Pursuing an online associate degree in criminal justice can lead to a variety of careers within corrections, the courts system, and the public and private security sectors. Professionals trained in criminal justice are qualified to become police officers, crime scene investigators, probation officers, court administrators and more.
An online associate in criminal justice provides the basic training needed for an entry-level position in this far-reaching field. Online criminal justice coursework at the associate level typically provides an overview of communication techniques and field terminology, as well as crime trends and statistics, justice policy and victimology theory. Students enrolled in an online program are also given the opportunity to explore the various computer-based IT applications commonly used by criminal justice professionals today.
In addition to a foundational education in criminal justice, most employers require significant on-the-job experience; in fact, for some occupations within the field, practical training provided by the hiring agency is mandatory to be considered for employment. For instance, most police officers and security officers are required to complete a training program through the police academy or obtain in-house security clearance, respectively, to maintain employment with the given agency or organization. Students aspiring to become probation officers, court reporters or criminal caseworkers may want to pursue an internship or field experience that allows them to build administrative and communication skills, as well as to provide enhanced working knowledge of the criminal justice system.
Below, we’ve ranked the best online associate in criminal justice programs for 2016. Every program is exceptional in its own right; be sure to carefully review program requirements and completion times to find the school that suits you best.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
South Texas College
|McAllen||3201 W Pecan|
McAllen, TX 78502-9701
South Texas College offers a criminal justice associate degree online, designed to prepare students for careers as probation officers, border patrol agents and private security guards. The degree comprises 60 to 61 total credit hours, combining topics in criminal justice, government, sociology, English and history for a well-rounded set of professionals skills in the field. Graduates of the two-year program are eligible for entry-level employment in both public and private criminal justice positions or, if preferred, enrollment in a four-year bachelor's program.
Online courses are delivered through Blackboard, with the help of numerous additional student services available via South Texas College Online, including a live tech support feature, an interactive course schedule and student help desk for distance learners. Academic support services found online include tutoring, test proctoring and student advising.
Northampton County Area Community College
|Bethlehem||3835 Green Pond Rd|
Bethlehem, PA 18020-7599
Northampton County Area Community College offers a criminal justice associate degree online, awarded by the department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Northampton. The program is designed to provide an introductory education in criminal justice topics, including speech communication, psychology and the American justice system; all of which prepare students for transfer into a four-year program or entry-level employment in the field. Potential careers resulting from completion of the NCACC program may include police officer, corrections officer or community treatment center staff member.
Online assignments are completed through Blackboard, with a variety of online support tools dedicated to distance learners, including career services, counseling, tutoring and technical support. Additional services for nontraditional students may be accessed through the New Choices program, aimed at providing options to single parents, displaced homemakers and dislocated workers enrolled in a college program at NCACC.
Southeastern Technical College
|Vidalia||3001 E First St|
Vidalia, GA 30474
Southeastern Technical College offers an online AS in criminal justice technology, emphasizing a combination of the theoretical and practical skills needed in modern occupations in the field. Graduates are prepared for entry-level employment in a variety of occupations involving criminal justice and investigative technology, including police officer, corrections officer, private investigator, security guard, police administrator and more. Coursework comprises 63 semester hours in criminal law, ethics, juvenile justice and psychology training, among other topics; students are required to complete a practicum or externship experience during their final term.
Online courses are accessed through an exclusive student portal, with the aid of additional resources designed to enhance the virtual classroom, including personal tutoring, counseling services and online learning workshops.
Northern Kentucky University
|Highland Heights||Nunn Drive|
Highland Heights, KY 41099
Northern Kentucky University offers a criminal justice associate degree online through its department of political science and criminal justice. Coursework in the AA program stresses a broad overview of concepts, processes, theories and research methods comprising the complex criminal justice system in America. The curriculum includes a combination of core and secondary courses totaling 60 credit hours, designed to prepare students to begin a career in local, state or federal law enforcement, corrections or security sectors. The online program can also lead to transfer into a four-year degree program in criminal justice or a related field.
Assignments are completed through Blackboard, incorporating additional student resources, such as video tutorials, live Web conferencing and IT support, through a single sign-on portal for distance learners.
Western Wyoming Community College
|Rock Springs||2500 College Dr|
Rock Springs, WY 82902-0428
Western Wyoming Community College offers an online criminal justice associate degree, ideal for students looking to gain basic skills and transfer into a bachelor’s degree program. Coursework in the WWCC program is designed to develop in students a foundation in criminal law, sociology, statistics and problem-solving, combining core and elective courses over four semesters to total 67-69 total credit hours. Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions within corrections, law enforcement, and parole and probation divisions.
Online courses are delivered via Blackboard, alongside a variety of student services through a single sign-on portal. Support resources for distance learners include peer and professional tutoring, library and bookstore services, Blackboard and IT technical assistance and access to WWCC’s mobile site for remote students.
Genesee Community College
|Batavia||One College Rd|
Batavia, NY 14020
Genesee Community College offers two options for an online criminal justice associate degree. Each program is designed to address a diverse set of skills needed in the criminal justice field: the AA stresses humanities and sociology concepts in criminal justice, while the AAS incorporates the study of criminal law, corrections policy and forensics basics. Graduates of both programs are well-versed in introductory general education and core liberal arts topics and are prepared for transfer into a four-year program or entry-level employment as detectives, corrections officers, customs inspectors and more.
Courses are delivered through Genesis, alongside a wealth of links and resources for online student support; through Genesis’s one-stop student portal, distance learners can access personal counseling services, find tutoring information, get technical help and view job opportunities for those who have an associate degree in criminal justice.
North Central Missouri College
|Trenton||1301 Main St|
Trenton, MO 64683
North Central Missouri College offers an online AAS in criminal justice, well-suited to students seeking entry-level employment in criminal justice. The degree comprises 46-58 total credit hours, depending on the student’s desired area of expertise. Though the curriculum in the AAS degree is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of concepts including corrections, criminology and criminal law, students are given the opportunity during the first year of study to customize their courses to their individual area of interest via optional electives. Graduates are prepared for employment in police departments, corrections agencies and juvenile justice centers, among other options.
Online students complete assignments primarily through Blackboard, using digital dropboxes and multimedia tools to share information. Additional support services available for online students include math, writing and tech labs, as well as system support, mental health resources and academic advising.
Oconee Fall Line Technical College
|Sandersville||1189 Deepstep Rd|
Sandersville, GA 31082
Oconee Fall Line Technical College offers an online AAS in criminal justice technology, emphasizing a combination of theory-based learning and application of skills relevant to today's tech-oriented criminal justice field. The 60-credit-hour program is designed to introduce students to an overview of criminal justice programs and technologies used on-the-job. The curriculum explores principles of law enforcement, introduction to computers and criminal procedures and includes a mandatory practicum or externship to complete the degree. Graduates are prepared to enter law enforcement, security and corrections occupations at the starting level.
Online assignments are delivered through ANGEL, with the help of additional support services, including tutoring, test proctoring and counseling.
Jefferson Community College
|Watertown||1220 Coffeen St|
Watertown, NY 13601-1897
Jefferson Community College offers a criminal justice associate degree online, with available concentrations in criminology and juvenile delinquency. The program focuses on building a foundation in core principles of the field, including criminal evidence and administrative procedures, American government and sociology, while also offering diverse electives for students aspiring to a variety of criminal justice professions. Graduates of the comprehensive 63-credit program are qualified for entry-level employment as police investigators, crime lab technicians, corrections officers and probation officers.
Online assignments for the online criminal justice associate degree are completed in Blackboard, using interactive TV and other multimedia delivery methods developed specifically for the virtual classroom. Additional online support services include academic coaching services, advising, tech support and access to a mobile Blackboard app for distance learning on-the-go.
West Kentucky Community and Technical College
|Paducah||4810 Alben Barkley Drive|
Paducah, KY 42002-7380
West Kentucky Community and Technical College offers an online AAS in criminal justice in a variety of optional tracks, including corrections, criminal justice, law enforcement and security and loss prevention. Curriculum in the 60-credit-hour program comprises a combination of courses exploring criminology, computer forensics, police supervision and more to prepare students for careers in a broad range of occupations involving criminal justice. Graduates may be eligible to become professional police officers, criminal investigators, parole officers or security guards, among other opportunities.
Online assignments are completed in Blackboard via the KCTCS eLearning portal, with the support of numerous online student support resources. Learning tools for distance learners offered at KCTCS include a virtual library and bookstore, self-service tutorials and online advising services.
Northwest Mississippi Community College
|Senatobia||4975 Hwy 51 N|
Senatobia, MS 38668-1714
Northwest Mississippi Community College offers an online AA in criminal justice, designed to provide an overview to the common theories and practices used in the field of criminal justice. The AA program's curriculum covers broad topics within the judicial system, criminology and the prison system, preparing students to apply their skills in a range of diverse occupations within the industry. Graduates are eligible for entry-level employment in law enforcement, security and loss prevention.
Online coursework is completed through Canvas, assisted by several other online learning platforms; distance learners may access library databases, writing labs, cultural reference materials and tech help through various apps in Canvas, Microsoft portals and via a Canvas mobile app.
Barton County Community College
|Great Bend||245 NE 30th Road|
Great Bend, KS 67530
Barton County Community College offers an online AS in criminal justice, providing a broad education in for students exploring a range of careers. Through an introduction to general concepts in criminal justice, the program is designed to be customizable according to student preferences. The AA degree comprises 64 credit hours in a combination of foundation, humanities, social and behavioral science, natural science and mathematics and physical education, health and performance courses. Students must also perform a practicum to complete the degree. Graduates are prepared to assume a variety of law enforcement and criminal investigation employment opportunities at the entry level.
Distance students can access assignments through the exclusive BARTonline student portal, which also features student support resources like student advising, tutoring services, transferability counseling and virtual conferencing tools.
Dawson Community College
|Glendive||300 College Dr|
Glendive, MT 59330
Dawson Community College offers an online AAS in criminal justice, ideal for students looking to find immediate employment in criminal justice upon graduation. Curriculum in the career-oriented program serves a variety of interests, and optional electives can be customized to suit individual student needs. For example, a student interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement may tailor courses outside of the general education requirements to focus on this specialty. Other topics offered include criminology, probation and parole, corrections and penology.
Online assignments are delivered through Moodle, assisted by online student support resources, including virtual library services, a job board and interactive calendar system. Additionally, students may take part in live elearning events hosted through the DCC online community platform.
Middlesex Community College
Bedford, MA 01730-9124
Middlesex Community College offers a criminal justice associate degree online, with a concentration in administration of justice. The program emphasizes both academic and practical skills in three major areas of criminal justice: the police, courts and corrections. Graduates are equipped with the skills needed to find gainful employment in parole, probation, corrections and advocacy-inspired sectors of criminal justice. The program encompasses 60-61 credits in topics such as criminology, juvenile justice victim psychology, as well as soft skills including communication, sensitivity and interpersonal relations.
Assignments are completed online through Blackboard, with additional student support provided via live chat, interactive tutorials and a mobile online learning app.
Lanier Technical College
|Oakwood||2990 Landrum Education Dr|
Oakwood, GA 30566
Lanier Technical College offers an online AAS in criminal justice technology, designed to provide relevant professional training for students aspiring to a career in corrections, security, police administration or other occupation within criminal justice. The degree comprises a total of 60 credit hours in a combination of general education core, program-specific core and elective courses. Coursework explores conceptual topics in language arts, social sciences and humanities, but also requires completion of a hands-on practicum experience.
Assignments are delivered through Blackboard with the aid of additional support services available through the GVTC portal, including tech support, virtual library access and tutoring services via the Smartthinking platform.
|Willmar||2101 15th Ave NW|
Willmar, MN 56201
Ridgewater College offers an online AA in liberal arts with an emphasis in corrections, designed for students intending to find employment as a probation officer, corrections officer, parole officer or other non-peace-officer occupation in criminal justice. The 60-credit program explores topics in communications, global perspective and logical reasoning, intended as an overview of social behavior and the ethical and civic responsibility skills needed in a corrections job in the field of criminal justice. Students planning to advance to a four-year program after completing the AA degree must satisfy minimum transfer credit requirements, according to Minnesota college system standards in this discipline.
Online assignments are delivered through D2L Brightspace, with supplemental Web-based resources available for elearning, such as advising, counseling, a full-service help desk and more. Distance learners may also take advantage of a live chat option and student discounts on select Web-based software and programs.
McHenry County College
|Crystal Lake||8900 US Hwy 14|
Crystal Lake, IL 60012-2761
McHenry County College offers an online AS in criminal justice, ideal for students looking to complete their associate degree in an accelerated format and go on to pursue a bachelor’s in criminal justice or a related field. Curriculum in the 60-credit program mimics that of the first two years of a four-year degree in the subject; McHenry supports immediate transfer into four-year programs at a variety of partner schools in the state. The AS degree may be completed via a cohort model in as little as 16 months. Courses delivered online in Canvas provide introductions to criminal justice, psychology, corrections and sociology, as well as explore topics in humanities, ethics and computer literacy.
Resources in support of distance learners are available through the convenient MyMCC student portal and include tutoring, counseling and advising options, a career center, tech support and online continuing education opportunities.
Albany Technical College
|Albany||1704 South Slappey Boulevard|
Albany, GA 31701
Albany Technical College offers an online AAS in law enforcement technology, designed to prepare students for entry-level employment opportunities within security, corrections, police administration and investigative areas of criminal justice. The program comprises 60 hours of core and occupational courses, combining theoretical and practical application of skills in language arts, social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. Students are also introduced to a wide range of criminal justice and law enforcement topics through optional electives and are required to complete a practicum or internship as part of the degree.
Courses are completed online through ANGEL, with a wide range of online student services available to aid distance learners in completing their degree online. Support resources include an interactive school calendar, Titan help desk, counseling, tutoring options and more services available via Albany’s Academic Achievement Center.
Southeastern Community College
|West Burlington||1500 West Agency Road|
West Burlington, IA 52655-0180
Southeastern Community College offers an online AAS in criminal justice, well-suited to those looking for a broad overview of major competencies and skills needed for entry-level employment in the field. Graduates of the AAS program are qualified for employment within civic police departments, state sheriffs' agencies and highway patrol divisions, correctional institutions, narcotics agencies, parole and probation offices and more. Students who complete the AAS program may also transfer into a four-year degree program upon graduation. The 64-credit AAS program consists of coursework in criminal justice, corrections, criminal law, psychology and juvenile delinquency.
Courses are delivered through the Iowa Community College Online Consortium, which also features links to numerous other student support resources for distance learners. Available tools for the virtual classroom include 24/7 tech support, live chat options, online tutoring and advising services and mobile apps for the online learning system.
Luzerne County Community College
|Nanticoke||1333 South Prospect Street|
Nanticoke, PA 18634-3899
Luzerne County Community College offers an online AAS in criminal justice, designed to promote a broad, introductory education in the field of criminal justice. Through coursework in criminal law, sociology and police community relations, for instance, students are prepared for either entry-level employment or further study in criminal justice or a related field. The 65-credit degree spans two years of combined core, elective and field experience courses, incorporating relevant topics in English, composition, mathematics, science and history.
All online assignments are accessible through Blackboard, via advanced multimedia delivery and video conferencing programs. Additional support tools available to distance learners include counseling and advising options, career services, transfer assistance and live tech support through the technology help desk.
Georgia Military College
( ) -
Georgia Military College offers online AA and AS degrees in criminal justice. Each of the programs are 90-98 quarter credit hours in length, depending on optional electives, and are designed to prepare students for entry-level employment in corrections, law enforcement and private and corporate security, as well as to pursue the next level of study in a four-year criminal justice baccalaureate program. Students are required to complete an e-portfolio as a final condition of the degree. While the AA curriculum focuses the majority of courses in humanities-based concepts such as English composition, the AS degree features a more scientific approach, offering electives including statistics and environmental science, for example.
Online assignments are accessible via the GMC Online single-sign-on student portal, which also offers support services for online learning, including academic advising, personal technology assistance and a mobile app for distance learners.
Prince George's Community College
|Largo||301 Largo Rd|
Largo, MD 20774-2199
Prince George’s Community College offers an online AAS in criminal justice, designed to provide students with a wide range of communication and service-oriented skills that can lead to entry-level employment in local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Curriculum in the AAS degree emphasizes literacy and articulation competencies; in addition to basic introductory courses in criminal justice, humanities, science and IT concepts, the program includes extensive training in ESL, English composition and language-based topics.
Online students complete assignments in Blackboard, with the support of additional student services including a live chat feature for Blackboard-specific tech support. Additionally, student support tools offered to distance learners include free online tutoring via Smarthinking, a virtual library media center and an online job board.
Eastern Kentucky University
|Richmond||521 Lancaster Ave|
Richmond, KY 40475-3102
Eastern Kentucky offers an online AA in police studies, designed for prospective police officers looking to satisfy minimum college credit requirements and obtain hands-on experience in the field of law enforcement. The 60-hour program was developed in accordance with typical credit requirements for entry-level police officers; by completing this comprehensive introduction in criminal justice, police policy, ethics and contemporary police strategy, graduates are qualified to enter the field as trained professionals in police theory and administration.
Online assignments are delivered through Blackboard, with a variety of student support resources built-in to the extensive EKU Online elearning portal. Resources for distance learners include streaming video tutorials, access to library databases and archives, textbook-lending services and virtual learning materials and advising via the Instructional Development Center at EKU.
|Phoenix||1202 W Thomas Rd|
Phoenix, AZ 85013
Phoenix College offers an online AAS in administration of justice, designed to provide an overview of basic concepts in criminal justice. The 60-credit program is well-suited for both students looking to continue their studies in a specialized field as well as those seeking entry-level employment in law enforcement, security, probation or parole. The curriculum encompasses general education and required courses exploring criminal law, constitutional law, oral communication and social and behavioral sciences, among other topics.
Online assignments are delivered through Canvas, supported by a range of additional services for distance learners. Resources available through the online student portal include academic advisement, personal counseling, a live chat option for program or tech assistance, interactive career services and outreach program opportunities.
Lone Star College System
|The Woodlands||5000 Research Forest Drive|
The Woodlands, TX 77381-4399
Lone Star College System offers an online AA in criminal justice, intended to provide an introductory education in criminal justice concepts for those seeking transfer into a four-year degree at an affiliated institution. The 60-hour, two-year program covers broad topics in criminal justice, touching on court systems and practices, correctional systems and practices, general psychology, Texas history, federal government and more. Students may also choose from electives in composition, speech, math, creative arts and other humanities options.
Online assignments are delivered through D2L, also offering numerous elearning resources at the same single-sign-on site. Resources for distance learners include live chat support, online advising opportunities, virtual exam proctoring and round-the-clock technical assistance.
The field of criminal justice encompasses a diverse range of job opportunities for graduates of an online associate degree program. Many employers in the field prefer candidates with a solid on-the-job experience to applicants who hold an advanced degree but little background in the working world; this makes applicants who possess an associate degree and extensive professional expertise highly sought after. Students at this level are qualified to become police officers, private security guards, crime scene investigators, private investigators and more. Though job prospects for police and detectives, for example, are estimated at only 5% growth through 2022, according to the BLS, this is due, in part, to fluctuations in crime rates and budget spending, which vary greatly depending on location and employer.
An online associate degree in criminal justice provides a foundation for all types of students aspiring to enter the field. Those looking to pursue a hands-on role such as police officer, crime scene investigator or security guard, should consider field experience or on-the-job training as a necessary component of their early career; many associate-level college programs offer assistance with finding relevant practical training experience.
Additionally, students interested in supportive roles involving criminal justice, including court administrators and social workers, for example, will receive the same benefits of the broad associate degree program and should also pursue an internship or on-the-job experience to gain the soft skills needed in their area of expertise. Generally, employers spanning all facets of criminal justice will expect qualified candidates to have a significant amount of field experience to fill an entry-level position.
Though requirements vary depending on the hiring agency or organization, some criminal justice occupations may require specialized training and/or a probationary program in order to be considered for employment. For example, police officers are typically required to be trained as recruits within the division’s own police academy before becoming officers, or cadets, if they are not yet of legal age to begin in-field training. Armed security guards, for instance, may also be required to meet additional criteria that include passing regular background, criminal and fingerprint checks, though such clearance measures are widely determined by state laws and vary by location.