Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree Online [2022 Guide]

Ready to start your journey?

Does the thought of getting your accelerated criminal justice degree online excite you? Do you want to fight crime, catch the bad guys, and ensure justice is served?

Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree

Going into criminal justice can help you feel good about the work that you do.

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You may also enjoy a growing job market of 8%  in the protective service field and an average annual salary of $43,710 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Types of Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree

The idea of criminal justice is often exciting to people, and the types of degrees you can get in criminal justice can be exciting as well because there is so much variety.

Which of these sounds the most appealing to you?

  • Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice—Cyber Security
  • Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice—Crime Scene Investigation
  • Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice—Law Enforcement
  • Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice—Juvenile Justice
  • Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice—Homeland Security

You don’t have to settle for boring and ordinary. If you have skills that could make the world a safer place, one of these criminal justice degree programs might be the perfect fit for you.

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Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree Programs Overview

An accelerated criminal justice degree can help prepare you to fight crime and keep the world a safer place. You may already have the raw skills, like:

  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership
  • Great verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • A high physical fitness level

These are skills that can help make you a great candidate for a criminal justice degree. Also, you need to have a strong desire to help others and enforce the law.

The classes in criminal justice programs will vary, but will likely include options such as:

  • American Corrections
  • Criminal Law
  • Cybersecurity and Policy
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Ethics in Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Homeland Security
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • The Laws of Evidence
  • Terrorism and Organized Crime
  • Victimology

These classes can help prepare you for the reality of criminal law, security, justice, and crime.

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Careers with an Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree

Careers with an Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree

Becoming a police officer is not your only choice for a criminal justice degree. There are many other careers for you to consider, including:

  • Computer forensics investigator
  • Correctional officer
  • Crime scene investigator
  • FBI agent
  • Fish and game warden
  • Forensic science technician
  • Fraud investigator
  • Homicide detective
  • Private detective
  • Probation officer
  • Secret service agent
  • Security guard
  • State trooper
  • US marshal

From working in nature to working in a mall, investigating money laundering to investigating a murder scene, the options of what you might do with your criminal justice degree are quite varied. You might be working primarily on a computer screen, or you may be in a federal prison or on the road.

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The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an increase of 8% in criminal justice-related jobs over the next decade. Having a bachelor’s degree or previous law enforcement or military experience can help increase your job prospects.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some job titles and average salaries for the industry:

Careers Annual Median Salary
FBI Agents $92,080
Detective or Criminal Investigators $86,940
Transit Police $72,580
Insurance Investigators $68,270
Police Officers $65,540
Forensic Science Technicians $60,590
Local Probation Officers $59,690
Fish and Game Wardens $58,040
State Correctional Officers $53,430
Private Detective or Investigators $53,320

All of these jobs have entry-level positions, meaning that you may be able to start at the bottom of the ladder and work your way up.

The Benefits of Online Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Many students opt to take online accelerated degree programs due to the flexibility and convenience they provide. There can be great benefits to taking online accelerated programs, such as:

Start Anytime

Instead of waiting for next semester, you may be able to start right now. Many universities throughout North America offer start dates each month.

Go Faster

Traditional students spend 16 weeks attending class 2-3 times a week, but you can look into accelerated online classes to speed things up. Instead of taking 16 weeks for each class, you may enroll in 8 week accelerated online classes. Accelerated classes still cover the same material, just faster.

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Study Where You Want, When You Want

Taking classes online often means not having to show up to class at any particular location or time. You may complete your work on your schedule from the comfort of your own home.

3 Ways to Accelerate Your Criminal Justice Degree Even More

criminal justice degree student studying on her computer at home

Earning a criminal justice degree generally requires the completion of 182 credits. If you take the average 30 credit hours per year and pass all of your classes the first time, you can complete your degree in a little over 6 years.

If you’re currently in a position that has you thinking, I need a degree fast, then entering into an accelerated program and following these three tips may help you cut years off of earning your degree.

1. Test Out of College Classes and Earn Up to 1 Year of Credit

You may be able to get credits without going to class. Through the College Level Examination Program, you may earn up to 30 credits. The exams cost $89 each, plus any fees required by the testing center.

If you get 50% of the 95 multiple choice questions right on the exam, you’ll earn credits, usually 3, that many schools will allow you to put toward your degree. If needed, there are study guides available to help you prepare for each exam.

2. Get College Credit for Your Life and Work Experience and Earn Another Semester

Criminal Justice Degree college credit

Do you have previous work experience? If you completed a certification or training program, you might be eligible for college credit. Military experience may reward you with a lot of college credit.

The American Council of Education along with the US military recognize and provide credit recommendations for military service. Even your basic training might count as credit. You may apply to have your credit transferred through your Joint Services Transcript.

Even without military experience, many universities will consider your employment and past experiences for credit.

To get this consideration, you will likely need to complete an Experiential Learning Portfolio that demonstrates how you already have the knowledge for the course. Once submitted and approved, you’ll be awarded credit for your experience.

Most universities will allow up to 15 credits for prior training. That’s 5 classes you may not have to take.

3. Stay Continuously Enrolled with the Max Course Load

Accelerated Criminal Justice Degrees

The traditional college schedule allows for 30 credit hours to be completed each year. With 182 credit hours for a criminal justice degree, that may equal 6 years of sitting in class.

The trick is to take a higher number of classes. Each semester, you may take 18 credit hours, instead of 15. You may also take classes during the summer, instead of just fall and spring. That route can give you the opportunity to earn up to 54 credits in just 12 months.

Bonus: Transferring Your Existing College Credits

You might be able to use pre-existing college credit for your criminal justice degree now. Generally, as long as the program accepts transfer credits, there are just 3 criteria to check:

  • Your old college was accredited
  • You earned at least a C in the class
  • The class is applicable to your new degree

Sometimes, your classes won’t apply directly to your new degree, but you may be able to use them to fill your elective spots.

Lower Tuition Costs

screenshot of FAFSA website

Earning your degree can be expensive, but you may be able to cut down on your out-of-pocket costs. Like we mentioned previously, you may use CLEP exams to earn 30 credits.

Each 3 credit exam costs $89, plus any test center fees required, which means for around $890 you could earn up to 30 credits. That’s a lot lower than paying tuition for those 10 classes. You may also be able to earn up to 15 more credits if you have prior training.

You can further lower your expenses by taking advantage of financial aid. Typically, the first step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out what you qualify for in grants and loans. You can also research university grants and scholarships and other scholarship opportunities.

You might also qualify for state funding or work for a company that offers tuition assistance.

Criminal Justice Degree Accreditation

Criminal Justice Degree Accreditation

It is important to make sure the school your program is in is accredited by a regional board. You can check on a school’s accreditation by going to the Department of Education website and searching for your school.

If the school you are attending is regionally accredited, you can be more comfortable that your degree will be recognized by employers.

While a criminal justice program does not have to have programmatic accreditation, there are a few accreditations that would be nice to have and further ensure you’ll be receiving a quality education:

Accreditation is a sign that a school and/or program is meeting educational standards.

Is Criminal Justice a 4 Year Degree?

Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree Programs Overview

Yes, there are criminal justice degree bachelor’s degrees, which are often called 4 year degrees. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can take more or less than 4 years to complete, though. Criminal justice programs tend to be lengthier and require more classes than many other bachelor’s programs.

You might shorten your time by testing out of classes, submitting a portfolio for prior learning, and taking the max number of accelerated classes per semester.

If 4 years is too long, you may also look into a criminal justice associates degree, which typically only takes 2 years to complete.

On the other hand, you can advance your education beyond a bachelor’s and earn a masters in criminal justice. A master’s normally takes 2 additional years on top of earning your bachelor’s.

How Fast Can You Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice?

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice

If you test out of 30 credits, earn 15 credits from a portfolio for prior learning, and take 18 credits per semester (including summer), you can potentially finish in about 2.5 years.

What Is the Best Online School for Criminal Justice?

It depends on your needs as a student. One university may appeal to you over another, but as long as a school is accredited, you can rest assured that it will provide you with an education that employers and other schools will recognize.

Universities Offering Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree Online Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

American Military University

American Military University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

AMU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Anderson University

Anderson University campus

  • BA in Criminal Justice

Anderson is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

  • BS in Criminology & Criminal Justice

ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Ashland University

Ashland University campus

  • Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice

Ashland is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Aurora University

Aurora University campus

  • BA in Criminal Justice

Aurora is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Bellevue University

Bellevue University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

Bellevue is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

California Baptist University

California Baptist University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

CalBaptist is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Capella University

Capella University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

Capella is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado Christian University

Colorado Christian University campus

  • Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice

CCU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Faulkner University

Faulkner University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

Faulkner is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Florida International University

Florida International University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

FIU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

King University

King University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

King is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Lamar University

Lamar University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

Lamar is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

Liberty is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Maryville University

Maryville University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

Maryville is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Point Park University

Point Park University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

Point Park is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Portland State University

portland state university campus

  • BA in Criminal Justice
  • BS in Criminal Justice

PSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Purdue University

Purdue University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College campus

  • Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice

Rasmussen is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Southeast Missouri State University

Southeast Missouri State University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

SEMO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Stevenson University

Stevenson University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

Stevenson is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Tiffin University

Tiffin University campus

  • Bachelor of Criminal Justice – Corrections
  • Bachelor of Criminal Justice – Criminal Behavior
  • Bachelor of Criminal Justice – Criminalistics
  • Bachelor of Criminal Justice – Homeland Security
  • Bachelor of Criminal Justice – Justice Administration
  • Bachelor of Criminal Justice – Law Enforcement

Tiffin is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Oklahoma – Norman

University of Oklahoma - Norman campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

OU Norman is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of West Georgia

University of West Georgia campus

  • BS in Criminology

UWG is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

West Virginia State University

West Virginia State University campus

  • BS in Criminal Justice

WVSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Get Ready to Serve!

female cop examining findings for a crime in her office

There are heroes in real life. There are people who risk their lives to protect and serve others. They are heroes that go to work every day to do a job that makes the world a safer place. Those heroes are real.

That could be you.

Choosing a career in criminal justice doesn’t need to cost you 6 years of your life and more money than it needs to. By following the tips above, you might fly through your degree in 2.5 years and be out on the streets making a difference.

It may be hard, but it may also be worth it.

Ready to start your journey?
Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.