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Columbia Southern University

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Colorado Christian University

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Liberty University

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Baker College

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Florida Tech University Online

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Keiser University

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Central Christian College of Kansas

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Bryant & Stratton College

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Florida National University

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Online Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

Associate's degrees in criminal justice can help students prepare for careers as police officers, court workers, corrections agents and investigators. Learn about online associate's degree programs in this field, and explore common course topics.

What Is an Online Associate's Degree Program in Criminal Justice Like?

If you need a flexible schedule while you earn your associate's degree in criminal justice, an online program allows you to study on your own time from home. Typically, you need about two years of full-time study to complete this type of program. In many cases, you can either enter the work force or transfer your credits to a bachelor's degree-granting institution.

The skills you gain from a criminal justice associate's degree program prepare you for work in local and state police agencies, sheriff's departments, courthouses and correctional facilities. In some cases, you can choose between earning an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) or an Associate of Science (A.S.). The A.A.S. program gives you practical skills that can be applied to entry-level jobs upon graduation. The A.S. program typically prepares you for further education.

Degree DetailsAssociate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) or Associate of Science (A.S.); typically requires two years of full-time study
Online LearningStudents learn via web-based classroom management software; coursework, exams and deadlines are similar to those of campus-based programs
Common Course TopicsCorrections, criminal law, criminal procedures, ethics
Median Salary (2018)$63,380 (Police and Detectives)
Job Outlook (2016-20267% growth (Police and Detectives)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

How Do I Learn Online?

Most schools that offer online degree programs provide access to their Web-based classroom management software. This is what you will use to view reading materials, participate in class discussions and manage assignments. It is essential that you have a working computer and regular high-speed Internet access. Course exam dates, deadlines and school schedules still apply to online learners. Coursework for an online program is generally equivalent to the coursework required for a campus-based program.

What Will I Learn About?

The courses you take in this program provide you with knowledge of the courts, agencies and laws that make up the American justice system. You will gain historical, theoretical and practical perspectives of the corrections process. You also learn about the roles of various actors within the justice system, such as detainees, guards, lawyers and parole boards. Other common topics include criminal procedures, agency management, evidence protocol and ethics.

Some programs may allow you to take elective courses in addition to core courses. Examples of electives include criminal investigations, juvenile justice and substance abuse. Depending on the program, you may also get to choose a concentration, such as law enforcement, criminalistics or delinquency.