Criminal justice is an exciting field with many possible career routes. The field of criminal justice offers various promotional opportunities. An associate degree is an excellent place to start if an individual is interested in a career in criminal justice. An associate degree takes approximately one to three years depending on the degree credit requirements and an individual student’s course load each semester. The average full time student schedules forty-five credits per semester. The national standard is sixty credits for associate degree programs although some university programs require ninety credits or more.
Earning an associate degree is an empowering journey and will provide a criminal justice graduate with much greater earning potential. CNN states that individuals that associate degree graduates earn thirty percent more than students that have graduated from a four year university. Entry level positions are available in the field of criminal justice and most require an associate degree. There are many career openings at the state and federal level as well as local law enforcement including police and detectives that are available to individuals that have earned an associate degree in criminal justice.
Featured Associate’s Degree Programs in Criminal Justice
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median pay for police and detectives with an entry level education was $26.45 an hour and $55,010.00 per year. An individual that has earned an associate criminal justice degree and desires to manage their own business might consider becoming a private detective or investigator and work as an independent contractor handling diverse cases for individuals or corporations. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics states that private detectives and investigators earn an average of $20.61 per hour and $42,870 per year.
Correctional or probation officer employment positions are frequently available to criminal justice graduates that have earned their associate degree. The United States Bureau of labor Statistics declares that probation and correctional officers earn an average of $22.69 an hour and $47,200 annually. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics asserts criminal justice professionals employed in the field of corrections are usually required to possess a four year degree most local and state agencies actively hire proficient candidates that have earned an associate degree in criminal justice.
Choosing an Educational Environment
Associate degree programs allow students to gain valuable classroom knowledge to prepare men and women for the responsibilities of a criminal justice professional. Numerous traditional and online universities provide internship opportunities to provide students with practical experience to strengthen their knowledge, skills and abilities. Many employment positions require the candidate to participate in an initial training program so that the recently hired individual can become acclimated to his or her new position and job requirements and associated responsibilities.
Criminal justice associate degree programs are available in traditional classroom settings or through online programs that combine virtual seminars with the required coursework. Both learning forums have unique challenges and advantages. Choosing the most appropriate learning venue depends on each individual. Both learning environments require hard work, focus and dedication to complete the required coursework to earn a degree.
Top Ten List of Criminal Justice Associate Degree Programs
The following ten universities were rated according to accreditation, student accessibility in terms of several locations or the option to access coursework online and course offerings that provide distinction in the field of criminal justice. Each degree program is identified by name and whether the university offers an online or traditional classroom environment as part of the degree program. These ten associate degree programs are not listed in any particular order of importance.
Florida Institute of Technology: Online Learning Environment
The Florida Institute of Technology offers a sixty-one credit Associate of Arts course combining an incredible array of core courses such as Criminal Investigations, Introduction to Law and the Legal System, Composition and Rhetoric and Statistics as well as Civilization 1 and Writing about Literature. Florida Tech states their average students complete the program in less than twenty months and use their degree to begin work as a police officer, private security agent, crime scene investigator or youth case worker. Tuition is $495.00 per credit hour.
University of Phoenix: Online and Traditional Classroom Environment
The University of Phoenix is an online university pioneer that provides classes online and through traditional brick and mortar university settings. The University of Phoenix offers an Associate of Arts program with a concentration in criminal justice. The student completes criminal justice coursework in conjunction with foundational courses in areas such as writing, mathematics and critical thinking that are part of the core competency requirements. This associate degree can be earned online or through a satellite university classroom site depending on the location of the student. University of Phoenix states an average student takes twenty-three months to complete the sixty credit hour program and tuition and fees range from $16,800.00 to $25,500.00.
University of Phoenix is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association. University of Phoenix was placed on Notice by The Higher Learning Commission, effective June 27, 2013. For additional information, contact The Higher Learning Commission, ncahlc.org.
Cecil College: Traditional Classroom Environment
The University of Maryland was at the top of USA Today’s list of top rated criminology programs and Cecil College is an esteemed affiliate school. Cecil College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree programs in corrections or law enforcement. Tuition is $258.00 per credit for Maryland Residents and $499.00 per credit for out of state residents.
ITT Technical Institute: Online and Traditional Classroom Environment
The ITT Technical Institute offers a ninety-six credit Associate of Applied Science degree that provides students with an opportunity to learn about the United States legal system, law enforcement, crime prevention and criminology. General education courses include Psychology and American Government Courses. Basic technical courses include Introduction to productivity Software and Professional Procedures and Portfolio Development. Core courses include Criminal Law, The Criminalistics of Cybercrime and Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation. The total cost of tuition and fees for this online degree program is $41,400.00.
Essex County College: Traditional Classroom Environment
This thirty-three credit Associate of Science degree program offered by Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey includes communication, lab science and mathematics, social science and humanities course requirements. The college suggests that this program can be completed in approximately one year including four semesters and one summer session. Tuition is $141.00 per credit hour for residents living in Essex County and $249.50 for students residing outside of Essex County.
Borough of Manhattan Community College: Traditional Classroom Environment
Borough of Manhattan Community College is a City University of New York (CUNY) affiliate school. City University of New York on the list of USA Today’s top criminology programs in 2009. The sixty credit program includes general requirements such as Macroeconomics and American Government as well as curriculum requirements such as Policing and Criminal Law. Tuition costs are $235.00 per credit for non- matriculated residents of New York City attending school full time. Tuition for out of state and non-matriculated full time students is $370.00 per credit.
Southern New Hampshire University: Online Learning Environment
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online criminal justice program that culminates in an Associate in Science degree in Justice Studies. Southern New Hampshire University offers an opportunity for students to learn about criminal law, the justice system and social science in this one hundred and twenty credit program. Tuition is $320.00 per credit hour and the university accepts up to ninety transfer credits.
City Colleges of Chicago: Olive Harvey College: Traditional Classroom Environment
Olive Harvey College offers a sixty credit hour Associate in Applied Sciences in Criminal Justice degree program. Courses include Police Organization and Management, General Psychology, Constitutional Law and National Government. Tuition is $89.00 per credit for students living within the district and $185.52 for students living out of the district. Tuition is $233.84 per credit for students living outside of the state of Illinois. This tuition information does not include any required additional fees.
St. Louis Community College: Traditional Classroom Environment
St. Louis Community College offers a sixty-seven credit Associate in Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice. Students can choose a specialization in corrections or law enforcement. Programs feature the study of prison operations, the national criminal justice system, research and development of justice programs and crime scene investigation and forensic photography. The program consists of general education courses, two credits for a physical activity requirement, area of concentration courses and electives. Courses include General Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, Cultural Variations, Crime and Deviance, Microcomputer Literacy, Rehabilitation, Parole and Probation, Rules of Criminal Evidence and Introduction to American Politics. Tuition is $93.00 per credit hour for district residents, $139.00 for other Missouri residents and $189.00 per credit hour for out of state residents.
Glendale Community College: Traditional Classroom Environment
Glendale Community College offers an Associate in Applied Science in Administration of Justice. This program is unique in that it provides students interested in a law enforcement career track to participate in Glendale Community College’s Police Academy where students can earn their Peace Officer Certification in addition to their associate degree. The course offerings are exceptional and include subjects such as Emergency Response to Terrorism, Patrol Rifle Concepts, Transportation and Border Security, Criminal Justice System Experiences, Fundamentals of Emergency Management, Examination and Comparison of Footwear Evidence, Domestic Violence, Hate Crimes and Serial Killers and Mass Murders. Tuition is $71.00 per credit hour for residents living in the county and $241.00 for out of county and out of state residents.