There are several types of associate degree programs in justice administration, but all focus on teaching students about the judicial and corrections system in the United States. Associate degree programs require about two years of full-time study to complete and applicants must have high school diplomas or GED certificates.
Graduates often can find entry level work in the law enforcement field, although many agencies will require them to go through a training program at a police academy. Other graduates may move on to 4-year bachelor's degree programs.
Associate Degree in Justice Administration
Different types of associate degree programs in justice administration are available. An Associate of Science (A.S.) program typically incorporates studies in sociology, criminal psychology, and mathematics. By contrast, an Associate of Arts (A.A.) program may require studies in English, composition, public speaking, and U.S legal history. The concentrations may be in administration of justice or criminal justice administration, but both types train students to understand corrections procedures, common behavioral traits of criminals and victims, policing, investigative procedures, evidence collection, and processing techniques.
Coursework in this field will vary slightly between the A.S. and A.A. programs. Interdisciplinary approaches to justice administration programs are common and result in a wide array of courses that interweave fundamental requirements in criminal law study. Students may take classes in:
- Courts and legal processes
- Criminal investigations
- Criminal law concepts
- Legal principles and evidence collection
- Juvenile offenders
- Police procedures
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
With an associate degree in justice administration, graduates usually pursue careers in law enforcement as police officers, parole officers, probation officers, or corrections officers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that police and detectives would have a 4% growth rate in employment, or slower than the average for all professions, from 2014 to 2024, while corrections officers and jailers were predicted to have a 4% growth rate in employment as well during that same period (www.bls.gov). The BLS also anticipated a 4% increase for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, including includes parole officers, for this time period.
In May 2015, the BLS estimated that probation officers and correctional treatment specialists made a median salary of $49,360, while correctional officers and jailers earned a median annual wage of $40,530. Police and sheriff's patrol officers were reported to have made a median salary of $58,320 at this time.
Some associate degree programs in justice administration are designed to allow interested students to transition to a bachelor's degree program in the field. Depending on the law enforcement position procured, graduates may need to go through training academies before they begin their first assignments.
Students wishing to study and work in the judicial and corrections system can earn an associate's degree in justice administration. Graduates can pursue higher education or work various jobs in law enforcement.