The Best Guide to Online Criminal Justice Programs

Criminal justice is a field that looks deep into the schematics of the criminal justice system as well as the tendencies of people that have exhibited different forms of criminal behavior. At a glance, this field could be described as studies that consider criminal laws, court systems involved in criminal cases, and corrections systems available for criminal offenders.

Online Criminal Justice Programs

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Criminal Justice Degree Programs

There are also topics available in these degree programs that can help students learn more about genetic or nurturing influences that can lead to criminal lifestyles, social constructs that can lead to acceptance for individuals that commit crime, and social programs and services that have been implemented in an attempt to thwart crime.

Upcoming college students interested in having a profound effect on the quality of the criminal justice system or those interested in safeguarding their communities could be great additions to this excellent field. Our team has devised this guide in an effort to help you learn more about the different degree levels currently available to you, as well as the career and earning opportunities at each level.

Take a look through the guide below to see if this field could be a good fit for you.

What to Expect in the Online Bachelors Program

The field of criminal justice can be a great place to invest in a degree program. The added convenience of online education may be changing the way that students all over the country enjoy the benefits of higher education - at much less of a sacrifice.

A popular degree choice for new entrants into the field of criminal justice is the online bachelors program. This introductory program can help you learn about the building blocks of this field and how they expand out to form the field as a whole. This degree program in the online environment can consist of online courses that you complete at your own pace.

Students generally register at the full-time or part-time rate, which can result in anywhere from 1-4 classes per term. You can log into your courses from any computer that has access to the internet and browse through learning materials, complete discussion requirements weekly, and even complete examinations all online. Bachelors programs online can take 4 years to complete for students enrolled at the full-time rate, with more time being require for part-time learners.

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Coursework Common in Online Bachelors Programs

The online Bachelors in Criminal Justice may consist of a blend of courses that teach you more about the U.S. criminal justice system, sociological components that contribute to criminality, and even a breakdown of the laws and regulations present within the country. In addition to topics such as these, students may be required to take a certain set of prerequisite courses that cover some of the standard educational requirements for college students.

These general education courses can help you gain a basic set of skills that can apply in many different professional settings. The course work you can take in this program that is related specifically to criminal justice can be building blocks for later learning in higher degree programs. Most applicants to the online bachelors programs are recent high school graduates or new college students with no experience in the field of criminal justice. So, educational institutions offering these programs can accommodate for your needs regardless of what you already know about this fascinating field.

In the section below, you can read about a couple of example courses that can be found in online Bachelors in Criminal Justice programs. In the descriptions, you can see more about what each course might cover, as well as the skills that you can leave the class with successfully. As you read through each, try to think of how this knowledge could benefit you in a criminal justice career.

Intro to Criminal Justice

Starting with a look at general crime statistics in the U.S., this course outlines the fundamentals of criminal justice and its use within current society. Some of the agencies that students may explore in this course include the court system, law enforcement, jail and corrections, and the theoretical history of this field as a whole.

Students within this course can gain a better understanding of how the criminal justice system operates in order to develop productive theories on how crime can be lowered in the future.

The Juvenile Justice System

In order to fully understand all aspects of the criminal justice system, students must explore all parts of it. The juvenile justice system differs from the adult justice system in many different ways, which students may explore throughout this course.

Students may also take a look at the court process and mandates that are present in the juvenile field, in order to know more about how this aspect of criminal justice operates before entering into the field. Prevention methods and theories regarding juvenile offenders may also be discussed throughout this course.

Careers at the Bachelor's Level

The goal of the online bachelors program is to provide you with enough information to enter entry-level careers in criminal justice. As a new graduate at this level, you may be seeking out careers involved with law enforcement, the legal system, or even in correctional facilities.

Some of the most popular careers choices for bachelors-level graduates are those that work directly in the field - assisting with enforcement of the law and establishing justice against criminal offenders. Our team of educational experts has researched some of the most prominent career opportunities for graduates of this bachelors program.

As you can see below, there is also salary information that can be helpful to you as you sort through different careers in search of the best one for you. Depending on where you live, what type of experience you have, and the demand for professionals within your line of work, your earnings could vary significantly from the country's average.

Check out the data for graduates of this online program below.

Online Masters Programs at a Glance

The online Masters in Criminal Justice can be an excellent choice for current bachelors degree holders in criminal justice or other related fields. Graduates from Bachelors programs in Sociology and Psychology are common entrants into this program as well, making it a great option for partnership with multiple disciplines. Before you choose to enroll in an online masters program in this field, you should consider the benefits of completing this program as well as what type of investment to expect in terms of time and classwork.

Students enrolled in online masters programs can choose to pursue their degree at a full-time or part-time rate. This can greatly influence the amount of time spent in the degree program, since classes can be spread out to your liking. Most programs that are offered at the full-time rate can be completed in anywhere from 1-2 years for most students.

Course work for this program can be determined based on whether or not you have chosen a specialization for your program, which gives you focus for your future career. Read through some of the most common specialization options for this degree program below.

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Coursework for Online Master’s Students

There are many specialized tracks that you can choose for your degree program. If you have thought about the type of career you would like to have after completing your program, there may be a concentration option that is best suited for what you plan to do in your daily job. The courses that you take during your program can also be changed depending on what type of concentration you choose.

Online masters programs are typically broken up into different types of courses, such as standard criminal justice courses and elective courses. Our team has listed some common courses found in online masters programs in this field. Courses that focus specifically on theory and law can be helpful if you plan to work directly with criminal offenders or in the justice system.

Other courses that focus on the maturation of criminal offenders and the social influences around them may also be a part of your program, which can provide you with more insight and sensitivity about how criminal behavior begins and its nurtured throughout a lifetime. Read more specific information about these example courses below.

Criminal Justice Theory

In order to play a role in the development of helpful prevention and intervention programs for criminal offenders, students must learn more about how criminals are created. The theoretical elements of criminal justice involve a look into the social, psychological, and nurture elements of a person’s development.

Through a look into these different theories, students can learn more about criminal behavior and the steps required to reduce the number of offenders through supportive programming.

Criminal Psychology

Criminal behavior has long been a nature vs. nurture debate among researchers. In this course, you can see both sides of the argument, including development factors that can contribute to criminal behavior, as well as some of the biological components commonly found in criminal offenders.

The focus of this course will be on the psychological aspects of criminology including mental illness, trauma, and brain development in criminal behavior. The goal of this course is to help learners know more about people that become criminals during their lifetime.

Careers for Master’s Graduates

Obtaining your online masters degree can be a great feeling of accomplishment. Holding a degree at the masters level can also be a great way to showcase your skills and knowledge within your field and even obtain higher positions in your organization.

While the field of criminal justice reaches out into many different disciplines as a whole, some graduates prefer to stay true to their original goals of improving the criminal justice system and learning more about how to influence generational criminality. In order to help you see just what this type of degree program can mean for you professionally, our team has pulled out some common career options and their respective salaries for you to review. These are just a few of the options available to you as a professional.

The earnings provided are U.S. averages, meaning your experience and degree level could potentially influence how much you make specifically. Take a look at the figures below.

Overview of the Online Doctorate

The field of criminal justice is constantly growing and evolving as researchers determine more about criminal behavior and the effects of behavior change programs. The professionals responsible for modifying this field for the better are often doctorate degree holders that are in positions of research and program evaluation.

If you are the type of person that is interested in finding answers and developing meaningful solutions, the online Doctorate in Criminal Justice could be a great option for you. Before you enroll in any online degree program, you should read more about what is involved, the time it can take you to complete it, and potential results for all of your hard work.

The online doctorate program can take around 4 years to complete from the bachelors level and 2-4 years to complete from masters level. Some of the factors that can influence the length of time it takes to complete this program include whether or not you are prepared to take on a full-time schedule of courses and how much time you have available for studying and completing assignments.

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Doctorate Courses in Your Program

Another factor that you should consider prior to making the commitment to an online degree program is the type of course work involved in it. Some of the most prominent goals of online doctorate programs is to create more effective researchers and professionals with the skills to improve and manage current criminal justice programs.

The example courses below can bring some of these ideas to life as you engage in them during your program. Read more about what type of information you can learn while in these courses in the list beneath this section.

In addition to the course work required for graduation, students may also be required to complete a dissertation as part of a Ph.D. program or a capstone as part of a doctorate program. These projects differ in that a dissertation can contribute new research to the field and a capstone can be suggestive of a change program for a specific agency within criminal justice.

The applied nature of the doctorate program and research nature of the Ph.D. program is what defines these projects for students enrolled.

Research in Criminal Justice

The criminal justice field hinges on the hope for a decrease in the amount of criminal behavior exhibited in the U.S. The marks a need for more information about why people offend and methods that can be put into place to prevent criminal behavior in the first place. This course outlines research methods that can be used to learn more about people in the criminal justice system in order, which could contribute to better prevention and intervention programs in the future. Students in this course can learn how to develop and conduct a research project on their chosen topic.

Advanced Program Evaluation

Students that enter into online doctorate programs in an attempt to obtain higher positions within the field of criminal justice can take a look at some of the corporate or higher-tier aspects of these organizations. This course allows students to explore some of the program-related elements that influence a program’s success. Students can learn to analyze the financial standing of their organization, review results and effectiveness, and suggest methods for change or improvement.

Careers for Doctorate Earners

Once you have completed an online Doctorate in Criminal Justice, you can seek out careers within your field. Some graduates of these programs may decide that they would be happiest in positions that work directly in criminal justice or law enforcement agencies, while others may be more interested in working for government organizations responsible for maintaining and changing criminal laws.

There are numerous career fields that you could possibly choose from as a graduate in this area of expertise – many of which can make a difference in the lives of others. Doctorate earners interested in becoming factors of change for society can seek out positions in leadership or research to help meet their goals.

Our team of experts has found a few example careers for professionals at this degree level in order to give you a snapshot of their average earnings. The information provided in the list below can potentially help you decide what type of career you would like to obtain with your degree and experience.

Professional Organizations to Know

As a criminal justice graduate, it can be important to stay on top of changes within you field. Since this professional area relies so heavily on the laws that pertain to criminal behavior, staying fresh and current on these aspects can help you to become a more effective professional. One method that can work well for busy professionals is to become a part of professional organizations related to your line of work.

These agencies can be a great way to network with others in criminal justice careers, read new publications and research, and obtain advocacy when needed. Our team has found some of the most popular professional organizations in the field and listed them below for you to review. Some programs allow applications to be submitted while you are still in your program, so you should consider which one would be a great option for you.

The National Criminal Justice Association

The NCJA is an organization that focuses on creating safer and more lawful criminal justice agencies all over the U.S. Members of this organization can take advantage of publications and meetings provided by board members, which can help advance learning and growth in the field.

The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

The ACJS is a professional organization that seeks to expand research, education, and science relating to the field of criminal justice. Members from all forms of criminal justice degree programs and careers are invited to join this organization, which can help to influence the field as a whole.

Search Online Colleges by State

There are over 2,500 colleges with online degrees in our database. Many students find that there are universities that offer their programs online, but are in their vicinity. The majority of students studying online actually chose a college that is close to them, or at least within their region. Simply click on the state of your choice to view all of the online colleges in your state.