Online Criminal Justice & Legal Studies Graduate Programs are available for students who need a convenient learning format. If you are currently working or live too far from a Criminal Justice School, distance-learning is always an option. From crime scenes and cyber security, the neighborhood to the country itself, the court systems and institutions that uphold the law are all areas of potential study. If you have a desire to serve your community, research criminal behavior, investigate crime; analyze policy, practice law or any number of other possible professions, finding the right online graduate degree in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies is worth exploring.
Graduate-level study is often considered more specialized, in that you are able to really choose a direction within Criminal Justice & Legal Studies to pursue. There are a growing number of options for online Criminal Justice graduate degrees, including masters, doctorates and graduate certificates. If you’re considering an Online Criminal Justice & Legal Studies program, paralegal or legal studies, there are a few things to bear in mind. Weigh your own personal pros and cons, rather than assuming these terms are fixed. Everyone has different needs.
Flexibility: Some current professionals find online study more flexible. There is an element of self-pacing involved, where you get to fit your courses around your busy schedule rather than commuting to graduate school.
Format: The exact format of your program is likely to vary between institutions and depend on the field of study.
Fully online: If a program in 100% online, it means the method of delivery is completely computer-based. Courses are accessible via a web portal, your assignments are submitted online and you access virtual libraries for research. Basically study from wherever you are with reliable Internet.
Partially online: Sometimes this refers to a hybrid program where courses are online but there are also on-campus courses, delivered on weekends, evenings or as summer residency for instance. It could also mean that your program involves some fieldwork, internship, group projects or laboratory work. For instance, for graduate programs in cybersecuruty or forensic science, a partially online format may work best because you need the hands-on experience in the laboratory.
Asynchronous: This means that your courses are pre-recorded. You can hit pause and rewind, access them 24/7 etc.
Synchronous: This means that you have to be present for live-streaming webinars.
Interactions: Online programs are interactive in that you may have to participate in online group discussions, or that you do get to web chat with your professors or supervisors, correspond through emails and so on. BUT, online study reduces, if not cuts outs, face-to-face interactions in real time. In other words, you may improve your computer skills but not your interpersonal ones.
Independence: If you study well on your own, and are self-motivated, go for it. Chances are, if you are motivated enough as a current professional, to pursue a graduate degree, you have what it takes to advance your knowledge in the virtual ambience.
Accreditation: Important. If you are looking into a law degree, it should be accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). True, when online education initially began trending, there were a glut of schools offering grad degrees. Not what you want. Look into accredited online programs. Unsure whether a school is accredited? Verify with your regional accreditation association for that school’s name. Some Criminal Justice colleges may be too new to have accreditation, but your association should be able to tell you if they have a legitimate charter. The best assurance of a quality graduate degree is college accreditation.
Ok, so you have the basics of what an online program involves. What do you want to study? Online Criminal Justice and Legal Studies involve different subjects, as you can see on the GradSchools.com directory. You can actually search for online criminal justice degrees by area of concentration.
As a broad field, criminal justice programs and careers commonly fall into three main categories:
Criminal Justice and Criminalistics: These areas focus on evaluating the physical evidence of crime scenes, but also include computer crimes, criminology and cybersecurity.
DID YOU KNOW? criminology explores the nature of crime and prevention, while criminalistics involves the collection and analysis of evidence.
Forensic Science: Studies the application of scientific principles to provide evidence in criminal cases, analyze crime scenes (drug analysis, DNA, fingerprints etc.)
Homeland Security/National Defense: Includes border patrol, immigration, leadership roles, understanding global security.
Law Enforcement, Policing and Investigation: Includes federal law enforcement, emergency management, administration, security management.
Legal Studies: includes law and public policy, taxation, and other areas
Paralegal Studies: includes legal research and career-focused programs
Online graduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies come in different degree levels. Once you have selected a program concentration, you can then look into the appropriate degree.
Online Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies typically require two years of study past an undergraduate degree. Some of the listings you might find could include: online M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies or Online Master of Science in Public Safety Administration, but make sure to browse all listings. You also can find online criminal justice programs that don't require you to take the GRE!
Online Doctorate Degrees in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies: as terminal degrees, these entail research and might lend themselves well to an online format. Some listings might include: Online Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration-Criminal Justice, Online Doctor of Management-Homeland Security, or PsyD-Criminology and Justice Studies online.
Online Graduate Certificates in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies: for those who want to boost credentials and skills in a specific area, either post masters or post bachelors, review listings such as online Post-Bachelor’s certificate in Intelligence or online Graduate Certificate: Homeland Security and Pathway to Paralegal online Post-Baccalaureate Certificate. Certainly just highlights!
Searching is easy on GradSchools.com. It is likely that you already have a sense of what direction you wish to pursue. If all that stands between you and a graduate degree is the impossibility of attending a traditional campus program, distance-learning takes the ‘im’ out to reveal the word: possibility, so take that next step now!