What Will I Study in an Online Criminal Justice Degree Program?

Considering a career in law enforcement or corrections? You might wonder about the subjects you will study in an online criminal justice degree program. You’ll take a combination of required core classes that teach you the fundamentals, and electives that allow you to pursue an area of interest.

With these, you will develop the skills and knowledge you need for a career in law enforcement or corrections.

Core Coursework for Criminal Justice Majors

Many of the subjects you study in an online criminal justice degree program are part of a major core curriculum. These are the classes all of the school’s criminal justice majors must take to graduate. Often, core classes include introductory to advanced studies in the subjects that are most essential in the field.

According to U.S. News & World Report, criminal justice programs typically include core coursework in topics such as:

  • law enforcement
  • corrections
  • research methods
  • the justice system and criminology

When you complete this coursework, you will understand:

  • the law and practices of law enforcement
  • how the justice system operates
  • criminal behaviors and their motivations
  • the punishment of crime

Just a few of the core subjects you will study in an online criminal justice degree program may include:

  • abnormal psychology
  • criminal procedure
  • crisis negotiation
  • drugs and crime
  • investigating cybercrime
  • issues and trends in today’s criminal justice system
  • ethics in law enforcement
  • law enforcement security
  • crime control policies
  • introduction to courts
  • women and crime
  • politics of criminal justice
  • violence in the family

Specializations and Concentrations in Online Criminal Justice Programs

Of course, you will take classes beyond a narrow list of core courses. In addition to general education courses that give you an understanding of a breadth of topics, you will have electives. These are courses that you get to choose. Many online criminal justice programs give you the opportunity to use these elective classes to develop in-depth knowledge of a specific subject area. This area of focus is often called an academic concentration or specialization.

Different online criminal justice degree programs offer various concentrations. Some of the specialized subjects you may study in an online criminal justice degree program include:

  • homeland security and emergency management
  • cybercrime security
  • criminal psychology
  • forensic crime scene investigation
  • juvenile justice
  • strategic intelligence

You might also develop an academic concentration in more general topics, like:

  • human services
  • supervision and management
  • public administration
  • business administration and management

The concentration you pursue can help determine the course of your career. It’s important to find an online degree program that offers a concentration that matches your interests and ambitions.

The subjects you study in an online criminal justice degree program will prepare you for success,whether you intend to work as:

  • a police officer
  • a federal law enforcement agent
  • a private detective
  • a parole officer
  • a correctional officer.

Related resource:

Top 30 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris