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Associate in Applied Science (AAS): Criminal Justice Degree Overview

Get details about an associate degree program in criminal justice. Read about required courses, popular career options and continuing education opportunities. See labor statistics relating to job growth potential and wages for some types of professions in the criminal justice field.

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Essential Information

An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program in criminal justice teaches students about the basics of the U.S. government, the legal system and law enforcement. These programs typically consist of 60 credit hours and take two years to complete. In some programs, students can select a concentration such as law enforcement, private security or corrections. In addition to lecture-based courses, police academies or internships may be incorporated into these programs. Graduates should qualify for entry-level positions in criminal justice agencies, local police departments or related organizations.

A high school education is generally required for admission to an associate's program. Some schools also require students to undergo a criminal background check before they can begin an internship or field experience.

Course Topics

Criminal justice students take various social sciences classes, in addition to courses that teach government and law fundamentals. 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

    Online Programs

    • Associate
        • AS in Criminal Justice

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

    Online Programs

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Minnesota (1 campus)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Associate
        • Associate - Criminal Justice Brooklyn Center

    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

    Do you prefer online or campus based learning?

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

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education completed?

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
  • School locations:
    • Michigan (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Northern Michigan University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Corrections, Probation, and Parole
        • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
        • Law Enforcement Administration
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
  • School locations:
    • Arkansas (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Arkansas Tech University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
        • Security and Theft Prevention Services

Popular Schools

    • AS in Criminal Justice

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    • Associate - Criminal Justice Brooklyn Center

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Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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