Online Certificate Programs in Criminal Justice

Penn Foster Career School
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  • Education Prerequisites:A pre-degree criminal justice studies certificate requires a high school degree or GED equivalent, while a graduate-level certificate requires a bachelor’s degree.
  • Professional Prerequisites:None
  • Average Program Length: 6 months (full time); 1 year (part time)

Earning a criminal justice studies certificate from an accredited online criminal justice certificate program is ideal for anyone who is looking to work in, or who is already working in, the fields of public security, criminal corrections, or social work. There are two types of criminal justice certificates: pre-degree and post-degree. By getting your pre-degree certificate, you will be better prepared for your first entry-level position in the criminal justice sector, and you will also get a head start on any further possible undergraduate studies. Although online certificates are not required for entry-level positions, many employers do prefer to hire job seekers with criminal justice certificates. Students working on their graduate-level criminal justice certificate do so to prepare for a master’s degree program, as course credits will transfer.

Completing an Online Certificate Program in Criminal Justice

Coursework varies depending on the school you choose to attend and the certificate level you are seeking. Pre-degree certificate programs in criminal justice usually require students to take courses in criminology, sociology and criminal law. Most pre-degree programs take one full semester to complete, if attending full time. Online graduate certificate programs in criminal justice usually teach students how to analyze and interpret criminal justice policies and theories, preparing them for master’s level studies. A student attending the program full time may finish the graduate certificate program in one semester.

Because the courses required for a criminal justice certificate or degree do not require labs or internships, it is absolutely possible to complete your studies entirely online. If you choose to earn your certificate online, be sure to do your homework. The best online certificate programs allow students to easily communicate with their teachers and peers and require readings and assignments to be completed by a deadline. You should also be sure to only apply for a program that is accredited.

What Your Online Certificate in Criminal Justice Can Do For You

If you are interested in working in public security, criminal corrections, social work or any other position related to criminal justice, a criminal justice certificate can help you gain an advantage in your career. The pre-degree certificate is perfect for anyone who wants to begin working before they earn their bachelor’s degree and will help them stand out when they go to apply for their first job. A graduate-level certificate is ideal for students with bachelor’s degrees who may or may not already be working in the field and want to earn a few credits toward a future master’s degree. Because most entry and mid-level criminal justice positions do not require degrees, a certificate is more cost effective and practical for those who want to begin working without entirely neglecting their education. If in the future someone decides to go back and get their degree, the courses completed in certificate programs are transferable and count toward the requirements for most criminal justice degree programs.

There are several career routes for students who earn a certificate in criminal justice. Example job titles include police officer, correction facility officer, parole officer, social worker, special agent, private detective, private security officer and crime investigator, among other titles. Opportunities abound and are available on the local, state and federal government level, as well as in the private sector. Although most entry-level positions do not require a bachelor’s degree, many positions require potential employees to pass physical and written tests before hire. Several administrative positions may require a bachelor’s degree or higher, but these can be earned as you progress in your career.

Online Certificate Programs by School

Herzing University
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Herzing University - Herzing's online certificate program offers the flexibility, personalization, and support you need to succeed in today's ever-changing job market. Discover Herzing's hands-on coursework, experienced faculty, and student-first approach which sets them apart from other online universities.

Ultimate Medical Academy
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Ultimate Medical Academy -
Get personalized attention with UMA.
One-on-one tutoring, pre-interview coaching, job search assistance, alumni services—they’re all included in Ultimate Medical Academy’s competitively priced tuition. As a nationally accredited school, we provide quality career training online and at our two campuses in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Let’s talk about your needs, your career goals and how UMA can help you succeed.

Gainful employment information can be found at and includes information on tuition, loan debt, completion, placement and occupations.

Penn Foster

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Penn Foster Career School - Penn Foster Career School offers over 85 online career diploma and certificate programs that can help students prepare for a career path in some of today’s fastest growing fields. If you are looking for training in allied health, business, education, or the trades, then Penn Foster Career School is a great choice. Penn Foster Career School is regionally accredited by the Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.