Learn step-by-step everything you need to know about getting a 2-year AA degree in Criminal Justice.
Also get details on the top 10 best Criminal Justice associate degree Jobs.
If you want to earn more education than a criminal justice certificate can provide, the next step is to earn an associates degree. You can earn an accredited associates degree online or through traditional programs.
Whether you take your criminal justice classes online or not, earning an associates degree will teach you the foundations of the criminal justice system. And if you decide you want to get a bachelors degree later on, you can transfer your credits into that program. Before you apply to any associates degree, just make sure that your credits are transferable.
If you want to get a traditional or online associate degree, you will have 3 different degree plans to choose from. You can either earn an associate of arts, an associate of science or an associate of applied science in criminal justice. Each of these will provide you with basic criminal justice training, but they have a different focus within the program.
An associate of arts in criminal justice has more courses in the humanities and liberal arts to give you a broad educational background that you could apply to many fields. This degree prepares you for entry-level jobs and is the best choice if you plan to continue your education in a bachelors program.
An associate of science in criminal justice has more math and science classes than the associate of arts to give you a more technical background. It introduces students to the practical skills required for each area of the criminal justice system, so the associate of science is also a good choice if you want to start an entry-level job.
Finally, an associate of applied science in criminal justice trains you in the practical skills that are required for a specific branch of criminal justice. This is considered a terminal degree, which means that you can start working as soon as you graduate.
A traditional or online associate degree normally takes students about 2 years of full-time study to complete. Criminal justice schools usually require students to earn 60 to 65 credit hours in order to graduate.
Keep in mind that the classes you take may not be exactly the same across all schools, especially if you pursue an online associates degree. But you are likely to take classes that teach you the theoretical and practical foundations of criminal justice. For instance, you will take classes in criminal law, forensic science and investigation techniques, the justice system, psychology and the corrections system.
A number of schools offer online associates degrees, and these are an appealing option to people who are not located near any brick-and-mortar schools or whose time is restricted by family or work obligations.
However, you should keep in mind that even the best online associates degree will not prepare you for very many jobs in the field. Therefore, the best reason to attend an online program is so that you can learn the fundamental theories of criminal justice before transferring to a bachelors program.
If you only plan to earn an associates and then enter the workforce, you would be better off in a traditional brick-and-mortar school where you can learn in a classroom. But if that is not possible for you, remember that the top criminal justice associate degree online programs offer internships for their students so they can gain some work experience before applying jobs. You should not attend an online associates degree program that does not guarantee you placement in an internship where you will be able to practice the hands-on practical skills that you need to succeed in a career.
Most jobs require specialized training or a bachelors degree. Therefore, although they do provide you with a useful introduction to the field, associates degrees do not prepare you for many jobs. Even so, associates degrees in criminal justice can help you to secure a position as a detective or police officer, but you will need additional training. You can also transfer credits from your associates degree program into a bachelors degree.