Best Criminal Justice
Associate Degree Jobs & Programs

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.

Table of Contents

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Top 20 Criminal Justice Associate Degree Programs

  • University of Phoenix
  • Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)
  • Purdue University
  • Maryville University
  • Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU)
  • Capella University
  • Rosemont College
  • Utica College
  • Sam Houston State University
  • Liberty University
  • University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus
  • Florida International University (FIU)
  • Bethel University
  • American InterContinental University (AIU)
  • Troy University
  • Saint Leo University
  • Bemidji State University
  • Arizona State University (ASU)
  • University of Cincinnati‎ (UC)
  • University of South Florida

Best Jobs That You Can Get With an Associate's
Degree in Criminal Justice

Police Officer

More and more police agencies like Chicago PD are now requiring an A.A. from an accredited university.

Correctional Officer

Your A.A. degree will definitely look better than someone trying to apply for the same position without any degree.

Juvenile Detention officer

If you want to pursue a career working with juveniles than getting an AA will likely stick out during the hiring process.

Canine Handler

Becoming a K9 handler has more to do with your years of service, than your AA degree. 2-yrs of service is required before applying.


Similar to a K9 officer, you'll need at least 2 years on the police force before you can even apply to be part of the SWAT team.


Detectives are usually very good report writers so going through an A.A. program will definitely develop those very important skills.

Frequently Asked Questions About an AA
Degree in Criminal Justice

Can I get an associate’s degree in criminal justice?

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.

What kinds of associates can I earn?

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.

How long does it take to earn an associate’s degree?

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.

What classes will I take in my criminal justice associates degree program?

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.

Can I earn my associates degree in criminal justice online?

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.

What kinds of jobs can I get with an associates degree in criminal justice?

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.

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