Online Criminal Law Schools: How to Choose

There are no online degrees programs in criminal law, but online degree programs in criminology and criminal justice include courses in criminal law that prepare students for careers in the field. These programs are offered at schools throughout the U.S.

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When looking for online criminal justice or criminology programs that cover criminal law, check if the degree or certificate matches requirements for your desired career and what formats the program is available in. Criminal justice programs are typically available at the certificate, bachelor's, and master's degree level.

How to Select an Online Criminal Law School

Online degree programs offer students the training necessary to pursue a career in criminology and criminal justice. Students in these programs study the workings of the judicial system, crime patterns, prevention and law enforcement methods. Students must then weigh the award level and program delivery with their career goals.

Award Level and Career Goals

Online degrees are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some programs require students to engage in individual field research. Selecting the appropriate level of study is dependent on a student's career goals. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice can work in corrections, security or police agencies. Those with a master's degree may qualify for higher-level roles in investigation and federal law enforcement. Graduates who hold a master's degree in criminal justice can also find jobs in education.

Program Delivery

Online programs in criminology and criminal justice are offered in full online immersion and low-residency (hybrid) formats. Online immersion programs provide complete course instruction though a combination of multimedia and Web platforms. Students participate in virtual class discussions, view DVD lectures and complete online readings. Students in full online programs are generally not required to take classes on campus.

Hybrid programs are more common among online criminology and criminal justice degree programs. These typically require students to spend at least part of the time on campus, where they benefit from classroom instruction and gain hands-on experience with the tools and the procedures required in the field.

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List of Popular Online Criminal Justice Programs

Online Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice

The bachelor's program in criminal justice can take 3-4 years to complete. Students in the program complete general liberal arts courses in addition to core criminology classes. Upper level students may also wish to specialize in areas such as juvenile crime, gang violence or drugs. Earning this degree can provide preparation for entry-level positions in criminal justice. Course requirements include:

  • Correlates of criminal behavior
  • Police-citizen relations
  • Punishment and corrections
  • Criminal law and reasoning

Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Criminology and Criminal Justice

The post-bachelor certificate is aimed at students who hold a bachelor's degree in another subject but would undertake focused study in the field of criminal law. A graduate certificate in criminology and criminal justice can be completed in a little over one year. Students follow a basic curriculum in criminology, along with electives in:

  • Offender rehabilitation
  • Crime in specific populations
  • Geographic criminology
  • American courts

Online Master's of Science in Criminal Justice

A master's degree in criminal justice provides preparation for entry-level administrative, management, teaching and research positions in schools, government agencies and security companies. The online program can be completed in two years or one year through an accelerated schedule.

Master's students study criminal justice from multiple perspectives, including the theory, administration, and policy aspects. Students on individualized tracks take advanced courses in their specialized field. Completion of the program depends on successful completion of the courses and lesson materials in the program as well as the presentation of a final project. Classes can also focus on specialized topics like:

  • White-collar crime
  • Applied statistics
  • Correctional rehabilitation
  • Biosocial factors in serial offending

Schools with Online Programs in Criminal Law

The University of Cincinnati offers a bachelor's and a master's degree online in criminal justice. The bachelor's degree program is useful for a range of careers in both the private and public sector, including private security companies and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The master's program is ranked among the best in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. As with all master's degree programs, a bachelor's degree must be completed first, although it may be in any field. Students may select a focus in analysis of criminal behavior, law enforcement and crime prevention, and corrections and offender rehabilitation, or opt for the general track with no concentration.

Through Portland State University, students can obtain an online bachelor's degree and/or certificate in criminal justice. Certificates are available at the undergraduate and graduate level. For the bachelor's degree, prerequisites for enrollment include a minimum of 45 quarter hours or 30 semester hours of completed college coursework, including one introductory college writing course. Previous college coursework is also recommended for the undergraduate certificate. Areas of focus for the bachelor's degree include criminology and criminal justice, crime analysis, criminal behavior, and leadership in criminal justice. The post-bachelor's certificate covers ongoing approaches and is recommended to augment the knowledge and skill set of practicing and aspiring professionals. Listed career opportunities include politics, law, and victim services.

There are no criminal law programs online. However, criminal justice programs, which often cover concepts in criminal law, are available online at the bachelor's degree, master's degree, and undergraduate and post-graduate certificate level.

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