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Earning a Criminal Justice Bachelors Degree Online

Students looking to pursue a criminal justice bachelors degree online may love shows like Bones or Castle, but they know that the real work of criminal justice goes well

beyond what you see on TV.i Criminal justice might refer to a number of related fields, including disciplines related to

  • policing 
  • corrections
  • security 
  • law enforcement
  • and the court systemii

These subjects might demand workers who have skills in communication, leadership, decision making, empathy and perceptiveness.iii For students that think that could describe them, earning an online criminal justice bachelor degree might be a good way to jumpstart a career in criminal justice or criminalistics.

Criminal Justice Bachelors Degree Online Essentials

Bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice typically go under one of two names: the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice or the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. While there may be substantial overlap between these two types of degrees, the Bachelor of Science (BS) may generally be more technical than the Bachelor of Arts (BA).iv

Typically, bachelor’s degree programs may combine both general instruction and a specific focus on its major. For those earning an online bachelor degree in criminal justice, this may mean taking a number of courses on topics that would be widely useful for any student, and then a required set of courses specifically about criminal justice.iv These programs can vary widely by school.

Concentrations for Online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree Programs

One way schools may vary their options for criminal justice bachelors degrees might be by offering different concentrations within the field. Concentrations are essentially areas of focus within a broader subject, such as criminal justice. Students might be able to take a certain slate of courses for a concentration in order to prepare themselves to pursue certain disciplines within the broader criminal justice field. Not every school might offer this opportunity, and for schools that do, not all will offer the same choices. But, if you’re looking to earn a criminal justice degree in a specialized area, you would be wise to reach out to the schools you’re considering to see what they might have available.

Though not a guarantee by any means, some concentration areas that could be available might include:

Be sure to reach out to each school you’re considering, as all of their concentration options could be different.

Coursework for an Online Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice

Like concentrations, course offerings may vary greatly from school to school. But if you’re interested in potential topics, you might see some of the subjects listed below on a typical curriculum:

Beyond courses in criminal justice, most bachelor’s degrees may entail general education requirements.iv These are generally in broad subjects and skills that could be applicable to a number of different career pursuits, both within and outside of the criminal justice field. If you’re interested, some examples of these general education class topics could include:

  • Writing
  • Public speaking
  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Mathematics

If there are any specific courses you’d like to take, don’t hesitate to reach out to a school for a copy of their curriculum. You may even be able to request a sample syllabus of a specific class, to see what the coursework might be like.

Other Potential Requirements for a Criminal Justice Bachelors Degree Online

While it might seem strange, one thing you might want to look out for when comparing online bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice is whether or not they have any offline coursework. This might entail opportunities that are offered to you, such as trainings and internships with law enforcement agencies, or professional experience programs in courts or prisons.

There may also be requirements, such as on-campus residencies, that are needed to complete the degree program. Whether you’re looking to bolster your online degree program with offline experiences, or making sure you won’t need to find a way to get to campus, you’ll want to check with each school you’re considering. Ask whether the program is fully online and whether or not they have any offline offerings or requirements.

What Can I Do With a Bachelors in Criminal Justice?

In addition to potentially pursuing graduate degrees after completing your bachelors in criminal justice, you should be able to pursue a number of different careers in the field. One career pursuit could be to seek employment as a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist. A bachelor’s degree is the entry-level education for this profession. And an academic focus on criminal justice is recommended.v Roles and responsibilities include monitoring and working with probationers to make sure they are staying crime free, and that they have access to resources such as substance abuse In 2015, the median annual salary for this position was $49,360.vii

Another potential career after earning an online criminal justice bachelors degree might be as a forensic science technician. Due to the technical nature of the job, you may need to have specialized in this field while earning your degree.viii Many of these professionals are also police officers; these people need to have attended police academy in addition to an academic education.viii Their duties may include analyzing crime scenes and evidence, recording observations, and testing evidence in a lab.ix In 2015, their yearly wages were $56,320.x

Getting Started

Start  your search for the perfect degree program right here on Check out our sponsored links and reach out to any schools that catch your eye. Don’t forget that you can fill out a form in order to request additional information about each program. Good luck and we hope you catch the eye of college recruiters!

[i] [ii] [iii] [iv] [v] [vi] [vii] [viii] [ix] [x]

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