Do you wish for a quick career opportunity in the criminal justice system? An associate degree could be the perfect fit for you. A quick degree and a quick start to your career. 

An associate degree would take around 2 years to complete if you choose a full-time option or you can finish it in about 1 year if you opt for the online programs. The choice is yours. 

Considering you have decided to move ahead with the online programs, we will guide you in this article with the associate degree admission requirements, what you will learn, the benefits of an associate degree, and which online schools would best suit you. 

Let’s start: 

Criminal Justice Associate Degree

Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

An associate degree provides you with a brief understanding of how each component of the Criminal Justice system – law enforcement, courts, and corrections – investigates, operates, prosecutes, and punishes criminals.

You will also learn modern techniques to investigate crime scenes, the procedures of the court, emergency management best practices, and the theories related to Criminal Justice.

The associate degree in criminal justice makes you eligible for entry-level positions in the designated field, with good earning potential, and an opportunity to contribute to public safety.

Recommended Schools

Admission requirements

Listed are the standard admission requirements, but you should note that every institution might have respective admission requirements. So, it is better to check the notification of the college or university before applying.

Here are the standard requirements:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Academic transcripts
  • SAT/ACT scores (wherever appliable)

Course curricula

  • Introduction to criminal justice
  • Introduction to corrections
  • Introduction to forensic psychology
  • Juvenile justice
  • Criminal law
  • Criminal investigations
  • Court systems
  • Ethics

Course Duration: 2 years (full-time) | 16 – 24 Months (Online) 

Course Credit: 60

Other Degree Programs: 

-> Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree

-> Criminal Justice Master’s Degree

Who should choose an associate degree?

Whatever degree option you choose, it should depend on your professional goals. Let’s understand, for whom an associate degree in criminal justice, is most suited. 

  • If the career you are looking for requires only basic knowledge and basic expertise in criminal justice, choose an associate degree.
  • If you are seeking an expedited path to a career, or your career goal is to start earning quickly, an associate degree is just for you.
  • If you are only aiming for entry-level positions in the criminal justice field – like in law enforcement police officers, or at the court as in court clerk, etc., an associate degree serves your purpose. 
  • If you are not quite sure about your interests and career choice in criminal justice, getting an associate degree is a strategic move.
  • Lastly, if you are one who doesn’t want to study for several years, an associate degree is tailor-made for you.  

You may also opt for Online Schools -> Online Criminal Justice Degree 

Criminal Justice Associate Degree Benefits 

An associate degree in criminal justice expedites you to entry-level jobs in the criminal justice system. The course is compact, involves basic foundational education, and helps in a quick shift into the working world. 

Here are the benefits of an associate degree in criminal justice: 

Recommended Schools

Less time consuming 

An associate degree in criminal justice requires 2 years for completion. If you opt for the online program it takes between 16-24 months for course completion. This only means that you are job ready quicker compared to the ones doing their bachelor’s or master’s. 

Lower Costs

Gen-Z calculates ROIs in education as well. No, there is nothing wrong with being smart. You can get an associate degree for half of the cost of a bachelor’s. With that, you become eligible for entry-level criminal justice jobs. Also, by the time a bachelor’s degree holder lands a job, you would have 2 years of experience under your belt.  So, the ROIs are higher. 

Entry-level roles

By getting an associate degree you acquire basic relevant knowledge and get equipped with versatile skills, enough of landing entry-level roles in any component of the criminal justice system. With time you will earn experience and with your dedication and hard work, you will be eligible for promotions or higher salary. 

No in-depth studies

Unlike bachelor’s and master’s an associate degree doesn’t deal with the in-depth studies of criminal justice. It equips you with the relevant and theoretical knowledge enough to land you a job. So, an associate degree is best for those who don’t care about the in-depth subject matter but do only want to secure a job. 

Opportunity to Protect and Serve the people 

Whether you are a Doctorate or an Associate, you both work for a common cause – protect and serve the people. You’ll receive the required knowledge and the skills to provide protection, immediate support, and security to the people. 

Read -> Criminal Justice Degree


Is an associate degree in criminal justice worth it?

If you prefer entry-level positions, with half the time and money investment, an associate degree in criminal justice has the worth of a bitcoin. Also, most of the employers that previously hired candidates with only a high school diploma are now preferring candidates with at least a two-year degree. That’s where an associate degree in criminal justice comes in; if you want to work in law enforcement, corrections, and courts. 

Why You Should Get Your Associate Degree Online? 

Online programs are affordable, flexible, and convenient; therefore, you should choose an online school that offers an associate degree in criminal justice. 

How long does it take to get an associate degree in criminal justice online vs on campus? 

If you enroll in a full-time on-campus program, an associate degree in criminal justice would take around 2 years to complete. But if you choose an online school that provides learning at a self-pace you might finish the course in between 16-24 months. 

Know More -> How long is Criminal Justice Degree?

What can you do with an associate degree in criminal justice?

If you consider education, you could continue with your bachelor’s and then master’s. If you are aiming for quick jobs in the criminal justice field, you are eligible for entry-level positions with an associate in criminal justice. You can get a job in a police department, court, or correction office. 

What is the average earning with an associate degree in criminal justice? 

A candidate with an associate degree in criminal justice has the potential to earn a minimum of $46,780 per year. If you are brilliant with your skills, you might soon receive promotions or salary hikes, as well. So, the earning potential majorly depends on your – work and effort, experience, and skills. 

Can I get funding for my associate degree? 

Yes. If you are eligible, you can get funding through – aid, scholarships, or employer assistance. 

  • Aid – You may apply for federal financial aid by filling out a FAFSA form. 
  • Scholarships – Various scholarships are offered by some community colleges and organizations based on merit, financial need, or program. Just maintain a satisfactory GPA. 
  • Employer assistance – Some employers encourage their employees to take up certain courses. In that case, they offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs as a yearly benefit.


-> What Jobs Can You Get With a Criminal Justice Degree?

-> What Can You Do With a Criminal Justice Degree Besides Being a Cop?

Recommended Schools

About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.