Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Minnesota

Minnesota boasts a below average unemployment rate. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota has a strong demand for workers and increasing job vacancies statewide. As a result, the state projects employment and wages to continue growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Minnesota's government sector has experienced steady growth in jobs and wages since 2013.

Minnesota has a strong demand for workers and increasing job vacancies statewide. As a result, the state projects employment and wages to continue growing

After earning an online criminal justice degree, Minnesota graduates have a variety of training and job opportunities. An associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice qualifies individuals for positions as corrections officers or licensed police officers. Although many criminal justice positions are available to candidates without college degrees, professionals with criminal justice degrees in Minnesota have more job opportunities and higher salary potential.

Online programs are often more affordable than on-campus programs. Online students may pay reduced tuition rates, and online learning reduces or eliminates costs like transportation and campus housing. Several scholarships are reserved for online learners, and the flexibility of online courses allows students to work full time while earning their degree. Distance learners can complete coursework at their convenience and from anywhere, allowing them to fulfil their current personal and professional obligations. For students in rural parts of Minnesota, online criminal justice degrees increase the number of schools they can attend without relocating.

While pursuing an online criminal justice degree, Minnesota students gain training in the field and make connections with peers and professionals. By earning an online criminal justice degree, Minnesota professionals demonstrate a commitment to advancing their knowledge and skills. Those already working in the field can earn an online degree to qualify for higher-paying jobs, without leaving their current jobs.

Prospective students should ensure that any school they consider holds accreditation. Accreditation ensures the institution meets established standards for quality and that earned credits will be recognized by employers and by other institutions. Accreditation is a voluntary evaluation process conducted by regional, national, and specialized agencies. Regional accreditation is the oldest, most prestigious type of institutional accreditation, and regionally accredited institutions typically only accept transfer credits earned from other regionally accredited schools.

The U.S. Department of Education maintains a database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs.

Six agencies award regional accreditation to U.S. institutions; the Higher Learning Commission grants regional accreditation to Minnesota schools. Institutions must hold accreditation to receive federal funding, and only students attending accredited schools are eligible for federal financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs. The Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training certifies criminal justice programs in the state and maintains a directory of recognized programs.

Unlike most states, Minnesota has no police academies. Aspiring officers or detectives must earn a degree in law enforcement or criminal justice and must pass a licensing exam. Candidates for state licensure must have at least an associate degree from a regionally accredited institution and must have completed a state-approved peace officer education program. Graduates of programs that do not include the state-approved peace officer coursework must earn a certificate before taking the licensing exam.

Some criminal justice positions in Minnesota are available to associate degree holders, though many agencies prefer candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree. High-level positions often require a master’s degree. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, most corrections officers and jailers in Minnesota also hold postsecondary degrees, though the positions require only a high school diploma.

Though a postsecondary degree is not required, Minnesota job seekers with a degree are more competitive for positions in the field.

Police officers in Minnesota must hold state licensure. Unlike those in other states, officers in Minnesota do not attend police academies. Instead, candidates complete a state-approved degree or certificate program and pass a state licensing exam. Candidates must then meet selection standards and be appointed by a law enforcement agency. Such agencies may have additional selection standards, such as physical requirements. Standards vary by agency and may change, so candidates should contact agencies directly for information about their current requirements. Officers licensed outside Minnesota and those who have served in the U.S. military may be eligible for reciprocity. The Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training provides information about approved associate and bachelor’s degrees, certificate programs, licensing, and reciprocity. Officers wishing to transfer their Minnesota license to another state should check the new state’s reciprocity requirements.

Corrections officer candidates in Minnesota must meet minimum requirements, pass a test, and attend a six-week training program.

Minnesota security guards and private detectives do not need to hold licensure if they work for a licensed agency; however, security guards and detectives who work as sole proprietors or managers must obtain licensure. All candidates for licensure must have professional experience as an investigator or protective agent. Minnesota residents do not need to register handguns, but they do need a permit to carry a handgun in public. Armed protective agents must receive training in the use and maintenance of firearms, alternative force, and first aid.

Corrections officer candidates in Minnesota must meet minimum requirements, pass a test, and attend a six-week training program. Candidates for positions that require individuals to carry a firearm must demonstrate eligibility to possess and use a firearm. Certified corrections officers must complete 40 hours of training per year.

After earning a criminal justice degree in Minnesota, graduates have a variety of job options. Federal, state, and local government agencies employ most criminal justice and law enforcement professionals in the state. Government positions generally pay well and offer job security and good benefits.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage for protective service occupations in Minnesota is $47,400 per year, which is above the national mean for all occupations. The Minnesota Department of Corrections pays corrections officers starting salaries of $17.51–20.78 per hour, which amounts to $36,561–43,389 per year. According to the BLS, police officers and detectives across the U.S. earn an average of annual salary of $62,960; police officers in Minnesota earn an average annual salary of $64,700, and detectives and criminal investigators earn an average of $77,660 per year. Paralegals and lawyers in Minnesota also earn wages above the national averages. The tables below highlight average wages for Minnesota residents working in protective services.

Protective Services Occupations in Minnesota

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Firefighters 6,200 $17.19 $35,750
Fire Inspectors and Investigators 110 $31.59 $65,710
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 1,350 $37.34 $77,660
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers 8,680 $31.11 $64,700
Private Detectives and Investigators 190 $24.92 $51,840
Security Guards 11,440 $16.17 $33,630
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Minnesota

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 1,370 $59.72 $124,230
Lawyers 11,180 $47.64 $99,100
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates 500 $65.26 $135,740
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 5,020 $27.17 $56,510
Court Reporters 360 $29.30 $60,940
Bailiffs 120 $17.51 $36,420
Correctional Officers and Jailers 4,730 $24.65 $51,270
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Minnesota

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians 50 $28.67 $59,640
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary 260 N/A $71,970
Source: BLS, May 2017

Because scholarships do not have to be repaid, they are an ideal way for students to fund their education. For those pursuing an online criminal justice degree, Minnesota students have access to state and national scholarships. Students should also research awards from companies and professional organizations.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

My Alarm Center Scholarship Program $1,000

Who Can Apply: Home security company My Alarm Center offers this scholarship to individuals studying law enforcement or a related field. Applicants must be college freshmen or sophomores or graduating high school seniors and must submit an essay. View Scholarship

Crimcheck Criminal Justice Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: Crimcheck awards this annual scholarship to an undergraduate student pursuing a career in criminal justice. Applicants must be current students with a minimum 3.0 GPA and must submit an essay on an assigned topic. View Scholarship

Out To Protect Scholarships $500–1,000

Who Can Apply: Out To Protect awards scholarships to LGBT students currently enrolled in a law enforcement program. Applicants must complete an online application and must be willing to become a visible role model. View Scholarship

WIFLE Annual Scholarship $2,500

Who Can Apply: Each year, Women in Federal Law Enforcement offers a scholarship to a full-time student majoring in criminal justice. Applicants must have completed one year of college, must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, must be sponsored by a community leader, and must submit an essay. View Scholarship

NBPA Alphonso Deal Scholarship Award $500

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be U.S. citizens and high school seniors. Applicants must have been accepted to a two- or four-year institution and must intend to train in law enforcement or a related field. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Minnesota Residents

LEO Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Law Enforcement Opportunities offers this scholarship to support minorities and women attending Minnesota-based institutions to study law enforcement or a related field. View Scholarship

Minnesota Sheriffs Association Scholarship $600

Who Can Apply: Minnesota students can apply for this scholarship through their home county. Applicants must be enrolled in a police officer skills course or actively pursuing a two- or four-year law enforcement degree. View Scholarship

The Minnesota Association of Women Police Memorial Scholarships $450

Who Can Apply: MAWP offers two scholarships for women who are within one year from completing a POST-approved law enforcement program. View Scholarship

The MNIASIU Fraud Awareness Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: The Minnesota chapter of the International Association of Special Investigation Units offers this scholarship to Minnesota residents who are actively pursuing a degree from an accredited program. Applicants must complete a 750-word essay on the impact of fraud on state residents. View Scholarship

Minnesota Law Enforcement Explorer Association Scholarships Reimbursement

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to current or past explorers of a Minnesota Law Enforcement post. Applicants must have placed at the state conference and been accepted to college. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Agencies in Minnesota

Professional Organizations

Networking is crucial to your professional success. Professional organizations unite individuals working in a particular field and keep members updated on the latest research and best practices in the field. Joining a professional organization demonstrates professionalism and commitment to criminal justice, and can help members develop opportunities for career advancement and continuing education.

Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association

Founded in 1922, the MPPOA is the largest association organizing and coordinating the activities of Minnesota police officers. It promotes efficiency and high standards for police.

Minnesota Association of Women Police

The MAWP began in 1955 to enhance the education and training of police women. Today it continues to support equality for women working in criminal justice and law enforcement.

Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association

The MSA provides continuing training and professional development to sheriffs and deputies. The association helps members better serve and protect Minnesota residents.

Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice

The MSCJ serves criminal defense lawyers. Membership is limited and requires an invitation. Members attend monthly meetings to discuss issues in Minnesota criminal law.

Professional Law Enforcement Assistants Association

Founded in 1999, the PLEAA provides specialized training and networking opportunities for support staff from any division of Minnesota’s law enforcement agencies.

The Minnesota Corrections Association

This organization was founded in 1933 for professionals in all facets of the corrections industry. The association offers professional development opportunities for those working in corrections.

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