Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Arizona

For students considering earning an online criminal justice degree, Arizona provides several opportunities for education and employment. The state’s economy is strong, and the University of Arizona’s Economic and Business Research Center predicts that Arizona will continue to outpace the country as a whole over the next 30 years. The favorable economy, sunny climate, and affordable cost of living attracts more residents to the state each year.

The University of Arizona’s Economic and Business Research Center predicts that Arizona will continue to outpace the country as a whole over the next 30 years.

As Arizona’s population grows, demand for criminal justice professionals increases as well. According to the FBI’s 2017 Uniform Crime Report, the state joined the nation in seeing a rise in violent crime. Arizona’s metropolitan areas in particular deal with more criminal activity than in prior years. Phoenix’s rising murder rate, now on par with the national average, demands more skilled criminal investigators and police officers. Arizona’s proximity to the Mexican border makes it a good state for individuals interested in working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or other border security positions.

If you want to pursue an online criminal justice degree, Arizona offers numerous quality distance education programs. Whether you are completely new to the field or an experienced professional, you will find ample opportunities in the state.

Earning an Online Criminal Justice Degree in Arizona

Online degrees offer the same curriculum and academic rigor as on-campus degrees, but with additional benefits such as flexibility, convenience, and affordability. By pursuing your criminal justice degree online, you will be able to create your own schedule and work from home. Instead of commuting to a physical campus several times a week at a specific time, online learners log on to their computers and complete coursework whenever is most convenient. Distance learners can keep full-time jobs, take care of children and family members, and maintain other personal responsibilities.

Because online learners avoid the cost of commuting and on-campus fees, their degrees often cost less than in-person degrees. Some schools offer tuition discounts for online courses. Additionally, many distance programs offer accelerated classes and credit for prior learning experiences, allowing students to complete their program more quickly. The number of schools you can attend increases dramatically when geography is no longer a consideration. You can choose the Arizona online criminal justice degree that most closely fits your academic interests and career goals, instead of just enrolling in the closest program to your location.

Accredited Criminal Justice Programs in Arizona

Arizona offers numerous on-campus and online criminal justice degrees at accredited schools. Accreditation is a voluntary process that colleges and universities undergo to prove they meet standards agreed upon by the academic community. Students who attend an accredited school receive a quality education and gain the skills necessary for success in the workplace.

The main regional accrediting agency for colleges and universities in Arizona is the Higher Learning Commission.

Independent organizations called accrediting agencies evaluate schools to make sure they meet these standards. The three types of accrediting agencies are regional, national, and specialized. Regional accreditation is the most widely accepted and prestigious form. National accreditation is less common and less widely accepted. Vocational and for-profit schools usually receive national accreditation. Specialized accreditation agencies evaluate specific programs such as nursing or business.

If you attend an unaccredited school, you will be ineligible for financial aid from the federal government. Additionally, colleges and universities do not accept transfer credits from unaccredited schools. Most employers only recognize degrees from accredited schools, and many prefer degrees from schools with regional accreditation. By choosing a regionally accredited school, you increase your chances of receiving financial aid and finding employment.

The main regional accrediting agency for colleges and universities in Arizona is the Higher Learning Commission. You can search the U.S. Department of Education’s database of postsecondary institutions to see which schools hold accreditation.

Education and Training Requirements for Criminal Justice Professionals in Arizona

The field of criminal justice offers a wide variety of career opportunities, each with different educational requirements. After you earn your online criminal justice degree, Arizona presents work opportunities in corrections, criminal justice administration, criminology, law enforcement, security, and investigative services.

Many entry-level positions across the field require an associate degree in criminal justice. Positions like police officer, correctional officer, fire investigator, crime scene technician, security officer, or police dispatch frequently require an associate or bachelor’s degree. Even for jobs that do not require a degree, students who complete an associate or bachelor’s program tend to be more competitive hires than those with only a high school diploma.

More specialized and higher paying criminal justice jobs in Arizona require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree. Individuals with an online criminal justice degree work in many of the positions mentioned above, as well as in forensics, state and federal courts, social services, and management.

Criminal justice professionals who hold relevant experience and a master’s degree have the best chance of reaching leadership, supervisory, and administrative positions. Master’s degree holders typically specialize in an area such as terrorism, crime prevention, or investigation. Certain criminal justice jobs in Arizona require additional technical training. For example, police officers must undergo training with the police academy.

Licensing, Registration, and Certification Requirements in Arizona

Many criminal justice jobs require employees to hold relevant licenses for the state in which they work. These licensure requirements can vary considerably by position and state. If you move to a different state, you must make sure you meet the new requirements and then re-apply for licensure in that state. Licensing regulations also change often. Students should check regularly that they are meeting licensure requirements for their desired profession.

Criminal justice professionals who carry weapons, such as police officers and security guards, typically must register through the correct government agency.

Criminal justice professionals who carry weapons, such as police officers and security guards, typically must register through the correct government agency. The Arizona Department of Public Safety oversees the licensure process for private investigators and security guards.

Although people often use the terms licensure and certification interchangeably, the words actually refer to different things. Licensure is a legal requirement organized and overseen by the state. To be eligible to work in many criminal justice positions, you must earn the proper license as mandated by the law. Certification, on the other hand, is a voluntary process that individuals undergo to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. While not usually mandatory, certifications can help individuals obtain jobs. For example, individuals who hold a AZ POST peace officer certification receive priority consideration for employment with the Arizona State Troopers.

Career and Salary Expectations

Professionals seeking a criminal justice job in Arizona face a promising career outlook and salary expectations. Protective service occupations in the state earn a mean hourly wage of $22.61 and a mean annual wage of $47,030. This field includes occupations such as criminal investigators, security guards, firefighters, and police officers. Students might also consider employment in court and corrections occupations, which include probation officers, correctional officers, and paralegals. Actual salaries vary depending on specific occupation, geographic area, work experience, and educational background.

Criminal justice students in Arizona should review the employment and salary information below. These tables detail the average wages and number of positions available for each specific occupation in the state. Due to employment numbers, it is more difficult to find work as a private investigator or detective than it is to find work as a security guard. Forensic technicians in Arizona receive a much more competitive wage than bailiffs. Students can use this information to guide their decisions about what to study, as well as the type of position they should pursue upon graduation.

Protective Services Occupations in Arizona

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Fire Inspectors and Investigators250$32.08$66,720
Detectives and Criminal Investigators5,910$38.16$79,380
Fish and Game Wardens100$25.24$52,490
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers11,480$31.64$65,810
Private Detectives and Investigators270$28.14$58,530
Security Guards22,740$13.47$28,020
Transportation Security Screeners1,130$19.06$39,650
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Arizona

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists2,190$27.12$56,410
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates740$55.18$114,780
Paralegals and Legal Assistants5,920$23.97$49,860
Court Reporters170$30.84$64,140
Correctional Officers and Jailers14,170$21.29$44,290
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Arizona

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians720$27.69$57,600
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, PostsecondaryN/AN/A58,750
Source: BLS, May 2017

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Figuring out how to pay for college is a common worry for many students seeking higher education. Luckily, many financial aid opportunities exist to help students pay for their criminal justice degrees in Arizona. Students should first fill out the FAFSA to determine their eligibility for federal grants and loans. Many local businesses, state governments, and professional associations offer private scholarships like those listed below.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Arizona Justice Educator’s Association Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: AGEA awards this scholarship to criminal justice majors who are members of the Administration of Justice Articulation Task Force. Applicants must attend an Arizona college and hold a 3.0 GPA. Students must also complete at least 12 credits in the major prior to applying. View Scholarship

John A. Wagner, Jr. Youth Leadership Program Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Students who attend the most recent youth leadership session qualify for this scholarship. View Scholarship

George A. Zeiss Memorial Scholarships $1,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be children of FBI National Academy Associate members who currently work in law enforcement. View Scholarship

Alphonso Deal Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: The National Black Police Association awards this scholarship to a student pursuing a degree in law enforcement or a related field. Recipients must be high school seniors of good moral character with acceptance from an accredited college. View Scholarship

The McGaughey Family Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: The Lint Center distributes this scholarship to students pursuing a degree related to counterintelligence, alliance building, cultural understanding, and other national security issues. Applicants must be U.S. citizens. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Arizona Residents

Flinn Foundation Scholarships More than $120,000

Who Can Apply: The Flinn Foundation grants this award to 20 of Arizona’s top students each year. The merit-based scholarship covers tuition, fees, two study abroad experiences, and room and board for the duration of an entire undergraduate program at one of Arizona’s public universities. Applicants must be U.S. residents or green card holders, live in Arizona for two years prior to applying, achieve a minimum 3.5 GPA, demonstrate leadership qualities, and rank in the top 5% of their graduating class. View Scholarship

Arizona Business and Professional Women’s Foundation Scholarships Varies

Who Can Apply: The Arizona BPW Foundation awards scholarships to women age 21 and older who are returning to school at an Arizona community college. Recipients must attend one Arizona BPW Foundation event each year. View Scholarship

The Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation Scholarship 1,000-2,500/semester

Who Can Apply: AFFCF awards several renewable scholarships each year to former Arizona foster children. Applicants must be age 24 or under, graduate high school with a minimum 2.5 GPA, and attend an accredited Arizona college. View Scholarship

Students Supporting a Family Scholarship $500-1,000

Who Can Apply: Each candidate must attend a Arizona college or university, care for one or more dependents, demonstrate financial need, and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants should also be graduating high school seniors or current undergraduates. View Scholarship

Don & Sybil Harrington Scholarship $2,500-5,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be high school seniors from Maricopa county admitted to an accredited college or university. Candidates should hold a minimum 3.5 GPA and a minimum score of 28 on the ACT or 1250 on the SAT. Other requirements include financial need and evidence of leadership and motivation. View Scholarship

Resources for Criminal Justice Students in Arizona

Law Enforcement Agencies in Arizona

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations benefit criminal justice students by providing networking opportunities, job boards, and resources. By becoming a member of a professional group, you can connect with other professionals in your field and stay up-to-date with the latest research. Membership usually costs less for students and recent graduates, and members often receive discounts on legal services, conferences, and industry publications. Early career professionals often find their first jobs through associations like those below.

Arizona Justice Educators Association

AJEA promotes quality criminal justice education in Arizona. The organization hosts an annual conference and awards scholarships to criminal justice students.

National Criminal Justice Association

NCJA represents local, state, and tribal governments on issues related to crime. The group develops strategies to help justice agencies improve their programs and organizations.

National Black Police Association

The NBPA promotes fairness, justice, and effectiveness in law enforcement. The organization advocates for minority police officers.

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

ACJS promotes scholarly and professional work in criminal justice. The academy hosts groups that focus on topics such as restorative justice, women and minorities, crime prevention, and victimology.

American Society of Criminology

ASC researches the consequences, prevention, control, and treatment of crime and delinquency. The society encourages members to collaborate and exchange knowledge.

American Correctional Association

The ACA is the oldest organization designed for correctional professionals. The group represents thousands of members around the world.

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