online criminal justice degree student

The Ultimate Guide to Criminal Justice Degrees
The Right Degree for a Criminal Justice Career

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Are you considering a rewarding career in criminal justice and are wondering –

  • Is an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice worth it?
  • Would you be better off earning a bachelor’s degree, or is an associates degree in criminal justice worth it?
  • Is a Masters in Criminal Justice worth it?
consensus gender criminal justice

The study of criminal justice trains students to detect, arrest, and prosecute criminals in society. When studying criminal justice from an associate’s degree to doctoral levels, students explore a deeper understanding of the systems in place to capture and prosecute perpetrators.Criminal justice includes the enforcement of federal and state laws, plus the delivery of justice. The criminal justice system is organized into –

  • Government agencies.
  • Law Enforcement.
  • The Police force.
  • The prosecution by lawyers.
  • The Court System.
  • The Prison System.  

Accreditation for Criminal Justice Programs

Accreditation is the defined process by which professional schools, colleges, and universities have the opportunity to earn an industry-sanctioned validation – in other words, a stamp of approval from a third-party accreditation agency.

The accreditation agency is responsible for evaluating either a school or a course’s content in terms of a pre-defined set of professional standards for discerning if the school or the coursework meets the professionally defined criteria.

Accreditation is awarded at several levels, which are discussed in detail below.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation is administered by the federal government’s nine Regional Agencies. The United States Department of Education manages these agencies (USDE). These agencies sanctioned by the USDE are tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the nation’s accreditation processes and standards.

Regional accreditation is generally recognized as an exalted accreditation type because the federal government issues it.

Specialized Accreditation

In addition to regional accreditation, post-secondary schools can also voluntarily apply to be assessed by specialized accreditation agencies – generally approved by its industry. 

Criminal Justice Specialized Accreditation 

The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences is the professional organization tasked with supporting the criminal justice system and its professionals. The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences operates internationally and offers criminal justice professionals the following services –

  • The accreditation of Criminal Justice various levels of degree programs, including –
    • Accredited criminal justice degree online certificates.
    • Accredited criminal justice degree online programs.
    • Accredited online criminal justice associates degree programs.
    • Accredited online bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice.
    • Accredited online master’s degrees in criminal justice.
    • Accredited online PhD programs in criminal justice.
  • Performing Research.
  • Policy Analysis.
  • Networking Opportunities.
  • Student Resources, among others. 

Criminal Justice Associate’s Programs 

As you consider your options for an on-campus or online criminal justice associates degree program, first ask yourself –

  • Are there any criminal justice schools near me? If the answer is no, ask yourself – Can I find an associates degree in criminal justice online?
  • What are the best online criminal justice associates degree programs that fit my budget?

Both on-campus and online criminal justice associates degree programs require students to complete coursework in –

  • Criminal Justice Investigations.
  • Criminal Behavior.
  • Legal Principles.
  • Criminal Law.
  • The Justice System, to name a few.

Most associates degree in criminal justice online programs requires the completion of 60 credit units.

The good news is that many associate’s degrees are offered online with rolling admission dates – allowing you to begin the coursework when you are ready. These online criminal justice associates degree programs offer tremendous flexibility in scheduling for added convenience.

Associate’s in Criminal Justice Jobs 

If you decide to enroll in a criminal justice associate’s degree program, the next set of questions to ask includes –

  • What can I do with a criminal justice associates degree?
  • What are the available 2 year criminal justice degree jobs?
  • What would a criminal justice associates degree salary be?
  • What are the top-paying jobs with an associates degree in criminal justice?
  • What would the entry level associates in criminal justice salary be?
  • Are there criminal justice associates degree jobs that would meet my salary requirements?
  • Is a criminal justice associates degree salary worth it?

By earning an AA degree, you can begin looking among the top paying jobs with an associates degree in criminal justice in only 2 years, whereas a bachelor’s degree program will generally take four years to complete. Those applying for associates in criminal justice jobs have these criminal justice associates degree jobs to select from –

  • A Paralegal.
  • A Corrections Officer.
  • A Police Officer.
  • A Youth Detention Counselor.
  • A Probation Officer.
  • Victim Advocacy.
  • An Evidence Technician.
  • A Security Officer.
  • Cybersecurity Investigator.
  • Insurance Fraud Investigator, plus a host of other associates degree in criminal justice jobs.

Remember that many associates degrees in criminal justice jobs are just the stepping stone towards a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. In other words, many 2 year criminal justice degree jobs offer excellent opportunities to refine your thinking about which facet of the criminal justice industry you find most interesting.

Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice 

consensus criminal justice outlook

Criminal justice jobs depend heavily upon the type of job, the job’s location, and the education level of the professional. As you continue to decide which on-campus or online criminal justice degree program would meet your education and career objectives, start by answering this question – Are there criminal justice schools near me?

Are there criminal justice schools near me? – Is a relevant question because it will help you decide if you will need to apply to an online criminal justice bachelor degree program. But, follow that question with these pertinent queries –

  • Where can I locate the best criminal justice schools and top criminal justice colleges?
  • What are the best colleges for criminal justice and law enforcement?
  • Are the best online colleges for law enforcement and best online criminal justice degrees within my budget?

Those considering enrolling in an on-campus or online criminal justice degree program should be certain that the program is from an accredited program/school – likely offered from one of the best criminal justice schools or top criminal justice colleges.

An online criminal justice bachelor degree from the many best colleges for criminal justice and law enforcement is a smart starting point for a criminal justice career.

As you decide which of the best online criminal justice degrees, consider that an online criminal justice degree can prepare you for any one of these jobs –

Crime Scene Investigators

Crime scene investigators support the professional work done by police officers and detectives.  They are tasked with the responsibility of obtaining and analyzing evidence and data samples from a crime scene. 

Corrections Management

Those employed as managers in correctional facilities are tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the corrections staff managing the prison population. This position is typically considered mid-management with responsibilities that include administration, facility security, and worker/inmate safety.

Police Officers

Police Officers have many and varied responsibilities.  Graduating from one of the best criminal justice schools prepares degree holders for a rewarding career in policy work; however, those intending to become a police officer should also have these attributes –

  • Possess people skills.
  • Be physically fit.
  • Be adept at problem-solving.
  • Work well under pressure.
  • Be committed to community service.

Emergency Management Coordinators

Emergency Management Coordinators are typically employed by local, state, or federal governments. Their responsibilities include –

  • Planning & Preparing for Natural Disasters.
  • Developing & Executing Emergency Response Plans.
  • Leading the Response Efforts.

Social Workers

Social workers work in many different industries. Their professional skills allow them to be valuable assets with regard to –

  • Aiding low-income families.
  • Providing childcare/food programs to eligible recipients.
  • Sponsoring drug abuse prevention/recovery programs.
  • Ministering to minors incarcerated, among others.

Forensic Accountants

Forensic accountants are the financial detectives of the criminal justice world. A forensic accountant –

  • Monitors & audits financial records.
  • Develops timeframes of relevant transactions.
  • Calculates the total value of assets, among other forensic accountancy techniques.

The information obtained from these detailed audits create evidentiary information used by lawyers in matters related to –

  • Insurance Fraud.
  • Bankruptcy.
  • Embezzlement and other White-Collar Crimes.

Paralegals

Paralegals are legal professionals tasked with the responsibility of supporting lawyers.  Paralegals are required to work under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. They often –

  • Draft Legal Documents.
  • Research Caselaw.
  • Conducting Legal Research.

FBI Agents

FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) Agents work domestically or abroad. They are responsible for –  

  • Investigating Cybercrimes.
  • Investigating Federal Crimes.
  • Investigating Terroristic Threats & Events.
  • Investigating Organized Crime, among many others.

FBI Agents are required to be at least 23 years old to apply and have a verifiable work history of relevant work for the previous 3years. FBI Agent applicants are required to pass-through interviews, personality testing, and a standardized physical fitness test.

Private Investigators

Those who choose to become a Private Investigator (PI) work with defendants and plaintiffs in ongoing lawsuits. A Private Investigator–

  • Conducts background checks.
  • Searches for missing individuals.
  • Researches public records for missing friends/relatives.
  • Evaluates financial matters.
  • Verifies personal data disclosed by a person.

Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree Jobs and Salary

As you consider the benefits of earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, be sure to answer these criminal justice salary queries –

  • Are there entry-level criminal justice jobs near me that my degree will qualify for?
  • Is earning a bachelor’s in criminal justice degree worth it?
  • How much does a criminal justice degree make for an entry-level position?
  • What are the criminal justice degree benefits other than the salary level?
  • How does a bachelor of arts in criminal justice salary differ from a masters in criminal justice salary?
  • Do the entry level criminal justice jobs near me require a minimum of a baccalaureate degree?
  • Will the criminal justice jobs near me pay the highest criminal justice salary for my education?

According to the BLS – the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who hold criminal justice baccalaureate degrees (also known as forensic science technicians) had a median criminal justice jobs salary of $59,150 each year, which translates to a criminal justice salary per hour $28.44.Those with a baccalaureate degree criminal justice may also find entry level criminal justice jobs as follows –

Entry Level Criminal Justice JobsCriminal Justice Jobs SalaryCriminal Justice Salary Per Hour
Fire Inspectors$60,230 per year$28.96/hour
Private Detectives$50,510 per year$24.28/hour
Biological Technicians$45,860 per year$22.05/hour

Additionally, the job outlook for criminal justice jobs near me anticipates the job growth rate to be 14%, which is significantly faster than that overall average expected growth rate of all occupations in the United States.

Master’s in Criminal Justice 

consensus criminal justice jobs

As noted by the BLS, the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the criminal justice field’s job growth rate is expected to be nearly twice the average of all US occupations – 14% vs. 8%. As such, the criminal justice field is growing at a fever pitch. With competition increasing, there are those who understand that an advanced degree in criminal justice may be the competitive edge you need.

The reality is earning a masters in criminal justice online or on-campus provides you with advanced training and practical experience that may place your application atop of all others. As you consider the best online masters in criminal justice degree program, be sure to determine if the criminal justice graduate programs online that you select have received accreditation.

Locating the criminal justice masters programs online that meet your career and education objectives should be a top priority – with the best online criminal justice masters programs being different for each individual students.

How Do I Choose the Right Criminal Justice Master’s Program?

Many criminal justice graduate schools offer both on-campus and online programs. Many of the top criminal justice masters programs and best online criminal justice schools are accredited – which is the simplest way to narrow down the best criminal justice masters programs list.

It is smart to choose a criminal justice degree online accredited appropriately because the accreditation agency will have done most of the investigation and due diligence needed to determine if the program meets pre-established education standards.

Some of the features that a student should look for in a masters in criminal justice online program from the best online criminal justice schools include:

  • A comprehensive criminal justice masters programs online or on-campus.
  • Degree programs from accredited criminal justice graduate schools.
  • Some of the best online masters in criminal justice programs will have low student-to-faculty ratios.
  • High graduation rates are a hallmark of the best online criminal justice masters programs.

A masters in criminal justice online degree may be the perfect option to begin your career as a criminal justice professional. First, determine if the top criminal justice masters programs are within your budget, and then make the next move.

Master’s in Criminal Justice Jobs and Salary 

For those students interested in changing careers, it is noted that a master’s in criminal justice jobs will offer more entry-level criminology jobs in the field of law enforcement and criminal justice. The master’s in criminal justice salary will be higher than that for a holder of a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in criminal justice.

Read on to learn about the additional benefits of getting a master’s degree in criminal justice.

As you consider your education potentials for a career in criminal justice, be sure to find the answers to these questions –

  • What can I do with a Masters in Criminal Justice?
  • Are there entry level criminology jobs for Masters in Criminal Justice majors?
  • What types of criminal justice careers are available with a criminal justice graduate degree?
  • What are the benefits of getting a masters degree in criminal justice?
  • What are the available online masters degree in criminology?
  • What criminal justice jobs with a master’s degree are available in my neighborhood?
  • What can I expect regarding a masters in criminal justice jobs salary?
  • Are there online masters degree in criminology that fit my budget?

Types of Criminal Justice Jobs with a Master’s Degree

If you are still wondering – What can I do with a masters in criminal justice? – consider the various types of criminal jobs or criminal justice management jobs includes –

  • Information Security Officer – protects an agency or business data. The median criminal justice masters salary is approximately $92,000.
  • Prison Warden – this type of masters in criminal justice jobs is considered the senior member of the correctional facility. The median criminal justice masters salary is approximately $88,000.
  • Forensic Psychologist – this type of masters in criminal justice jobs allow trained psychologists to apply their expertise to evaluate criminals and crime. The median criminal justice masters salary is approximately $69,000.
  • FBI Agent – this type of masters in criminal justice jobs allows degree holders to investigate serious crimes. The median criminal justice masters salary is approximately $65,000.

Doctorate in Criminal Justice 

consensus criminal justice states

Earning an online criminal justice doctorate degree is an arduous, but rewarding challenge. Those who graduate with an on-campus or online criminal justice PhD will find many rewarding career opportunities that make earning an online PhD in criminal justice worth it.

If you have an interest in pursuing an on-campus or online doctorate in criminal justice, it is essential to find the answers to these questions –

  • What are the best criminal justice PhD programs available today?
  • What jobs are available if I earn a criminal justice doctorate online?
  • Will a criminal justice PhD online program be one of the best online criminal justice PhD programs I can afford?
  • Will an online criminal justice doctorate degree by less expensive than an on-campus program?

The reality is that earning a PhD in criminal justice online or on-campus will open a broad variety of jobs in the areas of teaching, research, and the development of criminal justice policy. An online PhD in criminal justice degree can also lead to rewarding careers in private investigation and forensic science, among others.

For example, if you earn a PhD in criminal justice online, you will be prepared to lead criminal justice research efforts. Alternatively, if you earn your criminal justice PhD online, you will be prepared to enter an academic facility as an educator. Additionally, those who possess an online criminal justice PhD degree may go on to become an administrator or a policymaker.

If you are considered enrolling in an online doctorate in criminal justice program, be certain the criminal justice doctorate online program you choose has received the appropriate accreditation.

Doctorate Degree in Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs 

If you have seriously considered earning a PhD in criminal justice, you have likely asked–

Those who hold a doctorate in criminal justice are trained in the areas of theory and policy. Criminal justice PhD jobs are available in the areas of justice administration, research & development, policy-making, and academia.

PhD in Criminal Justice Jobs

Overall, PhD criminal justice jobs are widely available in the federal government agencies of –

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security 
  • U.S. Department of Justice.
  • U.S. Border Patrol
  • U.S. Immigration, among others.

Working for the Department of Homeland Security

The DHS – Department of Homeland Security is tasked with the responsibility of hiring several thousand employees annually. Jobs available with a PhD in Homeland security include border protection, counterterrorism, security, immigration, or intelligence, among others. The median doctorate in criminal justice salary for this position is about $74,000.

Professor

PhD in criminal justice jobs in the area of academics includes that of a professorship. Criminal justice PhD jobs in the education arena are available at vocation or professional schools, colleges, and universities. Professors are tasked with –

  • Developing coursework.
  • Creating program learning outcomes.
  • Working with students and other professors in the area of research and the writing of scholarly articles.

The median doctorate in criminal justice salary for this position is about $92,000.

Police Chief/Lieutenant

Those who hold positions as a police chief or a police lieutenant are the upper echelon of first responders and detectives. Police chiefs and lieutenants are responsible for managing the overall police department including–

  • Personnel.
  • Case assignments and management.
  • New police officer hiring and training.
  • Policy and procedure enforcement.
  • Investigation coordination.
  • Report writing, to name a few.

The median doctorate in criminal justice salary for this a police chief or lieutenant is about $92,000.

Related Rankings:

Best Online Associate’s in Criminal Justice

Best Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice

Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

Best Online Doctorate in Criminal Justice