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.

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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.

Course Topics

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:

  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Forensic science
  • Criminal law
  • Criminal investigations
  • Evidence
  • U.S. government
  • Judicial system
  • Criminology

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
  • Sheriff

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports job availability for police and detectives may increase by five percent between 2012 and 2022. According to the BLS, demand for security guards is likely to increase by 12%, and private detectives and investigators may see a 11% increase in demand over the 2012-2022 decade. However, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, including parole officers, may see employment decline by one percent over the same period, based on data from the BLS.

In 2012, police and sheriff's patrol officers were paid a median salary of $55,270, while security guards earned a median of $23,970, as shown by the BLS' data. The median salary for private investigators was $45,740 in 2012, and probation officers and correctional treatment specialists received median salaries of $48,190 that year, as reported by the BLS.

Continuing Education

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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Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Alabama (2 campuses)
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1)
    • Delaware (1)
    • Florida (9)
    • Georgia (8)
    • Louisiana (1)
    • Mississippi (1)
    • North Carolina (5)
    • Pennsylvania (6)
    • Tennessee (3)
    • Texas (8)
    • Virginia (11)
    • West Virginia (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

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  • School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Pennsylvania (6 campuses)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    • Associate
        • Associate in Criminal Justice

    What year did you graduate from high school?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must be 22 years of age or have active military status
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Associate
        • AA in Criminal Justice

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Associate
        • AA in Criminal Justice
        • AA in Homeland Security

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your high school graduation status?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Vermont (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Champlain College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
      • Legal Support Services
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (6 campuses)
    Areas of study you may find at Indiana University include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Ball State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
      • Legal Support Services

Popular Schools

  • What is your highest level of education?

  • Which subject are you interested in?

    • Associate in Criminal Justice

    What year did you graduate from high school?

    • AA in Criminal Justice

    What is your highest level of education?

    • AA in Criminal Justice
    • AA in Homeland Security

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your high school graduation status?

  • When do you plan to begin your studies?

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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