Online Criminal Justice Degrees

As you begin to look at all of the different parts that comprise what is known as the criminal justice system, you’ll realize why there is a variety of criminal justice degree specifications.

Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants

You might be looking for an online degree in forensic science where you learn how to test evidence and know proper court proceedings as many forensic scientists will testify. You may also have interest in the corrections aspect of criminal justice which could focus on correctional officer duties or being a part of the parole system.

You’ll also want to consider what level you want to try and gain employment within after earning your degree. There are options (that can vary in academic requirements) at both the local, state, and federal levels.

Undergraduate Criminal Justice Degree Info

You might look at these levels of criminal justice degrees as more of a high-level or 50,000-foot view. Courses might revolve around looking at general police procedures related to arrests or even on proper note-taking. You can also expect to see courses around how to properly gather evidence during a crime scene investigation process.

So how much of the program will actually be online? The answer will vary between each undergraduate degree and what specialization you’re looking at. A Bachelor’s in Justice degree will likely offer an entire degree online, whereas, a Bachelor’s in Forensic Science might require some in-person class time.

Graduate and Doctoral Criminal Justice Degrees

You will likely see a more specialized approach in the different kinds of online degrees you can get at the graduate/doctoral level. If you’re already working in the criminal justice field, you’re likely looking for an advanced degree to help aid in advancing your career.

The online aspect should be appealing for those that are currently working within criminal justice as you will have flexibility on the scheduling, test taking, and degree progression. It can be difficult for those currently working to completely stop and become a full-time student again.

Questions to Answer About an Online Criminal Justice Degree

  • Q: How often will I have to be required to go to a campus?
    You will find that many online programs will require lab time or for you to come into a physical location for a given amount of times each semester. If you don’t think that will work with your schedule, get this question answered and find a program that is truly 100% online if your schedule demands it.
  • Q: Does your school have any professional connections to help locate an internship?
    Many schools will have relationships with local correctional facilities, police stations, and other criminal justice related entities to funnel students into internship programs. While an internship might not be required by a hiring entity, it might help in building your hands on experience and resume.
  • Q: What level of criminal justice degree do I need?
    This is a dynamic question. The first thing you’ll need to answer are if you have the requirements met to quality for a Bachelor’s level degree. If you’re considering a master’s degree, you will have to have an undergraduate degree completed.

    You’ll not only have to figure out the academic institutions requirements for each degree level but also what your desired career requires. Some jobs at the federal level can require a master’s level degree in order to even be considered for the job.

Popular Criminal Justice Degree Specializations

While you can earn a BS or BA in Criminal Justice, you might also see degrees with specializations around the particular criminal justice field. We wanted to breakdown some of the common ones you might see.

Cyber Security

It shouldn’t be surprising that a degree focusing all around online security is also offered 100% online! You can expect to learn about network security and the various countermeasure techniques commonly used in the cyber security world. And while you might be focusing on technical operating systems like UNIX/LINUX, you might also learn about common human behaviors that might compromise sensitive data (and how they’re manipulated).

Criminology

An online degree in criminology will try to look at the motivations of those that commit crimes and break the law. The aim of criminology is to disseminate those motivations and apply data to lessen the likelihood of others in the future from committing a crime. Criminology looks to try and predict/prevent criminal behavior before it happens while other online criminal justice degrees focus on catching those that have already broken the law.

Homeland Security

You can expect a large part of this degree to focus around how Homeland Security goes about securing airports, major ports and waterways, and the border. You can expect to learn about the nation’s critical infrastructure and the role that Homeland Security plays in keeping it safe. Homeland Security employees over 240,000 criminal justice related jobs which has made this degree popular in recent years.

Verifying Accreditation for an Online Criminal Justice Degree

Accreditation for various educational programs typically takes place every couple of years and weighs the program against the educational standards set by that accreditation agency. You will want to verify that the school itself is accredited by local and national agencies which you can verify on the Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The challenging part around online criminal justice degrees is that there isn’t a criminal justice accrediting body that they’ve recognized. You can utilize the ACJS (Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences) list http://www.acjs.org/page/Certification of the programs that they’ve certified. You should just know that the ACJS certification is done off of the standards that they’ve set and not recognized by the two previously mentioned education bodies.

Common Jobs and Salary Information of Criminal Justice Graduates

Earning whatever level of criminal justice degree through an online school will not guarantee you employment. However, we wanted to pull some of the common occupations associated with criminal justice so you can have an idea of salary expectations and job growth. This data is pulled from government BLS data (source).

Top Paid Criminal Justice Careers

Occupation Title 2016 Median Annual Salary Expected Job Growth from 2014-2024
Police and Detectives
$61,600
4%
Forensic Science Technicians
$56,750
27%
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
$50,160
4%
Private Detectives and Investigators
$48,190
5%
Correctional Officers and Bailiffs
$42,820
4%
Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers
$25,840
5%

Deciding if Online is Right for You

Trying to determine whether an online program will work for your criminal justice degree needs is a tough one. You must take into account your current schedule’s demands as well as what specialization (if any) you want. Do your research and talk to each school’s provided counselors as they might be able to share more than what is available just on the school website.

Still Looking for a Criminal Justice Program?

Below are some of the top criminal justice degree writeups. You can review the program page, or schools by state to find detailed information about the degree or career.