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Degree Overview: Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree in Criminal Justice

Majors Overview December 14, 2013

Get information about Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree programs for criminal justice and its coursework, career choices, and continuing education choices.

A.A.S. Programs in Criminal Justice

Students enrolled in an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program in criminal justice are taught about law enforcement, the basics of the U.S. government, and the legal system. Those who successfully complete the degree program can seek entry-level jobs with local police departments, criminal justice agencies and related organizations.

Some criminal justice associate’s degree programs may require students to participate in internship programs; others enjoy incorporation with police academies. Students enrolled in AAS programs in criminal justice typically complete 60 credit hours while taking two years to complete the program. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma, while others also expect prospective students to submit criminal background checks before allowing them to begin an internship or criminal justice course.


A variety of social science classes are required to be taken by criminal justice students augmenting courses that teach law and government fundamentals.

Students are allowed by some criminal justice associate’s degree programs to select a concentration such as corrections, private security or law enforcement, thereby allowing students to customize their courses in accordance with their specific career objectives. Coursework combines classroom lectures with practical training including investigation of mock crime scenes or completion of internships. Coursework may typically include:

•Forensic science
•Judicial system
•U.S. government
•Criminal investigations
•Criminal law

Career Choices

Those who successfully complete an associate’s degree program in criminal justice can seek entry-level jobs in investigation, security, law enforcement or corrections. They can choose from criminal justice career options, in both the public and private sectors, such as:

•Security guard
•Parole officer
•Police officer
•Private investigator

Continuing Education Choices

Although students who complete an AAS degree can seek to join the workforce immediately on completion of the program, they may also opt to continue their education by earning a baccalaureate degree in criminal justice. Beyond a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in criminal justice is also a continued education option to students who can also apply to law school – continued education will help them obtain managerial or more advanced positions within the legal system or law enforcement agencies.

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