Criminal justice is the study of the structures, functions, and policies related to apprehending, persecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating individuals who have violated criminal laws. Criminal justice is a broad subject of legal and police studies that can be broken down into many concentrations including punishment and corrections, criminology, American court systems, juvenile crime, law enforcement, homeland security, among others. Although the study of criminal justice offers a variety of concentrated disciplines, criminal justice at its core involves the general examination of crime, justice, and criminal behavior. Additionally, basic criminal justice programs introduce students to the ethics of police work and the responsibilities of the American court systems.
Unlike some other university degrees, criminal justice programs are not accredited by a specific programmatic accrediting agency. However, you can typically expect to receive the same foundational education in criminal justice from most colleges that offer this major. While programmatic accreditation does not exist, it is important to ensure your online criminal justice courses are from an institution recognized by a regional or national accrediting body. Accredited schools often have professors who have earned a Ph.D. in criminal justice and have extensive experience working in law enforcement or other legal fields. Because criminal justice courses are based on theoretical studies and do not require a significant amount of hands-on work, online courses in criminal justice are a viable option for learning more about this field. An online criminal justice course will introduce you to the principles of criminal law and the American justice system and provide you with a thorough understanding of criminal behaviors and punishments.
Online courses in criminal justice are helpful for learning the theories and principles behind police work and the judicial system. Students enrolled in these courses can anticipate being able to answer questions such as:
Before you enroll in an online criminal justice class, it is important to determine whether the institution has a strong reputation and is recognized for its criminal justice program. You should also check to see if the criminal justice professors at the school have extensive field experience in addition to their academic credentials. Reading student reviews of the class or program you plan to attend can also give you a better idea of the school’s reputation.
If you are interested in online courses in criminal justice, you may find the following list of open courseware helpful. Although free, these courses usually do not offer the benefit of interaction with a professor. The resources below consist of lecture-based courses, videos, exam outlines, and other materials that can help determine your interest in college criminal justice programs.