Online Criminal Justice Degrees 2021

Earning a criminal justice degree can lead to new career opportunities. Here, we list the best online bachelor's programs for 2021.

November 16, 2021

reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Criminal Justice Degrees 2021

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Criminal Justice Degree Online

Online criminal justice degrees can lead graduates to careers in advanced federal agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation or as leaders in local police departments.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for police and detectives to grow 5% between 2019 and 2029, faster than the average for all other occupations. These professionals earned a median income of $65,170 in 2019. They typically spend their days responding to calls, patrolling areas, and collecting evidence from crime scenes.

A bachelor's degree takes about four years to complete, and busy learners can earn a criminal justice degree online. Keep reading to learn about the top criminal justice programs, common courses, and scholarships for aspiring law enforcement officers.

Considering a Criminal Justice Degree?

true Q. What kinds of jobs can you get with a criminal justice degree?

After completing a criminal justice program, graduates can apply for law enforcement positions, become private investigators, or work as bailiffs.

true Q. How many years does it take to get a criminal justice degree?

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice takes full-time enrollees about four years to earn. Some colleges offer accelerated programs that may only take three years.

true Q. What is the highest-paying job in criminal justice?

The BLS offers salary information for criminal justice positions. By earning a doctorate, criminal justice majors can work as lawyers, who earned a median income of $122,960 in 2019.

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What Can I Do With a Criminal Justice Degree?

Earning a criminal justice degree opens many doors. While not every local police department requires a bachelor's degree to practice as a law enforcement officer, pursuing education beyond academy training qualifies individuals for higher-earning jobs. Federal agencies that offer higher salaries often require a bachelor's degree. Head police chief positions typically require a formal degree.

Aside from working as law enforcement officers, graduates can work as detectives, correctional officers and bailiffs, and forensic science technicians. Individuals with a passion for entrepreneurship could even open their own private investigating business.

An undergraduate criminal justice program can prepare learners for additional education. Graduates who build upon their education with a master's degree and a doctorate could choose to become lawyers. Read on to learn more about earning a criminal justice degree.

What Are the Requirements for a Criminal Justice Program?

To qualify for a criminal justice program, learners must submit an application and fee, official high school transcripts, and SAT or ACT scores. Each program sets its own minimum requirements for GPAs and test scores. Prospective students should check with a specific school's admissions department to learn more.

Once enrolled, students must maintain a set GPA, attend class, and engage in class discussions. Some criminal justice programs may require a service-learning or internship component. Typically, undergraduate programs do not require a thesis or capstone project. However, learners may need to submit a professional portfolio at the end of their studies.

Courses in a Criminal Justice Program

During their studies, criminal justice students hone hard and soft skills. Courses involve soft skills like interpersonal communication and active listening skills. They also cover hard skills, like record keeping and protocols for crime scene investigations.

Most criminal justice programs include 10-15 courses totaling 30-45 credits. Credit requirements can impact program length, but most learners complete this undergraduate degree within four years.

Criminal justice courses cover theories about crime prevention, the history of laws, and elements of restorative justice. Some criminal justice programs may require in-person components like an internship. In the following sections, we highlight five common criminal justice courses.

Professional Organizations for Criminal Justice Students

Professionals can commit to lifelong learning by joining professional organizations. These groups publish informative newsletters and scholarly journals, host conferences, and connect criminal justice professionals from varying backgrounds and experience levels. Some criminal justice organizations allow students to join. See below for a few of the many professional organizations for criminal justice degree-seekers.

ACJS promotes scholarly activities within the criminal justice field. More than 1,800 members benefit from an educational annual meeting, access to four scholarly journals, and a job board. This organization also offers research grants to advance the field. This professional organization invites anyone working in the U.S. legal system to get involved. AAFS allows members to join a specialized section, such as the toxicology or pathology section. The organization hosts meetings, offers education training, and publishes a reference library. ACA aims to advance correctional effectiveness. The organization formed in 1870 and now connects thousands of criminal justice professionals across the world. To join, ACA charges $35-$150 depending on the member's years of experience. Members gain access to online training discounts and exclusive industry publications. This organization helps its members pursue scholarly information on how to control and prevent crime. Members can join specialized ASC divisions that focus on one topic, like corrections or cybercrime. ASC provides three annual publications to its members that discuss current criminal justice topics.

2021 Online Bachelor's Programs in Criminal Justice

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