What You Should Know About This Degree
Criminal justice is just one field of study; other areas students might want to consider include police science, forensic science, and loss prevention. While a criminal justice degree is concerned with corrections, forensic and police science degrees are focused on the science behind studying crime scenes. The study of loss prevention deals exclusively with the prevention of retail theft and store-level enforcement.
It’s best to look for a school that’s been evaluated and accredited by national, regional, or private associations, such as the HLC, SACSCOC, or MSCHE. Other valid credentials schools might display include those of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) or the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
Once your education is completed, the job outlook in this field is relatively good, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting an average rate of growth in this profession. In addition to an associate degree, those looking for work in this field may need to pass physical and psychological examinations.
Here are some questions to ask when researching online associate degrees in criminal justice:
- How long does it take to complete this online degree? Most associate degree programs, including those in criminal justice, take about two years to complete, provided students attend classes full time. Many schools offer students the opportunity to fast-track their program and graduate more quickly. Part-time learning may also be available for students with busier schedules — this can take several additional years to complete, depending on the student’s pace.
- What licensing or certifications are required? While corrections workers don’t typically require professional licensing, most do need to have clean driving and criminal records as well as up-to-date CPR and first aid certifications. Additionally, working in corrections requires most individuals to pass physical and psychological exams.
Throughout your search for an associate degree program, be sure to consider deadlines and requirements for admission and follow them closely. This information is typically available on the program page of the school’s website. You might also want to consider financial assistance if you can’t fund your program independently. Ask your employer if they offer funding assistance and research other options such as scholarships and grants online.