5 Areas of Study for an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

Image for our list of 5 Areas of Study for an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

  • Ethics in Criminal Justice
  • Juvenile Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminology
  • Forensic Science

Associate degree programs focusing in criminal justice are becoming very popular as qualified candidates for jobs in this field become more necessary in the workforce. Whether a student is looking for an online program, on-campus program, or a hybrid degree, there are many opportunities for a higher education in criminal justice. Read on to learn more about five of the common areas of study you will encounter while earning an associate degree in criminal justice.

Ethics in Criminal Justice

The study of ethics in criminal justice focuses on how ethics relates to leadership positions within the professions umbrellaed under the label of “criminal justice.” Ethics courses teach potential law enforcement, corrections, and other criminal justice candidates to understand and apply critical thinking and decision making in an ethical and just manner at any level of their future organization.

Juvenile Law

Juvenile law studies focus on the specialized area of working with minor aged individuals within the criminal justice system. There are many differences between how the juvenile and adult justice systems function from constitutional rights and due process to types of punishments, court philosophies, and other important focal points. In this area of study, students learn about youth classifications and how they apply in all areas of criminal justice.

Criminal Law

Criminal law courses cover the basic laws used to prosecute and defend within the criminal justice system. Students learn about statutes that determine what is and isn’t a criminal act (common law), the psychology behind crimes, and how typical defense strategies come in to play.


Criminology is a fascinating area of study that looks at the many layers of criminal behavior and helps future criminal justice specialists understand all aspects of the phenomena of criminal behavior. A field of study beneficial to all criminal justice professionals, criminology focuses on the patterns and behaviors surrounding crime, how cultural and economic trends can play a part in these trends (and why), as well as show students how crime can be prevented. his course covers basics in criminology theories, patterns and behaviors. Students explore statistics and research methods, sociology, psychology, and other fields to better understand the criminal mind on all levels.

Forensic Science

If your desired criminal justice profession will involve spending time on a crime scene, or around evidence, your associates degree in criminal justice will need to be designed with some courses in forensic science. Core forensic science studies include DNA analysis, crime scene investigations, sciences such as biology, chemistry, and computer sciences, as well as basics like fingerprint taking, and proper collection or handling of evidence. Because of the importance of evidence within the criminal justice system, professionals who work with evidence must have a background of proper training in forensic science.


Whether you are seeking a career as a corrections officer or probation officer, or are fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a law enforcement professional, there are many rewarding careers within the criminal justice field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What are you waiting for? Take the next step towards earning your associates degree in criminal justice today.

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