Steps to Earning a Criminal Justice Degree

Criminal justice degrees are available through traditional universities and online. The online courses tend to offer fewer course options to meet a given requirement. Of course, there is also no campus to attend four or five days a week and no set class hours. Online college programs tend toward efficient design, providing an accredited degree with a thorough knowledge of the subject matter in as short a period as practicable. To get an idea of the range of topics covered in a criminal justice major, this article will outline the course lineup for a four-year university and an online college. Each course of study results in a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

The brick-and-clock tower university has general education, or “core requirements” that, on completion, will constitute the foundation for a fairly comprehensive liberal arts degree. There are natural sciences and a literature or fine arts requirement, American history and one of three computer classes, math, statistics, public speaking, and writing classes. There are four behavioral sciences requirements, including economics and three public affairs courses such as Law and Public Policy.

The criminal justice courses cover the criminal justice system and the theory of criminal justice policy. Crime and public policy is a course requirement as is American Law Enforcement and a course in Corrections. Also required is a course on the criminal courts and a substantive course on criminal law, along with three additional criminal justice electives.

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That’s four years of college education that includes a careful inspection of criminal justice and its history from every perspective including the squad car, the bench, and the jail cell. The courses for the online degree are every bit as thorough regarding the major but provide far fewer options for the core courses.

The online course outlined here is from the University of Phoenix Online and is designed for professionals already working in the field or a related field and who wish to further their opportunities. The three baseline courses on the roster are Skills for Professional Development, Contemporary Issues in Law Enforcement and Organized Crime.

From there, the curriculum moves into all of the components of the criminal justice system. There are courses in: Juvenile Justice. Policing. Criminal Procedure. Criminology. Interpersonal Communications. Court System. Corrections.

In the area of the social aspects and research, course requirements include cultural diversity in the field, ethics in criminal justice, managing criminal justice personnel and overall criminal justice administration. There are perhaps six other courses in the curriculum, all of which hone in on singular aspects of the subject.

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It is fair to say that the orientation of the online course is more enforcement related than that of the university course requirements. However as University of Phoenix says in its program introduction, the criminal justice degree that they present is a means to an end. It is also a degree that can be awarded in less than four years. In the case of both sets of degree requirements, it is clear that a criminal justice professional must understand the rules of the environment in which he or she works and have the skills to understand and communicate with the people he or she encounters every day.