Table of Contents
An online criminal Justice degree prepares you to work in any aspect of the criminal justice system. it gives students an understanding of the three main elements of the justice system: the courts, policing and corrections.
A criminal justice degree is an undergraduate or graduate degree with coursework that focuses on various parts of the criminal justice system. The courses you take to earn the degree cover topics like law enforcement, corrections, and the court system as well as criminal behavior and motivation.
A degree in Criminal Justice prepares you to work for the various levels of government in a wide range of roles. You could also work in the legal field.
Types of Online Criminal Justice Degrees
Click on the area that interests you to jump to that part of the page.
Crime scene investigation (SCI)
If you are the type of person who dreams of protecting the innocent and sending offenders behind bars, then you might pursue a degree in criminal justice.
This degree can help you learn what you need to know about the criminal justice system, particularly how its three major institutions—law enforcement, corrections system, and the courts—function.
Students are typically trained to develop strong leadership and management skills and how to be analytical and diplomatic.
Upon graduation, criminal justice majors can find a host of employment opportunities. You might be a cool FBI special agent. You may also work as a crime scene investigator, a probation officer, or a police detective.
If you believe that criminal offenders should be given the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves, then you should consider getting a corrections degree.
You can not only get the chance to land a good-paying job but also test your conflict-resolution skills and even help convicts get back on the right track.
As you prepare yourself for work inside correctional facilities, common topics of study may include public safety and correctional methods. Most degrees in this field include training in conflict resolution skills, such as how to maintain your cool and composure, which can help you in enforcing rules.
Upon graduation, you will likely work in prisons or jails, but you may also find employment opportunities in private security firms and even hospital settings.
Crime Scene Investigation (CSI)
You’ve probably dreamt of becoming a crime scene investigator because of shows like CSI and NCIS. While the job is a lot more difficult than what TV often depicts, there is no denying that being a crime scene investigator is one of the more colorful jobs you can get.
The ideal candidate for a degree in CSI is analytical, organized, methodical, and hardworking. Common studies in CSI degrees include ethics, psychology, criminal justice, chemistry, physics, and legal studies.
Upon graduation, you can find employment opportunities in law enforcement agencies. You may also find work in private detective firms. Your education should prepare you for the rigors of the job, including being investigating disturbing crime scenes.
Aside from being physically fit, you must also be able to handle stressful working environments.
Pursue a degree in emergency management if you dream of helping people during disasters such as tornadoes, wildfires, and storms.
You may also enjoy this field if you like helping people prepare for natural or man-made disasters.
With a degree in emergency management, you may find yourself working in public and private organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Red Cross.
You may work as a firefighter, first aid responder, or an emergency systems specialist. As you gain more experience and earn the necessary education or accreditation, you may even take up more senior roles such as the emergency services system director.
You may find a degree in homeland security worth taking if you have an interest in identifying, mitigating, and controlling national security risks.
While a homeland security degree can lead you to a job in law enforcement, it may also be your ticket to a job in criminal justice, emergency response, and cybersecurity, among others.
A homeland security degree program can help give you a strong foundation in areas such as intelligence, counter-terrorism, border security, and emergency management. Other common studies include training in cyber warfare, terrorist groups, and transnational security, among others.
Upon graduation, you are likely to find work in the federal government. One of the largest employers of homeland security degree holders is the Department of Homeland Security, with more than 240,000 employees. You may also find employment in law enforcement agencies, emergency management companies, and security firms.
You can help prepare yourself for a lucrative career in criminal justice by earning a degree in law enforcement.
With a law enforcement degree, you can gain the knowledge, training, and qualification to become a police officer, detective, or probation or parole officer, among others.
Some of the courses you’d likely take when pursuing a law enforcement degree are investigative techniques, modern policing, law enforcement operations, and criminal investigations.
Law enforcement degree candidates are trained to be analytical and organized. They are also expected to be physically fit and mentally tough.
Courses for an Online Criminal Justice Degree
The courses offered in an online criminal justice program differ depending on the school, educational path, and career goals of the students. However, below are some of the courses you are likely to take during the course of a criminal justice degree program:
- Criminal Justice— provides a deeper understanding of criminal laws, courtroom procedures, and the criminal process from arrest, detention, and incarceration.
- Victimology – discusses the experiences of victims as they move through the criminal justice system to give a better understanding of victimization patterns, among others.
- Ethics and Diversity — discusses the ethical practice of law enforcement, particularly in incorporating cultural awareness in various communities.
- Terrorism — gives a closer look at the behavior and motivations of terrorist groups as well as the effects of terrorist activities at local and national levels
- Drugs and Crime — discusses the origins of drug addiction and how it is related to crime. Students also learn and analyze drug policies, drug treatment, and drug prevention programs.
You’ll also take classes specific to your concentration.
Criminal Justice Degree Salary
You may be surprised to learn that a criminal justice degree can open up a wide range of employment opportunities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some careers in the criminal justice field include:
|Careers||Annual Median Salary|
|Detective and Criminal Investigator||$86,940|
|Private Detective and Investigator||$53,320|
While education is the largest factor in determining your starting salary, performance and experience will be what moves you up in your organization.
Professional Organizations for Those with a Criminal Justice Degree
The criminal justice field has become quite competitive in recent years. Joining professional organizations can help criminal justice degree holders build their credentials and expand their network.
- American Academy for forensic science– Founded in 1948, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences is a group of forensic science professionals based in Colorado, USA. It has members from more than 70 countries. It promotes professionalism, competency, and integrity in the forensic science field.
- American Correction Association– A private and non-profit trade group, the American Correctional Association is the oldest and largest trade association for the corrections industry. Founded in 1870, it had played a significant role in prison reform in the United States. An accrediting body, it has accredited more than 900 prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities in the US.
- American Jail Association – The AJA offers a career resource for individuals looking to gain employment in the corrections field. This association has members from more than 3,500 jails and correctional institutions in the United States.
- National Criminal Justice Association– This non-profit and non-partisan association has members from the law enforcement, corrections, academics, and justice communities.
Joining one or more of these organizations as a student can give you additional insights into the industry through publications, industry news, and job boards.
Accreditation for a Criminal Justice Degree Online
Accreditation is an important factor when searching for a criminal justice degree online. Consider enrolling in a college or university with a regional accreditation as this ensures that the institution provides quality education.
Employers also tend to give preference to candidates with criminal justice degrees from colleges and universities with regional accreditation.
US colleges and universities offering criminal justice programs may also have national accreditation, which is considered less prestigious than regional accreditation. Nationally-accredited schools, though, may offer more affordable criminal justice programs.
Financial Aid for a Criminal Justice Bachelors Degree Online
Some students apply for private or federal loans to help them finance their criminal justice education. If you take this route, you will have to repay your lender upon graduation.
You can also look and apply for scholarships and grants, which don’t have to be repaid. You’ll have to meet strict requirements to qualify, though, such as submitting an essay detailing your achievements and compelling reasons why you should be given the scholarship.
See what federal aid you qualify for by filling out the Free Application for Federal students aid.
You can then apply for private scholarships, including the Martin Luther King jr scholarship, which is open to minority students currently enrolled or about to be accepted to an undergraduate criminal justice program.
You can also apply for a scholarship under theMelissa Vinville Criminal justice program, which benefits freshmen planning to major in criminal justice.
Questions Related to Earning a Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice Online
Here are our answers to a few more questions you might have.
Can You Get a Criminal Justice Degree Online?
Yes, you can earn a Criminal Justice degree online. There’s a good number of colleges and universities across the country offering online criminal justice degrees.
Coursework for these programs is of the same quality as on-campus classes. You will also have the same professional opportunities as those who earn criminal justice degrees on-campus.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Criminal Justice Degree Online?
How long it takes to get a Criminal Justice degree online depends on the level of degree you want to take. You may earn a certificate program in criminal justice, which you can complete in 6 to 12 months. But this may not be enough to land you a job after graduation.
You may also take up an associate degree, which typically takes two years to complete. Bachelor’s and masters degree in criminal justice typically take 3-4 years.
As an alternate plan, you could explore programs that offer 4 weeks online college credit course which may help you to finish your degree faster.
How Much Does Criminal Justice Degree Cost?
How much a Criminal Justice degree costs depends on the level of degree you’ll be taking. An associate degree, which appeals to students who want to start a career in criminal justice in the shortest time possible, is the shortest to complete at 2 years on average.
The U.S. Department of Education says the average annual cost for an associate criminal justice degree is $21,141. Expect to spend at least $42,282 to complete this degree. Double that amount for a bachelor degree.
What Is the Best Online College for Criminal Justice?
The best online college for a criminal justice degree is one that is regionally-accredited.
You should also take into consideration other factors in choosing an online college for criminal justice degrees such as tuition fees, faculty longevity and credentials, and overall graduation rate.
What Are the Cheapest Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs?
You won’t have to pay thousands of dollars in tuition fees to get a criminal justice degree.
There are educational institutions offering affordable online criminal justice degree programs. Some of the most affordable degree programs cost just $200 per credit hour.