Online Criminal Justice and Legal Degree

Criminal Justice and Legal Degree Overview

Colleges offering a Criminal Justice Degree or certificate are listed below with expanded list of programs offered. Tuition, financial aid, course offerings, online classes are available by request. For information about campus-based schools, click on the ‘On Campus Degrees’ link above.

online criminal justice programs

Outlook for Criminal Justice and Legal Careers

A degree in criminal justice opens up your career options to a wide range of great professions that help keep the public safe. And each one requires a unique set of skills and personality types. With an associates or bachelors degree in criminal justice, you could in any of the following careers.

  • Police Officer
  • Airport Security (TSA)
  • Body Guard
  • Border Control
  • Drug Enforcement (DEA)
  • Private Investigator
  • US Marshall
  • Parole Officer
  • Corrections Officer
  • Paralegal
  • Law Clerk

And those are just the jobs you can obtain with a basic degree in criminal justice. If you go on to obtain advanced degrees, you could become a:

  • Lawyer
  • FBI Agent
  • Judge
  • Forensic Investigator
  • Coroner
  • Police Detective

Some jobs within the criminal justice field will be in high demand over the next few years, including corrections officers, paralegals, and more, but most other jobs in the criminal justice field will grow at an average rate for the next 8-10 years. But the high number of baby boomers that are reaching retirement age, may open up great opportunities for advancement and promotion much quicker than in previous years.

Criminal Justice and Legal Salary Forecast

With a degree or educational background in criminal justice, you have so many different career opportunities. Many criminal justice career opportunities offer strong salaries and benefits due to the fact that so many careers found in the criminal justice industry are also funded by government agencies. Therefore, employees often receive excellent benefits packages including health insurance, vacation and sick pay, and also retirement plans.

Average Salaries for Criminal Justice Careers in 2008



Career Field Average Year Salary 2008
Legal Secretary $46,120
Attorney $110,590
Law Clerk $41,960
Court Reporter $49,710
Federal Correctional Officer $53,500
Police Detective $60,910
Patrol Officers $51,410
Game and Fish Wardens $48,950

Salary By Education Level


Because of the wide range of careers available to criminal justice degree holders, salaries will vary drastically. However, your level of education will have a large impact on your potential earnings.


Criminal justice workers with only a high school diploma, can only expect to earn salaries in the $20-30,000/year range.


Earning an associates degree will generally yield a $30-50,000/year salary, and obtaining a bachelors degree can raise that ceiling to $60,000.


If you decide to take the time and money to earn an advanced degree, either by going to law school or obtaining a masters degree or doctorate, you can expect to earn up to $100,000/year or more depending on your experience and position.


Also keep in mind that working in the private sector may earn you a higher salary than public sector jobs; however, public sector employees enjoy great governmental benefits packages, including good healthcare, pensions, and more.

Criminal Justice Career Education Requirements

The criminal justice field offers a plethora of careers with different educational requirements. Educational requirements in the criminal justice industry vary from no educational requirements at all for private detective all the way up to doctorate degrees for professors in law schools. The educational requirements that criminal justice careers may require:

  • certification/diplomas (less than 2 years)
  • associate’s degree (2 years)
  • bachelor’s degrees (2 years beyond bachelor’s degrees)
  • graduate certifications/diplomas, law degrees (3 years beyond bachelor’s degree)
  • doctorate degrees

Degree Level and Criminal Justice Careers

Although you can become a police officer with only a high school diploma, if you want opportunities for advancement and higher pay, youll need to look at college degree programs in criminal justice.

  • Associates degree in criminal justice: will make you eligible for many low-level criminal justice jobs, like basic law enforcement, corrections officers, TSA agents, paralegals, private investigators and more.



  • Bachelors degree in criminal justice: will open up more opportunities for advancement within your chosen career. With a BS, you could become a criminal investigator, court administrator, criminologist, police detective, and more, including more supervisory and administrative positions in the public and private sector.


  • Advanced Degrees in criminal justice: Most lawyers, FBI agents, wardens, judges, and other high-level criminal justice professionals, obtain a bachelors in criminal justice and then go on to law school or obtain masters degrees and PhDs in criminal justice, specializing in certain aspects of US criminal law.

Below is a list showing different career fields available for those in the criminal justice industry or with a criminal justice degree or educational background.




Career Field

Educational Level Required

Private Detective No-Post Secondary Training/College Certification (Less than 1 Year)
Paralegal

College Certificate/Associate’s Degree (2 Years)

Police Officer 1 Year of College or More – Police Academy (10 to 15 Weeks)
Fish and Game Wardens Associate’s Degree
FBI Agent Bachelor’s Degree and 3 Years of Law Enforcement Experience
Court Reporter College Certificate (1 Year)
Federal Correctional Officer Bachelor’s Degree and 3 Years Law Enforcement Experience
Court Bailiff Some College/On the Job Training

What Are Classes Like in a Criminal Justice Major


Individuals seeking to major in criminal justice need to have an excellent sense of right and wrong, honesty, integrity, and a strong sense of responsibility. They also need to be very observant, analytical, and enjoy investigating difficult situations. For those going into the law field, excellent writing skills are critical. For those going into the front lines of law enforcement, excellent physical conditioning is also very beneficial.


The courses covered in a criminal justice major offer a great foundation in the law and judicial processes of our nation. The following is a general list and different colleges will definitely have some deviations from this list in their criminal justice major.



  • Administration

  • Constitutional Law

  • Criminal Investigation

  • Criminal Justice

  • Criminal Justice Reform

  • Criminal Profiling

  • Evidence

  • Eyewitness Testimony

  • Forensic Law

  • Judicial Process

  • Police Science

  • Psychology

  • Research Methods

  • Sociology

  • Victimology

Colleges For Criminal Justice and Legal Degrees

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