Online Criminal Justice Degree Courses

In this program you will investigate both the social and legal sides of working in the criminal justice system. By examining topics in forensics, psychology, crime prevention, law, terrorism, the correctional system, and law, you will develop the skills and gain the knowledge needed to build an effective career.

Below you will find the courses for this program beginning with the introductory courses. You have a choice in this program, either to take a standard program composed of major course requirements, or you may choose to add a specialization. Please note that you must complete the major course requirements' capstone course before you can begin any specialization. Each specialization consists of four (4) courses, each worth three (3) credits.

Introductory Courses
Major Course Requirements

Introductory Courses *

All Bachelor degree-seeking students with zero (0) traditional college-level transferable credits are required to successfully complete the Student Success Orientation prior to enrolling in credit-bearing coursework. Following successful completion of orientation, students are required to successfully complete EXP 105 Personal Dimensions of Education as their first course. Students entering with twenty-four (24) or more transferable, traditional semester credits are required to successfully complete PSY 202 Adult Development and Life Assessment as their first course. PSY 202 is designed to help experienced students acclimate to the online college environment.

Student Success Orientation 

The orientation is designed to provide students with a complete overview of the Ashford University experience, prepare them for success in their courses, and help them to self evaluate their readiness to succeed in an online classroom setting. Students will be instructed on Ashford University policies and the learner resources that are available to them through interactive videos and assessments. Students enrolled in orientation must successfully complete all assigned activities.

EXP 105 Personal Dimensions of Education 

This course is designed to help adult learners beginning their university studies to achieve academic success. Students will explore learning theories, communication strategies, and personal management skills. Adult learners will develop strategies for achieving success in school and work. Students will also be introduced to the University's institutional outcomes and learning resources. Effective for courses beginning January 1, 2013, and after, a minimum grade of C- is required to meet course requirements.

PSY 202 Adult Development & Life Assessment 

This course presents adult development theory and links theoretical concepts of life and learning through a process of psychometric assessment and reflection. Both classical and contemporary adult development theories are examined. These theories then provide the paradigm for self-analysis and life learning, including a plan for personal, professional and academic learning. Effective for courses beginning January 1, 2013, and after, a minimum grade of C- is required to meet course requirements.

Major Course Requirements

(36 credits, all courses are 3 credits. Courses are listed in the recommended sequence.)

SOC 120 Introduction to Ethics and Social Responsibility
This course introduces the basic ethical concepts and explores philosophic perspectives for understanding the meaning of social responsibility. Topics include ethical theories, the role of government, the role of corporations, environmental issues, and ethical integrity.

POL 303 The American Constitution
This course is a study of the Constitution of the United States and its role in American history and government. The study covers the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, its subsequent amendment and interpretation, and its contemporary role in American politics and government.

CRJ 201 Introduction to Criminal Justice
This course provides an analysis of the criminal justice system focusing on the police, courts, and corrections.

SOC 305 Crime & Society
The course considers the basic sociological theories and research findings concerning crime. The punishment and corrections process, organized crime, corporate crime, the police, the courts and the impact of crime on the victim are examined.

SOC 333 Research Methods
This course examines quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods and associated data interpretation within the context of research, policy and practice within the social sciences. This course also examines the relationship between research, policy and/or theory. Students will examine types of data, measurement scales, hypotheses, sampling, probability, and varied research designs for research in the social sciences and related disciplines.

CRJ 308 Psychology of Criminal Behavior
An integrated course applying the research and methodology of psychology and sociology to the understanding of criminal conduct. Theories of psychology are explored including: biological, developmental, cognitive, social learning and psychoanalytic. The sociological concepts of social process and structure, social control and social conflict are introduced.

CRJ 305 Crime Prevention
This course explores strategies of crime prevention including programs designed to reduce opportunities to commit crime; programs to alleviate demoralizing community social and economic conditions that foster criminal behavior; programs to improve police/community cooperation; and, programs to educate young people as to likely consequences of criminal behavior.

CRJ 301 Juvenile Justice
This course describes prevalent patterns of juvenile delinquency, relates these patterns to theories of child and adolescent development, and examines various theories pertaining to the causes of criminal behavior among juveniles. In addition, this course surveys the roles of police, courts and delinquency intervention programs in the administration of juvenile justice. Emphasis will be given to strategies of prevention and early intervention.

CRJ 306 Criminal Law & Procedure
A survey of constitutional rights, police compliance to constitutional rights, and constitutional amendments that specifically apply to the individual. The course examines the application of these rights in the enforcement, investigation, and adjudication of specific crimes.

CRJ 311 Forensics
Forensic science applies scientific methodology to crime scene investigation and crime solving. This course analyzes techniques of crime scene investigation and the lawful gathering of evidence. Emphasis is placed upon the Federal Rules of Evidence, including the admissibility of physical evidence at trial, as well as the role of forensic science in the criminal justice system and the identification, collection and preservation of physical evidence (chain of custody issues).

CRJ 303 Corrections
An analysis of correctional procedures and institutions, especially jails, prisons, parole and probation is the focus of this course. Other topics include inmate subcultures, rehabilitation and prisonization.

CRJ 422 Criminal Justice Capstone
Students will review all learning objectives achieved throughout previous course work and develop a comprehensive, focused study of a modern criminal justice issue while applying solutions and predictions for future trends in criminal and social justice. Successful students will focus on the pragmatic application of principles and theories which guide criminal justice practice in the United States.


You may also choose to delve deeper into other areas of criminal justice when you add a specialization to your degree program. A specialization consists of four (4) courses, each worth three (3) credits each. These courses are taught online as part of your degree program. Choose from the following specializations:

Corrections Management

CRJ 461 Corrections Administration and Management
This course evaluates and develops the competencies necessary in corrections management and administration at all levels. Topics include strategic planning, risk assessment, effective leadership strategies, and current issues in corrections management. Students gain an understanding of the structure of the correctional facility as an organization. Ethical, legal, and social implications of corrections administration are discussed in detail.

CRJ 463 Contemporary Corrections Issues
This course focuses on a broad range of contemporary concerns and topics in criminal justice such as racism in sentencing, racial profiling, police use of deadly force, national drug control policy, community policing, court authorized electronic intercepts, and prosecutorial discretion. Students will research current criminal justice issues and make analytical observations using concepts and methodologies learned in the class.

CRJ 465 Corrections and Incarceration
This course examines approaches of correctional facilities and provides an overview of historic and contemporary philosophies and practices in the American Penal System. Treatment programs, prisoners' rights, intermediate sanctions, and intuitional management are among the topics discussed, as well as correctional issues pertaining to race/ethnicity and women.

CRJ 467 Probation and Parole
The purpose and procedures pertaining to probation and parole are analyzed in this course. Topics include pre-sentence investigation, supervision of probationers, parole administration and services, treatment theory, juvenile services, and parole officers. Students are introduced to such new concepts as community-based corrections, the justice model, and determinate sentencing and their impact on traditional policy and practice.


CRJ 451 Homicide Investigation and Evidence Gathering
This course provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary for the resolution of homicide investigations. A historical overview is provided and current topics are explored. Topics include criminal behavior, the role of the crime laboratory, DNA testing, and medical/legal causes of death. Students will also be introduced to policies and procedures for evaluating and gathering evidence, with attention to blood stain and physical evidence and the impact of physical force on bodies and objects.

CRJ 453 Criminal Profiling
This course defines the motivators and environmental influences leading to criminal behavior, as well as the patterns of offending. Students are introduced to profiling approaches and techniques and their relationship to crime solving.

CRJ 455 Criminal Law
This course provides an in-depth analysis of criminal law. The principles of criminal liability are emphasized as well as the actions, mental state, and circumstances that are common to individuals committing crimes against society, persons, or to property.

CRJ 457 Forensic Evidence and the Law
Students are exposed to the historical and contemporary contexts in which arguments are made about the quality of forensic evidence and the legal burden of proof in criminal litigation. Methods and strategies for the gathering, analyzing, and application of forensic evidence are discussed. This course examines the principles and practices of crime scene investigation as well as the procedures for the collection, preservation, documentation, and analysis of physical evidence.

Homeland Security

CRJ 441 Homeland Defense
This course will examine the boundaries of the national security mission by evaluating the threats, actors, and organizational structures and resources affecting the security of the United States.

CRJ 443 Intelligence and Homeland Security
This course examines the relationship between intelligence and homeland security strategy during the 20th century with emphasis placed on the Cold War. Using a case study approach, students will analyze past and present national security issues from an intelligence perspective.

CRJ 445 Consequence Management: Terrorism Preparation & Response
This course addresses the potential results of nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare and incidents. Topics include public health consequences, emergency planning and response measures, detection and management technologies, and vulnerabilities. Course objectives include examination of the historical uses of chemical and biological weapons and the impacts of chemical and biological weapons.

CRJ 447 Homeland Security Organization
Students will examine federal, state, local, private, and other organizational structures involved in homeland security. The course focuses on development of homeland security from early to modern times with an emphasis on the emerging homeland security structure and culture.

Political Science & Government

POL 319 State & Local Government
This course examines the structure and processes of state and local governments and their related current problems and issues. There is a focus on the effect of Federalism and its effect on States.

POL 310 Environmental Policies
Environmental Policies examines the political, social, and economic implications of environmental policy in the United States and the global environment. It, also, explores ways in which policy decisions can serve to protect the environment.

POL 355 International Relations
The course in international relations is the study of relations between different nations of the world with an emphasis on understanding the political implications of international security matters and the international political economy. The topical emphasis on nationalism, diplomacy, conflict, international organizations and actors, human rights, political economy, and key global issues offers insights into the principles of identity, cooperation, and the use of power in an international context.

POL 411 Political Behavior
Students will study political behavior as it relates to campaigns and elections in the United States. Selected course themes include political communication, participation, voting, and elections.

Security Management

CRJ 433 Principle and Theory of Security Issues
This course outlines the principles and topics relevant to business and organizational security management. Students gain understanding of established management functions, including the role of the Chief Security Officer. Various facets of physical, personnel, and information security are studied, as well as aspects of loss prevention and the protection of assets.

CRJ 435 Evaluation of Security Programs
This course examines industry standards and practices and methods of determining the adequacy of security management programs. It also explores the concepts of legal liability, management structures and techniques, and their impact on security operations.

CRJ 437 Contemporary Issues in Security Management
This course focuses on the current topics in security management such as substance abuse, violence, adjudication and reconsideration reviews, security countermeasures, case management, use of examinations such as polygraphs, report writing, international commercial sales, and media relations. The role of the security manager in personnel management, security planning, organizational communication, recruitment, retention, training and development, and management of contracts are also examined.

CRJ 439 Security Administration
This course focuses on the real world applications for security managers. Staff selection and employee screening are discussed, as well as daily operating procedures, guard operations, securing information systems, and investigations are discussed. Students will be introduced to current topics in workplace violence, managing change, security awareness training, and physical security.

If this program fits your personal and professional goals, contact Ashford University at 866.711.1700 to learn more, or request additional information.