Best Online Associate in Criminal Justice Degrees 2021

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Police and detectives respond to emergencies, arrest perpetrators, and testify in court. Other job duties include interviewing suspects and collecting crime scene evidence. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these professionals earn a median $65,170 annual salary, much higher than the national average.

The BLS also projects 5% employment growth for police and detectives between 2019-2029. This projection indicates that job-seekers should enter a strong job market after attaining the required education and training. Earning an online criminal justice degree can satisfy this requirement.

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Online associate degrees in criminal justice offer academic flexibility and the ability to complete coursework from any location. Typical admission requirements include speaking with an admissions counselor and submitting undergraduate transcripts, if applicable. New learners with adequate transfer credit earn the degree in under 12 months.

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Top 10 Online Associate in Criminal Justice Degrees


  • How many years does it take to get a criminal justice degree?

    Students without any college experience graduate from a criminal justice program in approximately two years. Learners with transfer credit and those who enroll in an accelerated program graduate faster.

  • What can you do with an associate in criminal justice?

    Potential careers for workers with an associate degree include junior field investigator, security officer, and police records technician. Aspiring police officers and detectives may need additional education and training.

  • Is criminal justice a good major for the FBI?

    FBI professionals come from different academic backgrounds, including criminal justice. The FBI also considers applicants with a bachelor’s in cybersecurity, forensic accounting, or international studies.

  • What is the average FBI agent salary?

    The average FBI agent earns approximately $65,595 annually, according to March 2021 PayScale data. Agents with significant professional experience and a graduate degree earn more than their peers.

Best Online Associate in Criminal Justice Degrees 2021

What Are the Goals of a Criminal Justice Degree?

A degree in criminal justice emphasizes law enforcement, the court systems, and the correctional system. Professionals working in the criminal justice field must possess honed knowledge and skills concerning these topics. Courses may include criminal justice research and writing, the judicial process, criminology, and criminal law.

In addition to major courses, associate in criminal justice degrees also require general education classes, such as mathematics and social sciences. These courses confer transferable skills and prepare students for a bachelor’s completion program. Workers may need a bachelor’s degree to attain a promotion or raise, depending on their employer.

Why Get a Criminal Justice Degree?

An online associate degree in criminal justice confers benefits to students and alumni. Degree-seekers achieve the following results by selecting a program aligning with their personal interests and career goals.

Save Money
Students who earn an associate degree at a local community college before transferring to a bachelor’s completion program may save considerably on their education.
Continue to Work
Online learning’s many benefits include the ability to continue working while earning a degree. This advantage helps students avoid debt.
Earn More
Law enforcement professionals such as police officers, detectives, and FBI special agents typically earn more than the U.S. median salary. A higher salary can lead to positive financial outcomes.
Promote Safety
Workers with a criminal justice degree keep communities safe by investigating crimes, arresting suspects, and stopping criminals before a crime takes place.
Explore Different Colors
Multiple careers such as probation officer, private investigator, and DEA special agent make up the criminal justice field. Students work with a career advisor to select a career path.

What Are the Requirements for a Criminal Justice Degree?

Criminal justice degree applicants follow the same admissions steps as other prospective undergraduates. They submit either high school or GED transcripts. Applicants with college credit provide official undergraduate transcripts. Some colleges and universities also award transfer credit to degree-seekers with professional experience. Incoming students provide FAFSA results for financial aid purposes.

Successful online learners pass all courses and maintain an acceptable GPA. Graduation requirements specific to criminal justice programs include a capstone course involving original research in a criminal justice issue. Students use their findings to develop possible solutions they detail in an extended essay.

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Professional Organizations for Criminal Justice Students

Students in a criminal justice program network with potential employers, apply for exclusive scholarships, and stay current with the field’s latest trends by joining professional organizations. Other benefits may include a mentor program and invitations to in-person and virtual events. Organizations like those below charge degree-seekers an affordable membership fee.

  • Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences An international organization, ACJS caters to criminal justice professionals and students. Membership benefits include a career center, grant opportunities, and numerous publications. ACJS also features an enhanced membership option wherein current members join one of 13 research sections, including drugs and alcohol, restorative justice, and security and crime prevention.

  • Alpha Phi Sigma The Criminal Justice Honor Society APS recognizes academically gifted undergraduate and graduate students. Members may qualify for one of six scholarship opportunities, and other resources include job-hunting guides. Prospective members in an associate program must possess a minimum 3.2 GPA and rank within the top third of their class.

  • American Society of Criminology Students earning a degree in criminal justice join ASC to review career center resources, service on a committee, and receive three industry-leading publications. ASC also features numerous divisions, such as cybercrime and victimology. Resources available to college applicants include information regarding top undergraduate and graduate criminal justice degrees.

Scholarships for Criminal Justice Students

Numerous private organizations award scholarships to students earning a criminal justice degree. Application requirements may include a competitive undergraduate GPA, recommendation letters, and one or more essays. The following scholarships accept applications in 2021.

  • Brian Terry Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: The Brian Terry Scholarships honor an officer who lost his life in the line of duty. The scholarship committee considers high school seniors with a minimum 3.0 GPA and U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status. Applicants submit two recommendation letters, official high school transcripts, and a personal essay.

    Amount: Varies

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  • Constitutional Officers Association of Georgia Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Graduating Georgia high school seniors apply to this competitive scholarship. Application materials include proof of acceptance to an in-state college or university, proof of residency, and a 1,000-word essay on an assigned theme. Scholarship recipients use the award for the following fall semester’s tuition.

    Amount: $500

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  • My Alarm Center Student Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: High school seniors and college students apply to the My Alarm Center Student Scholarships. Applicants submit a 1,000-word essay wherein they describe their interest in the law enforcement field. My Alarm Center does not consider applications from employees’ children and extended family members.

    Amount: $1,000

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