Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Arkansas

Just west of the Mississippi River, Arkansas was once known for its agricultural industries. Since then, the economic landscape has changed considerably, and the state's growing industries and population have increased the demand for qualified law enforcement professionals. Earning an online criminal justice degree in Arkansas provides graduates with the credentials needed to work in the state. Arkansas' overall economic health is good, with a low unemployment rate and jobs in the criminal justice field projected to grow in the coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Arkansas' overall economic health is good, with a low unemployment rate and jobs in the criminal justice field projected to grow in the coming years BLS

While on-the-job training takes place in many criminal justice careers, earning a degree before career entrance can give you an advantage. There are several good options for earning a criminal justice degree online in Arkansas, including online degrees that offer flexibility not found in traditional programs. Online degrees also allow you to earn a degree in criminal justice at an accelerated pace, so you can enter the job market more quickly.

Though many students opt for earning an on-campus criminal justice degree in Arkansas, students cannot always come to campus for their education. Some students need more flexibility in scheduling or individualized degree plans that cater to their specific needs. Online programs offer this flexibility by allowing students to complete their school work on their own time. Many online programs also allow students to complete work and projects asynchronously, eliminating the need to sign on at a specific time.

For students who wish to continue working full time while earning their degree, an online criminal justice program serves as an ideal option. Online programs eliminate the school commute, as most require no on-campus visits. Students also typically pay less for online programs, especially considering the omission of costs for campus housing, meal plans, and campus-related fees. Some programs also offer the option to complete courses at an accelerated pace or by testing out, making a student's time to completion shorter.

Accreditation serves as a primary consideration when determining which school to attend. Accreditation refers to the process by which accrediting bodies evaluate the legitimacy of schools and programs by requiring them to meet academic standards. To hold accreditation means that a school or program meets the universally accepted norms for qualitative education. It also means that a school or program receives government funding in the form of scholarships. Prospective students must ensure that their institution holds accreditation.

The Higher Learning Commission serves as the regional accrediting agency in Arkansas.

Regional accreditation serves as the most common and most important type of accrediting credential; it differs from national accreditation mostly in terms of whether students may transfer from one institution to another. Sometimes, individual programs may hold accreditation from specialized accrediting agencies like the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. The Higher Learning Commission serves as the regional accrediting agency in Arkansas. All individual agencies offer lists and databases of accredited programs and schools, and the U.S. Department of Education offers a comprehensive database of all accredited schools in the country.

Criminal justice degrees in Arkansas prepare students for several types of criminal justice careers. These programs provide the fundamental education and skills needed to succeed in the field. However, some positions may require additional on-the-job training. Also, certain jobs may require graduate degrees, while others will accept an associate or bachelor's degree.

The Arkansas State Police requires candidates to hold a high school diploma and to pass rigorous physical training and assessment prior to earning a place on the force. However, holding a higher degree or more training prior to applying may give you an advantage. For those hoping to pursue an administrative criminal justice career, consider getting a degree that will improve your job prospects. Depending on the position you hope to acquire, you will want to check with your state to find out about any additional requirements or training you may need beyond a college degree.

Working in criminal justice often means serving the role of protector. This role comes with a great deal of responsibility, and therefore, requires a commensurate amount of training. Security guards, security alarm installers, police officers, state troopers, detectives, and various other professionals charged with serving and protecting need various types of licensure, certification, and training.

Security guards, security alarm installers, police officers, state troopers, detectives, and various other professionals charged with serving and protecting need various types of licensure, certification, and training.

Some careers in criminal justice will require you to carry and potentially operate a firearm. The Arkansas State Police issue concealed handgun carry permits to individuals who meet specific background-check and training requirements. Police academy training will also include training on handling, carrying, and using a firearm. Even security guards and private investigators who carry weapons may need to be registered by an appropriate governing agency.

Some states have reciprocal laws, meaning licenses issued in one state carry over into another state. However, when you move to a new state, you may need to fill out paperwork to ensure that your license transfers. Things like police training completed in a specific state may not transfer to Arkansas. Moving to a different state may require you to meet new standards. Students learn about all of these variables while earning their online criminal justice degree in Arkansas.

Careers in the criminal justice field continue to grow at a steady rate, and they generally come with a comfortable salary. The BLS projects that jobs as police officers and detectives will grow by 7% in the coming few years, and that jobs as private investigators will grow by 11%. These count as just a few of the career options available to someone with a foundation in criminal justice. Earning an online criminal justice degree in Arkansas serves as a great first step to entering into one of these fields.

Overall, the mean hourly wage for protective service occupations in Arkansas is $17.40, and the annual mean wage for these occupations is $36,180. However, because the cost of living in Arkansas ranks a bit lower than the national average, these wages make it possible to live comfortably in the state. Those with a degree in criminal justice may also enter a job in the legal field or even in corrections. Graduates can choose among several lucrative careers. The tables below detail the mean wages for various careers in criminal justice.

Protective Services Occupations in Arkansas

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Firefighters 2,340 $17.80 $37,010
Fire Inspectors and Investigators 40 $21.61 $44,940
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 470 $28.22 $58,690
Fish and Game Wardens N/A N/A N/A
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers 6,080 $18.49 $38,450
Private Detectives and Investigators 190 $20.61 $42,870
Security Guards 6,370 $12.90 $26,820
Transportation Security Screeners 150 $18.76 $39,020
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Arkansas

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 920 $18.21 $37,890
Lawyers 2,730 $47.64 $99,100
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates 300 $53.36 $111,000
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 1,670 $19.84 $41,270
Court Reporters 200 $21.35 $44,420
Bailiffs 100 $17.43 $36,250
Correctional Officers and Jailers 5,480 $16.25 $33,810
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Arkansas

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians 150 $19.15 $39,830
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary 70 N/A N/A
Source: BLS, May 2017

Schools, individuals donors, and the government make several different types of financial aid available to students. The list below includes a few examples of national and local scholarships available to students earning an online criminal justice degree in Arkansas.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Any U.S. citizen hoping to pursue further education that will lead to a career in public policy or criminal justice may apply. Students can apply these funds toward an Arkansas online criminal justice degree. View Scholarship

Islamic Scholarship Fund $5,000

Who Can Apply: Muslim students earning a degree in an approved major (including civil rights, public policy, and law-related fields) at an accredited university may apply. Applicants need at least a 3.0 GPA. View Scholarship

Alphonso Deal Scholarship Award Varies

Who Can Apply: High school seniors hoping to earn a degree in criminal justice to become a police officer or other law enforcement professional may apply. The award tends to go to African-American students. View Scholarship

Out to Protect Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: This award goes to LGBTQ-identifying students in law enforcement training programs. The scholarship aims to promote more reprentation of LGBTQ individuals in the law enforcement field. View Scholarship

Women in Federal Law Enforcement Scholarship $2,500

Who Can Apply: Students with a cumulative 3.0 GPA enrolled full time in an accredited criminal justice program may apply. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Arkansas Residents

Academic Challenge Scholarship $2,000-5,000

Who Can Apply: Arkansas residents new to college -- whether right out of high school or returning to further their education -- may apply. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Officers Dependent Scholarship Covers tuition and fees

Who Can Apply: Biological children, stepchildren, or legally adopted children of law enforcement officers in Arkansas. Applicants must be enrolled or accepted to an approved public institution in Arkansas. View Scholarship

Governors Distinguished Scholarship $10,000

Who Can Apply: Students in Arkansas who meet certain high academic standards and test scores (minimum 32 ACT, 1410 SAT). Students may renew the scholarship annually. View Scholarship

Military Dependents Scholarship Waives tuition and fees

Who Can Apply: Biological children, step children, adopted children, and spouses of military personnel who reside in Arkansas. Applicants must also be enrolled in or attending a public institution in Arkansas. View Scholarship

Single Parent Scholarship Award Varies

Who Can Apply: This award serves single-parent residents of Arkansas who can prove financial need. Recipients will receive funds through their specific county of residence. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Agencies in Arkansas

Professional Organizations

Students earning criminal justice degrees in Arkansas can take advantage of memberships at professional organizations. These organizations provide valuable resources to members, including networking opportunities, job boards, updates on research and scholarship, and annual conferences. Some organizations may charge membership fees. The organizations below help students studying criminal justice.

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

This organization fosters the academics and scholarship dedicated to criminal justice. They also specialize in providing accreditation for programs in criminal justice.

American Society of Criminology

Members of this society include students, professionals, teachers, and scholars. It is an international group and the largest in the field.

Southern Criminal Justice Association

This association serves students, practitioners, and educators, specifically those in the southeast United States. Members receive subscriptions to various publications in the field.

National Criminal Justice Association

The NCJA advocates for effectiveness in criminal justice agencies. It gives members access to special bulletins and newsletters, a forum, and a list of available grants.

International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals

This organization serves as a center for information and a place for interested professionals and students to both find field-related resources and to make valuable professional connections.

National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice

The NABCJ is a social-justice oriented nonprofit that ensures equal justice for minorities. Members include professionals in law enforcement, scholars, and students. The NABCJ also hosts an annual conference.

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