Introduction to criminal justice
Are you looking for a challenging yet rewarding career supporting your local community? Those looking to protect and defend private citizens often find a meaningful career in criminal justice. An associate degree in this field gives graduates the working knowledge and practical skills they need to pursue entry-level positions in a range of areas from law enforcement and homeland security to sociology and criminal psychology.
The field of criminal justice attracts individuals with courage, empathy and integrity. These qualities, along with an ability to quickly take discerning action in high-conflict situations, are key to success in this field. Building on this foundation, associate programs in criminal justice include coursework in areas like corrections, security, ethics, public policy and law. This degree builds a foundation for further study while allowing you to jumpstart your career.
Below, you will find the 10 best programs and all the information you need to make an informed decision about starting your education in criminal justice.
The best online associate in criminal justice degrees
Bismarck State CollegeBismarck State College Bismarck, North Dakota
At Bismarck State College in North Dakota, students can earn their associate of arts in criminal justice degree. The program is designed to prepare students for transfer to a 4-year institution. Students gain a foundational understanding of the criminal justice system, bureaucratic structures and human behavior with introductory courses in psychology and sociology.
Students can also choose major concentration options, including corrections and security, law enforcement and courts. Military and veteran students might qualify for tuition assistance.
Bismarck State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). For information about tuition and financial aid, visit their admissions and cost page.
Saint Leo UniversitySaint Leo University St. Leo, Florida
Saint Leo University is a private liberal arts institution situated in Florida. It offers an associate of arts in criminal justice with subjects like law and the legal system, homeland defense and crime scene investigation.
The university accepts transfer students and also offers professional development and student employment opportunities. The program can be completed online or on-campus, with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs also available.
Saint Leo is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). For information about paying for college, visit their financial aid page.
Ashland UniversityAshland University Ashland, Ohio
Based in Ashland, Ohio, Ashland University is a private institution offering online and on-campus programs. Students pursuing their associate degree in criminal justice can expect to learn about criminology, crime analysis, legal ethics, and juvenile delinquency The program itself is online only.
Some students choose to continue on to earn their bachelor’s, requiring another 2 years of study. The university also accepts transfers. Ashland is accredited by the HLC. For information about financial aid at Ashland, visit their paying for college page.
Concordia UniversityConcordia University Mequon, Wisconsin
Situated in Mequon, Wisconsin, Concordia University is a Lutheran institution offering an associate of arts in management of criminal justice program. It covers topics like statistics, public policy, criminal justice ethics and theory, and constitutional, criminal, and administrative law. The program in full is 60 credit hours.
Students can pursue the program online, on campus or at one of the university’s education centers. Concordia also accepts transfer credits, including military and work-related credits.
Concordia is accredited by the HLC. For financial aid information, visit their admissions and financial aid page.
Campbell UniversityCampbell University Buies Creek, North Carolina
Campbell University is a private Baptist educational institution located in Buies Creek, North Carolina. Students can choose to earn their associate of arts in criminal justice online or on campus.
The program covers subjects such as criminal law, correctional philosophies, courts and procedures, and government ethics. Transfer credits are accepted, and students can also earn their bachelor’s degree.
Campbell is accredited by the SACSCOC. To find information about scholarships and other forms of aid from Campbell, visit their tuition and financial aid page.
Northern Michigan UniversityNorthern Michigan University Marquette, Michigan
Situated in Marquette, Michigan, Northern Michigan University is a public institution offering an associate of science in criminal justice program. It is designed to prepare students for a smooth transition to earning their bachelor’s and can be completed online or on-campus.
Courses include criminal justice, policing, corrections, integrative thinking and social responsibility. The university accepts transfer credits and offers work-study opportunities.
Northern Michigan University is accredited by the HLC. To learn more about the financial aid programs available, visit their financial aid page.
Amarillo CollegeAmarillo College Amarillo, Texas
Based in Amarillo, Texas, Amarillo College is a 2-year public community institution. Their associate of science in criminal justice program is tailored to prepare students for transfer to a 4-year university.
The curriculum is available online and on-campus and covers criminal investigation, police and court systems and practices and legal principles.
Amarillo College is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges and offers financial aid in several forms. Visit its financial aid page to find out more.
Campbellsville UniversityCampbellsville University Campellsville, Kentucky
Campbellsville University is a private Christian institution situated in Campellsville, Kentucky. The online associate degree program in criminal justice delves into the fundamentals of court processes and procedures, criminal investigations, forensics, policing and victimology.
Students can choose from a broad range of electives, including civil liberties, juvenile delinquency and serial killers. The university also has a generous transfer policy in place.
Campbellsville University is a member of the SACSCOC. Their financial aid page includes resources for students about scholarships, payment plans and other sources of aid.
Delta CollegeDelta College Bay City, Michigan
Delta College is situated 5 miles southwest of Bay City, Michigan and offers an associate of applied arts in law enforcement. As a 2-year public institution, it has specific associate-to-bachelor’s transfer pathways for criminal justice students.
Delta College also allows students to complete classes on-campus and online. Course concentrations include evidence and criminal procedure, psychology, cybercrime investigations, juvenile justice, sociology and police operations.
Accredited by the HLC, Delta College offers financial aid packages. For more information, visit their admissions and aid page.
Regent UniversityRegent University Virginia Beach, Virginia
Regent University is a private 4-year Christian institution situated in the coastal city of Virginia Beach, VA. It offers online and on-campus study, and topics like constitutional law, corrections, juvenile justice, criminology and ethics are covered in their associate of science in criminal justice program.
Upon completion, students can choose to apply their credits toward a B.S. in criminal justice. Regent is military-friendly and welcomes transfer students.
Regent University is accredited by the SACSCOC. For help paying for college, you can visit their financial aid page.
The first step most students take when looking for help paying for college is via the Federal Student Aid office. To check your eligibility for aid, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).