Online college criminal justice courses are in high demand because of the wide range of job opportunities open to people with degrees or practical experience. Criminal justice professionals can work in victim advocacy, crime prevention, corrections, investigations, or rehabilitation. There are also options for those who don’t have time to pursue a degree full-time.
Prospective students can take occasional online college criminal justice courses for credit until they are ready to enter a degree program. This guide is an in-depth look at the best online college criminal justice classes to help streamline the many options.
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Why Should I Take an Online Criminal Justice Course for Credit?
Completing an online criminal justice program for academic credit can help you to hone the skills you need for the future, especially if you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree later on. These are completely online so you can learn from your comfort zone and at your own pace. You can learn about crime scene investigation and get real-world experience like you would in undergraduate programs.
When it comes to cost, online education has more affordable tuition than attending in person. Even if prospective students pay the same tuition rate for in-person learners, there are no associated costs for housing, meal plans, and transportation. You can enjoy affordable tuition and learn comfortably.
Top 10 Online Criminal Justice Courses for Credit
|Introduction to Criminal Justice||StraighterLine||$59 + $99/mo. membership fee|
|Introduction to Criminal Justice||University of Phoenix||$1,194, one-time fee|
|Criminal Law and Procedure||Lindenwood University Online||$475 per credit hour|
|Human Relations And Diversity In Criminal Justice||The University of Toledo||$397.75 per credit hour|
|Courts Systems and Practices||The University Of Texas At El Paso Connect||$420 in state
$540 out of state
|Cultural Awareness in Criminal Justice||Southern New Hampshire University||$320 per credit hour|
|Professional Ethics in Criminal Justice||Newberry College||$395 per credit hour|
|Introduction to Policing||Georgia Southern University||$182 per credit hour|
|Criminal Investigation||Community College of Philadelphia||$579, one-time fee|
|Theories of Crime and Criminal Law||University of Nebraska at Kearney||In-state: $259 per credit hour
Out of state: $396 per credit hour
Best Online College Criminal Justice Classes and Courses: Explained
Most online criminal justice classes are three academic credit hours, and the cost might vary. Online learners typically enjoy more affordable tuition and can choose to start with introductory education courses before advancing, which makes it easier to build a solid foundation and be able to apply it to more advanced topics.
1. Introduction to Criminal Justice
This self-paced course covers the past, present, and future of the American criminal justice system. Students will learn about the types of law enforcement, the creation of laws, the court system structure, philosophies of the correctional system, the death penalty, the role of legal precedents, and prison life.
2. Introduction to Criminal Justice
This criminal justice program focuses on the correctional system, police, philosophy, and the court system. This course can be completed in five weeks, and it covers qualifying requirements and criminal justice career opportunities as well as terminology and limitations of the system.
3. Criminal Law and Procedure
This course covers in-depth concepts in criminal law and procedure. It offers an analysis of the criminal justice system and criminal law. Online students learn more about the law to enhance their analytical and critical thinking skills. It also offers a practical experience for online students as they learn to demonstrate applications of criminal procedure and law.
4. Human Relations and Diversity in Criminal Justice
This course focuses on diversity and the human element of the criminal justice system. The course will also cover corrections, courts, police, and other community organizations. Before the course ends, students will learn the value of diversity and how it can be applied to the criminal justice field.
5. Courts Systems and Practices
This three-credit course focuses on the court’s role in criminal justice administration. Students will learn how to legally process criminal defendants and about plea bargaining, pre-trial releases, right to counsel, the criminal justice process, sentencing, trial proceedings, juvenile justice, and the American court structure.
6. Cultural Awareness in Criminal Justice
This course from Southern New Hampshire University covers the impact of culture on criminal justice studies. Students will learn how to understand and reflect on biases, and how bias can affect interpersonal behavior. The course will also focus on how these factors help to develop strong community relationships.
7. Professional Ethics in Criminal Justice
The professional ethics in criminal justice course focuses on the basics of ethical behavior and its relation to the criminal justice field in the United States. The course also applies contemporary and classical ethical theories to discuss the use of force, discretion, corruption, deception, racism, professionalism, and the meaning and nature of justice.
8. Introduction to Policing
This course offers a critical assessment and examination of American policing. Some topics covered include policing functions, history, strategies, organizational structure, accountability measures, and effectiveness of practice.
9. Criminal Investigation
Online learners will cover topics like crime scene searches, history of criminal investigation, theories and problems, collection, recording, preservation of physical evidence, interrogation methods, sources of information, impartial information gathering, technological and scientific aid to investigating, identification of Modus Operandi, and development of confidential informants.
10. Theories of Crime and Criminal Law
This course introduces students to philosophical foundations, covering topics such as the theories that address criminal offending and crime prevention. In this class, criminal justice students will learn to evaluate these theories within the American criminal justice system.
Top 5 Free Online College Criminal Justice Courses
Instead of paid online criminal justice courses, there are free education courses from massive open online courses (MOOC). Most classes are affiliated with universities and colleges. They are short and can be completed quickly. Some also offer assignments and tests to evaluate mastery of the concepts.
- Introduction to International Criminal Law | Case Western Reserve University – Coursera. This course covers topics such as piracy, terrorism, justice, and specialized defenses. Online learners will also learn how to gain custody of an accused person and maintain control of the courtroom.
- Understanding Violence | Emory University – Coursera. This course covers the statistics of violence, cultural contexts, and global perspectives. It takes around 15 hours to complete and is a self-paced, beginner-level course.
- Terrorism and Counterterrorism | Georgetown University – edX. This course covers the dangers of terrorism and the response of the international community to counter-terrorism. It is a seven-week course that can be self-paced.
- Justice | Harvard University – edX. This course focuses on political and moral philosophy, with excerpts from John Stuart Mill, John Locke, John Rawls, Immanuel Kant, and Aristotle. It also covers articles and court cases and addresses the social and criminal justice space, equality, and affirmative action.
- Writing for Social Justice | University of California, Berkeley – edX. This course covers how writing impacts political, social, and personal issues. Students also learn about how writing can change opinions in the public arena.
Are Online Criminal Justice College Courses Worth It?
Online criminal justice college courses are worth it because they are flexible and affordable. Students don’t need to enroll in college to take online college courses and they can later use the credits to get a criminal justice degree or job in the field if they choose to later on. Most of the courses are self-paced, so distance learners can maintain a regular schedule.
Once hired, those with criminal justice studies in their background can enter into a number of rewarding careers in law enforcement, including police or detective work, which provides an annual salary of $67,290.
Online College Criminal Justice Courses FAQ
No, the courses are not hard. They’re the same as what a full-time student takes on campus and can also lead to a criminal justice degree. These classes are often easier for online learners because they have more time to learn the fundamentals. Most criminal justice programs also come with study materials and practice scenarios for hands-on experience.
No, criminology is not the same as criminal justice. They are alike because their career paths often overlap. However, they have some notable differences. Criminal justice focuses on law enforcement operations and systems, while criminology touches on psychological and sociological criminal behavior.
Criminal justice is categorized as a social science or forensic science. Criminal justice graduates can find work as correctional officers, private investigators, law enforcement officers, criminal investigators, crime scene investigators, and other professions.
Yes, an online criminal justice course is worth it for most people. Distance learners can begin their college education or earn college credits to apply toward a degree such as an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or an advanced degree. Also, most education courses are self-paced.
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