Students who want to work in the fast-paced world of criminal justice need to know what it takes to earn an online degree in the field. Find out what degrees are available and what careers are made possible by attaining them.

Online Legal Degrees

Students pursing an online degree in law or criminal justice typically learn the fundamentals of the legal system and how the criminal justice system works to keep citizens safe. In these programs, course work tends to cover wide range of subjects that pertain to public policy and its implications on society. Individuals who earn a degree in law and criminal justice online may qualify for employment as a paralegal, corrections officer, or detective, although some positions require additional training.

Online Legal & Criminal Justice Degrees

Students working toward a criminal justice degree online have the advantage of being able to study and complete course work at their own pace and convenience. Curriculum typically combines online courses with hands-on applied learning in order to provide students with a balanced educational experience. Students will also study the theoretical and practical aspects of crime control and learn to apply them to real life situations.

Depending on the particular career path that is chosen, curriculum in this field may vary. For instance, individuals working toward a career in criminal justice or corrections may be required to complete hands-on training and physical conditioning in addition to online classroom instruction. On the other hand, students may be able to complete the requirements needed to become a paralegal by taking only online courses.

Legal & Criminal Justice Degree Types

Schools may offer online degrees in law and criminal justice in a number of specializations within the criminal justice and legal field. Some of the most popular concentrations include homeland security, corrections, paralegal studies, and forensics. Examples of available degrees include:

  • Associate Degree in Criminal Justice - Students who want to gain quick entry into this field may want to pursue an associate degree in criminal justice. These programs can typically be completed in two years of full-time study, and expose students to the basics of maintaining law and order and protecting life and property. Associate degree programs in criminal justice may also include a comprehensive study of the national criminal justice system and law enforcement agencies. Some of the courses offered include criminology, constitutional law, criminal procedure, and criminal research.
  • Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice - A bachelor's degree can typically be completed in four years of full-time study, and students in this field typically work toward a Bachelor of Science. Bachelor's degree programs typically delve deeper into the study of criminology and the criminal justice system with an emphasis on the theories, laws, policies, and practices that are associated with criminal behavior and its consequences. A bachelor's degree is generally required for individuals who want to work as a probation officer.
  • Master's Degree in Criminal Justice - Students who want to gain employment in the highest levels of the criminal justice system may want to pursue a master's degree. Although a graduate degree typically isn't a requirement in this field, earning a master's may help individuals gain a competitive edge when it comes to accelerating their career. Master's degree programs can be completed in two years of full-time study or less depending on the program and school that is chosen. Students can expect to gain the skills needed to thoroughly analyze criminal behavior, learn theories of social control, and apply principles of leadership to the workplace setting.

Related Careers

Students earning criminal justice degrees online have the opportunity to pursue employment in a diverse group of workplace settings including police stations, correctional facilities, and in the field. Those working toward an online legal degree may be able to find employment in a law office or courtroom setting. Some of the potential career opportunities in these fields include:

  • Police and Detectives - In order to protect lives and property, police officers often put their own lives at risk. Typical job duties include responding to calls, investigating crimes and collecting evidence, filling out detailed reports, and enforcing the laws dictated by their district. Although postsecondary education isn't always a necessity, police officers generally need to graduate from their agency's training academy and complete on-the-job training in order to gain employment.
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants - Paralegals typically work as support staff for lawyers and may be responsible for various administrative tasks including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents. Most paralegals work for law firms, corporate legal departments, or government agencies. These professionals are generally required to have an associate's degree in paralegal studies or better in order to gain employment in this field.
  • Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists - Probation officers are typically required to earn a bachelor's degree and pass oral, written, and psychological exams. These professionals work as an extension of the local police force, and are generally in charge of supervising offenders as they progress through the various stages of the criminal justice system. In addition to monitoring offenders, probation officers evaluate their needs and suggest treatment options that may promote the individual's rehabilitation and progress.

Law & Criminal Justice Industry Trends

Thanks to the continued demand for public safety, individuals in these fields can expect some job growth in the coming years. However, employment outlook for careers in law and criminal justice may vary due to population growth or decline, as well as the criminal activity in a particular area. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov, 2012) projects growth in the following careers over the next decade:

  • Police and Detectives - 7 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants - 18 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020
  • Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists - 18 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020

"Correctional Officers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/correctional-officers.htm, April 26, 2012
"National Criminal Justice Reference System," https://www.ncjrs.gov/
"Paralegals and Legal Assistants," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-1, March 29, 2012
"Police and Detectives," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Protective-Service/Police-and-detectives.htm, March 29, 2012
"Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm, March 29, 2012

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Showing schools in your area

            Prefer exploring options talking to our staff?
            Call toll free now: 1.855.330.6938
            Matching School Ads
            Master of Business Administration in American Legal Studies
            • Liberty University provides a worldclass education from a christ-centered worldview
            • 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels
            • No standardized testing if student meets admission requirements
            • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
            • 95% of Liberty University students receive some form of financial aid
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            AAS, Legal Studies
            Berkeley College , Little Falls
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in 2018 by the U.S. News & World Report.
            • Admits students throughout the year with quarterly start dates in January, April, July, and September.
            • Provides faculty-monitored internships or job-related assignments.
            • Offers associate and bachelor degree programs in business, design, health, plus certificate programs in practical nurse, medical assistant, and more.
            • Preparing students for professional and personal success since 1931.
            • Over $45 million in Berkeley College institutional aid was provided to qualified students during the 2017-2018 award year.
            • 7,000+ students, including more than 350 international students representing over 50 countries
            • 3,000+ students took at least one online class in fall 2017
            • Berkeley College named a "Best of the Best" by U.S. Veterans Magazine; 2014-2015, 2017-2018
            • Berkeley College ranked first in its category in Overall Mobility Index, 2017 – The New York Times
            • Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, 2014-2018 – U.S. News & World Report
            • USDLA/Quality Standards Certification, 2013-2017 – United States Distance Learning Association
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Master of Legal Studies
            • Northcentral University was founded in 1996 to provide working professionals around the world with unprecedented access to richly engaging, professionally relevant, and academically-rigorous education from a U.S. university.
            • As a regionally accredited, private, online and graduate-focused university, NCU offers doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business, technology management, education, and psychology, as well as doctoral and master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy.
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies

            Since 1977, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career-focused education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals.  Our student-centered approach remains at the foundation of the Keiser University mission and continues to attract students who prefer a more personal learning experience. 

            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Legal Studies (Hybrid)
            • Based on their 2014 graduate survey, 85.7% of graduates were employed in their chosen field or continuing their education within one year of graduation.
            • Offers academic assistance services for students, including tutors, personal advisors and SMARTHINKING, their 24/7 online learning assistance center.
            • 84% of surveyed graduates said they would recommend Central Penn College to a friend.
            • On-campus housing is provided through  apartments and townhouses, not dorms.
            • Accredited by the Middle States Commission on HIgher Education (MSCHE).
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Legal Studies, BS
            Davenport University , Grand Rapids

            Since 1866, Davenport University has been providing students with real-world experience, giving them the edge they need to get the career they want.

            Our goal is to offer guaranteed job placement to most of our students by 2020. 

            Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
            • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
            • Offers 24/7 online tech support, with a typical response time of 4 hours or less.
            • Has online help centers that offer assistance with writing, statistics, medical assisting, and more.
            • Provides job placement assistance to all its students and alumni.
            • Researches trends for growing fields to tailor a more effective curriculum.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            AAS Paralegal Studies
            • Several campuses are designated as 2015 Military Friendly Schools by Victory Media.
            • Scholarships and other financial aid opportunities are available for students who qualify.
            • Day, evening, and online classes are available for flexible schedule options.
            • Regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
            • Founded 160 years ago, it is one of America’s premier private career colleges.
            Show more [+]
            Associate of Science - Paralegal Studies
            • Committed to empowering students with education and skills to help them reach their goals since 1979.
            • Online programs include business management, RN to BSN, and more.
            • Technical assistance for students is available 24/7.
            • Institutional accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
            • Ground campuses are also available across Arizona and New Mexico. 
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            IBMC College , Greeley

            Are you un-employed, under-employed or looking for a stable career where you can make a real difference? Well then, you have come to the right place.

            At locally-owned and nationally accredited IBMC College, you can train for a rewarding, new career, all in as little as 6-23 months! With nearly 20 program options to choose from, at nearby campuses, you will find the path that is just the right fit for you.