Online Criminal Justice Schools
Earning a degree in criminal justice provides individuals with the ability to work in a broad variety of occupations. Incorporating many different disciplines, theories and legal components regarding crime, criminal behavior and the justice system, criminal justice explores subjects as diverse as psychology, forensic science, sociology and ethics, depending on what field of criminal justice a student intends to pursue upon completion of a specific program.
Directed by the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice enacted by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, the U.S. criminal justice policy involves several hundred recommendations comprising an intense approach to preventing, deterring and combating crime. Johnson’s Commission describes the optimal criminal justice system as a way for society to “enforce the standard of conduct necessary to protect individuals and the community”.
A criminal justice degree is one of the most popular degrees pursued by students in the U.S. because it facilitates entrance into so many different professional sectors. For example, a person with a criminal justice degree may eventually obtain employment as a prison correctional officer, private investigator, crime scene investigator or even a social worker. Paralegals, border patrol agents and probation officers also benefit from studying different aspects of the criminal justice system and the methods by which many disciplines integrate theories, concepts and practices forming criminal laws and justice system processes. With a degree in criminal justice a person may eventually obtain employment as a:
- Jail or prison correctional office
- Juvenile probation officer
- Crime scene investigator
- Private investigator
- Border patrol agent
- Law enforcement
- Cyber Security Investigator
- Social worker
Many online higher education schools integrate criminal justice programs into their curriculum and offer flexible programs for earning associates, bachelor’s, master’s and certifications degrees in criminal justice. CIA and FBI agents frequently begin their careers by enrolling in a criminal justice program.
Description of Online Criminal Justice Degree Courses
Fundamental concepts underlying all studies involved in obtaining a criminal justice degree examines the following components of the justice system:
- Legislation: how laws are created and enacted, who is responsible for the legality of these laws and overview of society’s perception of such laws
- Judiciary: how courts administer and interpret laws in order to enforce justice and deter criminal behavior
- Corrections: how the U.S. corrections system operates, what laws govern its application to those convicted of felonies and government agencies involved in its operation. Also includes a look at alternatives to incarceration.
- Sociology/Psychology: incorporates broad aspects of social science research, abnormal psychology, victimology and statistical research regarding crime rate analysis according to historical era and geographical location within the U.S.
As criminal justice majors, students elect to examine the broad scope of crime, justice, laws and theories of criminal behavior by enrolling in courses concerning white-collar crime, domestic violence, crime and gender, court administration, crime deterrence methods and a variety of other subject relevant to criminal justice.
Usually a two-year program intended to introduce students to criminal justice fundamentals, a criminal justice associate’s degree provides qualifications necessary to obtain entry-level employment in various positions correlating with law, crime and security. Individuals with this degree may find work as a police or security officer, private security, airport security or in a correctional facility. Generally, students continue pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice following receipt of an associate’s degree in order to broaden their choices of career opportunities.
Bachelor’s of Science Degree
Criminal justice ethics, police administration, civil and criminal law, the juvenile justice system and basic criminology are just some of the subjects students will research while earning a four-year criminal justice degree. Students can choose to specialize in a certain field while enrolled in a bachelor’s of science program, such as police laboratory techniques, comparative and international justice, the parole and probation system, crime control policies or forensic science.
Positions requiring a bachelor’s of science degree in criminal justice include homeland security agent, forensic science technician, U.S. Marshal services, arson investigator and customs agent. As a rule, the majority of state, corporate and federal employers associated with law, crime and security demand a potential employee possess at least a bachelor’s of science degree in criminal justice. Further, a BS in criminal justice requires the student take additional psychology classes regarding sociopathy, personalty disorders or basic knowledge of abnormal psychology. Positions requiring a bachelor’s of science degree in criminal justice include:
- Computer forensics specialist
- U.S. Marshal Service
- Legal Nurse Consultant
- Homeland Security
- Fire and Arson Investigator
- Counter-terrorism/customs agent
- Forensic science technician
As a rule, the majority of state, corporate and federal employers associated with law, crime and security demand a potential employee possess at least a bachelor’s of science degree in criminal justice.
After earning a bachelor’s degree, students are the qualified to pursue an online master’s degree in criminal justice that provides them with enough advanced education and experiential skills to apply for and acquire leadership positions in the criminal justice system. Typically, a master’s degree in criminal justice takes about two years to complete by several online schools offer accelerated programs that allow students to complete the program in 16 to 20 months.
Criminal justice theories, administration concepts and comprehensive research is emphasized in a master’s degree program. Political, cultural, social and economic perspectives are integrated with the student’s choice of discipline concentration which can include:
- Forensic psychology/criminal profiling
- Correctional counseling
- Global issues concerning crime deterrence and prevention
- Justice administration and leadership management
- Security management
- Computer security specialist
- Criminal justice professor
- Social science researcher
Involvement in a comprehensive research project is required of students enrolled in a criminal justice master’s degree program. The subject of the research project is determined by students collaborating with a professor who generally possesses specialized knowledge concerning the chosen topic. A master’s thesis could potentially examine crime statistics, criticize current uses of crime deterrents such as the death penalty or integrate social science concepts by developing surveys and forming a hypothesis by analyzing the results of the survey. A master’s thesis submitted by a graduate student must then be accepted by a board of school-appointed instructors befor the student can receive his or her degree.
Criminal Justice Degree Requirements
All criminal justice online schools require that potential students provide the following before enrolling in a program:
- Proof of high school diploma or general equivalency diploma
- Photo identification/proof of age
- Residency status
- If applying for a bachelor’s or master’s degree program, transfer of credits and transcripts obtained from other higher learning institutions needs to be submitted for review
- Registration forms
- Financial aid forms, if applicable
- Preferred payment plans if unable to qualify for financial aid
Online Schools Offering Criminal Justice Degrees
Everest University offers both online and traditionally earned degrees in criminal justice. With several physical campuses located in Florida as well as established accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, Everest remains a popular online school providing not only criminal justice degrees but a wide variety of other degrees as well.
The ACICS is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in addition to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Information about the ACICS is available by writing to 750 First Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 or calling ACICS at (202) 336-6780. Criminal justice programs have been approved by the Department of Homeland Security and the Florida State Approving Agency for Veterans Training.
Everest University’s Bachelor of Arts general education program course list includes:
Everest University offers both online and traditionally earned degrees in criminal justice. With several physical campuses located in Florida as well as established accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, Everest remains a popular online school providing not only criminal justice degrees but a wide variety of other degrees as well. Areas of criminal justice explored by the Everest University curriculum include computer crime, gang activity, terrorism, economic crimes and methods of interrogation.
- Basic Critical Thinking
- Environmental/Forensic Science
- Oral Communication
- College Algebra
- General Psychology
- Principles and Applications of Adult Learning
Core classes involve:
- Criminal Procedures and the Constitution
- Introduction to Interviews and Interrogations
- Gang Activity and Drug Operations
- Computer Crime
- Introduction to Terrorism
- Criminal Justice Communications
- Cultural Diversity for the Criminal Justice Professional
- Criminal Justice Externship
- Methodology of Economic Crimes
Everest University is recognized by the ACICS (Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools) and the U.S. Department of Education in addition to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Information about the ACICS is available by writing to 750 First Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 or calling ACICS at (202) 336-6780. Criminal justice programs implemented by Everest University have been approved by the Department of Homeland Security and the Florida State Approving Agency for Veterans Training.
Additional online criminal justice schools that are accredited and offer degree programs include Walden University, Kaplan University, Devry University and Westwood College
Employment opportunities for individuals possessing criminal justice degrees will always remain in demand due to the persistence of criminal activity, inevitable breakdown of societal norms in heavily urbanized areas and the increase of terrorist activities in the U.S. and abroad. In addition, students obtaining criminal justice degrees can expect to encounter a variety of other jobs preferring applicants to hold such degrees.