The Online Criminal Justice Degree and Your Career

The Online Criminal justice degree like the one offered by PSU – Portland State University  has long been a popular degree for individuals taking a non-traditional academic career path. They are often shorter degree programs than fields of study found at four-year universities averaging in length of about two years. Some programs can be completed in as little as 18 months and some are followed by training at police academies. There are also misconceptions about what type of profession a person can pursue with this kind of degree. It turns out that there are a variety of career paths that an individual could follow using a certification or a criminal justice degree.

 Police agencies now require college degrees

It used to be that a person needed only a high school diploma or equivalent in order to become a police officer. Up until a couple of decades ago this was the case in much of the United States however many agencies now require applicants with college degrees in a related field of study such as criminology. Many police agencies recruit academy trainees directly from community colleges or vocational schools where they have earned a two-year associate’s degree in criminal justice. This is largely because of the comprehensive nature of police work. Yes, police officers are required to be physically fit and are trained in self-defense tactics however they are also now required to be skilled at non-physical activities. Increasingly agencies want officers who have strong interpersonal communication skills and officers that are able to communicate effectively in writing. They want individuals who have a solid knowledge of how the entire legal system works so that they can better do their jobs. For instance an officer who has shaky knowledge of legal procedures performed by prosecutors concerning chain of custody for evidence collection may end up causing offenders to go free because they made a mistake. These are skills taught in online criminal justice programs and desired by law enforcement agencies.

Other agencies are now requiring degrees

Individuals that graduate from these programs do not always go on to become police officers. There are varieties of professions that call for candidates that possess the skills learned in these courses. For instance, parole, corrections, and probation officers have generally earned an associate of arts degree in criminal justice. Some private security firms and many federal agencies such as the fbi, atf, cia, secret service and more  require a masters in criminal justice that is accredited like the one offered by the University of Cincinnati. Individuals who plan to transfer to four-year universities to pursue a law degree often start as criminal justice majors at smaller schools. Individuals can even earn an online criminal justice degree and go on to a four year university. Other professions that individuals pursue after graduating from a program like this include court reporting, court room administration positions, process servers, forensic positions and teaching degree programs.

 Criminal Justice Schools

Over the past decade Criminal Justice Schools have grown in popularity. Sometimes people considering enrolling in these programs may stop short because they feel that online programs are inferior to traditional courses. While it is true that the college experience is different when done virtually as opposed to in person it is no less effective for a person’s ultimate goal of gaining knowledge and becoming more marketable. Online degrees in criminal justice are no different from traditional degrees and there are very well known universities and community colleges that offer online courses in addition to traditional on-campus courses. The education that a person receives online is just as good as one that they could get by attending classes in person. Sometimes online courses can be even more demanding than traditional ones and no employer will know the difference. Online courses do however require much more discipline than an in person course, as well as a person that works well on their own. One of the drawbacks is the absence of personal interaction with peers that comes with traditional schools

Criminal justice degrees are a popular and increasingly necessary program for people interested in a career in a law enforcement related field. Police agencies are looking for candidates with these qualifications as the field becomes more sophisticated. Not all people earning these accolades are becoming cops. There are many other fields and private pursuits that it can be used for. Individuals also have the option of taking courses online instead of in person and these certifications are just as good as the ones that are earned in the traditional manner.


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