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What's An Online Criminal Justice Degree Program Like?

This article will introduce you to two types of accredited online criminal justice degree programs. The two most popular types, the associate degree in criminal justice and the BS in criminal justice. The major difference between the associate and BS online programs is the amount of material covered and the time they take to complete.

Associate Degree In Criminal Justice

An online associate degree in criminal justice is normally about 60 credit hours and takes 2 years to complete. These programs are typically geared toward either experienced criminal justice professionals who want to upgrade their resume, or new students seeking entry-level positions. If you are an experienced professional trying to advance your career, your experience may be worth credits. Be sure to check with your admissions adviser.

A 60 credit +/- curriculum will introduce you to a number of ideas, theories, and practices accepted in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Courses may include:

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Ethics in Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Justice Research Methodology
  • Juvenile Justice System

Other courses like cultural awareness, communication skills, and discretion in criminal justice may also be included, but the above listed are some of the most common.

BS In Criminal Justice

An online bachelor of science degree program in criminal justice is normally about 120 credit hours and takes 4 years to complete. Core courses will make up about 50-60 of these credit hours. Major related courses will take up about 30 credit hours. Major requirements and criminal justice specialties may equal another 20-25 credits. The rest of your courses will generally be electives.

Besides the courses listed above in the associate degree section, which will be included in the BS degree programs, other possible courses are:

  • Policing Theory
  • Courts Theory
  • Intelligence Studies
  • Economic Crimes
  • Computer Network Investigation
  • Fraud Prevention & Detection

There are also a number of specializations a student may choose, depending on their school’s offerings. They may include:

  • Cyber Technology
  • Criminology
  • Terrorism
  • Homeland Security
  • Introduction to International Politics

Then you’ll be choosing some electives, which we don’t really need to break down in this article. Use the search application to get program information or find an online criminal justice program now.

Note About Online Courses

Online courses, not just those in criminal justice, normally have some or all of the following:

  • Streaming lectures
  • Course videos
  • Class discussion forums
  • Slideshows
  • One-on-one teacher interaction as needed

The rate for accredited online criminal justice programs is between $100-$500 per credit hour (at the schools we researched). Financial aid for criminal justice schools may be available for qualified students, even for online college.


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