Associate Degrees in Criminal Justice

An associate degree in criminal justice is a 2-year degree that introduces students to the three main elements of the criminal justice system:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Courts and the Legal System
  • The Correctional System

Postsecondary education is a strong advantage in most law enforcement agencies, and is a requirement for fields such as forensics and for government positions, so an associate degree is a popular option for people seeking employment in these fields. Associates degree credits can also be applied toward the 4-year bachelor degree.

Criminal Justice Associate Degree Curriculum

Students of most criminal justice programs at the associate degree level learn the fundamentals of law enforcement and criminal justice, including subjects such as:

  • Foundations of the Justice System
  • Societal Causes of Crime
  • Technical Aspects of Law Enforcement
  • The Court System
  • Introduction to Security
  • Introduction to Corrections
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Criminal Procedures


Though specific courses vary from school to school, most associate degrees provide an overview of these areas, allowing students to discover which specialties might interest them.

Students can earn an associates degree online or at a campus-based school. A degree from an online criminal justice school is a flexible option for those who wish to continue working full time during school, while campus programs can offer an active learning experience for students with less demanding schedules.