Accelerated Criminal Justice Degree Online [2022 Guide]

fastest criminal justice degree online

fastest criminal justice degree online

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.


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


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


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


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.


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.


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:


The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS)

Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)

Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)

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.