5 Places to Get a Free Criminal Justice Education Online

Free online courses in criminal justice are offered by real schools. Learn which criminal justice courses are available, what topics they cover and if they lead to real college credit.

Online Criminal Justice Courses for Credit

When students visit Study.com, they can access numerous criminal justice courses that can help them master criminal justice topics and begin to earn college credit. They have the chance to increase their understanding of criminal justice topics through resources such as video lessons, transcripts, lesson quizzes and chapter tests.

The course titled Criminal Justice 101: Intro to Criminal Justice allows students to study topics on criminal justice like types of crime and the juvenile justice system. Sample chapters in this course include:

  • Theories of Crime - Study different theories related to crime, such as biological, rational choice, due process and sociological theories of crime.
  • The U.S. Court System - Learn about the court system, the three levels of the federal court, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • The Role of the Police Department - Examine police management, the arrest process and police corruption.

Information on Free Online Criminal Justice Courses

The free online criminal justice courses described below may offer a majority of the same resources as credit-bearing classes, but none grant college credit. Students don't need to register or enroll in order to access the course materials. Some courses require the purchase of textbooks.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Justice explores the concepts of liberty and equality in society. Students can download PDFs of selected lecture notes and complete assignments from the three required textbooks.
  • Drugs, Politics and Culture allows students to look at the use of illegal drugs in our culture and examine America's drug laws and their impact on the country. Course offerings include notes from selected lectures and readings from a list of books the student must obtain. Quizzes and paper topics are also given for students to test their learning.
  • Philosophy of Law looks at issues like punishment and legal ethics. Reading assignments from several texts are recommended, and students can access examples of short papers written for the class. The course also contains a variety of PDF notes that can help explain important class readings and concepts.

The Open University

These introductory courses consist of typed lessons, along with activities and quizzes designed to further explore the topics discussed.

  • Judges and the Law examines the history of common law in England, a system similar to that used in the United States. Civil law systems in the U.K. are also discussed.
  • Making and Using Rules looks at how legal rules are formed, interpreted and applied.
  • Starting with Law is a course for beginners on how laws are made and how they affect society.

University of California - Irvine

  • 'Law As:' Theory and Method in Legal History features video lectures from law professors from several U.S. colleges, exploring the theory that law is not a separate entity, but is embedded in society. Panel discussions and commentary are also available.
  • Criminology, Law and Society: Hate Crimes offers lecture notes that touch on the history of hate crimes and hate crimes legislation. Available materials include links to related newspaper articles and YouTube videos. A list of required reading materials is also made available.

University of Notre Dame

  • Crime, Heredity and Insanity in American History allows students to explore various theories to explain criminal behavior through the years. Some of these materials can be accessed via links to newspaper and journal articles. Several textbooks are required, but many readings are available online.

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