Online Criminal Justice Associate Degrees

Learn about everything from admissions and accreditation, to program length and cost, and get all the information you need to enroll in the best online criminal justice associate degree for you.

Last Updated: 05/11/2022

Best Online Criminal Justice Associate Degree Programs: 2022

An online associate degree in criminal justice can lead to many rewarding careers in law enforcement, corrections and similar fields, making it an attractive degree choice. To help narrow down your options, we’ve identified colleges with this year’s best online criminal justice associate degree programs. All of the colleges we’ve selected are fully accredited, have affordable tuition rates, and offer multiple online criminal justice programs to choose from. See which programs ranked the highest in 2022, and find the one that best meets your academic and career goals.

About the ranking

Methodology for the STEPS Best Online Programs in 2022

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

Assign Impact of Data Points

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability. Online program availability and overall affordability received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. When unable to verify this number, a star-based system was used to signify the number of programs relative to peers.

Affordability

  • Cost:
    Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid:
    Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling:
    Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement:
    Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

Total online programs: 5

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 12%
Online Students 3,533
2
Century College

White Bear Lake, Minnesota

Total online programs: 5

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 24:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 1%
Online Students 1,075
3
Monroe Community College

Rochester, New York

Total online programs: 5

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 20%
Online Students 1,411
4

Total online programs: 5

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 8%
Online Students 226
5
Santa Rosa Junior College

Santa Rosa, California

Total online programs: 4

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 54%
Online Students 7,215
6
Diablo Valley College

Pleasant Hill, California

Total online programs: 4

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 25:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 0%
Online Students 5,972
7
Mesa Community College

Mesa, Arizona

Total online programs: 4

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 25%
Online Students 6,145
8
Finger Lakes Community College

Canandaigua, New York

Total online programs: 4

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 23:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 4%
Online Students 1,044

Total online programs: 4

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 4%
Online Students 2,075
10

Total online programs: 4

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 39%
Online Students 1,087
11
Raritan Valley Community College

Branchburg, New Jersey

Total online programs: 4

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 5%
Online Students 1,654
12
Westmoreland County Community College

Youngwood, Pennsylvania

Total online programs: 4

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 12%
Online Students 521
13
Hocking College

Nelsonville, Ohio

Total online programs: 4

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 21%
Online Students 914
14
San Joaquin Delta College

Stockton, California

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 37:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 10%
Online Students 1,235
15
San Antonio College

San Antonio, Texas

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 24:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 5%
Online Students 3,800
16
Stark State College

North Canton, Ohio

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 34%
Online Students 3,796
17
Quincy College

Quincy, Massachusetts

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 25:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 1%
Online Students 115
18
Arizona Western College

Yuma, Arizona

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 18%
Online Students 2,082
19
Danville Community College

Danville, Virginia

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 20:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 17%
Online Students 449
20
San Diego Miramar College

San Diego, California

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 27:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 0%
Online Students 328
21

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 18:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 13%
Online Students 1,390
22
Lehigh Carbon Community College

Schnecksville, Pennsylvania

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 20%
Online Students 311
23
Merced College

Merced, California

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 25:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 0%
Online Students 842
24
Delta College

University Center, Michigan

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 14:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 13%
Online Students 2,480
25
Klamath Community College

Klamath Falls, Oregon

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 49%
Online Students 435

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 14:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 27%
Online Students 1,624
27

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 28:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 27%
Online Students 4,147
28
Camden County College

Blackwood, New Jersey

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 20:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 2%
Online Students 821
29
Erie Community College

Buffalo, New York

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 3%
Online Students 1,234
30

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 0%
Online Students 696
31
Lansing Community College

Lansing, Michigan

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 12:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 16%
Online Students 760
32

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 12:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 20%
Online Students 1,800

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 14:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 27%
Online Students 213
34
Ivy Tech Community College

Indianapolis, Indiana

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 12%
Online Students 10,271
35
Montgomery College

Rockville, Maryland

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 40%
Online Students 4,998
36

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 9:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 42%
Online Students 178
37
Northcentral Technical College

Wausau, Wisconsin

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 11:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 12%
Online Students 1,278
38
Itawamba Community College

Fulton, Mississippi

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 20:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 63%
Online Students 1,654
39
Coastline Community College

Fountain Valley, California

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 31:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 29%
Online Students 65
40
Central New Mexico Community College

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 23:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 34%
Online Students 3,551
41
Mount Wachusett Community College

Gardner, Massachusetts

Total online programs: 3

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 9:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 25%
Online Students 1,225
42
Hutchinson Community College

Hutchinson, Kansas

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 18:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 73%
Online Students 930
43
Illinois Central College

East Peoria, Illinois

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 19%
Online Students 2,556
44
Delaware County Community College

Media, Pennsylvania

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 26:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 3%
Online Students 196

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 20:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 21%
Online Students 3,198
46
Mid Michigan College

Harrison, Michigan

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 23:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 15%
Online Students 917

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 24:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 0%
Online Students 2,610
48

Total online programs: 2

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 17:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 61%
Online Students 881

Getting to Know the Online Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

The criminal justice associate degree is an excellent academic pathway for anyone looking to build a career in law enforcement. Taking around two years to complete, most associate degree programs consist of 60 credits, completed over four semesters.

In addition to taking courses in criminal procedure, constitutional law, and corrections, students can also receive a well-rounded education by taking general education courses, like public speaking, English, and history. Given that the curriculum is easily delivered in a classroom setting, criminal justice degrees are perfect for students seeking the flexibility of distance learning options. Let’s dive into what you can expect from an online criminal justice associate degree program.

Types of Online ACJ (Associate of Criminal Justice) Programs

Students interested in earning an associate degree in criminal justice have two primary tracks to choose from: traditional and online. The traditional track is perfect for those who desire an on-campus experience. However, many who seek a college degree need the flexibility of taking courses remotely and on a schedule that can work around their professional or family obligations. That’s where online degrees come in.

In addition to flexibility, speed of completion is a primary concern for online students. As a result, there are two primary types of online associate degree programs available for those interested in a criminal justice degree: standard and accelerated.

Standard Criminal Justice AS Program Online

Most online criminal justice associate degree programs will have a default timeline of two years for completion. Each year, a student will attend classes for two semesters and take approximately 15 credits per semester. During the semester, they will be able to progress through their coursework at their own pace, from a location and class start time of their choosing.

Standard online criminal justice associate degree programs are best for students who do not need to quickly enter the workforce and would like to have their summers free to work or engage in other, non-academic activities.

Accelerated Criminal Justice AS Program Online

For students wishing to finish their associate degree as quickly as possible, an accelerated program is something to consider. Instead of finishing in two years, students can earn their degree in as little as one year. The specifics of these programs will depend on the school, but it includes acceptance of transfer credits, such as is the case with Colorado Christian University. Other schools may allow students to speed up their learning by taking courses year round or taking a higher than usual course load. Other institutions, such as Purdue University Global, will provide academic credit for prior military or professional experience.

How are Online Associate Programs in Criminal Justice Accredited?

Accreditation ensures a program meets specific standards of academic quality. Therefore, before enrolling, prospective students should ensure their school of choice has been accredited at the regional or institutional level. Keep in mind that most online associate level criminal justice programs will not have accreditation beyond what a school may receive from a regional or institutional accrediting body. However, there is one organization that may come up as a potential accrediting body at the program level.

The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences: Technically speaking, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) does not accredit criminal justice programs. Rather, it provides certification to programs that meet the ACJS’ quality standards. As of the time of this writing, no associate degree criminal justice programs have ACJS certification, though approximately 15 bachelor’s and master’s level programs do. The ACJS is no longer certifying any program “until further notice.”

ACJ Curriculum Overview

Each school will have its own unique curriculum, but there will be many similarities in the subjects covered. The following is a list of several courses found in a typical online associate degree program.

The Basics of Criminal Justice

Students will learn about the three components of the criminal justice system: corrections, the courts, and law enforcement. Students will also learn about the imperfections of the current criminal justice system and potential new policies and ideas to improve it.

Criminology

Students will learn the foundational concepts of criminal behavior. These include a review of criminal theory, causation, and the various types of crimes that society recognizes.

Courts

This class will provide an overview of the criminal court system. In addition to an explanation of due process and courtroom procedures, students will examine the differences between the traditional criminal court system and the juvenile court system.

Ethics in Criminal Justice

When theories behind crime and punishment are applied to the real world, they don’t always result in fair or moral results. This course examines these ethical dilemmas commonly faced by criminal justice professionals and different perspectives for solving them.

Policing

Students will learn about the theoretical basis for policing in society, as well as how it’s implemented and performed in real-world situations. Ethical considerations will also be reviewed.

Private Security

It’s not always public law enforcement officers that maintain public order and safety. This class will look deeper into the privatization of security duties for the protection of business and communities, including operational analysis.

Law Enforcement of Different Cultures

The United States is known as a melting pot of different cultures, languages, and religions. This course will take a look at various considerations when engaging in law enforcement services for minority communities and groups.

Introduction to Crime Scene Investigations

Students will learn the proper techniques and procedures when it comes to the investigative stage of the criminal justice process, as well as the constitutional and practical considerations behind these procedures.

What Core Concepts Will You Study?

An associate degree in criminal justice will provide a comprehensive overview of how a justice system works. It starts with generally accepted theories and principles, then moves on to law enforcement, crimes, evidence gathering, the legal court process, and forms of punishment. To help explain and facilitate this process, as well as reduce crime and improve safety, students can expect to learn the following core concepts.

Analyze data

Statistics is a major tool for preventing and fighting crime. Students will learn basic principles for statistical analysis and how to apply them to real-world scenarios such that community safety can be improved while criminal justice resources are reduced.

Predict patterns and criminal behavior

While human behavior is notoriously unpredictable, when examining a large enough group, patterns can emerge that allow criminal justice professionals to anticipate crime and prevent or reduce its negative effects.

Create criminal profiles

To better understand criminals and the crimes they commit, criminal justice students will grasp the theories behind creating a criminal profile. Profiling will help analyze the motives behind a specific individual’s actions and may even allow law enforcement officials to anticipate or predict future criminal behavior.

Establish agency protocols and procedures

To ensure the integrity and reliability of the criminal justice system, certain rules and procedures must be followed. A criminal justice degree will teach students how to follow these protocols to effectively and efficiently operate while still respecting the rights of the accused.

Online Criminal Justice Associates Degree: FAQs

Earning an associate degree in criminal justice online is convenient, but it’s hardly an easy task. It takes plenty of discipline, preparation, and hard work. To help you get the most out of your online degree in criminal justice, take a look at the following FAQs, which address a few of the more critical questions you might have.

Will I Get Accepted into an Online ACJ Program?

Admissions requirements can vary widely. Almost all programs require an application and transcripts, but to ensure you have the highest probability of acceptance, make sure you’re aware of the following points.

  • First, you must have a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent. With respect to a high school diploma, the higher your GPA, the more likely you’ll get accepted. It can also increase the chances of getting a scholarship.
  • Second, you will need to be proficient in English. Applicants may have to demonstrate that they are fluent enough to understand and take full advantage of the program’s course materials.
  • Third, you might have to take an admissions test, such as the ACT or SAT. While many online associate degree programs do not require any test, it may be a good idea to take one, especially if you’re capable of getting a good score. It will not only improve your chances of getting admitted, but it can help in obtaining a scholarship. This can also be helpful if you ever intend to transfer or earn a bachelor’s degree, as it could be required or serve as an optional element to help you stand out from fellow transfer applicants.

What’s the Timeline for an Online Associate in Criminal Justice?

When it comes to an associate degree in criminal justice, students should expect to spend about 2 years working on completing their degree. However, with more online degree options for criminal justice becoming available, it is possible that a student could complete their degree in as little as one year. Below is a look at how Truckee Meadows Community College breaks down their associate in criminal justice degree.

Term Course Credits
Fall 1 A humanities or diversity course Foreign language English Social Science Introduction to Administration of Justice 16
Spring 1 Foreign Language English Composition Mathematics Two required criminal justice courses of the student’s choice 16
Fall 2 Criminal justice elective One required criminal justice course of student’s choice Criminal Law and Procedure Foreign language Science 15
Spring 2 Fine arts Science Foreign Language Criminal justice elective 13

How Much Does an Online Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Cost?

Earning an online degree isn’t easy. It takes a significant amount of time, effort, and money. Of those three issues, the biggest hurdle might be the financial aspect. It’s vitally important to understand the costs, what financial aid might be available, and the payment expectations of the school before making a final decision on which program is right for you. Let’s take a look at what to expect in terms of tuition.

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Total Cost
South Texas College 60 $77 (in-district), $87 (out-of-district), $200 (out-of-state $4,620 (in-district), $5,220 (out-of-district), $12,000 (out-of-state
Clarion University 60 Annual cost of $9,805 (in-state) and $11,084 (out-of-state) when taking full semester course loads of 12-18 credits. $19,610 (in-state) and $22,168 (out-of-state)
Purdue University Global 90 (quarter credits) $371 (per quarter credit hour) $22,500 (maximum cap)
Southern New Hampshire University 60 $320 $19,200
Liberty University 60 $390 $24,395