Pursuing a Bachelors in Criminal Justice Online

When you pursue a bachelors in criminal justice online you will explore the practices, processes, and institutions that comprise the criminal justice system.

Through interdisciplinary studies, you’ll learn how people and entities identify, try, and correct crimes and criminals. By the time you earn your degree, you’ll have a firm grasp on areas such as:

  • Crime prevention and control
  • Local, state, federal, and international law enforcement
  • Correctional and rehabilitation efforts
  • Criminal justice issues across disciplines such as psychology, sociology, and political science

What Will I Learn As I Pursue an Online Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice? 

Bachelors in criminal justice online programs offer an interdisciplinary approach for students to learn about crime, justice, and society. Core and elective curricula may pull primarily from disciplines such as sociology, psychology, political science, history, and law. Through these distinct disciplinary lenses, students will likely learn about:

  • The criminal justice and legal systems broadly
  • The institutions, components, policies, practices, and techniques that make up the systems

Many instructors of criminal justice courses pull from problem-driven research and real-world knowledge and expertise. Some instructors even pull from their own experiences as professionals once or currently in the field. They’ll infuse their knowledge and skill set with industry theories and practices to deliver a well-rounded curriculum.  

In addition to developing key knowledge in criminal justice as an academic and occupational field, students will develop important skills as they pursue a bachelors in criminal justice online. For example, students may become adept at:i

  • Systems evaluation
  • Systems analysis
  • Operations monitoring
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Social perceptiveness
  • Persuasion
  • Speaking
  • Active listening
  • Critical thinking
  • Instruction
  • Coordination

Overall, students will work with each other and their instructors to develop the knowledge and skills they need to work in a complex and dynamic field. Who knows? By applying your hard-earned smarts and skills to the legal, enforcement, or corrections systems of criminal justice, you might change our world in a meaningful way!  

What Specifically Will I Study When I Pursue a Bachelors in Criminal Justice Online?

When you pursue a bachelors in criminal justice online, you’ll study a variety of subjects across disciplines. Some of your courses will present an introductory view of a subject, and others will have you dive deeply into subjects’ nuances. Both help students develop their capacities to think about aspects of criminal justice broadly and specifically.

Here are some subjects you might study to get a sense of criminal justice as a field:

  • Criminology
  • Criminal procedure
  • Criminal justice institutions
  • Problem solving in criminal justice
  • Ethics in criminal justice
  • Victimology

Some of the other specifics you might study include:

  • Criminal law (a specific component of law)
  • Courts (another specific component of law)
  • Prosecution (another specific component of law)
  • Police administration (a specific component of policing)
  • Corrections administration (a specific component of corrections) 
  • Security administration (a specific component of security)

Also, you may by contrast touch on some of the following as general overviews:

  • Policing in the U.S. (broadly)
  • Law in the U.S. (broadly)
  • Security (broadly)
  • Corrections in the U.S. (broadly)

As you can see, studying subjects like these can deliver a strong sense of criminal justice as a field. You may take courses in these subjects and others at introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels. Each successive course will take you deeper into a particular subject and help you see how it theoretically or practically impacts criminal justice.

You’ll also study more specific subjects that may or may not be neatly connected to the subjects above. Some degrees will require you to take courses in subjects like these; others will present subjects like these as elective options. You might even study some of the topics grouped together below.

Crime and Violence

Types of crime, violence, and victimhood:

  • Terrorism
  • Gangs
  • White collar crime
  • Violence toward women
  • Organized crime
  • Violent crime
  • Domestic violence

Issues of Law

Areas of law:

  • Law enforcement
  • Corrections
  • Due process
  • Criminal liability
  • Use of force
  • Search and seizure

Social Studies

Social issues:

  • Psychology of women
  • Psychology of victims
  • Psychology of criminals
  • Intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality
  • Justice in multicultural societies
  • Community corrections
  • Alternatives to incarceration
  • Social justice

Criminal Justice Concerns

And more specialized areas of criminal justice:

  • Crime analysis
  • Delinquency
  • Prevention 
  • Border security
  • Aspects of the juvenile justice system

Classes for Practical Hands-On Learning

In addition to courses in the subjects mentioned above, you’ll likely take courses in subjects that give you practical skills for the field. For example:

  • Statistics
  • Research methods
  • Concepts of social science research
  • Grant writing in criminal justice
  • Program development in criminal justice

Internship Opportunities

To further develop your practical skills and to help you apply your knowledge, some degrees will place you in an internship. As an online student, you’ll likely be able to complete your internship in your home city or state. Your internship should give you a taste of an occupation in which you want to work and help you apply theory to practice. With support from an instructor and options to complete your internship in the midst of your studies, you may get to learn and grow right on the criminal justice field.

These are just some of the many subjects you might study when you pursue your bachelors in criminal justice online. Check with each school 

How Will My Coursework Be Structured As I Earn a Criminal Justice Bachelors Degree?

As you pursue your criminal justice bachelors degree online, you’ll take several different types of courses. Some will be connected to your major and others will be connected to general education.

For your major, you’ll take several types of classes:

  • Some will be prescribed, must-take components of your major.
  • Some will be upper-level courses connected to your major of which you can choose from an approved list.
  • Some will be elective courses that may or may not closely relate to your major of which you can choose from an approved list.

Collectively, these courses comprise the core and elective courses for your major. With the exception of the elective courses, they will likely emphasize the history, practice, and science of criminal justice.

Do You Want to Choose a Minor Study?

As you earn your bachelors in criminal justice online, you may also have an option to minor in a subject or choose a concentration. Minors and concentrations typically require students to take four to six additional courses to focus their knowledge in an area. Some examples of minors and concentrations in criminal justice include:

  • Homeland security
  • Crime scene investigation
  • Forensic psychology
  • Juvenile justice
  • Law enforcement

For your general education classes, you’ll likely take core and elective courses in the following areas:

  • Arts
  • Humanities
  • Health and physical activity
  • Natural sciences
  • Social and behavioral sciences
  • Writing and speaking
  • Quantification

General education courses are classes in subjects that all students, regardless of their majors, must study to earn a bachelors degree. General education courses may not connect to your major at all, but they will help you develop key skills critical to academic and future success.  

How Long Will It Take To Earn My Criminal Justice Bachelors Degree Online?

Many students take four years to earn their bachelors in criminal justice online. Between core and elective, major and general education requirements, many programs require students to earn between 120 and 130 credits. Going full time and without taking a break from eight to nine months of school per year, it takes four years to do so. Students who take semesters off, fail to pass courses, or simply opt to take fewer classes per semester or quarter, may take more time.

In some cases, schools let students pursue a bachelors in criminal justice online at their own pace. That is, students might take more or less time to finish a class, or they might opt to take time off without repercussion. You can read more about self-paced learning here.

Other schools require students to stick to a relatively regular schedule.

If you have a double major, minor, or concentration, it might take you slightly longer to earn your degree.   

How Can I Earn My Degree Faster?

There's a type of program called an accelerated program—or a 4+1 program. It's designed for people who plan to earn their masters after their bachelors degree.

You may be able to finish your Bachelors program in a short period of time and then be on track for your masters program in as little as six months! Want to hear more? Check out this article on 4+1 degrees.

What Types of Online Criminal Justice Bachelors Degrees Are Available?

There are many types of criminal justice bachelors degrees. For example:

  • The Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • The Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • The Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security
  • The Bachelor of Arts in Government and National Security
  • The Bachelor of Justice Studies
  • The Bachelor of Arts in Crime and Justice Studies
  • The Bachelor of Arts in Law Enforcement Administration
  • The Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society

As these titles suggest, students might focus on criminal justice broadly, or they might focus on a more specific component of criminal justice such as criminology, homeland security, or justice.

Similarly, students might pursue a Bachelor of Arts or Science in Criminal Justice but with an emphasis on a subject such as corrections, case management, business administration, leadership, management, or another. Programs like these have students focus on criminal justice but develop a specialization in an area of criminal justice.

Students might also pursue a Bachelor of Arts or Science in Psychology or Political Science with an emphasis on criminal justice. Degrees like these emphasize psychology and political science, but help students develop a specialization in criminal justice.  

This Is Clearly a Dynamic Field. So What Is Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice is a system of practices, processes, and institutions designed to identify, try, and correct crimes and criminals. At one end of the system we see the detection (and prevention) of crimes and criminals and at the other end of the system we see crime and criminal punishment, rehabilitation, and release. In the middle of the system are all the entities responsible for ensuring an effective criminal justice system.  

The three primary components of the criminal justice system are:

  1. Law enforcement  
  2. Courts
  3. Corrections and rehabilitation

Students who pursue a bachelors in criminal justice online study all components of the criminal justice system. In some programs, as we mentioned above, students study certain components in greater depth.

As you’ll discover when you pursue your bachelors in criminal justice online, local, state, federal, and global governments exist at the center of the criminal justice system. Connected to the government entities are nonprofits and corporations.

Collectively, their overall goals are to exercise social control, deter and mitigate crime, penalize criminals, and manage incarceration and rehabilitation efforts. Perhaps it’s easy to see why it takes so long to study this subject!

What Can I Do with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice?

There are numerous areas in which people who earn a bachelors in criminal justice online might work. They might work for public or private entities in areas such as:

  • Law, law enforcement, and court administration
  • Protective services
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Crime prevention
  • Victim support
  • Security or security management
  • Police administration
  • Corrections administrations

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in some of these areas earned the following median annual salaries in 2016:  

  • Police and detectives earned a median annual wage of $61,600 in 2016.ii
  • Administrative services managers earned a median annual wage of $90,050 in 2016.iii
  • Social workers earned a median annual wage of $46,890 in 2016.iv
  • Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned a median annual wage of $50,160 in 2016.v
  • Correctional officers and bailiffs earned a median annual wage of $42,820 in 2016.vi
  • Security guards and gaming surveillance officers earned a median annual wage of $25,840 in 2016.vii

You may or may not need to have a bachelors degree to enter positions like these. It depends on the position’s level, where in the world you work, and for whom you work.

I’m Excited to Earn My Criminal Justice Bachelors Degree Online! What’s Next?

Now that you have a clear sense of what it takes to earn a bachelors degree in criminal justice, it’s time to jump in. As you read this article, you probably saw some subjects or types of degrees that captured your interest. Why not begin by researching degree options in those areas?

On this page, you’ll find a list of different types of degrees and subject matter. Explore the ones that match your interests. Once you’ve done that, browse through some that didn’t immediately catch your attention, but still might have something to offer (Hint: that’s probably all of them!).

As you explore your options, you’ll find information on school accreditation, online status, the school itself, and more! To request additional information, stay put! You can do so directly through our website. Contacting schools through the “Request Information” form will help you keep track of application requirements and deadlines, program details, and more.

i datausa.io/profile/cip/4301/?compare=430104#skills | ii bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm#tab-1 | iii bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm | iv bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm | v bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm | vi bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/correctional-officers.htm | vii bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/security-guards.htm