Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary career field that includes law enforcement, legal studies, and homeland security. The interdisciplinary field of criminal justice incorporates elements of sociology, psychology and law. Students who pursue degrees in criminal justice are prepared for careers in law enforcement and public safety. An increasing number of colleges and universities now offer online criminal justice degrees. Students choose to earn an online bachelor’s degree for many reasons, including the ability to study from home while maintaining full-time work or family obligations.
Although many careers in criminal justice can be pursued with a bachelor’s degree, a doctoral degree in criminal justice can prepare students for advanced educational and research-oriented roles, such as postsecondary criminal justice teachers, survey researchers and criminologists. An online criminal justice doctorate program offers flexibility for students who are also working professionals. Web-based programs typically follow the same rigorous curricula as brick-and-mortar options, leading to similar advancement opportunities for graduates. The online format is also ideal for students who must tackle additional commitments-such as child or family care-on top of their work and class schedules.
Those who study criminal justice tend to feel rewarded by the work they do after graduation. A high percentage of workers in occupations that are popular among criminal justice graduates-such as police and probation officers-report that they feel their jobs have high meaning. Prospective students should be aware of the median starting salary for graduates with a bachelor’s in criminal justice. Typically, it takes a full-time student with no prior college education about four years to complete an online criminal justice bachelor’s degree. While requirements vary across programs, most require 120-125 credits.
Online degrees in criminal justice follow the same rigorous curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, and typically lead to the same job opportunities for successful graduates. Studying online allows students to complete their coursework on their own time from home, rather than in a classroom. Many online colleges and universities offer resources for distance learners, including web-based career counseling, online writing labs and full access to the school’s library. Programs can also connect students with local police departments, courthouses and other community employers so they can complete required internships and practicums while getting a headstart on landing a career.
A student enrolled in an online criminal justice degree program may have the option to take more or fewer credits at a time to fit his or her schedule. Students with previous educational or professional experience may be able to finish their online criminal justice degree in less time than other classmates. Most accredited online schools allow students to transfer previously earned college credits. In addition, some online criminal justice degree programs offer credit for prior experience in the field, which may make them attractive options for professionals already working in law enforcement or related areas, such as private security. Students should speak to admissions counselors before applying to see if they qualify for these credits.
Most online doctorate degree in criminal justice programs include core coursework in criminal justice theory. These courses demonstrate how to apply theoretical perspectives to law enforcement and criminal investigations. Additional courses examine specific facets of the justice system, including law enforcement, criminal law and the protection of civil rights. The role of police in society is also covered, including the various challenges faced by police departments, as well as the various policies that guide law enforcement officers.
An online degree can prepare students for a wide range of professions within the criminal justice community. From traditional law enforcement specialities to the highly-technical detective work of cyber crime consultants, you have many disciplines to explore!