Justice Administration: Bachelor, Associate & Online Degree Info

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What kind of job can you get with a degree in justice administration? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses and justice administration degree programs.
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Studying Justice Administration: Degrees at a Glance

Degree programs in justice administration, more commonly referred to as the 'administration of justice', focus on the criminal justice system and prepare you to work in law enforcement, corrections, investigations or security. Although working in these career fields may not require a degree, some employers might prefer job applicants who have an associate or bachelor's degree.

A degree in justice administration does not prepare you to work as a police officer or detective. To work in either of these positions, you must also usually complete police academy training. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that national employment opportunities for police and detectives would grow 7%, for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists 18% and for private detectives and investigators 21% during the 2010-2020 decade.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who want to work in law enforcement, corrections or a related field Individuals who plan to attend law school, pursue graduate study or enter a career in law enforcement, corrections or a related field
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Police or sheriff's patrol officer ($56,000)*
- Probation officer or correctional treatment specialist ($52,000)*
- Private detective or investigator ($49,000)*
Career paths for bachelor's degree holders are similar to those for associate's degree holders
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - 60-64 units of coursework - 120-127 units of coursework
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 Degree in Justice Administration

In an associate degree program in justice administration, your studies focus on the different types of correctional institutions and identify the roles of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Your program may also explore the social and political influences that affect crime and the different theories of criminality. Upon graduation, you are familiar with the criminal justice process, the history of criminal procedures and institutions, the role of government in the criminal justice system and the role of police in society.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Programs can be completed in only two years.
  • Some careers in the justice administration field are expected to experience faster-than-average job growth in the coming years (for example, employment of private detectives and investigators was expected to grow 21% between 2010 and 2020)*.
  • Earning the degree could open up more employment opportunities because some employers require that applicants possess a college degree.

Cons

  • Degree is not required for some positions in the justice administration field, such as police officer or private investigator.
  • If your goal is to become a police officer or detective, you can expect slower-than-average job growth for your chosen profession (employment was expected to grow only 7% between 2010 and 2020)*.
  • Working in law enforcement, investigations or corrections can be dangerous and stressful; police officers and detectives have a higher-than-average rate of illnesses and injuries.*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Courses in an associate degree program in justice administration cover topics concerning the criminal justice system and criminal law. Examples of some courses in these programs include:

  • Justice procedures and principles
  • Criminal law
  • Criminal investigation

Online Degree Options

Fully online associate degree programs in justice administration are available. Courses in these programs are similar to those included in an on-campus program, and cover topics like an introduction to justice administration, criminal law, justice procedures and principles, community relations and investigation principles. Some programs may require minimal on-campus time.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

Because you may need to conduct interviews and work closely with the public, communication skills are very important for working in the justice field. You could hone these skills by completing courses in interpersonal communication and speech. Because you might be required to create written reports in your job, written communication skills are also important. To hone these skills, consider taking extra English composition and writing courses.

Physical stamina is very important for police officers. In fact, to be accepted into this line of work, you will likely need to pass strength and agility exams. For this reason, it may be a good idea to begin physical conditioning while in school.

Bachelor's Degree in Justice Administration

Bachelor's degree programs in justice administration are multidisciplinary programs that incorporate courses in philosophy, sociology and psychology. Although these programs prepare you for many of the same careers as associate degree programs do, they may also prepare you to work for federal agencies, obtain more advanced positions in your career or prepare you to attend law or graduate school. Upon graduation, you understand the various theories about crime, are knowledgeable about U.S. Supreme Court cases and understand the relationship between judicial, corrections and law enforcement systems.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Degree may help you advance your career.
  • Program prepares you to attend law or graduate school.
  • Bachelor's degree programs may offer internship opportunities, which can provide you valuable field experience that may impress employers when job hunting.

Cons

  • An associate degree can prepare you for many of the same entry-level positions and can be completed in half the time.
  • The careers for which you are prepared for after graduation sometimes require working long or irregular hours.
  • The cost of pursuing a bachelor's degree may be considerably more than the cost of an associate degree program.

Courses and Requirements

Courses in these programs focus on the study of crime and the justice system. Some programs give you the opportunity to choose a concentration area, such as law and society, homeland security or criminal justice. You may also have opportunities to participate in internships, practicums and field research. Some courses you might take include:

  • Criminology
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Sociology of deviance
  • Criminal investigation
  • Private security

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's degree programs in justice administration are available. However, some online programs are designed for students who already hold an associate degree. Like on-campus programs, online programs teach you about the structure, policies and procedures of the criminal justice system.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

If you want to improve your future employment prospects, consider taking advantage of internship and research opportunities while pursuing your degree. Not only will you gain practical experience in these opportunities, but you will also be able to network with professionals, which could lead to employment opportunities after graduation.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Arts - Paralegal
  • Online Programs Available
    3. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. Criminal Justice
      • A.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AS in Science in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Thomas Edison State University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AAS in Criminal Justice
  • Rock Springs, WY

    Western Wyoming Community College

  • Snyder, TX

    Western Texas College

  • Scottsbluff, NE

    Western Nebraska Community College

  • Blue Ash, OH

    University of Cincinnati

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • AAS in Legal Support and Services
  • Associate: Criminal Justice

Which subject are you interested in?

Keiser University

  • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Paralegal

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice

Are you a US citizen?

Indiana Wesleyan University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Excelsior College

  • AS in Science in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Thomas Edison State University

  • AAS in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Western Wyoming Community College

Western Texas College