A popular option for anyone considering a career in police work, security services, forensics, homeland security, or corrections, online degrees in criminal justice are available from the associate to the master’s level. While most positions in corrections or advanced police work require a bachelor’s degree, individuals interested in a career in the field can usually gain access to a position in private security with an associate degree. An online master’s degree in criminal justice is a great option for someone considering an advanced administrative position in police work, corrections, or for someone hoping to teach the subject at the collegiate level.
The Online Criminal Justice Degree Program Experience
Depending on the school and specific program, an online associate degree program in criminal justice can usually be completed in two to three years, while an online bachelor’s degree program in the subject will usually take four to five years to finish. Online master’s degrees in criminal justice can take anywhere from two to four years to complete depending on the school, program, and the course load the student is able to take. In addition, all police forces will also require individuals to complete their specific police training academy, which includes classroom instruction in constitutional law, civil rights, state laws and local ordinances, and ethics. They also receive training in patrolling, traffic control, self-defense, firearms, first aid, and emergency response.
At the associate level, criminal justice students must complete general education courses in English, mathematics, and social and natural sciences before moving on to core curriculum that usually includes courses in criminal law, corrections, the judicial process, and more. Online bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice also require students to complete general education courses before moving into major courses that typically include research and writing for criminal justice, administration of justice organizations, juvenile corrections, the judicial process, ethics, and more. Additionally, most online bachelor’s degree programs allow students to pick a specific emphasis such as forensics, homeland security, corrections, or youth correction, and will usually offer a number of courses specific to the area of emphasis. Online master’s degree programs in criminal justice usually continue the study of the core curriculum offered at the bachelor’s level, and in some programs may allow students to choose a specific emphasis as well.
Online vs. Campus for Criminal Justice Degree Programs
Both online and traditional learning offer certain advantages and disadvantages over one another. When choosing between the two, it is important to pick the one that is the best fit for you personally. Traditional, face-to-face programs are usually pursued by recent high school graduates because they offer a set course schedule which helps students develop a disciplined routine. They are also a good fit for individuals looking to dedicate the better part of their day-time activity to their degree. Because of this though, they are usually difficult for working adults and non-traditional students to attend since they are typically occupied with work of family during the day.
Online programs provide superior flexibility and are a great fit for non-traditional students and working professionals. Students completing an online program can participate in courses at their own convenience, and have access to professors, fellow students, and library materials anywhere there is an Internet connection, at any time during the day or week. For this reason, online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in criminal justice are especially helpful for individuals already working in a police force who hope to advance their career. While most individuals can gain access to an entry-level position in police work with only a high school diploma and the successful completion of a police training academy, advanced positions in administration usually require a bachelor’s degree. They can also be useful for working professionals hoping to make a career change into corrections, as almost all states require at least a bachelor’s degree to gain entry. Advanced positions like a correctional treatment specialist usually require a master’s degree.