Online associate's degree programs in criminal justice are relatively common. Majors that offer courses in this field include criminology, forensic science and juvenile corrections. These programs are available in both fully online and hybrid formats. Within the hybrid format, students will complete some face-to-face sessions, while lectures are completed in an online learning environment. Students may be able to concentrate their education in law enforcement, corrections or criminology.
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Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice
By providing in-depth criminal justice knowledge along with strong business and management skills, associate's degree programs in criminal justice programs can lead to positions in local and federal law enforcement, corrections and security. Many schools across the country offer online programs in criminal justice and criminal justice technology.
Students interested in studying criminal justice and criminal justice technology could also look into online programs in criminology, forensic science and juvenile corrections. Similar concepts are covered in all of these related programs.
Program Format and Delivery
Online associate's degree programs in criminal justice generally take two years to complete as a full-time student. Many schools offer criminal justice or criminal justice technology degrees in online and hybrid formats.
Delivery of online criminal justice courses is usually accomplished with a program such as Blackboard. In these Web environments, lectures and assignments are posted by instructors in a message board-style format. Students are able to communicate with each other and with their instructor through comments and responses. Hybrid or Web-enhanced courses generally involve some face-to-face sessions and a system for posting quizzes, grades and assignments online.
General education courses are usually required for a criminal justice degree. Though these requirements vary by school, criminal justice students are typically obligated to take courses in English, mathematics, communications and computer applications. Core criminal justice courses generally focus on criminology, law enforcement administration, criminal law and corrections.
Students learn about the relationship between criminal activity and deviant behavior. Statistical analysis of criminal behavior, social control initiatives and crime causation theories are some main areas of focus.
Th history and evolution of criminal law is covered. Crime classification, criminal responsibility matters and substantive law sources are discussed in this course.
Law Enforcement Administration
Principles of organization and administration in law enforcement agencies are the focus areas. The management of investigative units and the regulations pertaining to crime prevention are covered.
Career Information for Graduates
Graduates of online associate's degree programs in criminal justice can find employment opportunities in various levels of law enforcement, security and corrections systems. Job possibilities include police officer, correctional officer and loss prevention specialist. For police and detectives, the BLS projected employment growth of about 4% (slower than the average for all occupations) from 2014-2024. The same 4% rate of growth is predicted for corrections officers and bailiffs during that period. As of May 2015, the BLS reported a median annual wage of $58,320 for police and sheriff's patrol officers across the U.S., while corrections officers earned a median annual salary of $40,530.
Continuing Education Information
Many jobs with state and local law enforcement agencies require some training beyond a college degree. State and large local police departments often offer training through their own police academy, while smaller agencies may send recruits to a regional academy. This training can involve instruction in local ordinances, accident investigation, use of firearms and self-defense. Federal agencies often require a combination of a bachelor's degree and work experience. Many schools across the country offer online bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice.
Criminal justice associate's degrees are typically pursued by aspiring law enforcement and security officers, who can build an essential education in law and justice through online coursework. When they finish a distance learning program, graduates can pursue field training so that they can start working, or they can advance to a related bachelor's degree program.