Public safety takes high-level priority in every community. With property crimes reaching 6.45 million in 2020 and violent crimes soaring to 1.31 million, it makes sense that the demand for criminal justice specialists is high! With an online associate in criminal justice, students take the first important step toward contributing to society in this regard.
An online Criminal Justice associate degree can mean a seamless transfer to a bachelor’s degree program, and also lead to rewarding careers in law enforcement, corrections, and other related areas, making it an attractive degree choice. Fortunately, more than enough colleges and universities in the US offer distance learning programs.
Prospective students have their own criteria for choosing the best program, but you can’t go wrong with picking the Online Associate in Criminal Justice degrees that are accredited, provide quality instruction, offer reasonable rates, and financial assistance.
Perhaps a career in Criminal Justice is one of the most challenging jobs there is, as it requires professionals to have a keen understanding of how the system works while also demonstrating courage and quick-thinking skills to resolve complex situations.
An Associate in Criminal Justice degree introduces students and future professionals to the fundamental facets of the discipline, making it extremely important to choose the program that meets your individual needs while adhering to the prevailing educational standards.
The Online Associate in Criminal Justice programs on our list are best known for these standout features:
- 100% or partial online instruction to make attending and meeting the course requirements convenient for students,
- Rigorous associate-level coursework that covers all the basics of Criminal Justice as an important discipline, including its many facets and challenges,
- Transfer path agreements that allow seamless transfers to the bachelor’s degree level,
- Affordable tuition rates and/or generous financial assistance programs that accommodate students seeking ways to fund their online associate degree education,
- A panel of online instructors composed of criminal justice experts and seasoned professionals,
- Accredited by academic agencies that seek to forward Criminal Justice as a discipline,
- Well-regarded in the Criminal Justice community, as demonstrated by the college’s active membership in associations,
- Positive feedback from students and alumni.
To know more about how our ranking process works, visit our Methodology page.
The 10 Best Online Associate Programs in Criminal Justice
Ball State University
Students become prepared for an entry-level or mid-level professional position with Ball State’s online associate degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology. Similarly, this program takes you two years closer to a bachelor’s degree program that bolsters your skill set.
Ball State University’s Criminal Justice specializations include police systems, court systems, victimology, corrections, and special populations. This online program requires 60 credits for completion. Expect to learn courses such as Criminal Law, Race, Gender, and Crime, Introduction to Criminology, Introduction to Criminal Justice, and Decision Making and Ethics.
There are three highlights of studying the Criminal Justice online associate program at Liberty University: law enforcement, the correction system, and the court system. Students are able to gain an understanding of the complex criminal justice systems. All undergraduate courses are provided with free electronic textbooks as part of their commitment to providing affordable education. They can opt to either pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field or build their career right after graduation.
Liberty University students can expect the Christian perspective to be woven into their study. Their online programs, including the Criminal Justice associate track, are ideal for students who need flexibility in their schedules, such as law enforcement officers and military personnel as there are no set log-in times or on-campus class requirements.
The Associate in Criminal Justice online program offered by Trine University is taught by instructors with real-life field expertise and experience. As such, students gain a solid academic background for further study at the bachelor’s level or a thriving entry-level career in Criminal Justice. The online, asynchronous classes are offered every eight weeks thru TrineOnline.
Students get access to an interactive, fully online learning environment with Ashland University’s online Criminal Justice degree program. The curriculum is comprised of seven-week courses focusing on current criminal justice issues, policies and practices, policy and planning, juvenile delinquency, and crime analysis.
Sixty credit hours are required in the program, from which students can earn college credits for law enforcement and corrections training.
The online Criminal Justice degree at Ashland is also offered at the bachelor’s level.
Regent University in Virginia Beach students become acquainted with criminal law, criminal investigation, and the theories of criminal justice through the Online Associate of Science in Criminal Justice program. They earn 64 credits toward the bachelor’s level or enter the workforce as police officers, forensic specialists, or legal assistants upon graduation.
Typically, applicants to this program are asked to submit their personal statement, ACT or SAT scores, and official high school transcripts or GED. Compared to on-campus students, distance learners pay less per credit. Full-time students usually complete their associate degree in Criminal Justice in two years.
Regent University also offers an on-campus Associate in Criminal Justice program.
Northeast Community College
Northeast Community College offers the Online Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice program that focuses on imparting fundamental knowledge of the field through an interdisciplinary approach. This program equips students with the tools to make rational decisions and provide informed responses to the challenges facing law enforcement, corrections, court administration, and the human services field.
General education courses, core courses, and electives comprise the online AAS Degree in Criminal Justice at Northeast. Students can also receive credit for completing the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center, as well as Jail Management Certification.
Criminal Justice Law Enforcement or Corrections Associate of Arts degrees are appropriate options for students seeking to continue to a four-year college. Most AAS courses can be transferred to four-year institutions.
Dawson Community College
The online Associate in Criminal Justice curriculum at Dawson Community College prepares students for bachelor’s level education, and ultimately, careers in law enforcement, probation, corrections, and related fields of sociology, law, and human services. They will gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills and an in-depth understanding of how diversity, social responsibility, and public affairs play key roles in the criminal justice system.
Students seeking to transfer can opt for MSU-Billings’ and Norwich University’s Criminal Justice 2+2 Articulation Agreements.
AAS in Criminal Justice graduates qualify for criminal justice agencies that do not require academy training.
Hillsborough Community College
The Online Criminal Justice Associate of Science (AS to BS) program at Hillsborough Community College exposes students to the history, philosophy, management, organization, and operation of the criminal justice system. Graduates can use this 2-year degree to proceed to earn a Law degree. This AS degree also qualifies them for entry-level positions at local, state, and federal government agencies. They often land positions in crime laboratories, juvenile courts, sheriff’s offices, police departments, and crime scene units where they are expected to have a solid foundational knowledge of private security, juvenile justice, law enforcement, probation, detention centers, and corrections.
Some Florida universities and colleges offer similar upper-division programs with the AS degree. Prospective transfer students must secure approval from the transfer institution in advance.
Trinity Valley Community College
Trinity Valley Community College’s Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice is offered entirely online. This program exposes students to the juvenile justice system, court systems and practices, and fundamentals of criminal law.
One requirement to enroll in this associate program is to take the Texas Success Initiative exam and earn a good score. Also, after passing the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement exam and completing an approved law enforcement training program, students receive 13 credits.
By pursuing an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice online at Century College, students understand how the criminal justice system works and become prepared for the rigors of the criminal justice profession. In particular, students study criminal law and procedure, police work, investigations, corrections, and juvenile justice, with an emphasis on the current legal, ethical, and social issues affecting the system. This associate-level program provides a solid foundation for transferring to a four-year academic institution.
Students can also become interested in criminal law, homeland security, corrections, and counterterrorism to serve your community. Each graduate gets the chance to explore their expertise in investigating crimes, collecting evidence, and questioning suspects using forensic investigative techniques.
The AS in Criminal Justice degree requires 80 hours of service-learning related to criminal justice. A grade C for all the courses should be maintained by each student.
Courses in an Online Associate Degree in Criminal Justice
While each school maintains its own unique curriculum, they are expected to cover similar courses and subjects. These are the elements of Criminal Justice that online Associate in Criminal Justice students and future professionals must be familiar with:
The criminal court system will be discussed in this class. Students will learn about the differences between the juvenile court system and the traditional criminal court system.
Criminal behavior will be taught to students as a foundational concept. This includes an overview of criminal theory and causation and the types of crimes society recognizes.
Maintaining public order and safety isn’t always the job of law enforcement. The purpose of this class will be to examine in depth how to privatize security duties to protect businesses and communities, including conducting operational analysis.
Ethics in Criminal Justice
Crime and punishment theories do not always lead to fair or moral outcomes when they are applied to the real world. Students also get to explore ethical dilemmas that criminal justice professionals face, as well as different solutions.
America is known for its mixture of cultures, languages, and religions. As part of this course, online students will examine various aspects of providing law enforcement services to minority communities and groups.
Career Paths for Students with an Online Associate in Criminal Justice Degree
The associate degree in criminal justice focuses on the foundations of the criminal justice system. With the skill set developed in your education, graduates apply for and successfully snag police officer, probation officer, emergency management specialist, and corrections officer jobs.
That said, graduates also have a world of career options in various fields other than Criminal Justice. This educational degree leads to the well-paying and stable career tracks, including the ones presented below:
An online associate’s degree in Criminal Justice may lead to a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Sociology. If you want to learn the foundations in Criminal Justice to use for a sociology education later on, an associate degree should suffice! Sociologists study culture and society as a whole. Criminal justice programs facilitate studies of criminal behavior and society.
Graduates of Associate in Criminal Justice programs are qualified to work as paralegals, file clerks, and court messengers. They usually qualify for promotions in legal firms as soon as they earn their bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies.
Criminal justice and psychology are closely related fields of study. Psychology courses are often included in criminal justice programs, preparing students for further study. Psychiatric technicians and human resource specialists are also available as entry-level careers for psychology graduates. You can proceed to study bachelor’s degree in psychology after you’re done with an associate program in criminal justice.
Supporting vulnerable and at-risk communities is the job of social workers, who assist them in navigating a variety of challenges. After obtaining an associate Criminal Justice degree online, you can also land a job-related to social work. Providing social services and ensuring the safety of families and children is the job of these professionals.
What To Expect When Pursuing Jobs As An Online Associate in Criminal Justice Graduate
Apart from qualifying for a bachelor’s degree program that strengthens your competence in criminal procedure and forensic science in the criminal justice fields, graduates of online Criminal Justice programs become eligible for law enforcement positions
Graduating from criminal justice programs usually sees tremendous job growth. According to Boston University’s Knowledge Center, cybercrime, digital forensics, and cybersecurity are the most critical areas of development in law enforcement.
As of 2021, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 847,376 complaints, with potential losses exceeding $6.9 billion. In 2020, that number was 791,790 complaints, with over $4.2 billion in losses. Accordingly, the number of reported crimes is rising, leading to an increase in the need for investigators to identify the source of cybercrime.
It is possible to earn very good wages in criminal justice jobs. For instance, correctional officers earn $39,078 annually, private investigators earn $43,617 per year, and forensic specialists earn $57,387 annually. These are just some high-paying careers that you can work when you finish an associate degree in criminal justice.
Diverse Career Opportunities
Criminal justice graduates enjoy a wide range of career options, as mentioned. They can work in the police industry, psychology, law, and several government agencies.
Individuals starting a new job today place great importance on insurance and benefits packages. Fortunately, the criminal justice field generally offers good benefits packages.
No matter what work you acquire related to criminal justice, you’re almost always able to help others or help your community. This can be the most satisfying advantage of having a degree in criminal justice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the typical online Associate in Criminal Justice degree program cost?
The costs of online associate degrees in criminal justice vary depending on several factors. Out-of-state students are often charged higher tuition at many colleges and universities because of their residency.
For online students, however, education is fixed regardless of residence. An online associate’s degree in criminal justice usually costs between $75-$560 per credit. As for the total tuition fee, you should see it ranging from $5,000 to $34,000, respectively. Students should expect to pay $5,300 to $33,600 in full tuition. Fortunately, some learning institutions allow you to apply for financial aid.
What are the requirements for admission to an Associate in Criminal Justice online degree?
Prospective students must submit an application and transcripts for almost all programs, as well as a high school diploma or GED, for the best chance of acceptance. An applicant’s GPA plays a major role, too, as a high GPA automatically makes them eligible for a scholarship.
Applicants are also asked to submit proof of English language proficiency if they come from a non-English speaking country. Candidates may be required to demonstrate fluency to understand and benefit from the program’s course materials.
Depending on some schools, the ACT or SAT scores may or may not be submitted. Most online associate degree programs do not require any tests, but if you’re able to get a good score, it may be a good idea to take one. This will put prospective learners at a good advantage over other applicants. It can also be helpful for individuals who plan on transferring or earning a bachelor’s degree, whether required or optional, as it can help you stand out in a pool of numerous transfer applicants.
What are the job outlook and salary prospects for graduates of an online Associate degree in Criminal Justice?
Criminal justice associate degree holders are qualified to work in law enforcement, corrections, and security, among other occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that multilingual applicants and those with a bachelor’s degree, experience in law enforcement, or military service have better criminal justice job prospects. The demand for police and detectives currently has a projected growth of 7% from 2020 to 2030.
How can you advance your career after getting an online Associate degree in Criminal Justice?
Graduates of a criminal justice program can progress to prestigious and higher-paying jobs. A bachelor’s degree is required for employment in some federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI. Students may focus on a specific area of interest when earning professional certificates in criminal justice. From crime scene technology to youth services, criminal justice programs offer professional certification for various specialties.
How long does an online program in Associate in Criminal Justice take to complete?
A criminal justice associate degree is usually completed in two years. Part-time students can take longer. If you want to graduate sooner, some colleges offer accelerated programs. Universities may also grant credit to students who have previously completed training at a law enforcement academy.
Associate degrees in Criminal Justice provide graduates with the training they need for careers in law enforcement, corrections, and criminal investigations. Gaining employment is a typical course of action after graduation. Students can also decide to transfer to a different field and still use their associate degree credits.
Criminal justice careers often require additional certifications or training, even with associate degree online programs. Fortunately, there are many resources and higher education opportunities to help you attain your goals in the long run.