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Overview of Criminal Justice Associate Degree Programs

Majors Overview December 18, 2013

Those who wanted to work as a detective or police officer may want to look into an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree program in criminal justice. The program teaches students about juvenile justice, communication, and criminal law.

A.A. Programs in Criminal Justice

Students seeking enrollment into 2-year Associate’s Degree programs in criminal justice can aim at earning an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science. Technical schools and community colleges usually offer these programs. They are devised to impart to students the training and skills they would need for successful careers as justice professionals, including as corrections officers, security officers and law enforcement officers.
The program imparts knowledge to participants about current social issues besetting the country, law enforcement tactics, correctional systems practices and the American legal system. Students can choose from elective concentration areas such as juvenile justice, criminal courts, law enforcement and corrections. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.


Coursework combines classroom instruction with participation in internships and co-operative education. The co-op education is devised to facilitate the application of theory in practical real-world situations, very commonly in a specialized aspect of criminal justice. Coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Juvenile justice
•Criminal investigations
•Legal aspects of law enforcement
•Police systems and practices

Career Choices

Graduates are imparted theoretical education on investigative skills and criminology which can help them qualify for career opportunities within law enforcement, computer forensics and private security. They can seek career titles such as:

•Police officer

Continuing Education Choices

Those who graduate from the program may opt to enter the workforce immediately or to continue their education. Additional training at academies is needed by prospective police officers before they are allowed to begin work. Those who wish to become correctional specialists or probation officers would benefit by earning bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice. Those interested in becoming agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would need to complete a bachelor’s degree program, at least; (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Continued training and experience usually suffice to help police officers earn promotions and advance within their careers. Annual training is usually completed by them to stay abreast of specific law enforcement skills, such as self-defense, and firearms use, apart from knowledge of advancements in equipment used for law enforcement.

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