Criminal Justice Associates Degree Options

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Having an associates degree is increasingly becoming a requirement to obtain a job in law enforcement agencies. An associates degree in criminal justice is also a smart way to qualify for a variety of entry level positions and to set the foundation for further education and growth in your career. Completing an associates degree generally takes two years and can be completed online or through a campus program. The only prerequisite for an associates degree is to have a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent.

Courses taken in an associate degree program in criminal justice focus on topics such as: criminal intent, the legal system, social behavior and deterrence theory, behavioral psychology, and the fundamentals of law enforcement. While each school’s program may vary, the basic curriculum will generally cover these topics. Take some time to request information, compare programs, and find the best fit for you.

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Prerequisites for Associates Degree’s

Criminal Justice Associates Degree Prerequisites:

  • High School Diploma
  • GED or Equivalent

** Almost anyone who has completed their high school diploma, GED, or equivalent is qualified for enrollment in an associates program.

Career Options at the Associates Degree Level

An associates degree in criminal justice is the most common among law enforcement and police officers. Those with an associates degree can also be found in corrections jobs, security, court clerks, and more. Professionals in law enforcement and related positions have consistently relayed the message that they should have started in a degree program earlier rather than later in their careers in order to ready themselves for development in their respective roles and departments. Visit our criminal justice careers page to learn more.

“If you want to train for a meaningful career that gives you a sense of value and allows you to make a positive difference in your community, criminal justice may be right for you.” – Kaplan University


A Strong Foundation for your Criminal Justice Education

You can choose to earn your associates degree in many different legal & criminal justice fields. Below are some of the most common areas of study and degree programs related to criminal justice. You’ll notice that several degrees focus on criminal justice in general, while other programs are very specific, and focus on a specific career area. To learn more about the differences in these degree types you should speak directly with an admissions advisor at the college or university your considering.

Often times different schools, or different accrediting bodies for colleges will refer to the same general program by different names or titles. In most cases school offer an AA, which stands for Associate of Arts, while others offer an AS, which stands for Associate of Science. An AS many require more technical or scientific courses, but the two degree types are very similar. Requesting information and talking to several different schools can help you compare and choose the degree that is best for you. Many of these degrees are offered by both an online criminal justice degree and via traditional campus based classes.

Associates Degrees in Criminal Justice are often referred to by the following names:

  • Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Applied Science in CJ
  • AA or AS in Criminal Justice Administration
  • Associate of Applied Business CJ

Additional Associates Degrees In Related Fields or Specialties:

The following associates degree programs are poplular among those seeking a career in criminal justice within specific job families and roles. Use the left navigational menu to explore these various specialties and concentrated degree options. Many
schools now have developed associates programs to fit your particular career goals:

  • AS or AA – Paralegal
  • AA – Legal Assistant
  • AS – Criminal Investigations
  • AS – Fire Science
  • AAS or AA in Homeland Security
  • AA – Police Studies & Law Enforcement
  • AS CJ – Crime Scene Investigation
  • AS CJ – Corrections


Course Offerings at the Associates Degree Level

Students working towards their associates degree in criminal justice or a related legal field can expect to take some of the following classes. Class requirements will vary from school to school and program focus. Many schools will also require that students show basic competencies in math and writing as part of their first year in the program. Speak to an college admissions advisor to request a complete list of the course curriculum for that school.

Sample Courses in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

  • Writing and Communications for CJ Professionals
  • Interpersonal Communication in Criminal Justice
  • Mathematics
  • Communications
  • Introduction to the Criminal Justice System
  • Introduction to Law Enforcement
  • Introduction to Juvenile Justice Procedures
  • Fundamentals of Policing
  • Foundations of the Criminal Justice System
  • Introduction to Security
  • Criminal Investigations
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
  • Ethics & the American Criminal Justice System
  • Technology in Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Computers
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Social Science & Political Science