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If you want to work in the criminal justice field, whether it is as a police officer, a paralegal or an attorney, you need to have a college degree. Although there are others ways to get into the field, especially as a police officer, you will still need a degree to advance within your chosen career.

For people that work full-time and are raising a family, going back to school to get a degree can be difficult to do. Online degrees, however, are more acceptable now and you can get an online criminal justice degree in order to start a career in law enforcement or to work toward going to law school.

Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Finding an Online Degree Program

Doing a quick Google search will reveal dozens of online criminal justice degree programs, so you will have to do some research to find the best program for you. Not every program is going to be the same because there are both private and public educational institutions that offer online programs. Here are four tips for choosing an online degree program.

Verify Degree Program Sources

When you find an online program that seems to fit your needs, verify the program information by visiting the school’s website and other informational websites. If the program wants you to pay for or add a credit card to find out more about the school, that should raise a red flag. Unfortunately, some institutions will only offer degrees to make money, which will most often be a waste of money because those institutions are usually not accredited.

You should visit the United States Department of Education website concerning online degrees before you start researching individual programs. The website, called the College Navigator tool, allows you to search by the type and location of the program that you want, it provides information about which schools charge tuition and it gives statistics about graduation rates. You can also use it to build a list of favorite programs to investigate further.

Check Accreditation Status

When you’re searching for an online criminal justice degree program, it is important to check the institution’s accreditation status. An institution will have regional or national accreditation, while the program may have professional accreditation as well, if it is eligible for one. A criminal justice program may be accredited by the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Services or the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.

If a school is accredited, that information will be placed somewhere prominent on their website to make that information easy to find. If you have problems finding their accreditation status or if they are not accredited, you don’t want to enroll in that institution. Without accreditation, you won’t be accepted into a program to get an advanced degree, such a law school, and you will not be able to transfer your credits to another school.

Ask About Support Services

Just like you would on a traditional campus, you will want to find out about the services the institution offers its students. This can be anything from offering remedial classes to brush up on the basics or help in finding a job after you’ve obtained your degree. Search the institution’s website to find out more information about the support services they offer and, remember, if there is no or very little information, the school may be trying to hide something.

Check Class Schedules

If you do work full-time, then you will want to find an online criminal justice degree program you can work around your schedule. Find out if an institution’s classes adhere to a certain schedule or if you can take them whenever is best for you. The advantage of taking an online degree program is flexibility, so you should be able to find a criminal justice program that will fit your schedule.

It is important to do your due diligence when trying to find an online degree program to avoid wasting your time and money. You don’t want to pay for a degree only to find out it isn’t worth the paper it is printed on.