Below is a list of all of the Online Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Programs we could find, from over 1,800 schools across the US.
An online Associate Degree in criminal justice offers students a theoretical and practical framework for understanding and participating in law enforcement and related fields.
Not just on-campus anymore
The earliest criminal justice programs were designed to help professionalize the police force and reduce police corruption, and many criminal justice programs are still heavily focused on law enforcement. Typical course options might include: community policing, crisis intervention and criminal procedure. Over the years, both course selection and course delivery methods have expanded. More and more associate in criminal justice programs are now being offered online.
Online associate degree criminal justice programs are split between those that have some on campus requirements (usually in the form of a one to two week seminar) and those that exist exclusively online. Further, most programs require some kind of internship experience. In general, this internship can be completed close to the student's home, or the requirement can often be satisfied with work experience if one is already working in a criminal justice field. A typical criminal justice associates degree will take between 18 and 24 months of full-time study to complete.
All the tools for learning
With course structures that offer a mix of video courses, online discussion boards, readings, and periodic live chats, students find that online associate degree criminal justice programs offer more flexibility than brick and mortar counterparts. Students, though, should be aware that the success rate for online degree programs is mixed. A 2009 study done by SRI International for the Department of Education found that students in online classes performed better than those in face-to-face classroom settings. However, a 2011 study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College found that community college students enrolled in online courses fail or drop out almost twice as often as students in classroom courses. Students that do well tend to be tech savvy enough to handle the technical facets of online coursework and self-directed enough to stay on schedule and ask for help when falling behind. Your best bet might be to look for more blended options, like those offered at Hudson Valley Community College, which allow you to change to an on-campus program if needed.
Finding the right fit
Although an associate degree in criminal justice does touch on the psychology of criminals, as a field of study it is far more focused on the structure of the law and its practical applications. The criminal justice degree seeks to answer questions such as: do we send drug offenders to prison or rehab; what constitutes torture; what are the rights of the accused; and what are the rights of the victim?
Associates in Criminal Justice programs may go by a few different names. For example, you can earn an associate degree in:
- Criminal Investigations, focused on what we traditionally view as "detective work," helps students become adept at analyzing crimes such as rapes, murder, assault, and fraud.
- Criminal Justice Administration is focused more on the paperwork and office procedures of a criminal justice organization.
- Security Technology/IT Security is focused on cyber crimes.
- Corrections deals mainly with the prison system.
- Paralegal studies prepares students to work with lawyers.
In addition associate degrees in criminal justice come in a variety of types - including Associate of Science, Associate of Justice, Associate Degree, Associate of Applied Science, and Associate of Arts, with arts degrees having more of a liberal arts direction and the science degrees having a more significant science component.
Below, CriminalJusticePrograms.com speaks with Dr. Dale Kapla, Head of the Criminal Justice Department from Northern Michigan University, about the school's associate degree options in criminal justice.
Law Enforcement careers and more
Career opportunities with an associate of criminal justice degree tend to be centered on police work, though other options include government work, private security, and paralegal positions. In some states, an associate degree can qualify graduates for case worker jobs with youths, under the care of child protective service bureaus, or with adults who are the victims of domestic violence. Increasingly, these jobs are requiring bachelor's degrees, so for future positions you might also want to consider applying your associate degree in criminal justice courses toward a bachelor's program.
Where to go for more information
There are a number of resources that can provide additional information if you're seeking to pursue an associate degree in criminal justice. Discover Policing) is a blog for those considering law enforcement as a career. It provides keen insight on recruitment and law enforcement jobs and even features interviews with law enforcement professionals. The Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT)) website is an online resource community for students and faculty members to share resources.
Please feel free to contact the schools using the links below. You should try to contact multiple schools to get a good range of programs to compare, since they often differ widely in terms of tuition, admissions requirements, and even how truly "online" they are. We tried to restrict this list to the programs that appeared to be all, or nearly all, online, but it’s still best to confirm the details directly with the schools.