How to Get an Online Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice

Have you always dreamt of being a cop, working in the field of law enforcement, or being a part of the justice system? Getting a criminal justice associate’s degree is a necessary step towards realizing that dream.

In addition to becoming a police officer, graduates of the criminal justice degree also have many other occupational route options. For example, they can work in forensics, security, courts, and even work with paralegals. Should you decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice after completing your associate’s, your options are even more wide open. You could work for the FBI or CIA, work in drug enforcement in the Food and Drug Administration, or be a private investigator, detective, or crime scene investigator. As you can see already, the options are endless.

With so many routes to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide on your life-long career right away. That is completely okay. Starting off with working toward an associate’s degree will give you the necessary groundwork to get to know more about our justice system and getting solid knowledge in liberal arts and science. The associate’s program gives a fascinating inside look at various subjects including but not limited to legal studies, sociology, psychology, political science, urban studies, forensics, and court administration.

Just like most careers today, associate holders generally have better job opportunities than those with only a high school diploma. The degree can be earned in as few as two years, and attending an accredited community college online can be a great way for busy students to earn their degrees. If you are a motivated and independent learner, distance learning can work very well for you. By virtually attending classes online, you will have access to all course materials and participate in class discussions just like you would normally in a traditional classroom setting. The main difference is that you would be doing all of this on your own time and interacting with your professors and peers via email or a designated classroom platform.

Common Associate’s in Criminal Justice Curriculum

The associate’s degree in criminal justice is designed to give students a good overview of the field without delving in too deeply. This way, students can get out with a solid foundation on each topic related to the field. Bachelor’s degree programs are readily available at four-year colleges for those who desire to learn each topic on a more specialized level.

Some common classes that students in the associate’s program of criminal justice will take include:

  • Criminal Law
  • Juvenile Justice System
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Research Methods for Criminal Justice
  • Ethics
  • Judicial Administration
  • Introduction to Information Technology
  • Writing for the Criminal Justice Profession

In addition to criminal justice-related courses, students will also have general education requirements and electives to complete, which will vary from college to college. These classes are usually not directly related to the field. They are designed to give students the opportunity to explore other subjects while getting a well-rounded foundation of knowledge that will come in handy when it comes to understanding real-life situations and succeeding in whatever career you choose to be in. For example, students may have an introductory course in math, business, history, language, and fine arts, to name a few.

Associate’s in Criminal Justice Careers

The field of criminal justice is growing over the years, especially because of the threats to our homeland security in recent years. Unfortunately, with increased crime, there is a high demand for graduates with criminal justice credentials to fill law enforcement or corrections positions. By getting your associate’s degree in criminal justice, you are one step ahead in beginning your career in this field.

Some popular occupations that criminal justice graduates take on include:

  • Police Officer
  • Paralegal
  • Correctional Officer
  • Private Investigator
  • Fire Inspector/Investigator
  • Crime Scene Technician
  • Bailiff
  • Security Officer
  • Police Dispatcher

Of course, there are so many more job opportunities out there, especially for those who plan on going above and beyond to pursue higher education in the field. If you want to explore your entrepreneurial side, you can even think about starting your own business in this field as well. For example, you can start your own private security business with your background in criminal justice.

A career in criminal justice is incredibly rewarding. You could be doing so many different things, from getting criminals off the streets to making sure the next terrorist plot doesn’t go down as planned. Workers in this field do heroic things everyday to save lives and help make a substantial difference in their communities. Unlike a typical 9-5 office job, working in this field your everyday schedule may differ, and for many, variety is what keeps work interesting and worthy of looking forward to on a daily basis. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then getting your associate’s degree in criminal justice will be the perfect first step towards a long and interesting career.

In addition to the great impact of saving lives and changing the world for the better, there are a multitude of attractive benefits that come with a law enforcement career. For example, most law enforcement professionals (especially officers working at the federal level) get generous pension plans and great retirement packages. There is also plenty of room for promotions and pay raises over time. Additionally, many law enforcement officers are also given special allowance to compensate them for work related to traveling, lodging, and other living expenses.