Criminal Justice Associates Degree Difference Between AA And AS

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Should I get An AA Or AS Difference Between AA And AS

There are many queries in the minds of students regarding the selection of AA or AS in criminal justice, both AA in criminal justice or AS in criminal justice are good options for landing into the criminal justice system however if you are planning to join technical fields such as Forensic sciences departments, you should go for an AS degree.

The curriculum that is taught to the students helps them in their career while they are performing their duties. In any case, don’t stretch too much on what degree program you should choose, both aa and as is being sought by colleges and universities which are offering a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

You might have the question in your mind, what kind of jobs can I get with an associate’s degree in criminal justice? Well, it entirely depends on the department in which you seek a job and the state in which you are planning to get the job. You are advised to check the educational requirements from the local police department, sheriff and other potential employers.

Here is the list of employers that can hire students with Associate’s AA or AS

  • Local police departments
  • State police departments
  • Customs
  • Secret Service
  • Homeland Security
  • Border Patrol
  • State warden service
  • Domestic violence shelters
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Departments of correction
  • Retail businesses
  • Insurance companies
  • Other companies that need security or investigative services

Most of the employers have the requirement of bachelor’s degree to get an advanced position in the criminal justice system if you already have an associate degree, you can think of getting enrolled in an accredited college or university for a bachelor’s degree, however, if you have planned to get a job with an associate degree, you can still get a job, but that will be a job of lower rank with slow increment in your rank.

Aa or As Criminal Justice Degree

“Aa” stands for Associate Of Arts and “As” stands for Associate Of Science. These are general transfer degrees and marks a student as equivalent to first two years of bachelor’s degree.

Abbreviation For Associates Degree In Criminal Justice

Abbreviation for Associate Of Arts Degree       : AA

Abbreviation for Associate Of Science Degree : AS

Associate degree

Associate degree takes approximately two years to complete. An associate degree services as a cornerstone for a student to earn bachelors degree. One of the glaring advantages of pursuing an associate degree is that it imparts clarity of thought and helps defining ones interest. Furthermore it does not restrict an individual to one career

Since 2007, a criminal justice associate degree has become popular among people wanting to start a career in law enforcement, corrections or security. 

It was around October of that year when most law enforcement agencies began requiring some college credits from their applicants. Now nearly half in this profession hold a criminal justice associate degree or even a bachelor’s degree. 

Getting ready for the job

An associate degree is perfect for entry-level jobs because it can be completed in two years or even less and, with the necessary training required for candidates, can already qualify you for work.

You can complete an associate degree program either online or by attending classes on campus. But with the cost of education often being restrictive, many are opting for distance learning.

For those who were able to enter the profession without a criminal justice degree, these online programs have been invaluable. At the same time, law enforcement agencies are often willing to subsidize, if not altogether sponsor, further education for their personnel.

An online degree in criminal justice can be completed at your own pace even while holding down a job. And yes, it is just as valid as if you attended traditional classes because professionals and practitioners guide you throughout the course.

A general look at the field

An associate degree can be a general program to familiarize students with the aspects of criminal justice, mainly: law enforcement, the judicial system, corrections, probation. 

From there, you can then choose to focus on a particular career such as a crime investigator, corrections officer, corporate security specialist or even homeland security officer. Or you can specialize in law and earn a certificate to work as a legal administrative assistant or paralegal, legal researcher or as a forensics technician.

The usual coursework under a criminal justice associate degree includes subjects on:

  • Legal studies
  • Sociology
  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • Forensic science
  • Public administration
  • Urban studies

With all these elements, graduates will have the background and skills relative to the criminal justice system as a whole, understanding how all the aspects related for better administration of justice and protection of the citizenry.

Online Criminal Justice schools

Most colleges and universities offering criminal justice associate degrees have both on-campus and online programs. 

Among the criminal justice schools offering online criminal justice degree programs today are:

  • Phoenix University
  • Virginia College
  • Bryant and Stratton College
  • Strayer University
  • Kaplan University
  • Colorado Technical University
  • American Intercontinental University
  • Keiser University
  • Everest University

Some have campuses with multiple locations around the United States, but with their distance learning programs, location hardly becomes a consideration in making a choice. All in the list have general criminal justice associate degree programs, while some offer certificate programs as well.

I Have A Bachelor’s Degree In Criminal Justice Now What?Detailed Answer

Benefits of joining associate program in criminal justice

Once a person completes his/her degree in criminal justice , he/she can opt for a career that is both enjoyable and meaningful. Furthermore it offers attractive salaries competitive environment and definite career. This is one of the many reasons that criminal justice jobs are high in demand. Even if the employer doesn’t have a degree requirement, an associate’s in criminal justice improves your chances of getting hired.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that positions for police officers you can expect to earn a competitive salary in criminal justice, as the BLS reports that police officers and detectives earn a median salary of $62,960.

Online Associate’s Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Online degrees can be appealing to many of us because of the flexibility it provides to us. With an online degree, you are not bound to attend the classes physically; instead, you can join them online from the comfort of your home. Secondly, online degree programs are best suitable for students who are doing some job to meet their financial expenses, yet they are keen to get higher education.

Almost every week, a new online program starts in accredited colleges. You can search for these colleges and get yourself enrolled. Before you begin looking for degree programs and Colleges, you must consider the time that is most suitable for you to attend the classes. For example, if you are occupied at your workplace during the day time, you should make sure that your nights are for your studies. In such a situation, you must consider the colleges that do not require you to log in at a particular time and attend the classes.

We have a list of 10 colleges that are offering Online associates degrees in Criminal Justice.

  • Pamlico Community College
  • Northeast Community College 
  • Hutchinson Community College
  • Indiana Wesleyan University
  • Shoreline Community College
  • South Texas College
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • Bucks County Community College
  • Bismarck State College
  • Keiser University


Expected Salary Of A Person With An Associate Degree In Criminal Justice

If you have an associate’s degree, your income depends on the department in which you get the job. We have enlisted the departments in which can hire you with an associate’s degree. Let’s now discuss the potential income if you are hired in these departments.

  • According to a 2015 report of Bureau of labour statistics, the average annual income of police officers and detectives is $60,270.
  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators have an average median salary of $ 77,210
  • Average annual Salary of Police and sheriff’s patrol is $58,320
  • Private detectives have an average annual income of $ 45,610. The average can vary depending upon the industry in which you are working.
  • The average annual Salary of correctional officers and bailiff’s is $ 41,670

Associate Degree VS Bachelor Degree In Criminal Justice

The main difference between an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree is of time duration and scope of the studies. The students of an associate degree can earn their degree in 2 years while the bachelor’s degree program is for four years.

In an associate’s degree, the main emphasis is towards a specific career, and usually, the students learn about the practical aspects of that job. The students have to attend 20 classes to complete their Associate’s degree. The classes that a student takes in an associate degree can be converted to a bachelor’s degree which means that if you have an associate degree, the duration for you to complete bachelor’s degree will be two years.

On the other hand, the bachelor’s degree takes four years to get completed, and a student will have to take the classes of 120 hours during the degree. The courses taught in a bachelor’s degree are more focused on the theoretical aspects of an area rather than focusing on one particular subject.

Degree LevelAssociate degree

Bachelor degree


Length of program

2 Years4 Years

Hours to complete the course




Degrees offered

·         Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

·         Associate of Arts (A.A.)

·         Associate of Science (A.S.)

·         Associate of Fine Arts (AFA)

·         Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)

·         Bachelor of Arts (B.A)

·         Bachelor of Science (B.S)

·         Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch)

·         Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

Why you should choose Associate of Arts (AA) in Criminal justice

The curriculum that is covered during this degree program is the first step of the ladder for serving your nation with pride. Associate of arts in criminal justice provides you with an opportunity to equip yourself with all the necessary information, practices and training that will be required for executing your duties while you are working in the criminal justice system of the country.

The aa degree in criminal justice opens two venues for you. The first one is employment opportunity in any of the criminal justice organizations, and the second avenue is advancement in academics through converting the courses for a bachelor’s degree.

So, Criminal Justice aa degree can be the best choice for people who are planning to continue their education while they are earning some extra cash.

Why you should choose Associate of Science (AS), Criminal Justice

The Associate of Science degree is best for the students who are willing to join the Criminal Justice position for more technical fields such as forensics. The degree program will equip them with more scientist theories and the Lab practices that are followed in different labs of criminal justice organizations.

The people employed at these technical positions are the backbone for any ongoing criminal investigation, For example, a criminal case cannot be solved without the help of a person who is working in a forensic sciences laboratory.

So, by doing the criminal justice degree, you would be contributing towards the nation, and your efforts will help the government in eliminating crime and doing justice with the offenders and Victims.

AA Criminal Justice Degree

An associate of arts is a relatively more traditional criminal justice degree that provides broader training in law enforcement ,as well as in liberal arts that adds dynamism to one’s educational resume and make a person a fine candidate for a bachelors or even master’s degree in the long run. Comparatively, it costs more compared to applied science degree and it takes a minimum of two years but later on in career associate of arts degree offers higher pay.
A full associates degree trains an individual in contemporary and advanced techniques for:-

  • solving crimes
  • navigating the court system
  • criminology
  • all the online communication techniques used in law enforcement.
  • person learns detecting crime
  • interviewing suspects and victims
  • preparing good quality records
  • dealing with the public

During training internships are offered that gives hands on experience in the police or legal fields. The purpose of choosing these state-of-the-art training techniques is to get an aspirant ready for a rewarding career where they can serve the public.

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Job Opportunities In AA Criminal Justice Program

The Associate of Arts degree in criminal justice will make it possible for you to get a
higher level job as :

  1. Police officer
  2. Bailiff
  3. Correction officer
  4. Youth detention counselor
  5. Narcotics officer
  6. Secret service agent or customs agent.
  7. Insurance investigator
  8. Cyber security investigator
  9. Evidence tech
  10. TSA agent
  11. Court clerk
  12. ATF agent
  13. Probation officer

Private companies also hire the graduates as a loss prevention expert or private security agent. Importantly, the degree will give a person solid background in understanding the dynamics of relationship between citizens and law enforcement officials.

Criminal Justice BA Or BS ? Detailed Answer



General Educational Requirements

  1. English
  2. Fundamentals of oral communication
  3. Humanities
  4. Behavioral/social sciences
  5. Mathematics
  6. Intro to corrections
  7. Intro to security and law enforcement
  8. Fundamentals of criminal investigation

Electives :

  1. Criminology
  2. Criminal justice internship
  3. Juvenile delinquency
  4. Applied psychology

AS Criminal Justice Degree

Students in the Associate of Science in Criminal Justice degree program learn a foundation of criminal justice that will help them succeed as professionals in the field of criminal justice, or as candidates for bachelors’ degrees. Students enrolled in Post University’s Associate of Science in Criminal Justice degree program develop skills in;-

  • Report writing so that he may be able to write appropriate report for  findings and searching sin the future
  • Fingerprinting as it is one of the vital thing needed for the forensic findings and detecting crimes.
  • Ballistic examination which is a necessary to carry out for firearms and explosive findings and investigations.
  • Crime scene investigation which is one of the core duties of the criminal justice officer.
  • Students will gain well-rounded knowledge in the areas of law enforcement, forensic Science, corporate security, criminal investigation, and department of corrections.
  •  Graduates of Post University’s Associate of Science in Criminal Justice degree program are prepared for a variety of career options at the federal, state and local levels of law enforcement.
  • Many students opt to continue their studies and earn a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree.
  • Student will define and describe the structure of the American Criminal Justice System which is very important as you must need you understand US constitution for establishing and implementing rules and regulations.
  • Students will list and describe U.S. Constitution (Bill of Rights) provisions and how they apply to criminal laws and procedures.
  • Students will demonstrate effective communication on a college level to write and articulate criminal justice principles.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of crime and punishment.
  • Students will identify principles and procedures as they relate to their ethical and professional responsibility.


  • College writing
  • Literature and composition
  • Intro to communication
  • Intro to computing
  • Liberal arts
  • Humanities
  • Social sciences
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Majors
  • Introduction To criminal justice
  • Intro to law enforcement
  • Intro to corrections
  • Intro to security
  • Criminal law

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