Guide to Criminal Justice Degrees Online

Criminal justice encompasses a wide variety of roles, including crime scene investigation, law enforcement, computer and internet security, and even homeland security. While some positions require a graduate degree or even a four degree, many positions can be pursued with an associates degree. We have listed the top schools with online programs available. Get free information by contacting them with the links provided.

Kaplan University MPA – Criminal Justice MS – Criminal Justice MS – CJ – Global Issues MS – CJ – Policing BSBA – Criminal Justice BS – Criminal Justice Kaplan University – Kaplan University, a world renowned college, offers many accredited Criminal Justice degree programs that can be completed online. Their MPA in Criminal Justice, MS in Criminal Justice, MS CJ in Global Issues, MS CJ in Policing, BSBA in Criminal Justice, and BS in Criminal Justice degree programs offer the real world skills needed to succeed in the expanding field of Criminal Justice.
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Liberty University BS – Criminal Justice AA – Criminal Justice Liberty University – Liberty University, the world’s largest Christian university, offers two programs in the field of Criminal Justice. Their BS in Criminal Justice and AA in Criminal Justice accredited online degree programs are tailored for those with busy schedules. They offer convenient schedules that can help you quickly achieve your goals.
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Post University BS – Criminal Justice BSCJ - Human Services Post University – Founded in 1890, Post University is an accredited college with experience and solutions to providing students with quality education they can utilize upon graduation. Post has two degrees available through online courses that focus on developing a students problem-solving and writing skills as they learn about the criminal justice system. Post has a Bachelors of Criminal Justice and a BSCJ in Human Services.
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Ashford University BA – Social & Criminal Justice BA/SCJ – Forensics BA/SCJ – Homeland Security BA/SCJ – Security Management BA/SCJ – Corrections Ashford University – Ashford University has expanded its online course catalog to include several criminal justice degrees. Online programs offer a convenient way to pursue a degree and advance your career. Ashford offers a degree with a general focus on Criminal Justice as well as several specializations, including Homeland Security, Corrections Management, Forensics, and Security Management.
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Walden University PhD Public Policy – CJ PhD Human Services – CJ MPA – Criminal Justice BS CJ – Crime and Criminals BS CJ – Mgmt and Admin BS Psychology – Criminal Justice Walden University – Walden University, a career-oriented online university, offers many accredited online Criminal Justice degree programs. Their PhD CJ – Public Policy, PhD CJ – Human Services, MPA in Criminal Justice, BS CJ – Crime & Criminals, BS CJ – Mgmt & Admin, and BS CJ – Psychology programs have convenient schedules that can help you quickly achieve your goals.
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Strayer University BS: Criminal Justice Admin AA: Criminal Justice BSCJ: Computer Security BSCJ - Homeland Security Tech Strayer University – Strayer University, a distinguished and respected leader in higher education, has been helping students achieve their career goals for over 100 years. Students can choose from its selection of several Criminal Justice degrees available online to experience quality, affordable education right at their fingertips. Strayer offers a BSCJ in Computer Security, BSCJ in Homeland Security Technology, Associates of Criminal Justice, and several others.
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Saint Leo University MS – Criminal Justice MSCJ – Forensic Science MSCJ – Critical Incident Mgmt BA – Criminal Justice BA – Criminalistics Saint Leo University – Saint Leo University is a highly rated online college the offers many accredited degrees in the field of Criminal Justice, such as MS in Criminal Justice, MSCJ in Forensic Science, MSCJ in Critical Incident Management, BA in Criminal Justice, and BA in Criminalistics. Their online degree programs offer flexible schedules that can be completed at a pace that is most comfortable to you.
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Rasmussen University Associates in Criminal Justice AS/CJ: Psychology AS/CJ: Homeland Security AS/CJ: Law Enforcement AS/CJ: Corrections Bachelors in Criminal Justice BS/CJ: Homeland Security BS/CJ: Client Services BS/CJ: Criminal Offenders BS/CJ: Law Enforcement Rasmussen University – Founded over 100 years ago, Rasmussen is earn its status as a well-respected leader at the forefront of new and trusted education. Rasmussen offers online programs for several of their criminal justice degrees, giving students a quick way to jump-start their careers and and study Criminal Justice, Criminal Psychology, Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, Criminal Rehabilitation, or Criminal Offenses.
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Virginia College MS – Criminal Justice BS – Criminal Justice AS – Criminal Justice Virginia College – Virginia College is an industry driven online university that offers Criminal Justice degrees at various levels, ranging from Masters, to Bachelors, to Associates. Their affordable accredited degrees can be completed online at a pace that is most comfortable to you.
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Colorado Technical University MS – CJ Management BS – Criminal Justice Colorado Technical University – Colorado Technical University is a highly regarded online university that offers accredited degrees in the field of Criminal Justice. Their MS in Criminal Justice Management, and BS in Criminal Justice degree programs are convenient and can be completed online at your own leisure.
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What Criminal Justice Degrees Exist and What Are They Called?

With careers ranging from legal to corrections, the array of criminal justice degrees is wide. They can also vary on the type of degree, length taken to earn it, and various sub specialties.

  1. Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice (A.A. in C.J.): The two year degree has a focus on the arts as well as criminal justice. Those who want a shorter study lighter on the math and science will be interested.
  2. Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice (A.A.S. in C.J.): Similar to the above, this degree takes a look at the more scientific side of criminal justice. It is lighter on the arts and literature.
  3. Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice (B.A. in C.J.): This four year degree prepares students for a career in criminal justice or to go onto study a more advanced degree.
  4. Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (B.S. in C.J.): For undergraduate students, this is one of the most common of the types of criminal justice degrees. Because the field is so technical, a Bachelor’s of Science is the more common offering.
  5. Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration (B.S. in C.J.A.): This degree focuses on management and leadership within the criminal justice system. A dual emphasis is placed on both crime and management skills.
  6. Master of Science in Criminal Justice (M.S. in C.J.): If you are looking for an advanced degree in criminal justice, this is also one of the more common. It can be earned in person or over the internet in as little as 18 months depending on the school.
  7. Doctorate in Criminal Justice (Ph.D. in C.J.): The doctorate degree, or Ph.D., is one of the most difficult to earn yet carries the most prestige. Leadership and management are often the target of students pursuing this degree.

Existing education is also an important factor when choosing a criminal justice degree. For example, it usually takes someone with a high school diploma two years to complete an associate’s degree. However, someone who already has a bachelor’s degree can spend the same two years earning a master’s degree. Some courses even offer fast tracks to have students graduating semesters ahead, while others focus on the traditional fall and spring semesters. Be sure to take the above into account when planning out studies.

Where Can I Find Criminal Justice School Rankings?

Many entities put out a yearly list of the best undergraduate and graduate schools for students to enter such as “U.S. News and World Report.” While they take extensive measures in grading schools, these rankings are ultimately arbitrary for most students because everyone’s criteria is different. While one student may be looking for the most prestigious school, another may be more interested in quality for their dollar.

If you still need to see criminal justice school rankings, try the Journal of Criminal Justice Education. They occasionally post school rankings, as well as other related items. Many articles and entire issues are available to read online or you can learn more about a subscription.

If you know which area of criminal justice you would like to go into, take that into account when studying. For example, Kaplan University offers criminal justice degrees with specialties in global issues, as well as leadership and executive management. American Intercontinental University offers four different Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degrees with focuses on corrections, forensic science, and law enforcement.

There are even specialties with sub specialties, such as offered by the University of Phoenix. They offer a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration with focuses on institutional healthcare and management, along with many other options for the area. The best part is if your school offers more than one kind of criminal justice degree, you can take many classes before deciding on which specialty you would like to go into.

Can I Transfer Criminal Justice Degree Credits?

The short answer to the question is “yes”. A more appropriate response is it is allowed under the right circumstances. One of the most important aspects to transferring course credits is accreditation. To begin a simple search, click here to access the database at the U.S. Department of Education. It lists all schools both nationally and regionally accredited.

The difference between nationally vs. regionally accredited is that sometimes credits cannot be transferred back and forth between schools. This means if you have studied and earned college credits on the East coast but are now looking to study in the West, you may have to retake some classes. All credits do not necessarily transfer to all schools, so it is important to check with your school before beginning studies to see which schools will accept transfer credits.

Once satisfactory transfer credit criteria has been established, there still may be other encumbrances. All schools have a max level of transfer credits allowed, and it is usually about half the time it takes to earn a degree. For example, on a 120 hour Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice a max of 60 credits is allowed to be transferred. A minimum passing grade of 2.0 or C is required, and the specialty classes are usually mandatory at the institute you are transferring to.

The issue of nationally vs. regionally transferred criminal justice degree credits becomes less of an issue if you already have a degree from an accredited school. If you already have an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree can again take half the time. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, a graduate degree can literally be months away. This is especially true if willing to take on one of the more fast tracked programs in criminal justice.

What Careers are Common With a Criminal Justice Degree?

Careers within the aspects of the justice system from apprehension to conviction to correction to release all require the involvement of many criminal justice professionals. Some of the more common positions are listed below.

  1. Corrections Officer: These officers generally work in prisons or other detainment facilities. Maintaining order and safety in the environment is one of the main requirements.
  2. Law Enforcement: They are more commonly known as police men or women. Each state, city, and county have different regulations for hiring. However, most law enforcement officers usually have at least an associate’s degree in criminal justice or related area.
  3. Forensic Technician: They perform similar tasks at the characters in “C.S.I.” Working from the crime scene to the laboratory, forensic technicians can have a wide knowledge of law enforcement.
  4. Legal Assistant: They work in the legal area with public defenders, district attorneys, and even private lawyers. Paralegal, legal secretary, and other related areas are also available with the right degree.
  5. Probation Officer: Once an offender has been released, they are usually assigned to an officer to oversee their reentry into society. A degree and loads of job training are all part of this career.
  6. Private Detective: When the police can’t or won’t find an answer to a crime, many citizens turn to these hired investigators to seek out the true offender. Extensive knowledge of criminal justice is required.
  7. Security: Many private companies hire security to protect their property or even person. Knowing security procedures, protection techniques, and even how to be a bodyguard can all be sub-specialties of the career.
  8. Loss Prevention: Keep thieves from taking or damaging property in this career. They are often asked to maintain, operate, or even install necessary security equipment.
  9. Special Agent: These officers work for the federal government in the Department of Justice, F.B.I., or other agency. A bachelor’s degree or higher in criminal justice or related area is usually required.

Many of these positions, such as corrections and law enforcement, have entry level positions available and hire without any experience. Training is often part of the hiring process and students can go from graduation to a specialized academy in a few steps. Best of all, many of them offer paid training and even hiring bonuses if they are low on criminal justice professionals.

Other areas require more education or experience. For example, an agent for the F.B.I. can be hired without any relevant experience, but extensive knowledge of criminal justice, fluency in a second language, or expertise in technology can put a student at the head of the pack when applying for a position such as this that is loaded with competition.

A private job is also a possible career for someone with a criminal justice degree and relevant experience. For example, a police officer with extensive knowledge and a good reputation can hire him or herself out as a private investigator to a single client and earn more in pay. In an era of growing danger, personal security has also become more in demand and someone with a criminal justice background can work as a private guard.

How do I get a Career in Criminal Justice?

The amount of time and study taken to become a criminal justice professional depends on the area in which the student goes into. For example, if going into law enforcement or corrections there are many requirements. A formal education with at least an associate’s degree in criminal justice or a related field is required. Some agencies may even ask for a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Once an application is filled out, a background check is usually done. Anyone with a felony conviction or outstanding warrant can be denied a job in criminal justice. Once passed, the candidate may go into training for up to a full year, depending on the agency. This will be the time that he or she can prove their dedication to the position along with their ability to perform it in a satisfactory manner.

If looking to become a paralegal or legal secretary, the path is more clear. An associate’s degree as a paralegal is very common and students can choose to do a specialty in criminal justice. If you already have a related degree, a certificate in legal studies can be earned. Because these professionals do not give out legal advice or present cases in court, they are not required to bas a Bar exam or other licensing process. Although certification is not required, it can often be helpful and show potential employers that a candidate is serious about the profession.

If looking to go into private work, a relevant criminal justice degree is usually required. Because people hire them out from their own pockets, a private investigator will also be asked if he or she has related work experience, such as police work. Most of the 50 states require that private detectives be licensed. These licenses are usually obtained with an accredited degree, background check, and the passing of an exam. Check with your state to see what their requirements are. To view each states license standards, click here to get a list from “Professional Investigator Magazine.”

The type of criminal justice degree earned is also a factor in getting into a career. Once a student has a high school diploma or equivalent, it usually takes two years to acquire an associate’s degree in criminal justice and four years to acquire a bachelor’s. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, especially in a related field, it can take anywhere from one to three years to obtain a master’s degree in criminal justice and approximately another four to get a doctorate. Many online programs and private schools offer fast track degrees to cut study time even further.

What is the Average Salary of Someone With a Criminal Justice Degree?

The average annual salary of someone with a criminal justice degree depends on what field they go into. Other things like work experience, education, certification, licensing, location, and more also factor into median pay.

If looking to go into work as a paralegal or legal assistant, type of employer seems to affect pay the most. In general, paralegals who work for large law firms or in metropolitan areas earn more than those who work for smaller firms or smaller cities. In May 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cited $46,120 in average annual pay for paralegals and legal assistants. The federal government was the highest paying employer at $58,540 and those who worked in legal services earned the least at $44,480.

Those going into work in law enforcement as a city, county, or sheriff’s officer are subject to average annual pay being more effected by experience. Since all law enforcement is subject to entry level positions, time spent doing the job and doing it well is a major factor to pay. Average annual salary of policemen across the country was $51,410 in May of 2008. Once an officer has put in relevant work experience and moves up the ladder, pay does as well. Moving up to sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and chief all carry an annual pay of $58,739, $65,688, $72,761, and $90,570 respectively in minimum average salary, not taking into account the max salary without longevity that pays even more.

Earnings for private detectives and investigators also depends on experience and location. A new investigator with little experience usually hires themselves out on an hourly wage but can charge up to $20 an hour plus expenses and beyond for their work. Lighter cases such as infidelity, fraud, and other non-violent crimes are often the subject of the cases taken. A private detective with more experience can higher themselves out to take on more serious matters such as kidnapping or even murder. Because these cases are more dangerous and require more experience, a retainer of $10,000 or more may be asked to start initial investigations.

Where Can I Find Criminal Justice Degree Scholarships and Grants?

Before beginning a search for criminal justice degree scholarships and grants be sure to look in the usual places first. Such as:

  1. FAFSAThe Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the first stop for anyone looking to get financial aid for any degree from associate’s to doctorate. Although it is a lengthy document, it is accepted by just about every accredited school, be it national, regional, or local.
  2. Students GatewayTips for everything from scholarships and grants to choosing a school are available at this site. You can also learn more about federal student aid, internships, and many other ways to pay for your criminal justice degree.
  3. College.govDon’t know the difference between a scholarship, grant, or loan? Then stop here to get a simple guide on Financial Aid 101 and other related topics.
  4. Federal Education Tax Benefits GuideJust because you end up paying for part or all of your college doesn’t mean you get stuck with the bill permanently. The Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning Credit are tax breaks for students who meet certain educational requirements to be reimbursed for tuition and other expenses during tax time.
  5. Search EDThe Department of Education also allows you to search for programs that meet a number of criteria. Simply choose eligibility, assistance type, or office of the help you would like to begin.

If looking for scholarships and grants geared more towards criminal justice degrees, have a look below.

  1. Paralegal Scholarships and GrantsThe National Federation of Paralegal Associations keeps a list of scholarships available. There are currently eight listed and include a link to the PDF with more information.
  2. Criminal Justice ScholarshipsThe site Criminal Justice Degree keeps a list of schools and sites that offer scholarships and grants that are available to those seeking a degree in criminal justice.
  3. USA JobsThis Google like site is specifically for searches on federal jobs that are currently hiring. This is a good stop for criminal justice majors to find internships, training, and other opportunities to pay for school while getting valuable on the job experience.

Because on the job experience is such a vital part of criminal justice, check with your school or local law enforcement agency to see if they are hiring students or have a work for study program. Many can provide free training, work in exchange for tuition, or even paid opportunities.

Another important aspect of paying for a criminal justice degree is to speak to the financial aid department of any current or prospective school. They are specifically tasked with helping students pay for school and are the best one-stop shop for scholarships, grants, and work for hire opportunities available to a student.