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What are the general requirements for a degree in criminal justice?

Criminal justice involves enforcing and maintaining laws, protecting U.S. citizens, and punishing individuals who commit crimes. A campus-based or online degree program in criminal justice provides students with a solid understanding of criminal justice and the related theories and concepts that apply to the legal and law enforcement fields. The programs include instruction on a variety of criminal justice topics, including criminology, corrections, forensic science, criminal law, criminal procedures, legal research, and law ethics.

In addition to the criminal justice core courses, nearly all degree programs require general education courses to ensure students receive a well-rounded liberal arts education. General education courses assist individuals in effectively communicating with a wide range of people around the world. Students gain an understanding of their role in a diverse society, as well as their accountability in the world as a whole. The scope of the general education courses varies by programs, but majority of colleges and universities encourage students to complete their general education courses during the first year of coursework. Some schools do not allow students to register for upper-level coursework before completing the general education requirements. Also, many bachelor’s degree programs require the completion of general education classes by the junior year.

Generally, degrees of the arts require more English, writing, and language general education courses, while science degrees focus more on science, mathematics, and humanities general course requirements. General education courses typically make up for over half of the total degree requirements for associate degree programs. For example, an associate degree program totaling 64 credit hours may include 42 credit hours of general education courses. On the other hand, since bachelor’s degree programs involve more in-depth study of the criminal justice discipline, general education courses may only make up a third of the total required credit hours. Bachelor’s degree programs commonly require between 44 and 60 credit hours of general education out of the total of 120 to 160 credit hours.

Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice

Examples of general education courses required for an Associate of Arts degree include:

• English composition and literature
• Proficiency in writing
• American history
• Foreign language
• American literature
• College algebra
• American government
• Introduction to biology
• Introduction to psychology

Associate of Science in Criminal Justice

Examples of general education courses required for an Associate of Science degree are as follows:

• English
• Early U.S. history
• U.S. government
• College mathematics
• Introduction to humanities
• Introduction to sociology
• Human anatomy
• Psychology of adjustment
• Environmental science

Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

Common general education courses required for a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice include:

• College algebra
• English composition I
• English composition II
• History of civilization
• Speech communication
• World literature
• Introduction to visual art
• Science of biology
• American national government
• Foreign language

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Common general education classes complete in a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice:

• English composition
• Elementary statistics
• Management, gender, and race
• Global business
• Geology
• Microeconomics
• Music appreciation
• Women’s studies
• U.S. history

Check out our Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs for 2015

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