Criminal Justice Administration: Associate, Bachelor & Online Degree Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and criminal justice administration training programs.
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Studying Criminal Justice Administration: Degrees at a Glance

The criminal justice field employs people in a range of occupations from police officers to detectives and probation specialists. People in the field pursue public sector positions in security, juvenile justice, probation systems or security. Some graduates may also look for specialty careers in crisis management, asset protection or the prevention of crime. Employers want candidates who possess interpersonal communication skills, the ability to think critically and the physical stamina to perform their duties.

Colleges and universities offer programs that address the fundamental theories and techniques required to work in the industry. Some careers, such as police or federal corrections work, require additional training. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals slower-than-average to fast-as-average job growth for positions in the field. Correctional officers would see a five percent increase in jobs, while probation officers and correctional treatment specialists could expect an 18% increase over the 2010-2020 decade.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Those interested in entry-level positions in a range of correctional or law enforcement careers Individuals who want to pursue probation or investigative careers
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Security guard ($27,000)*
- Correctional officer ($43,000)*
- Police officer or detective ($56,000)*
- Probation officer or correctional treatment specialist ($52,000)*
- Forensic science technician ($56,000)*
Time to Completion two years full-time four years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credits- Roughly 120 credits
- Background check
- Foreign language requirement
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice Administration

The associate's degree program delivers the basic knowledge required for entry-level corrections, security or police work. Schools design programs to provide the theoretical and practical skills required to interpret the law, understand the judicial process and manage the challenges faced by law enforcement personnel. You will learn all aspects of criminal justice from criminal investigations to the administrative application of the law.

Pursuing police work requires the satisfactory completion of your police agency's official training program, which may require a high school diploma or associate's degree. In addition, you must meet the minimum physical requirements and personal standards established by your hiring agency; administration of a polygraph and drug test is common.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Several positions paid relatively competitive salaries
  • Program curricula provide a broad education that you can transfer to multiple occupations
  • Law enforcement personnel with the appropriate training usually enjoy sufficient job security

Cons

  • Security guards earned relatively low salaries
  • The demand for police and detectives will only grow seven percent over the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Competition with bachelor's degree holders will present a challenge
  • Programs may not offer substantial training in technology

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 job growth figures).

Common Courses and Requirements

Colleges design associate's degree programs to provide a foundation in criminal justice theories and practices. Many programs offer a highly customizable education that you can tailor to meet your specific career goals. For example, some programs provide a concentration in corrections or forensics. Consequently, your course of study will rely on your chosen career path. Programs usually offer the following common courses:

  • Criminal investigation
  • Constitutional law
  • Criminal evidence
  • Criminology
  • Law enforcement theories and practices
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Judicial process

Online Degree Info

The online associate's degree program provides training comparable to campus-based programs. You will take courses in general psychology, criminal investigation or police administration. Many programs meet the needs of professionals working in criminal justice or those seeking a career change; schools offer programs in an accelerated format. Similar to traditional programs, you can expect the online degree to take two years to complete full-time.

Stand Out with This Degree

The BLS reveals that bilingual applicants for positions in police work may experience the best job opportunities. In addition, employers want people with investigative experience to fill police and detective openings. Casino security guard opportunities show promise for individuals who possess technology skills. The following are a few steps you can take to stand out:

  • Pursue a second language. Research the language landscape in your target employment area and inquire about taking courses that can develop your fluency in your selected language.
  • Participate in investigative internships, if available. Internships can help you gain valuable experience and provide a practical approach to applying your education.
  • Take courses in the common technologies used in the field. In addition, consider becoming familiar with video surveillance technology if you plan to pursue security work.

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice Administration

The bachelor's degree program emphasizes the principles of management, technology and the legal system as they relate to understanding and preventing crime. You will learn criminal justice system theories that connect the law enforcement, judicial system and corrections process. You will also explore the sociology of crime and receive training in standard rehabilitation procedures. Many programs require that applicants successfully pass a background investigation and remain eligible for security clearances as a condition of admission.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You may find a program that transfers to a master's degree program
  • Forensic science technicians could expect a 19% growth in jobs over the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Employers may prefer job candidates who possess higher education

Cons

  • People who earned an associate's degree were paid a comparable salary.
  • Probation work exposes personnel to hostility and high levels of stress
  • Advancement may require that you have a master's degree in criminal justice, psychology or a related discipline

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 job growth figures)

Common Courses and Requirements

The career-oriented approach of many bachelor's degree programs requires participation in an internship. Keep in mind that access to internships usually requires a background check. Schools design programs to offer elective coursework in one of the three areas of criminal justice - correctional work, law enforcement or the judicial system. Programs offer a wide range of elective courses in rehabilitation, crime mapping or white-collar crime, to name a few. You will take courses in drug education, corrections, crime theories, social deviance, criminal justice and the court system, social psychology and offender rehabilitation.

Online Degree Info

Many universities offer a bachelor's degree program through a complete online experience. Online programs may offer an accelerated learning experience if you already possess a transferable associate's degree. Online programs may combine upper-level general education and criminal justice courses with electives. You will find classes similar to campus-based programs, although some online programs offer training in narcotics, crime intelligence or research methods.

Stand Out with This Degree

Many employers prefer to hire candidates with specialized skills. For example, specialists in rehabilitative services benefit from understanding the underlying psychology for substance abuse or the issues that affect people with mental illnesses. Consider taking courses in the area that interests you most or take a general approach and pursue courses in mental illness, substance abuse and juvenile justice. In addition, experience plays a significant role in many investigative positions. Speaking with your instructors, networking and working with area law enforcement organizations can reveal internship opportunities in your area.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
      • BS in Corrections
      • BSCJ: Law Enforcement
      • BSCJ: Juvenile Justice
      • BSCJ: Crime Scene Investigation
      • BSCJ: Homeland Security
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Social and Criminal Justice
      • B.A. - Law Enforcement Adminsitration
      • B.A. - Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Criminal Justice
      • B.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
      • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Criminal Justice
      • B.S. - Criminal Justice - Homeland Security and Emergency Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Cybercrime and Security
  • Online Programs Available
    6. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Generalist
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Forensic Science
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Homeland Security and Crisis Management
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Corrections and Case Management
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Public Safety and Emergency Management
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Trident University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Homeland Security
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Utica College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Cybercrime and Fraud Investigation
      • Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity- Homeland Security and Emergency Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
      • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
      • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Criminal Justice (Criminal Justice Administration)
      • BS in Criminal Justice (Without Concentration)
      • BS in Criminal Justice (Homeland Security)
      • BS in Criminal Justice (Investigative Forensics)
      • BS in Criminal Justice (Law Enforcement and Public Safety)
      • BS in National Security (Intelligence and Security Analysis)

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
  • BS in Corrections
  • BSCJ: Law Enforcement

Which subject are you interested in?

Ashford University

  • B.A. - Social and Criminal Justice
  • B.A. - Law Enforcement Adminsitration
  • B.A. - Homeland Security and Emergency Management

What is your highest level of education?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. Criminal Justice
  • B.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • BS - Criminal Justice
  • B.S. - Criminal Justice - Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Cybercrime and Security

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American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Generalist
  • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Forensic Science
  • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement

Are you a US citizen?

Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor: Public Safety and Emergency Management

What is your highest level of education?

Trident University

  • Bachelor's - Homeland Security

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