Online Associate in Criminology Programs 2021

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Criminologists analyze why people commit crimes, how crime affects people, and how to prevent crime in the future. The field dates back approximately 200 years, when law enforcement professionals began gathering and interpreting crime statistics. Today, criminologists study crime through multiple lenses, such as psychology and criminology.

Popular careers for professionals with an associate in criminology include police officer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that police officers earn median annual salaries approximately $25,000 over the national median. Police officers who become detectives earn more, and the BLS projects the need for these professionals to grow 5% in 2019-2029.

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Top 10 Online Associate in Criminology Programs

Exploring a career in Criminology


  • Is criminology a good career?

    Criminology careers appeal to individuals wanting to make a positive impact in their community. Besides police officer and detective, career opportunities include correctional officer and forensic science technician.


  • Do criminologists get paid well?

    Occupations similar to police officers and detectives pay a median $29,710-$74,590 annual salary. As with other professions requiring a college diploma, experienced workers earn more than recent graduates.


  • Are criminologists in demand?

    The BLS projects the need for police officers and detectives to grow somewhat faster than the median projected growth rate for all U.S. professions.


  • Where do criminologists work?

    Criminologists work for state and local governments, private prisons, laboratories, and private ambulance companies. Other typical employers include law enforcement agencies.


Why Get a Degree in Criminology?



A criminology associate degree introduces students to the field and its numerous career paths. Associate degree-seekers hone transferable skills applicable to nearly all careers, an advantage if learners decide to switch majors. Associate degrees, especially those community colleges offer, typically cost less per credit than four-year degrees.

An online criminology degree features additional financial benefits, such as saving money on specific fees and not commuting to campus. Online associate in criminology programs may also use an asynchronous curriculum, without set meeting times. This academic flexibility allows degree-seekers to continue working while in school.

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How Much Does a Criminology Degree Cost?

Although tuition costs vary, typically public institutions charge the most affordable per-credit tuition rate to in-state students. However, some public schools waive out-of-state tuition for online learners. Private schools cost the most but do not use residency-based tuition.

Some online associate in criminology programs provide a significant tuition discount to police officers and other first responders. These schools may also offer tuition-reduction programs. They may award credit for life experience or allow federal, state, and institutional financial aid awards to stack. The federal government also provides active-duty service members and veterans significant financial aid.

Although associate in criminology programs do not charge extra fees, online learners should expect to pay standard school fees. Fees may cover technology, portfolio assessment, and payment plan participation. Please contact a financial aid advisor to learn more about fees to estimate total out-of-pocket expenses.

Calculating the Cost of a College Degree



A tuition calculator helps criminology associate degree students estimate a tuition budget. Required information includes tuition and fees, monthly income, cost of living, and financial aid. The final result shows how much learners can put toward their education monthly without going into debt. Degree-seekers whose results suggest they cannot pay for college out of pocket should speak with a financial aid advisor.

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How Much Do Criminology Majors Make?

Criminology professionals’ salaries depend on the career path they select. Entry-level crime analysts and corrections officers earn less than their experienced peers. Some of the highest-paying professions in this field include forensic psychologists and FBI special agents. Typical salaries for these jobs exceed $50,000 annually.

Although the criminology field features many high-paying careers, they require more than an associate in criminology. No matter their specialization, all licensed psychologists need a doctorate, such as a Ph.D. or Psy.D. The FBI requires all potential special agents to also possess a bachelor’s degree.

Besides higher degrees, professional certifications and college or university certificates help workers earn a raise or find a higher-paying job. Certifications and certificates take less time to finish than a degree while still imparting in-demand skills. Some bachelor’s and graduate degrees accept certificates as transfer credit.

Courses in Criminology



Criminology coursework introduces students to law enforcement, the correction system, and the courts. Degree-seekers explore these and other topics in criminal justice research and writing, judicial process, and criminal law courses. Some programs allow students to select one or more criminal justice electives.

The following sample curriculum describes three courses degree-seekers typically take as part of their criminology associate degree. Schools also require general education courses, including natural science and communication. Contact an institution’s admissions advisors or visit the program website to learn more about additional graduation requirements.

This class covers the specialized knowledge and skills professionals need to write case briefs and other legal documents. Students master American Psychological Association formatting, analyze persuasive writing fundamentals, and improve concision. Participants demonstrate proficiency by writing a simulated police report or case brief.

The judicial process involves the steps lawyers, judges, and juries take to bring criminals to justice. Degree-seekers research each group’s function and impact on the greater criminal justice system. Learning outcomes include memorizing key terms, evaluating challenges the judicial process faces, and understanding the differences between state and federal court proceedings.

Criminal law regulates how the criminal justice system proves suspects’ guilt or innocence. Topics include crimes’ classifications and constitutional provisions, and the rules police officers and detectives follow when gathering evidence. Students hone their skills by analyzing case studies and other real-life situations. Learners leave the course able to identify how criminal law guides trials.

Certifications and Licensure for Criminology



Criminology professionals may need more than an associate criminology degree to attain a fulfilling job. Licenses and certifications demonstrate mastery of one or more skills, making applicants attractive to potential employers. The following three certifications feature an online curriculum and examination, allowing students to learn without interrupting their career.

Certified Law Enforcement Analyst


The International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) awards the CLEA credential to college graduates with three years of relevant professional experience. Candidates must join IACA and pass an exam. Professionals renew their certification by developing a unique training program, taking continuing education courses, or publishing an article in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Certified Paralegal


Practicing paralegals and recent college graduates become CPs to increase their salary potential, earn a promotion, or explore new career opportunities. The exam involves 120 multiple-choice questions and an essay. Candidates who do not pass their first attempt may retest after 90 days. NALA members enjoy a significant discount on the certification process.

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Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator Certification


Computer hacking forensic investigators research computer crime and make networks more secure. The CHFI certification process involves passing a four-hour, 150-question multiple-choice exam. Candidates without two years of professional experience must attend an official training session before testing. The passing score varies, depending on the exam form.

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Scholarships for Criminology



An online criminology degree features multiple financial benefits, but some learners struggle to pay for school without going into debt. Fortunately, private scholarship opportunities like those below support the next generation of police officers and other criminology professionals. Each award features a 2021 deadline and accepts applications from associate in criminology degree-seekers.

  • Gene Carte Student Paper Competition

    Who Can Apply: The American Society of Criminology (ASC) awards this competitive scholarship to student members earning an undergraduate or graduate degree. Application materials include a research essay on a criminology-related topic.

    Amount: $200-$500

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  • Women in Federal Law Enforcement Scholarship Program

    Who Can Apply: Women earning a bachelor’s degree or associate in criminology may qualify for the WIFLE Scholarship Program. Other application requirements include studying full time and maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    Amount: Varies

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Online Associate in Criminology Programs 2021



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