What to Know About Getting an Online Criminal Justice Degree
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Everything You Need to Know About Obtaining an Online Criminal Justice Degree

This age of online learning has given many students a new opportunity to attend college. The number and types of programs are growing each year. One of the most popular options when it comes to online learning is obtaining an online criminal justice degree.

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Of the more than 50 online college programs available for earning a criminal justice degree, the top two are from Purdue University Global and Capella University.

Top Programs

1. Purdue University Global

PU Global offers five concentrations for the Criminal Justice BS online program:

  • Crime Scene Investigation.
  • Forensic Psychology.
  • Homeland Security.
  • Juvenile Justice.
  • Law Enforcement.

Each program will have a different course path. However, there are core courses and some major courses that all criminal justice students must complete.

Core Requirements:

  • College Composition I.
  • College Composition II.
  • Professionalism: Theory and Practice in the Global Workplace.

Mathematics (Select One of the Following):

  • Survey of Mathematics.
  • College Algebra.

Arts and Humanities (Select One of the Following):

  • Arts and Humanities: Modern Creative Expressions.
  • Ethics.
  • Humanities and Culture.

Science (Select One of the Following):

  • Discovering Science: Current Issues in a Changing World.
  • General Biology I: Human Perspectives.
  • Fundamentals of Microbiology.
  • Fundamentals of Science.

Social Science (Select One of the Following):

  • The 1960s: Reshaping the American Dream.
  • People, Power, and Politics: An Introduction to American Government.
  • The Technological Revolution: A Social Scientific Approach.

Total Core Requirements: 33

Major Requirements:

  • Preparing for a Career in Public Safety.
  • Introduction to the Criminal Justice System.
  • Criminology I.
  • Criminal Investigation.
  • Crime Prevention or Introduction to Forensic Psychology.
  • Computers, Technology and Criminal Justice Information Systems.
  • Criminal Procedure.
  • Criminal Law for Criminal Justice.
  • Applied Criminal Justice Ethics.
  • Supervisory Practices in Criminal Justice or Managing Criminal Justice Organizations.
  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice.
  • Major Electives (see below).
  • Bachelor's Capstone in Criminal Justice.

Total Major Requirements: 88

The program will take anywhere from three to five years to complete. PU Global also offers internships during your program, so you will have some experience on your resume after you graduate with your degree.

2. Capella University

Capella University (CU) breaks the program into quarters. You will be required to complete courses in general education, core courses, electives and a capstone course to qualify for a BS in Criminal Justice:

  • English Composition.
  • Writing Strategies for Criminal Justice.
  • Research Writing.
  • Business and Technical Writing.
  • Public Speaking.
  • Intercultural Communication.
  • Visual Design in Communications.
  • Leadership, Gender and Communication.
  • Conflict Resolution.
  • Media and Culture.


  • Introduction to the Humanities.
  • Approaches to Studying Religions.
  • Women's Literature.
  • Introduction to Philosophy.
  • Ethics
  • Introduction to Logic.
  • Ethics in Health Care.

Natural Science and Mathematics:

  • Human Biology.
  • Biology and Society.
  • Environmental Health.
  • Introduction to Astronomy.
  • College Algebra.
  • Statistical Reasoning.
  • Discrete Mathematics.

Social Science:

  • Microeconomics.
  • Macroeconomics.
  • History of Health Care in America.
  • The Politics of American Government.
  • Introduction to Psychology.
  • Child Development.
  • Adult Development and Aging.
  • Introduction to Human Society.
  • Cultural Diversity.
  • Social Deviance.

Core Courses:

  • Writing Strategies for Criminal Justice.
  • Intercultural Communications.
  • Conflict Resolution.
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice.
  • Perspectives in Criminal Justice.
  • Ethics of Criminal Justice.
  • Constitutional Law.
  • Criminal Law.
  • Criminal Procedure and Evidence.
  • Research Applications in Criminal Justice.
  • Criminal Psychology and Behavior.
  • Cultural Diversity.

Electives (Recommended):

  • Introduction to Emergency Management.
  • Corrections, Probation and Parole.
  • Police Administration and Leadership.
  • Police-Community Relations.
  • Multiagency Investigations.
  • Emergency Planning.
  • Disaster Response Operations and Management.
  • Terrorism.
  • White-Collar and Organized Crime.
  • Social Dimensions of Disaster.
  • School Violence.
  • Women in Criminal Justice.
  • Victimolog.

Total Credits: 180

Each of these two programs offers the necessary coursework for a criminal justice degree, as well as several concentrations for specialization by each student.

Job Outlook

A criminal justice degree can lead to a variety of job prospects, each with its own outlook over the next few years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics gives us the occupational outlook for each career and the average salary.

Cybercrime Counterterrorism

These specialists protect the information held in computer networks. The average salary is $95,000 annually. There were more than 100,000 jobs available in cybercrime in 2016, and the job outlook is growing at 28 percent, which is much faster than normal.

Crime Scene Investigation

CSIs work to find clues left behind at a crime scene. They take photographs, measure footprints and collect samples. The average salary is $57,000 annually. There were more than 15,000 jobs available for CSIs in 2016, and the job outlook is growing at 17 percent, which is much faster than average.


Corrections officers are responsible for the environment in a detention center. It is their job to maintain law and order for the safety of everyone present. The average salary is $50,000 annually. There were more than 90,000 jobs available in detention facilities in 2016, and the job outlook is growing at 6 percent per year.

Law Enforcement

Police officers are the local heroes of the criminal justice system, but they are often the unsung heroes. The average salary is $62,000 annually. There were more than 800,000 jobs available for police officers in 2016, and the job outlook is growing at 7%, which is average.

In Conclusion

If you are looking for a career that offers excitement, challenges your mind and is a way to serve your community, a criminal justice degree might just lead you there. Graduates with criminal justice degrees can serve their communities in law enforcement, cybersecurity, or in our detention centers.

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