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Criminal Justice program

Criminal Justice, BA

School of Public Affairs
Overview

The online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice (BACJ) degree was designed to give you a comprehensive understanding of today’s criminal justice system and provide a foundation for you to launch a career in the criminal justice industry. Whether you’re interested in serving as an advocate for victims of crime, working for a non-profit that focuses on criminal justice policy, serving as a probation officer or working in a court system, the BA in Criminal Justice degree program can help.

The BACJ program will provide you with a broad knowledge of the criminal justice system, including such topics as the role of technology in criminal justice, how the corrections system works, how courts and law enforcement work together, and criminal justice theory. When you graduate with a BACJ degree, you’ll have the skills and knowledge to propel you into a career in the criminal justice system whether it's in government, nonprofit or the private sector.

Through the flexibility of this program, you will be able to learn what you want, when you want. Not only is the program offered entirely online for your convenience, but we also allow you the flexibility to specialize in areas of criminal justice that interest you most.

Additionally, we can assure you that CU Denver's online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice program is the same great program as the on-campus version. In fact, it’s exactly the same as the on-campus program — you’re just taking classes in a different way.

Are you ready to jump into the interesting, ever-changing world of criminal justice and prepare yourself for a career? Then, the online B.A. in Criminal Justice is the right degree for you.

Tailor your BA in Criminal Justice degree with one of our career-focused concentrations:

  • Law Enforcement — Prepare for a career in law enforcement with course topics that include police-community relations, homeland security, juvenile justice, and sociology of law. 
  • Victims and Victim Services — Learn how to make a difference in victims' lives by focusing on course topics such as victimology, domestic violence and crime, political violence, and trauma in the criminal justice system.

Program Details

The online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice program is a liberal arts undergraduate degree that acts like a professional degree. Unlike other liberal arts degrees, the BACJ program focuses on developing critical thinking and analytic skills in combination with the core competencies of a standard undergraduate degree to provide you with skills and expertise that you can use every day in your criminal justice career.

Upon completion of the program, you will:

  • Be able to draw on multiple disciplines and research traditions to identify and understand the social and behavioral contributors to crime and delinquency;
  • Have a comprehensive understanding of the institutions in the criminal justice system and how politics and policy making affect these institutions;
  • Have effective critical thinking, oral and written communication skills;
  • Have a comprehensive knowledge of the ethical concerns of the criminal justice field;
  • Understand how perceptions of the criminal justice system vary cross-culturally, and how such differences influence policy and public perception;
  • Understand the impact and interplay of public policy on the trends, solutions, and research in the field;
  • Have demonstrated honed interpersonal and leadership skills; and
  • Have developed a basis for the skills necessary to perform information analysis; engage in critical thinking, problem-solving, and evaluation.

In addition to a variety of class topics including ethics, social and behavioral factors behind crime, the institutions of the criminal justice system, and victimology, you are required to participate in at least a one-semester internship where you will walk away with practical, hands-on experience. Many students find the internship portion of the program so valuable that the choose to extend their semester internship into a full year or take another internship entirely.

Finally, we offer a bachelor's/master's program in criminal justice. Whether you know you are planning on pursuing a graduate degree in criminal justice after the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice program or not, approved students can take up to 12 credit hours at the graduate level, all while still pursuing your undergraduate degree. For undergraduate students in the BA/MCJ program, the School of Public Affairs (SPA) provides a tuition scholarship to offset the greater cost of graduate-level courses, so not only do you have the opportunity to complete these classes at a discounted tuition rate but the credits can also be applied towards a master's degree program upon graduation.


Tuition and Fees

Investing in your future is a big decision. However, becoming a fully online student at the University of Colorado is a high-quality and affordable option for learners of all types. Tuition and fees are based largely on the degree program you enroll in.

The tuition amount assessed is determined based on which University of Colorado campus, school, or college is offering your degree program, as well as if it is at the undergrad or graduate level, and finally your resident status. Visit our tuition and financial aid page for more information.

Financial aid and scholarships are available for those who qualify.

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Timeline

Students completing a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice online through CU Denver are required to complete a minimum of 120 credit hours. Of those 120 credit hours, students must complete a minimum of 3 credit hours of internship to satisfy the program's internship requirement. You may choose to complete additional internship credits with a maximum accumulation of 6 internship credit hours.

  • 1 semester credit hour is equal to 45 hours of on-site internship work experience
  • 2 semester credit hours are equal to 90 hours of on-site internship work experience
  • 3 semester credit hours are equal to 135 hours of on-site internship work experience
  • 4 semester credit hours are equal to 180 hours of on-site internship work experience
  • 5 semester credit hours are equal to 225 hours of on-site internship work experience
  • 6 semester credit hours are equal to 270 hours of on-site internship work experience

The internship can be paid or unpaid. It is recommended that students begin preparing for an internship upon completion of 60 total semester credit hours including 12 credit hours completed in the criminal justice major.

In order to qualify for an internship, students must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Minimum of 15 credit hours completed with CU Denver 
  • Successful completion of CRJU 1000: Criminology & Criminal Justice: An Overview and CRJU 2041: Crime Theory & Causes
  • Minimum 2.0 cumulative CU Denver grade point average 

Although many students choose online degrees for the flexibility and the opportunity to complete a degree program at their pace, the online BACJ degree can be completed in four years.


Career Outlook

With a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree, you’ll have an opportunity to pursue a plethora of careers from detective to death investigator to probation officer.

The career outlook for criminal justice graduates is increasing year-over-year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 30% of federal government employees were eligible to retire by late 2017. That statistic doesn’t even take into consideration state or local government employees or nonprofit and public sector employees.

The overall career outlook for BACJ students depends in large part on the type of criminal justice career. Overall, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts the following growth patterns: 

  • 5% increase in all law enforcement by 2021
  • 2% increase for detectives and criminal investigators
  • 6% increase in police and sheriff’s patrol officers
  • 5% increase in corrections professions by 2021
  • 19% increase in criminal social work professions by 2021

Here are some of the top career opportunities that you could expect after graduation, along with median annual salary:

  • Forensic Interviewer: $38,854
  • Fraud Investigator: $58,178
  • Crime Analyst: $47,098
  • FBI Agent: $63,510

Courses

Courses at CU Denver are offered three times a year - fall, spring, and summer. Not all courses are available every semester. For most programs, courses last 15 weeks, plus one week for finals. This is a big commitment, but we believe the extra time you spend dedicated to your studies pays off! 

Example Courses

CRJU 1000 — Justice: An Overview
This course is designed to provide an overview of the criminal justice process and the criminal justice system in general. Concepts of crime, deviance, and justice are discussed and general theories of crime causation are examined. Special emphasis is placed on the components of the criminal justice system: the police, the prosecutorial and defense functions, the judiciary, and the field of corrections. 

CRJU 2041 — Crime Theory and Causes
This course provides a general survey of the nature and causes of crime and efforts of the criminal justice system to predict, prevent, modify, and correct this behavior. This course involves a critical appraisal of various theories of crime causation, including an examination of biological, psychological, economic, and sociological perspectives that explain crime and deviance. 

CRJU 3150 — Statistics for Criminal Justice
This course serves as an introduction to descriptive and inferential statistics and the computer analysis of criminology and criminal justice data. Course content includes basic procedures of hypothesis testing, correlation and regression analysis, and the analysis of continuous and binary dependent variables. Emphasis is placed on the examination of research problems and issues in the field of criminology and criminal justice. 


Admissions

Admission requirements and deadlines vary based on the program. In addition, you will have different requirements depending on if you are a first-time student, a transfer student or an international student. 

Learn more about the admissions process by filling out the form above or contacting an Enrollment Navigator today.