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Online Associates Degree in Criminal Justice

Put the law to work for your career by studying criminal justice. Well-known as one of the most versatile degrees offered, criminal justice is the preferred curriculum for exciting careers in law enforcement, judicial practice or education. The associate degree is a two-year course of study offered at community colleges, technical schools and some universities. You could study the history and development of systems of law, topics in civics and social science, or the structure and function of government.

Career options, outlook and salary

Associate degrees in criminal justice are a first step to your choice of professions in government, public and private practice, for example, in law enforcement. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on the salary potential for these fields and the hiring growth projections for the 2010-2020 period.

For police and sheriff patrol officers, 2010 median annual salaries reached more than $53,000. The BLS projects employment growth that is slower than the national average for all occupations, so education may be important when competing for openings. Qualifications for these law enforcement professionals vary according to the agency, but departments may require some college coursework as well as specialized career training.

Private detectives are in a favorable hiring climate, with growth expected to be much faster than the national average between 2010 and 2020. The BLS reports that median salaries in this field hit $42,870 in 2010. Most private investigators have some college background.

Beyond associate degrees in criminal justice

With a bachelor's degree, you could seek positions such as a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist. These professionals enjoy hiring rates faster than the national average; median annual wages for 2010 were estimated at about $47,000.

You could continue your criminal justice studies with graduate degrees such as the master's and the doctorate. In many professions, a higher degree could qualify you for advanced positions. Those who ascend to the doctoral level typically offer their leadership in the boardroom or the classroom.

You'll be pleased to learn that the criminal justice major translates from the campus-based environment to distance learning modes of delivery. Online education empowers you to get your degree while preserving the personal and professional commitments that may make a campus-based program impractical.

Featured Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

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  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
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  • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
  • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
  • Online courses make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months and a master’s degree in 14-24 months.
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An accredited online university, Capella University offers bachelor’s, master’s/MBA, doctoral, and certificate programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession. Our competency-based curriculum delivers foundational knowledge and real-world skills, so what you’re learning is immediately applicable to your career. Right now, more than 36,000 students are expanding their opportunities with Capella programs.

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  • Ranked among the 2015 Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.
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  • Offers credit for prior learning and experience through assessment tests.
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  • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
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  • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
  • Offers 24/7 online tech support, with a typical response time of 4 hours or less.
  • Has online help centers that offer assistance with writing, statistics, medical assisting, and more.
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  • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
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  • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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  • Ranked among the Best Grad Schools for Physician Assistants in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Dedicated to delivering quality education and personalized attention to students since 1899.
  • Provides a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services.
  • Offers counseling services and a 24/7 crisis hotline to students at no extra charge.
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  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1969.
  • Offers free refresher courses to alumni for any previously completed course.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
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