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Associate of Science (AS): Criminal Justice Degree Overview

Learn about criminal justice studies offered at the associate degree level. Read details about courses, program objectives, advanced degree study options and careers commonly pursued by graduates. Find projected employment growth rates and average salary figures for those working in law enforcement.

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Essential Information

An Associate of Science degree in criminal justice program provides students with a basic understanding of criminal behavior and legal system operation. Students can also develop insight into police strategies, types of crime and methods of research. Some programs allow students to concentrate their studies in areas such as corrections, security or law enforcement. Further training may be required for some professions in the criminal justice field.

Criminal justice associate's degree programs are available at community colleges and technical schools. First-time students and professionals already working in law enforcement may enroll in these programs. A high school diploma or its equivalent is generally required to enroll in an associate's degree program.

Course Topics

Within a criminal justice program, students learn biological and sociological theories, criminal law principles and decision-making skills. In addition to general education courses, students complete required courses such as:

  • Criminology
  • Criminal justice
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Criminal law
  • Constitutional law

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a 2-year program have the investigative skills and research methods to work within local, state and federal law enforcement organizations. Program graduates may work as:

  • Police officers
  • Correctional officers
  • Security personnel
  • Probation officers
  • Criminal investigators

Employment Outlook

From 2012-2022, police officers were projected to see a six percent increase in job opportunities, stated the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mean annual wages were $57,770 for police and sheriff's patrol officers in May 2012. The top paying industry for police officers was the state government that year.

Continuing Education Information

Completion of an associate's degree program in criminal justice can be a step toward completion of a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. These programs teach theoretical and practical knowledge about crime and the criminal justice system, helping students broaden their understanding of complex societal issues and increase their career opportunities.

Bachelor's holders may continue their educations by enrolling in graduate programs in criminal justice or related areas. Within a master's degree program, students learn theoretical and specialized knowledge, along with basic research methods and analytical techniques used to understand the effectiveness of the current legal and justice systems. Ph.D. programs emphasize scientific research methodology and high-level specialized knowledge, preparing students for careers in academia or research.

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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

    What is your highest level of education?

  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (2 campuses)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Associate
        • Associate in Criminal Justice

    What year did you graduate from high school?

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
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Indiana Wesleyan University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
  • School locations:
    • Ohio (2 campuses)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Cincinnati include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
      • Fire Safety and Protection
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
      • Legal Support Services
  • School locations:
    • Missouri (1 campus)
    • Oklahoma (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vatterott College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
        • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics