If you are considering a career change and are interested in obtaining an online Criminal Justice degree, there are several distance learning institutions you can apply to.  Choosing the correct one for you is another story.  Whether you apply to traditional or online university, balancing work and family life is time-consuming enough as it is; not to mention the financial responsibilities we all face.  When you add in an extra factor, you need to be certain you are making the right choices.

Most law enforcement agencies, including the police forces need a minimum of an associate degree as a pre-requisite for employment.  Specialised positions will need a Bachelor's degree.  The more time you are able to put into your degree, the more your financial rewards will be at the end of your study.  Even if there is a traditional university or college nearby, you may want to consider distance learning to get an online Criminal Justice degree.

Will You Need to Visit the Campus?

Choosing to Study for an Online Criminal Justice DegreeCredit: imelenchon @ morgeFile

Due to the nature of the job an online Criminal Justice degree will get you, practicals may be required.  One of the important things you will need to take into account when choosing an online degree program is how often you will need to be away from home and for how long.  You may need to look at a program that is closer to your home if you are required to travel for practicals on a regular basis.

Conversely, not all online Criminal Justice degree programs require such a high level of hands on training.  These programs focus more on theory and the jobs these online Criminal Justice degrees will apply to are different.  Although you may not have a solid career path in mind when you begin your studies, you may want to make sure that you will have the flexibility to decide between a field job and a desk job.  You may want to consider starting with an Associate degree if fewer campus trips are required at this level.  This makes it easier to change your career path later.

Will It Be Cheaper to Choose an Online Criminal Justice Degree Program?Working to Get an Online Criminal Justice DegreeCredit: cohdra @ morgueFile

Believe it or not, but online degree programs can be just as expensive and sometimes even more expensive than a traditional classroom program.  Maintaining an effective online portal that aids students learning requires highly skilled employees.  In addition to tuition costs, keep in mind that you will still need textbooks.  You may even find that you need more supplementary materials as you are not able to discuss concepts with other students as easily.

What Other Classes Does your Online Criminal Justice Degree Require?

Depending on the program and degree level that you choose, you may be required to enroll in general education classes.  This normally applies when you are studying for a Bachelor's degree and distance learning is not going to allow for you to avoid these credits.  The main reason is that every Bachelor's program, whether it is an online Criminal Justice degree or another degree must include an amount of classes for accreditation.  If you have no previous higher education, you may want to shop around for courses which allow for you to study general interest subjects you are interested in.

How Can Time Zones Assist Me?The Scales of Justice: Get an Online Criminal Justice DegreeCredit: southernfried @ morgueFile

In some cases an online Criminal Justice degree program in another state may be better suited to your schedule.  If you are in Washington State and your distance learning university is in Pennsylvania, you may have time every morning to get up and take a class while the rest of your home is still asleep.  If you are attempting to earn an online Criminal Justice degree, you will need to learn to balance a busy schedule.  In this instance, time zones can help you.  However, if you are considering a university where you can log on at any time for a class, then when regular class times are will be less important to you.

Can You Choose Your Own Work Load When Studying For an Online Criminal Justice Degree?

Some online distance learning universities require you take a minimum class load each semester.  It is possible that you may not be able to keep up with this as you do have other things going on in your life.  If you feel that you can only take one class at a time or even skip a semester due to the other commitments in your life, you may need to look for a university whose enrollment schedules are as flexible as your schedule need to be.

Is There Adequate Support for Distance Learning Students?

Regardless of where you study and how many classes you are taking towards your online criminal justice degree, you will want the full support of your university behind you.  Just because you are not on campus does not mean you don't need the support of advisors, professors and financial aid offices.  The support services available to you as a distance learner may even be more important than those offered to traditional students.  Take the time to figure out what your preferred institution offers and whether you are comfortable with this.

Does the Institution Offer Different Levels of Certification for Online Criminal Justice Degrees?Graduate With an Online Criminal Justice DegreeCredit: hmm360 @ morgueFile

You may already know that you are interested in completing a Bachelors from an online Criminal Justice degree program, but you may want to start by obtaining an Associate degree.  Look for an online distance learning institution which offers Associates degrees as well as Bachelor's and possibly even higher.  You may not plan on using your Associates because you will continue with more education, however you may find that your associates makes it financially easier to complete your Bachelors.  Not only will certain classes work as credit towards your next degree, but you may find it easier to get financial aid for further education or even a raise at work.  Should you ever find yourself in a situation where you can no longer afford to study, you may be able to claim a certificate or Associates degree for the work you have put in already.

If you are considering an online Criminal Justice degree program, you may want to check out the programs available at places as diverse as Kaplan University, Penn State or the University of Phoenix.  All three are highly acclaimed for their online criminal justice degrees.  Make sure you choose a program that is going to further your career options - that you can attend in your pyjamas and you are on the right path.