Associate in Applied Science (AAS): Criminal Justice Degree Overview
Research Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree programs in criminal justice. Learn about some of the required courses, popular career options and continuing education opportunities to make an informed decision about your education.
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Criminal Justice
An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program in criminal justice should teach students about the basics of the U.S. government, the legal system and law enforcement. After earning the degree, students should be able to acquire entry-level positions in criminal justice agencies, local police departments or related organizations. Some criminal justice associate's degree programs are incorporated with police academies or require students to complete internships.
AAS programs in criminal justice typically consist of 60 credit hours and take two years to complete. A high school education is generally required to gain acceptance. Some schools also require students to undergo a criminal background check before they can begin a criminal justice course or internship.
Criminal justice students take various social sciences classes, in addition to courses that teach government and law fundamentals. Some criminal justice associate's degree programs allow students to select a concentration such as law enforcement, private security or corrections, which allows students to tailor their courses to their specific career goals. Practical training such as investigating mock crime scenes or completing internships can be combined with classroom lectures. Typical courses include:
- Forensic science
- Criminal law
- Criminal investigations
- U.S. government
- Judicial system
Popular Career Option
Graduates of an associate's degree program in criminal justice can enter into law enforcement, corrections, security or investigations jobs. Criminal justice career options are available in the private and public sectors. Some career options are:
- Police officer
- Security guard
- Private investigator
- Parole officer
Although an AAS degree is intended for students who want to gain employment immediately after completing the program, students may decide to pursue their studies in a baccalaureate program in criminal justice. After earning a bachelor's degree, students can also earn a master's degree in criminal justice or apply to law school to obtain more advanced or managerial positions within law enforcement agencies or the legal system.
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