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

Majors Overview December 16, 2013

An Associate of Science (A.S.) degree or Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree is more common, but some schools offer an Associate of Specialized Business (A.S.B.) degree in criminal justice. These programs teach students about crime, law enforcement, and the legal system.

A.S. Programs in Criminal Justice

Students enrolled in associate degree programs in criminal justice are taught about crime; they also learn about how the legal system processes criminals, including through corrections and law enforcement. It takes about two years to complete the majority of associate degree programs in criminal justice. Students are assisted with gaining more information about the effects of crime on communities and are taught various theories that underscore correctional methods that will enable them to seek entry-level jobs in the field after they complete the course. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.


Program coursework in criminal justice associate programs commonly focuses on topic areas pertaining to crime and the law. Coursework usually includes hands-on training, allowing students the chance to make practical use of the knowledge and skills gained from the program. These include report writing, interrogation and crime scene investigation, in a real-world environment. Coursework may include subject areas such as:

•Court procedures
•Security procedures
•Drug and gang crimes
•Juvenile law
•Constitutional law

Career Choices

Those who graduate from a criminal justice associate degree program can expect to be able to seek entry-level jobs in the fields of security, corrections or law enforcement. They may find employment in prisons, police forces, sheriff’s departments and courthouses and aim for job titles such as:

•Security guard
•Police officer
•Corrections officer
•Court clerk

Continuing Education Choices

Employers of associate degree program graduates seeking entry-level jobs in law enforcement often expect candidates to attend a police academy or undergo other such internal training before embarking on their careers. Associate graduates may seek continued education by enrolling in a bachelor’s or master’s degree program in criminal justice.

Those seeking jobs involving correctional treatment or probation would benefit by earning a bachelor’s degree; some job givers prefer candidates with master’s degrees augmented by work experience. Additional training may be given to these professionals through a government agency or by their employers. Individuals who hold a Master’s degree in criminal justice can seek leadership and management roles in various related fields, including social services, law enforcement or corrections, in addition to jobs in government organizations.

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