What Should I look for in a Criminal Justice Program?


criminal justice student

Criminal Justice is an exciting field that can take your career in many directions. Whether your passion is in policing, courts, probation, forensics or working in federal law enforcement, an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice can lead to interesting work that helps to keep our cities, towns, and our whole country safe.

Many schools offer degrees in Criminal Justice, but they don’t all teach what you need in a way that fits your life. Here’s what you need to consider as you research universities that deserve to be on your shortlist.

Are the Criminal Justice Courses Relevant?

Even if you already know the area of Criminal Justice that will be your focus, you need a solid foundation to understand the big picture. That means you’ll want to take courses in investigation, private security, conflict resolution, forensics, homeland security, juvenile justice and courtroom procedures.

How long has the university offered Criminal Justice degrees?

If a school’s program is brand new, you may want to opt instead for an institution with a good track record of educating students for the field. Likewise, if the program is online, find out how long they have offered online classes. For example, did they just start during the pandemic or have they been around for many years?

Is the Criminal Justice degree program affordable?

Compare cost against value. Is financial aid available? Can you transfer credits from another institution to save time and money? How generous is their transfer policy? Can you get credit for courses and life/work experience? Are there reduced tuition rates for military students? Are there ways you can save money throughout your college journey?

Are Criminal Justice classes offered online so you can earn while you learn?

Especially if you already work in the field, online classes can offer a flexible and convenient alternative to traditional classes. And you can take what you learn in your virtual classroom and put it to immediate use on the job. Be sure to ask if the courses will be taught asynchronously or synchronously. Synchronous courses allow you to attend class at your convenience.

What are the qualifications of the instructors?

Ask about faculty credentials and what real-world experience they have in Criminal Justice. You want experienced, knowledgeable instructors who are also adept at teaching and helping you develop your skills.

Are there student support services?

If a college program is all online, you need to be sure there is tech support available 24/7. You’ll also want to choose a college that provides you academic and career support. And don’t forget to ask about library services, and electronic reference materials if it is an online program.

Is the school regionally accredited?

Accreditation ensures the program and school meet strict educational standards. Regional accreditation is considered more comprehensive than national accreditation and allows you to more easily transfer credits if you choose to go on to another degree.

Does the timeline to finish the degree fit with your future goals?

Look for an institution that offers frequent start dates. Whether you attend full or part-time, you’ll want to finish in the shortest amount of time possible so you can hit the ground running in a great new career.


At National American University, we offer online Associate and Bachelor of Science degrees in Criminal Justice that will help prepare you for an exciting career. Contact us today for more information.


Online programs for maximum flexibility
NAU students receiving transfer or experiential learning credit
Relevant degree and certificate programs
Years of online educational excellence