Why This Matters


    Of those surveyed, 95% of probation officers and corrections treatment specialists have obtained some form of postsecondary education, including associate degrees.


    The demand for probation officers and corrections treatment specialists is rising across the United States, with an anticipated 4% increase in the need for new officers by 2029.


    The median wage for probation officers and corrections treatment specialists in the United States was $55,690 as of May 2020, with the highest 10% of workers earning over $98,510.

Our Research

This list includes online associate degree programs in criminal justice. These programs are designed for students with the goal of working in corrections or law enforcement. In most cases, these programs are offered exclusively online; however, some may offer a blended online/in-person format.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is a federal agency that accredits associate degree programs to ensure they meet minimum standards in criminal justice education. Most schools on this list are accredited by this commission, while others are accredited by regional or local authorities, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College (SACSCOC) or the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

  • 73 hours to write this article
  • 100 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 149 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Associate in Criminal Justice Programs

Best Online Associate in Criminal Justice Programs Badge
loader Image

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.

What’s Next?

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.