If you started a career in law enforcement or a related field in criminal justice after finishing high school, then a 100% online criminal justice degree may help you increase your credentials while you continue your work. It allows you to maintain your current work schedule while you obtain a degree to advance in your field. It is important, however, to choose accredited programs. Accreditation from a third party means that the program meets a certain standard. That gives employers a standard to evaluate when they are looking for a new hire. They can confirm that your school meets their standards for your education by clarifying the standards required for the accrediting body.
An online associate’s degree takes as long as you need for the program. The traditional timeline is two years. You can make adjustments to the schedule based on your current job responsibilities, personal obligations, and lifestyle. That means you are able to finish the degree at an accelerated pace or a slower pace. An online degree focuses on the student’s experience and needs. You do not need to worry that you will not be able to fit the degree program into your schedule.
How We Ranked the Best Online Criminal Justice Associate’s Degree Programs
Criminal Justice Degree Hub editors began the process by searching out accredited, trusted institutions – including universities, colleges, and community colleges – offering a 100% online criminal justice degree. From there, associate’s degree programs were ranked according to practical facts: tuition cost, student satisfaction, and salary potential, based on data from College Scorecard, IPEDS, and Niche. These factors let students know whether their associate’s in criminal justice will be worth the investment.
1. Penn State World Campus
When you are looking for the best online criminal justice associates degree programs, you want to consider the AS in Criminal Justice from Penn State World Campus. Penn State’s program focuses on teaching students about the way public policy, criminal justice, and behavioral science interact within the criminal justice system. It also strives to prepare students to work with individuals from a variety of different backgrounds.
A key way Penn State World Campus stands out from other programs is the focus on preparing students for their career options. The school recognizes that students may have different goals when studying criminal justice and takes measures to ensure that students are aware of the opportunities that apply to their degree and training. The school takes measures to help students when they are ready to move forward with a career and long-term plan. Penn State World Campus offers financial aid to assist active-duty military and military veterans with their educational goals.
Program: AS in Criminal Justice
2. LeTourneau University
The decision to seek a 100% online criminal justice degree from LeTourneau University offers the opportunity to avoid the complexities of attending an on-campus program. The online degree program allows students to work at their own pace and obtain a degree when they have time. It also prepares you for the challenges of a career in the criminal justice system when you are looking into opportunities for your long-term goals.
The AS in Criminal Justice from LeTourneau University stands apart from other programs by offering a broad foundation in topics related to the criminal justice system. It prepares students for the rigors of a career in the system and ensures that you have a strong foundation before you start working in homeland security, a police department, or a related field of interest. LeTourneau University offers accelerated courses that are completed in five weeks to speed up the process of obtaining your associate’s degree in criminal justice.
Program: AS in Criminal Justice
3. Indiana Wesleyan University
The AS in Criminal Justice from Indiana Wesleyan University offers an opportunity for students to obtain a degree through an online format. The online degree program gives you the flexibility to work around your obligations or current work environment while you obtain a degree to advance in your career. The degree program focuses on teaching students the communication skills they need for a career in the criminal justice field. It also ensures that students are aware of the challenges that may arise when working as an official in criminal justice.
Indiana Wesleyan University differs from other schools by allowing students to transfer credits into the program and complete a degree in a short amount of time. The Bridge Program not only allows students to finish up an associate’s degree at an accelerated pace after transferring credits, but also allows students to pursue a higher level of education when they want to prepare for a bachelor’s degree or other programs in criminal justice. Professors in criminal justice at Indiana Wesleyan University have experience in the field and can offer students a unique perspective on the challenges of working in the criminal justice field.
Program: AS in Criminal Justice
4. Northwest Iowa Community College
Northwest Iowa Community College offers an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice that prepares students for the challenges of a career in the industry. The 100% online criminal justice degree program focuses on preparing students for their career while also ensuring they are able to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program if they plan to pursue a higher level of education in the future. The opportunities available through the education program allow students to recognize their options for a career and their long-term educational plan.
A key way Northwest Iowa Community College stands apart is the focus on preparing students to pursue a higher level of education. The school offers an associate’s degree while also ensuring that students have options if they choose to pursue a higher level of education. That allows students to evaluate their options and start a career before they move forward with their long-term plans. Northwest Iowa Community College offers financial aid to students who take full-time classes through their online criminal justice program.
Program: AA in Criminal Justice
5. Fox Valley Technical College
Fox Valley Technical College offers one of the best online criminal justice associates degree programs for students who want to work as a police officer or in a similar role. The degree program gives students an overview of the criminal justice system and prepares students for the rigors of working in the criminal justice field. It teaches students about crime prevention, writing reports, and proper communication as it applies to the industry.
Fox Valley Technical College stands out from other programs by giving students a strong foundation in the topics related to the criminal justice field. It ensures that students are prepared for a career as a police officer, a corrections officer, or a similar role. It also allows students to build a strong foundation in the skills that apply to the criminal justice industry. Fox Valley Technical College allows students to transfer credits into the program and complete a degree online or transfer credits into a program at other schools to accelerate the learning process when planning to obtain a higher level of education.
Program: AAS in Criminal Justice
6. Bismarck State College
When you plan to study criminal justice, Bismarck State College offers an AAS in Criminal Justice program to help with your goals. The school recognizes that students may have challenges when balancing obligations and education. That is why it offers an online program that gives you a flexible schedule to work around your situation and goals. The online degree allows you to work when you have time.
A key way Bismarck State College stands apart from other programs is the focus on helping students advance in their career. The school offers consultations with program personnel to help students clarify their career opportunities when they finish an associate’s degree from the program. That allows students to focus on realistic job opportunities and clarify when a specific career requires a higher level of education. Bismarck State College has a cooperative with several four-year universities that allow students to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program after completing an associate’s degree.
Program: AAS in Criminal Justice
7. Saint Leo University
When you want to take on a career as a police officer, Saint Leo University’s online AA in Criminal Justice gives you a strong foundation in the skills you need for your career. The online AA in Criminal Justice from the university gives you a strong foundation in investigative practices, the court system, and the basic skills you need to work as a corrections officer, police officer, or a related career within the criminal justice field.
Saint Leo University stands out from other schools by providing students with an education from professionals who have worked in the criminal justice industry. Students learn from police officers, FBI agents, and professionals who have experience in the field when working on their degree. That allows students to gain confidence in the skills they obtain when working on their associate’s degree. Saint Leo University gives students hands-on experience through role-playing simulations and internship opportunities while working on an associate’s degree.
Program: AA in Criminal Justice
8. Mesa Community College
The online Associate of Applied Science in Administration of Justice Studies from Mesa Community College prepares students for the rigors of a career in the criminal justice industry. The degree program allows students to take on more advanced roles within their career or to work around personal obligations while completing a degree. Mesa Community College offers certifications in specialized fields of study within criminal justice for students to focus on specific areas of their career.
Mesa Community College helps students prepare for a career in the criminal justice system by providing an online degree program that helps with long-term goals. It also allows students to take on more advanced roles within their job by providing the strong foundation they need to build up their career. The program works with other universities to allow students to transfer credits into a bachelor’s program when they finish their associate’s degree.
Program: AAS in Administration of Justice Studies
9. Iowa Central Community College
Iowa Central Community College offers one of the best online associate’s degrees in criminal justice for students who want to work in policing, corrections, or similar fields. The degree program teaches students the foundations they need to work in different fields within the criminal justice system based on personal interests and goals. It gives you a strong foundation in corrections, patrolling, criminal investigation, and law.
Iowa Central Community College stands apart from other programs by giving students a wide array of studies within criminal justice. The array of classes and the different fields of study help you understand the different options available for your career and give you a chance to identify your area of interest when evaluating your opportunities within the criminal justice system. Iowa Central Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, so it meets the high standards of education set by the commission.
Program: AAS in Criminal Justice
10. Concordia University Wisconsin
Concordia University Wisconsin offers an online criminal justice associate’s degree program that teaches students how to handle real-world complications within the criminal justice system. The AA in Management of Criminal Justice focuses on the administrative challenges associated with criminal justice and teaches students the management skills they need to work in their field of interest. Concordia University Wisconsin also offers scholarships to students in their online criminal justice program.
A key way Concordia University Wisconsin stands out is the focus on managerial issues within criminal justice. It does not focus solely on the skills associated with working in the field. It also teaches students how to handle the administrative aspects of working as a police officer or a related professional field. By teaching leadership skills, it prepares you to advance in your career.
Program: AA in Management of Criminal Justice
Will Employers Trust an Online Criminal Justice Degree?
Obtaining a criminal justice degree online does not mean you give up on employer trust. By obtaining an accredited criminal justice degree online, you will finish a degree that your employer’s trust and you are qualified for positions that are the same as students who finish a degree at a college campus.
The key to obtaining employer trust with your online degree is to focus on reputable programs. An accredited online criminal justice associates degree is a reputable program that allows employers to feel confident in your skills when they hire you for a position. When you look into an online degree program, find out if the school is accredited by a third party. Look up the third party and make sure that the accrediting body is appropriate for your field of study. For example, a paralegal degree may be accredited by the American Bar Association. You can also consider accreditation from educational associations or similar groups.
Why Should I Choose an Online Criminal Justice Associate’s Degree Program?
When it comes to an online criminal justice associates degree program, you may have concerns about the online format. By recognizing the advantages of working on your degree online, you are able to determine if it is a good choice for your goals and worth the investment.
A key reason to consider an associates degree in criminal justice online is the convenience. You are able to work on your classes when it fits your schedule and situation. A 2-year criminal justice degree online also gives you the advantage of limited costs. Online programs are often less costly due to the online format. It does not have the same costs associated with traditional on-campus programs and the savings for the college or university carry forward to the student. That helps you obtain your degree at a pace that fits your needs and at an affordable cost that fits your budget. That will increase your return on investment and make an online associate’s in criminal justice worth it.
How Long Will an Online Associate’s in Criminal Justice Take?
The traditional criminal justice degree timeline is around two years. The advantage of an online program is the flexibility of the degree. Since you can work at your own pace, you may be able to cut back on the time required for your degree or take extra time for the program. Many online programs are designed with the non-traditional student in mind. That means they offer flexible schedules that work around the needs of a student.
You can focus on accelerated online programs if you want to finish your criminal justice degree in a shorter amount of time. An accelerated online program may take 12 to 18 months, depending on the length of the classes. That gives you the chance to improve your credentials without wasting your time or taking a long time for the program.
If you are struggling to keep up with a traditional schedule, then you can also slow down your college degree by taking classes when you have time. By slowing down the pace of the degree and taking only one or two classes at a time, you are able to focus on your degree without worrying about the traditional course load. That means you can easily work around other obligations while still pursuing a degree to improve your abilities.