Associate of Criminal Justice: Degree Overview

In criminal justice associate's programs, students learn about law and law enforcement protocols and practices through traditional coursework and direct experience practica.

Essential Information

Criminal justice associate's-level degree options usually come in the form of an Associate of Applied Science or an Associate of Science in criminal justice. These 2-year programs are principally offered by community colleges and technical schools, and require a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) equivalent for admission. Through classroom lectures and practical experiences, students gain knowledge of the American legal system, correctional systems practices, law enforcement tactics and current social issues plaguing our country. Concentration elective options include criminal courts and juvenile justice.

  • Program Fields: Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Prerequisites: A high school diploma or equivalent
  • Program Specializations: Options include criminal courts and juvenile justice
  • Other Requirements: Completion of an internship for graduation

Associate's in Criminal Justice

In addition to traditional courses and an internship, students may participate in cooperative education, which allows students to put specialized theory into practice. Some topics of study may include:

  • Criminology
  • Corrections
  • Legal aspects of law enforcement
  • Police systems and practices
  • Criminal investigations

Popular Career Options

Graduates have the theoretical knowledge of criminology and investigative skills to qualify for career opportunities within private security, computer forensics and law enforcement. Some popular career titles are:

  • Police officer
  • Clerk
  • Detective
  • Bailiff
  • Sheriff

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of police is expected to grow at a rate of 5% over 2012-2022. The mean annual salary of these professionals was $59,560 as of May 2014.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates may pursue immediate employment or choose to further their education. Aspiring police officers are usually required to complete additional training, usually at academies, prior to starting work. Individuals interested in working as probation officers or correctional specialists can seek a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) requires their agents to have at least a bachelor's, according to the BLS.

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