Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Kansas

Kansas offers opportunities for graduates to protect and serve their communities through criminal justice careers across the state, including positions as police officers, court services staff, corrections officers, and specialized investigators. According to the Kansas Department of Labor, the state has a 3.4% unemployment rate, as of March 2018. The population is growing in urban areas, such as Topeka, Wichita, and Kansas City; this population growth drives demand for protective services.

The population is growing in urban areas, such as Topeka, Wichita, and Kansas City; this population growth drives demand for protective services.

Law enforcement agencies provide public education in safe driving, drug abuse, and gang violence. By earning an online criminal justice degree, you can prepare for entry-level positions in the field and obtain qualifications to pursue advanced roles. For learners in rural parts of Kansas, online criminal justice degrees are a flexible option that allow students to attend school without relocating. Online programs are also ideal for students with professional or personal obligations.

Often called the "breadbasket of the world," Kansas is known for its rural geography. The state covers more than 82,000 square miles, and has only a few metropolitan areas. While a network of 75 public and private colleges and universities serve Kansas residents, distance is often a challenge for students seeking criminal justice degrees in Kansas. By pursuing an online criminal justice degree, Kansas students eliminate the need to live near their school.

Online programs offer the same quality of curriculum and instruction as on-campus programs, while incorporating flexible scheduling formats. Many online programs offer recorded lectures and asynchronous online discussions, allowing students to participate at their convenience. Many online programs feature accelerated formats to help learners graduate more quickly; students focus on one or two courses at a time and complete multiple classes per year.

Many entry-level positions in criminal justice do not require a postsecondary degree, though further education can lead to advanced positions and higher earning potential. By earning an online criminal justice degree, Kansas law enforcement professionals build upon their on-the-job experience and knowledge and become qualified for high-level roles.

Students should research each prospective school's accreditation status. Accreditation demonstrates that an institution meets established standards of quality. The two main types of institutional accreditation in the United States are regional and national: institutional accreditation applies to all of the school's programs, both on-campus and online. Regional accreditation is the oldest and most highly regarded type of institutional accreditation. Attending a regionally accredited institution ensures that potential employers will recognize your degree and that earned credits will transfer to other institutions, including graduate schools. The Higher Learning Commission awards regional accreditation to Kansas schools.

The Higher Learning Commission awards regional accreditation to Kansas schools.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recognizes all regional accrediting agencies, but not all national accreditors. To be eligible for federal financial aid, learners must attend an institution with accreditation from an ED-recognized agency. The ED maintains a database of accredited schools. Programs within accredited colleges may also hold specialized, field-specific accreditation. The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences recognizes a small number of exceptional programs in the field.

Entry-level positions, such as police officers with local law enforcement departments, often require only a high school education. Many departments, however, provide higher starting wages for applicants with at least an associate degree in criminal justice. Many positions with state or federal agencies require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree. After earning a criminal justice degree online, Kansas graduates qualify for positions working with students in school settings or counseling residents and identifying public issues. Positions in forensic science and cybersecurity typically require a master's degree.

The Kansas Commission on Peace Officers' Standards and Training provides the minimum training necessary to become a law enforcement officer, including instruction in law enforcement, criminal procedures, and firearm use and safety. Kansas state law requires all law enforcement personnel to complete annual continuing education requirements. By earning an online criminal justice degree, Kansas law enforcement professionals can satisfy continuing education requirements. Applicants for leadership positions within agencies must typically hold advanced degrees, as these roles require organizational management skills and training in developing and implementing public policy.

Many careers in criminal justice require candidates to hold licensure or certification, which demonstrate that they have the skills and training necessary to protect the public. The state government regulates training requirements for police officers, correctional officers, lawyers, and private detectives. Individual employers often establish additional training and licensing requirements, and candidates for positions with government agencies must often complete a written exam and a physical fitness test.

The state government regulates training requirements for police officers, correctional officers, lawyers, and private detectives.

While not required for initial employment, most law enforcement or protection service professionals must complete training through government-operated academies. Because of the public trust in law enforcement personnel, candidates undergo extensive background checks, and felony or domestic violence convictions typically disqualify applicants. Positions may also require drug screens and psychological evaluations. Kansas officers who work with juveniles must complete additional training.

The Attorney General of Kansas oversees the licensing of private detective agencies within the state. Candidates for PI licensure must pass a written exam, place their fingerprints on file, and provide a surety bond to the state. Detectives who wish to carry a firearm must apply for a firearm permit and badge. Applicants for a firearm permit must complete classroom and live fire training and must demonstrate their need to carry a weapon. Continuing education requirements keep criminal justice professionals up to date on changes to law, best practices, and technology.

As Kansas battles drug and violent crime, agencies need individuals with education and experience. Individuals with criminal justice degrees in Kansas apply critical-thinking skills and the latest research in criminology. Graduates of criminal justice programs often pursue positions in local law enforcement, correctional facilities, juvenile justice centers, and court systems. The state also needs leaders who understand the criminal justice system and public policy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 28,000 professionals who work in protective service occupations in Kansas earn an annual mean wage of $39,590. Security guards comprise the largest segment of professionals in the field and earn wages below the mean, at about $28,920 per year. Detectives, investigators, and individuals in leadership positions earn higher salaries; first-line police and detective supervisors earn an annual mean salary of $68,570.

Most protective service professionals work in local government agencies, though many work in the investigation and security service industries. Continued education in specialized subjects, such as biology or accounting, prepares individuals for positions with criminal investigation teams. The tables below highlights common positions for criminal justice graduates and each job's average pay.

Protective Services Occupations in Kansas

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Firefighters 3,390 $18.08 $37,600
Fire Inspectors and Investigators 100 $25.89 $53,860
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 840 $28.90 $60,110
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 840 $28.90 $60,110
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers 5,880 $23.04 $47,920
Private Detectives and Investigators 140 $22.85 $47,530
Security Guards 6,460 $13.67 $28,430
Transportation Security Screeners 110 $18.35 $38,170
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Kansas

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 730 $19.90 $41,400
Lawyers 3,640 $50.35 $104,730
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates 520 $45.73 $95,120
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 2,020 $20.90 $43,470
Court Reporters 220 $28.37 $59,010
Bailiffs 60 $18.85 $39,210
Correctional Officers and Jailers 4,210 $17.02 $35,410
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Kansas

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians N/A N/A N/A
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary 40 N/A $42,850
Source: BLS, May 2017

Most students need help financing their education. Students can secure scholarships and grants based on financial need and merit. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment. Many scholarship programs support learners who demonstrate aptitude in a specific field, and others are reserved for students from a specific geographic area. National organizations also award scholarships to encourage new entrants to the field.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Roger Palmer Honorary Scholarship $1,500

Who Can Apply: The Greater Kansas City Area Chapter Association of Certified Fraud Examiners awards this scholarship to full-time students who are attending an accredited four-year college and studying criminal justice, accounting, finance, or business administration. Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation. View Scholarship

Kansas Peace Officers Association Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to dependents of active KPOA members. Applicants must be attending an accredited junior college or four-year university in Kansas. Applicants must submit a resume of academic and life goals and a letter of endorsement from a local law enforcement officer. View Scholarship

Kansas Sheriffs' Association Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: The association awards up to 13 scholarships each year to students who are related to a KSA member and who are enrolled in at least 12 hours of college classes. Applicants must submit an essay and a letter of recommendation and must participate in an interview. View Scholarship

Irlet Anderson Scholarship $2,500

Who Can Apply: The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives offers this one-time scholarship to a graduating senior committed to becoming sworn law enforcement officers. Applicants must have been accepted to an accredited institution and must have a minimum 3.8 GPA. Applicants must submit an essay on their career goals. View Scholarship

Crimcheck Criminal Justice Scholarship Award $500

Who Can Apply: Chimcheck presents this annual award to full-time and part-time college students or recent high school graduates planning to study criminal justice. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA and must submit an essay about their career goals. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Kansas Residents

Kansas State Scholarship $1,000 annually

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to graduating high school seniors. Applicants must be in the top 20-30% of high school seniors across the state, must have completed state scholar requirements, and must demonstrate financial need. View Scholarship

Kansas Ethnic Minority Scholarship $1,850 annually

Who Can Apply: This competitive award supports academically talented students who are part of an ethnic or racial minority group. Graduating high school seniors receive preference. Recipients who meet ongoing enrollment and academic standards can receive funds for four years. View Scholarship

Horatio Alger Kansas Scholarship Program $2,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to earning a bachelor's degree, must display integrity and perseverance, must have a history of community service involvement, and must demonstrate financial need. Applicants must submit recommendations from individuals who are familiar with their determination to overcome adversity. View Scholarship

Gordon and Betty Cape Continuing Education Endowment $500

Who Can Apply: The ESA Foundation offers this award in honor of the legacy of Gordon and Betty Cape. The endowment helps students over the age of 25 continue their education. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. The selection committee considers financial need, service and leadership, and academic ability. View Scholarship

Epsilon Eta/Linda Cronin Memorial Endowment $650

Who Can Apply: Established in 1992, this endowment helps students from 13 Kansas counties continue their education. Applicants for this competitive award should demonstrate a history of service and leadership, financial need, and scholastic ability. Applicants must attend a Kansas college or university and must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Agencies in Kansas

Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization can help criminal justice professionals stay up to date on the latest research and best practices in the field. These organizations foster camaraderie among professionals through networking, which provide opportunities for support, and professional advancement opportunities. They also help members meet continuing education requirements and sponsor conventions and trade shows.

Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police

This organization comprises more than 500 chiefs of police and law enforcement command officers. The association educates members on best practices for fighting crime and improving community safety.

Kansas County and District Attorneys Association

The KCDAA comprises prosecutors from across the state. The organization holds two continuing legal education conferences per year and hosts seminars on areas of interest.

Kansas Juvenile Officers Association

KSJOA members work with youth, through school-based programs, as school resource officers, or as members of corrections or court services. The organization hosts an annual conference and maintains a job board.

Kansas Peace Officers Association

This organization promotes law enforcement as a profession and works to advance the science of criminal justice. Membership includes free law enforcement training, semiannual conferences, and life insurance benefits. Conferences provide information on best practices and friendly competition in firearms and golf.

Kansas Correctional Association

The KCA advocates for the corrections field and emphasizes the importance of providing a path for offenders to become contributing members of society. Through annual conferences and seminars, the organization promotes an interdisciplinary approach to corrections work and provides professional training for members.

Kansas Crime Stoppers Association

Crime prevention requires cooperation and teamwork between law enforcement and communities. The Crime Stoppers organization sponsors annual conferences and supports communities wishing to launch crime prevention efforts.

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