret service, DEA, and U.S. customs. Students can choose from six start dates throughout the year. Terms in the AA in criminal justice program typically span eight weeks, with two terms each fall, spring, and summer semester.


Peirce College 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

Peirce began offering completely online degrees in 2000. Today, the college offers students the option of attending classes on-campus, online, or through a hybrid format. Peirce's innovative Peirce Fit schedule allows students to switch between online and on-campus courses at their convenience, from one week to the next. For students completing the AS in criminal justice entirely online, the program requires no visits to Peirce's Philadelphia campus.

Peirce's online criminal justice associate degree emphasizes five key components: the correctional system, criminal investigation, juvenile justice, law enforcement, and introduction to private security. Students must complete at least 61 credits in institutional and program requirements to earn the AS degree. The curriculum offers the choice of a cooperative work experience or criminal justice elective to build hands-on skills. Peirce's associate of science in criminal justice program culminates in a capstone course.

Online programs at Peirce follow a four-point mission to provide accessibility, direct interaction, flexibility and convenience, and online support to distance learners. By offering six sessions per calendar year, students may enroll in more courses than traditional colleges typically offer, enabling accelerated graduation times for full-time learners. These online intensives allow students to complete eight-week courses in just three weeks. Online students pay a flat rate for tuition, per credit hour or per three-credit course, regardless of their location.


Liberty University 

Lynchburg, VA

About this school

Liberty, founded in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1971, serves a student body of more than 100,000 through academic and professional programs. The university offers nearly 300 online degrees and certificates in dozens of academic majors, including religion, Christian counseling, and biblical studies. Liberty boasts a low online student-to-teacher ratio of 17:1. Approximately 96% of students receive some form of financial aid.

Liberty's online criminal justice associate degree lays the foundation for a broad understanding of the field. Students learn about all aspects of criminal justice, studying law enforcement, the courts system, and criminal justice research and reporting methods. The 60-credit program comprises core, foundational, and major coursework, incorporating LU's signature requirements in instructional technology and Christian life and thought. Students can complete the AA in criminal justice entirely online. While at least 15 course credits must be completed through LU, students may transfer up to 45 credits of prior experience toward the AA degree.

Online learners complete coursework asynchronously through Blackboard. Though not required, students can choose to supplement online courses with on-campus intensives, which provide face-to-face learning options in the form of group projects, real-world research opportunities, and faculty mentorship. Each course in LU's associate of arts in criminal justice program lasts for eight weeks. Students can begin the degree at one of eight start dates throughout the year.


Odessa College 

Odessa, TX

About this school

Named for its location in the Permian Basin of West Texas, Odessa College opened in 1946 to provide academic programs, job training, career enhancement, and technical skill-building opportunities. The school hosts satellite campuses in Monahan, Pecos, Andrews, and Seminole. Odessa also maintains the OC Global campus online. OC offers more than 120 academic programs and serves more than 6,000 students on-campus and online.

OC's online criminal justice associate degree explores criminal justice within the context of public service. Students may choose from one of two options: an AAS in criminal justice or an AAS in criminal justice leadership; both are ideal for students seeking a pathway to a bachelor's degree. Course credits from either AAS degree may satisfy the prerequisites of the first two years of a bachelor's-level criminal justice program. The AAS degrees comprise 60 credits in composition, communications, policing, ethics, and criminal law. Each program also requires an internship. Students may also complete online certificates in law enforcement, criminal justice, or criminal justice leadership.

Online students complete assignments using the Blackboard learning management system. Learners can access the online Student Success Center, which includes helpful links to an online writing lab, student portal, and career and transfer services. OC does not require students to submit applications for admission by a deadline, although the school does advise prospective students to allow one week for application processing.


Clarion University of Pennsylvania 

Clarion, PA

About this school

Established as a seminary in 1867, Clarion has since expanded to include an additional campus in Venango and an online division. The university aims to maintain the small-town values of its Clarion campus community while incorporating a global perspective into all academic programs. The school serves more than 5,200 students through more than 100 programs in health, education, business, science, and the arts.

Clarion's online associate degree in criminal justice emphasizes five primary components: juvenile justice, policing, criminology, corrections, and law adjudication. Students explore criminal behavior and rehabilitation, research major trends in the field, and build job skills to begin entry-level careers in criminal justice. Students must complete 60 credits of general education, major, and elective courses. Students may choose to complete the degree entirely online or through a combination of online and on-campus study. Graduates may apply credits directly to a BS in criminal justice at Clarion or another four-year institution.

Online students complete online coursework through the D2L platform. Clarion offers a variety of resources for distance learners through its Student Success Center, including a comprehensive online orientation course, which is mandatory for incoming online students. Learners can also access the university library, career services, online writing and tutoring options, and health and wellness resources that are specifically designed for online students.


Campbell University 

Buies, NC

About this school

Established in 1887, Campbell University took the name of its founder, a Baptist minister in Buies Creek, North Carolina. The university serves more than 6,000 students and maintains three campus locations across North Carolina. Campbell students can choose from approximately 100 programs in the health sciences, the liberal arts, and professional development. The school also offers a BS internationally, through a partnership with Rahman College in Kuala Lumpur.

Campbell offers one of the nation's best online criminal justice associate degree programs. The school’s AA in criminal justice introduces students to criminal law, government ethics, courts and procedures, criminology, and corrections philosophy. Students must complete a minimum of 62 credits in the general education core, a criminal justice concentration, and elective courses. Like all Campbell programs, the criminal justice curriculum includes general education requirements focused on the liberal arts, as well as an introduction to Christianity course.

Online learners complete assignments through the Blackboard platform. Campbell offers multiple registration dates for online coursework during fall, spring, and summer terms. Each online course lasts eight weeks.


Northampton County Area Community College 

Bethlehem, PA

About this school

Founded in 1967, NCC serves the most diverse student body among comparable colleges in the region while maintaining a low 21:1 student-to-teacher ratio. The school serves 34,000 students through its flagship campus in Bethlehem and four additional sites across the state, as well as NCC Online. NCC grants associate degrees in more than 100 academic majors, including business and technology, art and science, health care, social and leisure services, and education.

NCC's criminal justice associate degree online prepares students for entry-level careers and for a bachelor's program. The department of humanities and social sciences administers the AAS in criminal justice, which is available on campus at Bethlehem and Monroe, and online. Students must complete 63-64 credits in criminal justice, psychology, English, communications, social science, and political science. Students planning to earn a bachelor’s degree can consider an articulation agreement or dual-admission program, which is designed for transfer to DeSales University, Moravian College, or the College of Law Enforcement at Eastern Kentucky University.

Distance learners can complete NCC's associate in criminal justice online in four semesters. The program best suits full-time students taking 15-16 credits per term. Students may complete online AAS requirements in the fall and spring. The program concludes with a capstone course.


Surry Community College 

Dobson, NC

About this school

SCC, founded in 1964 at the foot of North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountain Range, operates a main campus in Dobson, with additional locations in Mount Airy, Yadkinville, Pilot Mountain, and Elkin. The school serves a student population of more than 18,000. SCC offers more than 60 two-year degree and certificate programs and more than 1,500 individual courses on campus and online, including an AAS in criminal justice technologye.

SCC's online associate degree in criminal justice emphasizes broad concepts in law enforcement and the judicial, security, and corrections systems. Students explore criminology, constitutional law, investigations, juvenile justice, ethics, criminal justice systems, and community relations. Courses also examine criminal justice in the context of society. Students may choose to complete a work experience course through a program-approved local employer. The program requires students to earn at least 68 credits. Students demonstrating successful completion of basic law enforcement training and a passing score on the qualifying exam may be able to waive some prerequisites for the AAS degree.

Online learners complete coursework through the Moodle platform. SCC students can access online tutoring, the library, academic advising, and technical support through the online learning portal. Once enrolled in an online or hybrid course, students must complete an online orientation course before beginning regularly scheduled classes in their program.


Fisher College 

Boston, MA

About this school

Located in Boston's historic Back Bay neighborhood, Fisher serves students through its main campus on Beacon Street, as well as satellite locations in Brockton, New Bedford, and North Attleboro. The school offers dozens of associate, bachelor’s, and graduate programs.

Fisher's online criminal justice associate degree emphasizes social science concepts. The program approaches criminal justice from an interdisciplinary perspective, incorporating introductory coursework in criminology, psychology, and sociology. Students complete 60 credits over two years to earn the degree. The program requires an internship but also strongly recommends additional co-curricular experience, such as the hate crime symposium, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center-sponsored speaking engagements, and tours of local correctional facilities. Students can transfer credits completed in the AS degree toward a bachelor's-level program in criminal justice or a related field.

Online programs include six eight-week terms. Fisher students complete online assignments asynchronously using Blackboard. Learners can access online support services including advising, the Fisher bookstore and library, and career services through the accelerated and professional studies department. The school also offers technical support for the Blackboard platform.


Ocean County College 

Toms River, NJ

About this school

Opened in 1966, OCC was the first county college in New Jersey. The school serves more than 10,000 students through full-time and part-time programs in business and social science, arts and humanities, nursing and health science, and STEM fields. Students can choose from 28 degrees and 19 certificate options on campus, and approximately 50 associate degrees and certificates online.

OCC's criminal justice associate degree online best suits students who intend to transfer to a four-year program after graduation. The college maintains direct transfer agreements with 28 nationally renowned colleges and universities. Designed for full-time students, the 64-credit program comprises core, criminal investigation, political science, social science, and humanities requirements. The AS follows a two-year sequence, including a variety of general education courses in criminology, police organization and administration, constitutional law, corrections, law enforcement, and forensics. Students also focus on building professional skills in English, public speaking, and public administration. Applicants seeking a part-time program should consult an OCC adviser prior to enrollment in the AS degree.

Distance learners can complete OCC coursework asynchronously or through a hybrid format. The school offers modular course options, which are available as a part of a complete degree, or they can be taken individually. Students can access tech support, academic advising, and library services at any time.


McHenry County College 

Crystal Lake, IL

About this school

MCC, founded in 1967 just two years after the state of Illinois established its community college system, maintains a primary campus in Crystal Lake and several other satellite locations. The school serves a student population of more than 60,000. MCC students may choose from nearly 60 certificate programs, seven AS degrees, and more than 28 AAS degrees, including an online associate of applied science in criminal justice.

MCC's online associate degree in criminal justice prepares graduates for a bachelor’s degree or for an entry-level career in law enforcement. The program provides a pathway to a four-year degree in criminal justice or a related field, satisfying the prerequisites typically covered in the first two years of a bachelor's program. Students must complete 60 credits to earn the degree. Coursework introduces students to criminology, corrections, U.S. government, psychology, and sociology. Full-time students can complete the degree in about 16 months. The curriculum includes one blended intersession course, which may require campus attendance.

Distance learners complete online coursework as part of an accelerated cohort group. Students complete courses using the Canvas learning management system. MCC caps online courses at 25 students to allow for personalized attention from instructors and staff. Online support includes Canvas and technical assistance, as well as online proctoring, advising, and tutoring services.


Hilbert College 

Hamburg, NY

About this school

Hilbert, located in Hamburg, New York, operates a Franciscan Catholic, private four-year college. The school serves an undergraduate population of more than 800, maintaining a low student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1. Hilbert offers nearly 20 certificates, undergraduate, and graduate degrees on-campus and online.

Hilbert's associate degree in criminal justice online provides students with an introduction to basic concepts in the field, exploring sociology, criminal justice, and crime and society. Students also take general education courses in public speaking, writing, literature, and political science, ultimately earning 60 course credits to complete the AS degree. The program takes an interdisciplinary approach to criminal justice, incorporating science, religious studies, and moral reasoning requirements. Students conclude general education requirements with a foundations seminar course.

Distance learners complete assignments online using the Blackboard learning management system. Hilbert students can access career development services, counseling, and the IT help desk at any time of the day or night. Hilbert offers direct transfer into a bachelor's program in one of eight criminal justice emphases, as well as an accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s degree.


Northwest Iowa Community College 

Sheldon, IA

About this school

NCC, the smallest and first community college in Iowa, offers the advantages of small class sizes and a near-100% graduate-employment rate. The school serves the counties of Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Sioux, and half of Cherokee. NCC helped form the Iowa Community College Online Consortium in 1999 to begin offering online programs to Iowa students. Today, the school offers approximately a dozen online degrees in diverse majors, including an online criminal justice associate degree.

NCC's online associate of arts degree offers a pre-professional criminal justice curriculum, designed as a pathway toward a four-year degree. Graduates of the AA in pre-professional criminal justice may take advantage of direct transfer agreements between NCC and four-year universities in Iowa and surrounding areas. Students must complete 60 semester credits, including 45 semester credits in general education, to earn the degree. General education requirements span a variety of disciplines, including math and science, humanities, social science, and communications. Core courses explore criminal investigation, criminal law, corrections, ethics in criminal justice, and criminology. Online students can complete the degree in two years.

NCC offers courses through the Iowa online consortium in four, eight, 12, and 16-week terms. NCC students can typically access most courses required for the AA degree in either the spring or fall semester. Online support for distance learners includes library services, technical support, and one-on-one and group mentoring options.


Dawson Community College 

Glendive, MT

About this school

Founded in 1940, DCC sits between the Yellowstone River and Makoshika State Park, near Glendive, Montana. The school serves an undergraduate population of 450 students, offering nearly 40 associate degrees and vocational certificates on campus, in addition to five fully-online degrees. DCC has small class sizes, with a student-to-teacher ratio of 11:1, and free individualized support services for all students.

DCC's criminal justice associate degree online provides a pathway to entry-level employment as well as bachelor's programs in criminal justice or related fields. Students may tailor the program to include courses in a preferred emphasis within criminal justice, such as law enforcement, penology, probation and parole, and corrections. The program combines the academic and professional skills needed in the field, stressing communications, human relations, diversity training, social responsibility, and public affairs. Students must complete 60 credits over four semesters to earn the AAS in criminal justice.

Distance learners complete online coursework through the Moodle platform. Students may begin courses in the fall or spring semester, and can generally tailor their course schedule to accommodate full-time or part-time study. Optional internships and/or independent study projects are available.


Eastern Wyoming College 

Torrington, WY

About this school

Eastern Wyoming College's online criminal justice associate degree offers two specializations. In the law enforcement track, students take coursework in criminal investigation, law enforcement procedures, and juvenile justice that prepare them for careers in local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Students sometimes opt to concentrate on corrections management to develop the professional skills needed to work in correctional institutions, detention facilities, probation and parole, or community rehabilitation programs.

In both specializations, students choose from a range of electives, including forensic psychology and drug crime. EWC offers most online classes asynchronously, allowing students to watch lectures and complete assignments on their own schedule. After completing the 60 credits required for graduation, students complete a capstone project. The entire program usually takes about two years to finish.

Online students at EWC apply for financial aid, scholarships, and grants through the school's AwardSpring web portal. The Hathaway scholarship enables state residents to receive up to 100% of their tuition at Wyoming community colleges or the University of Wyoming. Students living in a state that is part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange take courses at a discounted rate.


Concordia University 

Mequon, WI

About this school

Concordia University offers one of the nation's best online criminal justice associate degree programs. The flexible, 64-credit program allows students to begin their studies at any time and complete their coursework at their own convenience. As a Lutheran university, Concordia provides a Christian perspective on the criminal justice system. In addition to classes in criminology, procedural criminal law, and an introduction to U.S. court systems, students also learn about Christian theology and the Bible. Elective courses introduce students to topics such as contemporary terrorism and extremism. Concordia's diverse curriculum prepares its graduates to find work as court administrators, intelligence analysts, parole and probation supervisors, and law enforcement officers.

Each course in the program takes about 8-10 weeks to complete. Full-time students typically finish their associate degree in two years. In addition to financial aid, scholarships, grants, and tuition assistance for veterans of the armed services, Concordia also partners with Christian high schools in Wisconsin to provide a discounted tuition to their students. Through the Concordia promise, high school students can earn high school and college credit by taking online classes at the university. Concordia also offers a number of resources specifically for its online students, including web-based tutoring, an online writing lab, and an online career center.


Fox Valley Technical College 

Appleton, WI

About this school

Fox Valley Technical College's online associate degree in criminal justice acts as an affordable first step towards a career in law enforcement. Students complete 63 credits, usually over the course of two years. In addition to general studies coursework in communications and mathematics, students also take classes in criminal justice ethics, crime prevention, forensic science, police community relations, and the principles of emergency management.

Students can further specialize through electives in areas like retail security, crime scene photography, and the investigation of internet-based crimes. A criminal justice capstone provides students with an overview of professional issues in the field, including employment opportunities, the role of unions, and potential liability for law enforcement officers. Students interested in earning the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Law Enforcement Officer Certification receive priority placement in the state's law enforcement academy after completing this program.

Fox Valley Tech offers online courses at a flat rate for all students and offers more than 1,000 scholarships and alternative financial aid options to veterans and unemployed individuals. The school supports transfer students by granting credit to those with previous professional experience and providing resources to students looking to apply credits earned in high school or at another college or university.


Forsyth Technical Community College 

Winston-Salem, NC

About this school

Forsyth Technical Community College's online associate degree in criminal justice technology enables students to customize their learning based on career path. Students choose to specialize either in law enforcement or corrections. Learners interested in working within the judicial system can also take elective classes in constitutional law, and those seeking employment as community liaison officers complete optional coursework in crisis intervention and public relations.

Forsyth Tech delivers all online classes asynchronously through Blackboard. All students must complete a 16-week internship with a criminal justice agency. Online students meet this requirement by working with a local organization, and program administrators assist with placement.

Residents of the state of North Carolina receive a discounted tuition at Forsyth Tech, and the North Carolina Community College System determines residency status. The school offers a number of scholarships based on financial need, academic achievement, and community service. While the school does not specifically offer discounted tuition to former service members, the Veterans Resource Center connects students with other helpful educational benefits.


Tallahassee Community College 

Tallahassee, FL

About this school

Tallahassee Community College's online associate degree in criminal justice caters to those seeking professional development or advancement. The 60-credit program usually takes about two years to finish, but individuals who have completed the Florida Basic Recruit Training program begin the program with the first fifteen credits, allowing them to finish faster. Graduates of other police academies can sometimes skip introductory coursework, though requirements vary from state to state. Students can further accelerate their studies by receiving credit for military experience, applicable professional experience, industry credentials, or exams that demonstrate mastery of subjects covered in general education courses.

After students complete foundational classes, they explore more specialized topics in areas like deviant behavior, criminal evidence procedures, and the role of parole and probation officers in the rehabilitation process. TCC's agreements with Barry University and Florida Gulf Coast University enable students to easily transfer credits towards a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

Online students pay the same tuition as on-campus learners, and Florida students enjoy a discounted rate. The college offers scholarship and work-study opportunities to supplement the loans and grants students use to pay for their education.


LeTourneau University 

Longview, TX

About this school

LeTourneau University offers an online criminal justice associate degree. The program features an accelerated format that allows students to complete an individual course in just five weeks. At this pace, students can earn the 63-credit degree in one year. The non-accelerated option features seven week courses and takes about two years to complete.

As a Christian university, LeTourneau ensures that the associate curriculum includes classes on the Bible and biblical history in addition to other general education topics like literature and English composition. Criminal justice students also take coursework in areas like human trafficking, restorative justice, emergency management, and counter-terrorism. Instructors deliver coursework asynchronously, and students must meet weekly assignment deadlines.

The school's online degree costs less than it's on-campus counterpart. The university offers scholarships as well, including the LETU Homeschool Endowed Scholarship, which covers all unmet financial needs for homeschooled students who excel academically.

Graduates work as law enforcement officials, probation and parole officers, and homeland security specialists. LeTourneau works closely with the Dallas Police Department, and the associate degree in criminal justice meets the educational requirements for individuals interested in taking the Dallas police employment exam.


Truckee Meadows Community College 

Reno, NV

About this school

Truckee Meadows Community College's online associate degree in criminal justice prepares students for entry-level jobs in the field. Through a partnership with the University of Nevada-Reno, graduates can apply earned credits toward a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Students typically complete the 60-credit program in two years.

TMCC recommends that students begin their studies with general education courses in foreign language and the humanities. Students also begin with introductory coursework in criminal justice, which lays the foundation for the study of more advanced topics, such as legal writing and research, substance abuse, and an overview of the U.S. and Nevada constitutions. The school makes classes in the program available entirely online; students review materials and complete assignments according to their own schedules. However, students should note that they need to meet regular milestones in order to advance. Students take some exams in person, either at one of the college's Nevada campuses or at a proctored location.

Online students pay a discounted rate slightly higher than the rate for students who reside in the state of Nevada. Students living in Nevada can also apply for the Nevada Promise Scholarship, a program that covers all mandatory educational fees for state residents. Online students living outside of the state can apply for TMCC Foundation Scholarships.


Genesee Community College 

Batavia, NY

About this school

Genesee Community College's online associate degree in criminal justice serves as an entry point into the State University of New York system. Graduates can apply the credits they earned toward bachelor's studies at any of the 64 SUNY campuses across the state, as well as a host of other public and private four-year colleges.

GCC offers four specializations within its associate degree in criminal justice: corrections counseling, forensics, homeland security/emergency management, and policing. Online coursework may include forensic anthropology and an introduction to police firearms. Online students can complete a field study at a criminal justice agency. This is a requirement for learners in the policing specialization. GCC delivers online courses asynchronously, but still requires students to log into the learning portal at least three times per week. While this still offers online students a great deal of flexibility in scheduling their work, GCC warns students that online learning often requires even more reading and writing than participating in-person.

Online students pay the same tuition as on-campus students, and New York residents receive discounted tuition. For students who take out loans to pay for their education, SUNY offers a free series of financial education courses on topics such as navigating the FAFSA, loan interest rates, and default prevention.


Hodges University 

Naples, FL

About this school

Hodges University's online criminal justice associate degree requires students to earn 60 credits and provides an overview of the major institutions operating within the criminal justice system, including criminal procedure, forensics, and crime theory. Through approved electives, students explore more specialized topics like hate crimes, violent crime, white collar crime, and victimology. For a full-time student, the program usually takes two years to complete.

Students take classes either at the university's Naples, Florida, campus or online. Students can also choose a hybrid option, allowing them to learn at a distance when their schedule calls for it. Students view most lectures asynchronously, but they must complete the majority of assignments on the same schedule as in-person students; they will also need to take proctored final exams.

Online and on-campus tuition is the same, but the school makes discounts available to members of the military on active duty, part-time students employed by a partner organization, and individuals affiliated with the CareerSource workforce development program in southern Florida.


Thomas Edison State College 

Trenton , NJ

About this school

Thomas Edison State College offers one of the nation's most accessible online associate degrees in criminal justice. Students usually complete the 60-credit program in two years, but TESU features a variety of ways to earn the degree sooner. Learners can test out of some coursework through the university's TECEP credit-by-exam program. Students can also earn credits through military experience, professional licenses and certifications, training and workforce development programs, or by submitting a portfolio of relevant work. Students can even take free, online courses through Saylor Academy to prepare for the TECEP exam.

Before beginning classes, all students complete a one-credit course designed to assess their readiness to begin their online education. In addition to this introductory module and other general education requirements, the criminal justice associate degree features coursework on subjects such as criminological theory, public policy and criminal justice, ethics in the justice system, and homeland security. Students develop the basic knowledge and professional skills necessary for entry-level jobs or continuing education at TESU or another postsecondary institution.

Active-duty personnel pay a discounted tuition, and the school waives all application fees for military-affiliated and veteran students. New Jersey residents also receive a tuition discount.


Iowa Central Community College 

Fort Dodge, IA

About this school

Although Iowa Central Community College's 67-credit, online associate degree in criminal justice requires slightly more class time than similar programs, full-time students typically earn their degree in two years. Each class in the program takes eight weeks, and students generally enroll in two classes at a time. Instructors deliver coursework entirely online, and while students need to regularly check in each week, the program allows them to schedule their lessons and work around personal obligations. Students view lectures and complete assignments through the school's TritonPass online learning portal.

All students who plan to complete the criminal justice program from a distance must enroll in a course called the online experience, which sets expectations for learning in an online environment and helps students develop proper study habits and time management skills. ICCC also provides online support services, including web-based tutoring through Pearson's SmartThinking learning platform and consultations with online enrollment representatives.

Students in this program take coursework in law enforcement patrol procedures, constitutional law, cybercrime, terrorism response, and minority group relations. General education courses round out the curriculum and cover topics such as biology, philosophy, and public speaking. Residents of Iowa, along with past and present military personnel, receive modest tuition discounts.


Casper College 

Casper , WY

About this school

Students living in the Wyoming area can take advantage of Casper College's hybrid associate program in criminal justice. Students complete more than 70% of this program online, either through an interactive, online portal or pre-recorded videos. Roughly 30% of the program requires face-to-face interaction. Students must complete these components at the Casper College campus. The school delivers most online courses asynchronously, and students access lessons and assignments on the school's Moodle4Me platform.

Casper offers two variations of its criminal justice program. The associate of applied science prepares students for entry-level jobs in the field. The associate of arts in criminal justice lays the foundation for students to pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Wyoming or another one of Casper's partner universities. Both programs feature general education coursework and an in-depth examination of subjects such as community policing, social problems at the root of crime, and criminal procedure. The associate of arts also incorporates a capstone to synthesize a student's learning and prepare them for the next step in their education. The associate of applied science helps to develop professional skills such as the handling of firearms, the collection of fingerprints, and basic emergency care.

Residents of Wyoming and states that count as part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange receive discounted tuition. High school students in Wyoming are also eligible for the Hathaway Scholarship, which finances their education at any of the state's seven community colleges.


Mesa Community College 

Mesa, AZ

About this school

Mesa Community College's online associate degree in criminal justice is designed for students seeking entry-level employment and established professionals looking to advance their careers. The school offers a 64-credit program in an asynchronous, online format, meaning students can review lessons, complete assignments, and take exams on their schedule. MCC also provides resources for its online students, including an orientation for all distance learners, a technology help center, and web-based tutoring. The school even offers a readiness assessment survey so that students can determine whether their learning style fits with online education. All online courses at MCC use the Canvas learning management system.

The criminal justice program instills a broad foundation of knowledge in areas like substantive criminal law, the function of correction institutions and officers, and computer applications in justice studies. Students also take elective courses from some of MCC's other justice-oriented programs, which cover topics like criminal sentencing, court administration, and alternative dispute resolution. Led by faculty with a diverse range of professional experiences, the program prepares students for jobs in law enforcement, corrections, probation, and social service.


State Fair Community College 

Sedalia, MO

About this school

State Fair Community College offers an associate degree in criminal justice online as well as at its three campuses in Western Missouri. The 64-credit associate of arts with a concentration in criminal justice is available entirely online; the 66-credit associate of applied science in criminal justice is available in a hybrid format. The hybrid program prepares graduates for careers by meeting the educational requirements of the various law enforcement academies in Missouri.

The associate of arts degree prepares students to pursue a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. SFCC works closely with Central Methodist University and other four-year institutions in Missouri to ensure a seamless transition of credits. Students take general education courses in the social sciences and humanities, but they dedicate a large portion of their class time to exploring subjects such as criminal justice communications, drugs and society, and juvenile delinquency. The mode of online delivery varies between classes, with some instructors requiring students to log in at a particular time or to take exams at a proctored location. Students complete other courses asynchronously.

As part of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, SFCC provides an online education to students living in about 30 states across the country. Students should confirm whether they live in a member state prior to enrolling.


Northcentral Technical College 

Wausau, WI

About this school

Northcentral Technical College's online criminal justice associate degree offers an accelerated path to graduation. By passing an NTC test or certain national examinations, students can earn credits to meet general education requirements. Students with a professional portfolio or industry credentials can also earn credit for courses in subjects like interrogation and community policing. Learners can demonstrate their mastery in an area like physical fitness to further reduce the length of the program.

For students new to the field, the 61-credit program usually takes two years to complete. Students develop theoretical knowledge of topics such as constitutional law and criminal investigation, as well professional skills like patrol procedures, advanced first-aid, and writing police reports. Students also take a course designed to introduce them to careers in criminal justice. Students complete classes asynchronously.

NTC requires students applying to its criminal justice programs to submit to a criminal background check. The school also requires a minimum GPA and test scores. Students who fail to meet these requirements may earn conditional acceptance. The school makes discounted tuition available to Wisconsin residents, but all online students pay a small fee for each class.


University of Maine at Fort Kent 

Fort Kent, ME

About this school

Students complete the University of Maine at Fort Kent's associate degree in criminal justice entirely online, with all courses made available through the Blackboard learning management system. The 60-credit program usually takes full-time students two years to finish. Roughly half of the coursework focuses on general education subjects, with UMFK recommending classes in business, statistics, and communication. The remaining half of the curricula covers topics in criminal justice, such as criminalistics and forensic science. Graduates find jobs as police officers, sheriff's deputies, game wardens, state troopers, and federal law enforcement officials.

UMFK's online associate degree in criminal justice provides rigorous training at an affordable price. Residents of Maine receive a discounted tuition. Veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their dependents may also qualify for in-state tuition. In addition to federal loans and grants, students living in and outside of Maine can apply for Bengal Academic Scholarships.

The school makes these merit-based awards available to all first-year and transfer students. Through a combination of SAT scores, class rank, and GPA, students earn scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Students are automatically considered for these scholarships during the application process, renewing them at the same level of funding each year so long as the student maintains a minimum GPA of 3.0.


Northwestern Michigan College 

Traverse City, MI

About this school

Through a partnership with Michigan Colleges Online, Northwestern Michigan College offers an associate degree in criminal justice online. NMC's close relationship with other colleges and universities in the state make it easy to transfer credits from this program to a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. The 60-credit associate degree in criminal justice usually takes two years to complete.

NMC's curriculum features general education coursework and classes in criminal justice, such as its course on evidence and criminal procedure. Students learn about the process of a criminal proceeding, from incident to appeal. They also examine criminal procedures related to arrest, search and seizure, interrogation, and confession.

Residents of roughly 30 states can earn a degree through NMC’s online program thanks to the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. However, students living in some states, such as California, cannot enroll in online courses at NMC. Students should determine their eligibility prior to applying.

Online students at NMC pay slightly higher tuition rates than those who study on campus. Residents of Grand Traverse county receive the largest tuition discounts, but students living throughout Michigan qualify for a reduced rate.


Colorado Christian University 

Lakewood, CO

About this school

Colorado Christian University offers an online associate degree in criminal justice within an Evangelical context. While students learn about criminology, the court system, and policing ethics, they also discuss the issues of sin, free will, redemption, and the biblical view of human nature. The degree requires a total of 60 credits, and full-time students usually complete the program in two years. Learners can earn their degree faster by testing out of general education requirements, building a portfolio, or transferring up to 45 credits from another accredited institution.

The program prepares students for careers in law enforcement, computer forensics, paralegal work, transportation security, and private security. Students can easily transfer credits towards a bachelor's degree in criminal justice at either CCU or one of its partner universities. Instructors deliver all courses online, allowing students to schedule their coursework around jobs or family commitments. Classes typically run for five weeks, with assignments due each week and a final exam at the end of each term.

The school offers discounted tuition for veterans, military personnel, and their dependents. Because of CCU's status as an interdenominational Christian university, the school makes discounted tuition available to same sex spouses and partners of veterans and military personnel.


Craven Community College 

New Bern, NC

About this school

Craven Community College's online criminal justice associate degree helps students shape their education around a busy schedule. The school makes all classes in the program available online through the Moodle learning management system, enabling students to take courses in an asynchronous format. The school also offers a number of resources to online students, including a distance learning orientation module, web tutorials, and 24/7 technical support. The program consists of 64 credits, and full-time students usually take about two years to earn their degree. Veterans and active-duty military personnel can petition to apply their service experience toward their credit requirements and graduate sooner. Students with basic law enforcement training in North Carolina can receive up to 15 credits towards their degree.

The school’s curriculum features general education and major coursework. Major-specific classes focus on constitutional law and investigative principles. Students can personalize their course of study in two ways. First, they choose to pursue one of two concentrations: either law enforcement or corrections. Second, they select from a diverse list of electives, including investigative photography, loss prevention, civil liability, public safety, and counseling. North Carolina residents and military personnel are both eligible for discounted tuition.


Drury University 

Springfield , MO

About this school

Through its College of Continuing Professional Studies, Drury University offers a leading online associate degree in criminal justice. Students complete the 62-credit program in about two years. Beyond a foundation of general education and introductory criminal justice courses, the program also features several electives, such as serial homicide, the death penalty, child abuse and neglect, and organized crime. Online students may elect to participate in an internship alongside their coursework.

In partnership with the University of Missouri at Kansas City Law School, students can participate in an innocence project clinic, in which they help review cases of individuals wrongfully convicted of a crime. Drury's curriculum prepares students to find jobs or complete a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

Drury offers all classes in this program entirely online. Faculty who lead online courses receive regular training in digital instructional methods to ensure they can successfully administer distance education. Online students can access a number of support services, such as advising and tutoring, through the web.

Online students at Drury pay a slightly higher tuition than students who study on campus. However, Drury offers a handful of scholarships to students in the College of Continuing Professional Studies.


Allen County Community College 

Iola, KS

About this school

Allen County Community College offers a variety of learning opportunities to distance learners, including two online associate degrees in criminal justice. The associate in science with an emphasis in criminal justice studies caters to students interested in continuing their education at any of the public, four-year universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents. The associate in applied science in criminal justice prepares students for careers in law enforcement, corrections, private security, and government.

Both programs offer coursework in areas like criminal procedure, criminal investigation, and juvenile justice. Through classes in history, mathematics, and literature, the associate in science degree also fulfills many of the general education requirements of a bachelor's degree. The associate in applied science program focuses on developing job skills, such as basic first-aid and report writing. Full-time students usually complete either of the 60-credit programs in two years.

Students pay the same tuition at ACCC regardless of their state of residency, but online students pay an additional $25 per credit hour. ACCC offers a number of scholarships as well. Awards based on academic merit can cover up to the full cost of education, minus fees paid for taking classes online. The Seabury Foundation Scholarship provides funds to students five years removed from high school.


North Central Missouri College 

Trenton , MO

About this school

North Central Missouri College provides an option to students interested in pursuing an associate degree in criminal justice online. Students usually complete this 63-credit program in two years. In addition to fulfilling general education requirements, the degree features coursework in the constitutional aspects of criminal justice, police organization and management, and criminal justice communications.

Students complete the criminal justice associate program entirely online, but NCCC does not deliver all courses in an asynchronous format. NCCC offers a handful of resources to its online students as well, including an online writing lab and web-based tutoring.

Regardless of where they live, online students pay a flat, per-credit-hour tuition rate, which is slightly higher than the rate paid by on-campus learners. The A+ Scholarship Program helps Missouri students finance their education at a community college. The program offers awards to students based on academic achievement, community service, and financial need.


Southeastern Illinois College 

Harrisburg, IL

About this school

Southeastern Illinois College's online associate degree in criminal justice is a 62-credit program that helps students develop the skills needed for entry-level positions in law enforcement, private security, and corrections. Faculty offer a rich mix of experience in private and criminal investigation, school policing and juvenile detention, criminal law, and emergency management. Students focus on traffic administration and firearm safety. However, while the program focuses on preparing its graduates for careers, students in Illinois should note that the Illinois State Police Academy requires a bachelor's degree for entry.

The online criminal justice associate degree is available online or in a hybrid format. The college also provides a free orientation module to introduce online learners to its Jenzabar elearning platform. Once students become acquainted with this system, they can complete all coursework asynchronously.

Online students pay the same tuition as students living in Saline county, though SIC charges online students a small, per-class fee. The school provides over $600,000 in scholarships annually to help students pay for the cost of their education.


Lanier Technical College 

Oakwood, GA

About this school

LTC, which is among Georgia's 22-member technical college system, serves students in a service area spanning seven counties. The school offers technical diplomas, certificates, and AAS degrees in dozens of subjects, including accounting, air conditioning, nursing, and wireless engineering technology. Students can complete their program at one of five LTC campus locations across Georgia, or online. The school boasts a 2017 graduate job placement rate of 100%.

LTC's online associate degree in criminal justice combines theoretical knowledge with practical skills and emphasizes criminal justice technology. Students must complete 60 credits of general education, program specific, and occupational-related courses. To satisfy general education requirements, students may choose courses from areas including math, social/behavioral sciences, natural sciences, and humanities and fine arts. LTC's unique occupation-oriented electives explore legal terminology, fundamental Spanish for law enforcement, and computer concepts. Advisers recommend that students follow a degree plan of five semesters of full-time coursework. Students must complete a criminal justice practicum.

Online students complete assignments through Blackboard. LTC students must complete an online orientation course before starting regularly scheduled classes. The school offers support services, including test-proctoring, technical support, and bookstore and library services through the virtual Student Help Desk.


End of list, bravo!

How Do I Choose an Online Criminal Justice Associate Degree Program?

In the best online criminal justice associate degree programs, you’ll learn about the various facets of the U.S. criminal justice system, including investigations, the constitutional rights of those accused of crimes, an introduction to courtroom proceedings, and penalties for misdemeanor and felony offenses. This foundation benefits students planning to enter a career as a law enforcement or corrections officer, parole officer, or private security professional. An associate degree also prepares students for a four-year program.

Courses for an online associate degree in criminal justice focus on topics like criminology, criminal investigations, crime prevention, social problems, alcohol and drug abuse, and victimology. You will also likely examine historical and legal issues related to the criminal justice system and the different ways society punishes and rehabilitates individuals convicted of criminal offenses.

Depending on the school, your studies may emphasize certain aspects of criminal justice over others. Some programs focus more on law enforcement techniques and crime scene investigations, while others target legal theory and the criminal justice system overall. In some cases, you may need to seek field experience or complete an internship prior to graduation.

What Will I Learn in an Online Associate in Criminal Justice Program?

Depending on the focus of your associate degree in criminal justice online program, you may find yourself taking a variety of classes. Below, we have listed many common courses that make up these programs.

  • Crime and Prevention:
    This course examines the nature of criminal activity and its impact, along with the risk factors that lead to individuals committing delinquent acts. Students explore the effects of diversion and prevention efforts, best practices in law enforcement, and an introduction to the use of data to reduce crime.
  • Introduction to Criminal Investigations:
    Students learn about the fundamentals of investigating crimes, interviewing witnesses, and the rights of individuals accused of criminal offenses. The course also explores investigative best practices, including the gathering, processing, and analysis of different types of physical evidence. This introduction course emphasizes the effective oversight of major criminal cases.
  • Correctional Systems:
    Through this course, students take an in-depth look at the U.S. correctional system, including the different ways it attempts to punish and rehabilitate criminal offenders. Students explore the processes used in city and county jails, state prisons, and federal correctional facilities, as well as how they differ from one another. Parole, probation, capital punishment, and victim restitution make up the key topics of discussion.

What Are Some Online Associate in Criminal Justice Careers

Those interested in pursuing a criminal justice associate degree online will find a variety of career paths open to them upon graduation. While some graduates go on to become police officers or detectives, other careers within the criminal justice system are available. It’s common for graduates to enter careers in corrections, probation, parole, and court systems. A few of the most popular careers for this degree include the following:

  1. Law Enforcement Officer:
    Police officers and detectives protect the public by responding to emergency and non-emergency issues. They patrol cities and neighborhoods, observe and arrest suspects, gather evidence, and complete reports. Law enforcement officers also regularly testify in court as part of criminal proceedings. Many officers later become detectives, turning their focus to crime scene investigations.
    • Median Annual Salary: $61,600
    • Projected Growth Rate: 7%
  2. Probation Officer:
    Also known as community supervision officers, these professionals interview and evaluate parolees and probationers to determine the best approach to rehabilitation. They may make referrals to job training, education, and substance abuse counseling. Parole officers regularly testify in court, meet with offenders’ family members and friends, and mandate regular drug testing.
    • Median Annual Salary: $50,160
    • Projected Growth Rate: 6%
  3. Correctional Officer:
    These professionals enforce order in jails and prisons, supervise inmates, search for illegal items, and create reports on inmate behavioral issues. They also inspect facilities for safety and security and transport inmates to different areas of a jail or prison throughout the day. In some cases, they may need to break up fights and issue penalties to those who violate the rules.
    • Median Annual Salary: $42,820
    • Projected Growth Rate: 0%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Where Can My Online Criminal Justice Associate Degree Take Me?

After earning an associate degree online, criminal justice students can transfer into a bachelor’s program. According to PayScale, the average police officer with an associate degree makes about $48,054 per year. Meanwhile, those with a bachelor’s degree make an annual salary of about $55,503. A four-year degree also prepares graduates for higher-level positions in the criminal justice system.

  1. Criminal Justice:
    A criminal justice bachelor’s program dives deeper into criminology and the different ways the criminal justice system deals with offenders at varying levels. Many graduates are prepared to become a detective or supervisor in a law enforcement setting.
  2. Social Work:
    These programs enable graduates to work with offenders and at-risk youth and adults, helping them address issues like unemployment, substance abuse, and other factors that commonly lead to criminal behavior.
  3. Sociology:
    This discipline takes a more comprehensive look at society, including its laws, norms, and institutions. Those with an associate degree in criminal justice find that sociology provides them with the context they need to perform well within the criminal justice system.

How Are Online Associate in Criminal Justice Degrees Accredited?

Accreditation is a critical factor when searching for associate degree online criminal justice programs. Most reputable colleges and universities receive accreditation, which ensures that they provide quality educational opportunities. Earning a degree from an accredited institution ensures a more seamless transition into a four-year program.

There are two types of accreditation: regional and national. About 80% of all U.S. colleges and universities hold regional accreditation, and it’s widely considered the more prestigious of the two. However, nationally accredited schools tend to be more affordable while still offering high-quality academic programs.

When conducting your search for an associate degree in criminal justice online, look for approval from one of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation’s six approved regional accreditation agencies. The most common national accrediting bodies for online schools include the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

What Are Some Criminal Justice Professional Organizations?

Besides seeking a criminal justice associate degree online, prospective students should consider the value of joining one or more professional organizations. These groups support their members through networking opportunities, professional development, continuing education, annual events, job boards, and career assistance. Through these organizations, participants meet fellow professionals and expand their knowledge of the field, which can be helpful when searching for a job.

  • National Criminal Justice Association:
    The NCJA consists of professionals in the criminal and juvenile justice fields. It advocates for responsible policies related to violent crime prevention, substance abuse treatment, victim services, and pretrial justice reform.
  • Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences:
    The ACJS works to advance research in the criminal justice field while helping its members share data, best practices, and educational opportunities. Its membership includes students, academics, and professionals in the field.
  • American Correctional Association:
    This organization has supported correctional officers since 1870. It aims to improve the criminal justice system through evidence-based practices and offers professional development, continuing education, and other services to its members.

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