Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Missouri


Missouri’s economy continues to grow as Forbes magazine ranks it 21st on its “Best Places for Business” list. In 2017, the state’s annual GDP reached $293 billion. With a population of just over six million, Missouri’s economic future looks bright. Forbes ranked the state 22nd on the economic climate scale. The state’s unemployment rate is 4%, and close to 30% of state residents have a college degree. Now is the perfect time for local students to pursue an online criminal justice degree in Missouri.

Missouri’s economic future looks bright. Forbes ranked the state 22nd on the economic climate scale. The state’s unemployment rate is 4%, and close to 30% of state residents have a college degree

Governor Greitens is working closely with the Council of State Governments Justice Centers and local task forces to overhaul the criminal justice system. The state’s high incarceration (ranked eighth in the nation) and parole violations rate is a cause for concern for state officials and requires additional workers in all levels of the criminal justice system. The state needs researchers, academics, and professionals to develop solutions for the problem and oversee the current prison population. Criminal justice degrees in Missouri are available through on-campus and online programs. Missouri State offers an online bachelor of science in criminology and criminal justice. Other schools offer similar programs for students currently working in law enforcement.

Earning an Online Criminal Justice Degree in Missouri

Obtaining an online criminal justice degree in Missouri is a great option for working professionals or students with busy schedules. Due to advanced technology, students can access coursework anytime from anywhere. Most schools offer two different program types: fully online or hybrid. Fully online classes do not require on-campus meetings. Students complete coursework from their computer and interact with the professor through email or video chats. Busy students can study at their own pace and complete assignments when they have downtime.

Hybrid courses are conducted mostly online, but also include an in-class component. Students meet periodically to discuss coursework and work on projects. As a Missouri online criminal justice degree student, choose the class format that is the most convenient and accessible for you. Most online programs allow students to pay per credit and enroll part time.

Students working as firefighters or police officers can benefit from hybrid or fully online courses. Classes will not interfere with their work schedules, and they can work at their own pace. Earning a criminal justice degree online in Missouri can help graduates move on to supervisory or higher-paying roles. The coursework prepares students to handle complex situations by building their professional skills.

Accredited Criminal Justice Programs in Missouri

College students pursuing an online criminal justice degree in Missouri should choose a school with regional or national accreditation. Accrediting bodies evaluate the academic rigor of school programs and the competency of their staff to ensure students receive the best education. Most accrediting bodies are private, nonprofit entities that review two and four-year schools. Regional accrediting bodies, such as the Higher Learning Commision which evaluates Missouri institutions, work with the federal government to allocate funds to qualified schools. Students can easily transfer credits from regionally accredited schools, and employers that offer tuition-assistance programs will only approve accredited institutions.

For students working towards a criminal justice degree in Missouri, an accredited institution offers the academic preparation needed to fulfill law enforcement job duties

National accreditation works a bit differently. These agencies assess vocational and trade schools for performance. Many of these schools offer certification, but some also offer degrees. National accrediting bodies are not regulated by geographic location nor do they follow set guidelines for program evaluation. The third accrediting body is the specialized agency. Specialized accrediting agencies focus on certain academic disciplines and industries. The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences accredits programs that uphold the Academy’s standards.

For students working towards a criminal justice degree in Missouri, an accredited institution offers the academic preparation needed to fulfill law enforcement job duties. This database provides additional information on the accredited schools in Missouri.

Education and Training Requirements for Criminal Justice Professionals in Missouri

Most criminal justice jobs require, at minimum, a high school diploma. An associate or bachelor’s degree is optional for entry-level jobs, but employers encourage applicants to pursue higher education. Many police officers major in law enforcement, criminal justice, or criminology while on the job. Additionally, many criminal justice jobs require professional training, licensure, or certification. Employers handle the basic training and permit requirements. Job training focuses on the duties of the job and common situations workers will encounter. For instance, conservation officers enforce the state’s fishing and hunting laws so they need a degree in wildlife science or natural resources to perform their duties.

With an associate degree, Missouri residents can get jobs as paralegals, police officers, and firefighters. Firefighters receive intense training with specialized equipment, and many acquire EMT certification before working as firefighters. If workers want to become supervisors or investigators, they need a bachelor’s degree. Employers base promotions on job performance and exams. Research positions such as criminologists and forensic psychologists require master’s degrees. Certain supervisory roles also require a master’s degree.

Applicants should look at the job description and discuss any additional training requirements with the employer. Most criminal justice employers pay for training because it is mandatory for the job. They will also evaluate and test the applicant’s skills. Armed security guards and police officers receive extensive weapons training and undergo periodic firearms testing. Police officers must attend a special training academy for 840 hours before starting their jobs.

Licensing, Registration, and Certification Requirements in Missouri

Criminal justice is a highly specialized field that requires many of its workers to obtain some form of licensure or certification. Certification is different from licensure because certification shows that the individual received the proper training to handle their job duties or operate equipment. Licensure gives workers the legal right to own a firearm and perform job duties within the state. In addition to officers and investigators, lawyers must pass the state bar exam to start a firm or practice law in Missouri.

Since many law enforcement officials such as police officers and security guards must carry a weapon, they receive hours of training to properly handle individuals and de-escalate situations. After employees successfully complete training, they receive a permit allowing them to carry a firearm while on duty. The state department validates weapons permits by asking for proof of firearms training.

To qualify for the job, armed officers and guards cannot have a felony record or dishonorable discharge from the military. A clean driving record is also a major requirement for police officers.

Private investigators, including police detectives and arson investigators, must take an exam given by the Missouri Division of Professional Registration to receive a state license to practice. Requirements include submission of their fingerprints to the Missouri State Highway Patrol and FBI. Fire investigators must present current certification from the Division of Fire Safety. Investigators also need a weapons permit.

Each state maintains unique licensure requirements, and investigators must obtain a separate license in every state they work. Reciprocal licensing agreements are rare, but they allow investigators to work in another state for a short period of time without obtaining a license in that state. Licensure regulations change often, so interested applicants should check with the Missouri Division of Professional Registration to learn about new requirements and guidelines.

Career and Salary Expectations

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean hourly wage for protective services occupations in Missouri is $19.87. The annual mean wage for protective services workers is $41,320. Protective services occupations include bailiffs, animal control workers, and security guards.

For residents working in the legal field, lawyers are the second-highest paid group with a mean hourly wage of $55.54

In Missouri, nearly 60,000 residents work in protective services. The state boasts one of the highest concentration of protective services jobs for its population size. For every 1,000 workers, nearly 22 of them work in protective services. For residents working in the legal field, lawyers are the second-highest paid group with a mean hourly wage of $55.54. Less than 10,000 Missouri residents work as lawyers. Judges and magistrates dominate the payscale, averaging $125,240 in annual earnings.

Residents can work for the state or local communities, responding to incidents at the local level or working with the state supreme court and agencies to influence legislation and process larger cases. Current numbers show growth and stability in the criminal justice field. As the state strives to revamp its criminal justice system, it will need qualified professionals to work closely with law enforcement in the courts and at correctional facilities. The following table highlights employment and salary information for Missouri workers.

Protective Services Occupations in Missouri

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Wage
Fire Inspectors and Investigators250$23.19$48,230
Detectives and Criminal Investigators1,550$32.83$68,280
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers12,950$22.64$35,520
Private Detectives and Investigators160$22.51$47,080
Security Guards17,140$17.66$36,740
Transportation Security Screeners460$18.50$38,470
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Missouri

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists2,480$17.90$37,230
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates570$60.21$125,240
Paralegals and Legal Assistants4,490$25.16$52,340
Court Reporters260$25.62$53,290
Correctional Officers and Jailers8,440$14.84$30,870
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Missouri

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians290$24.81$51,600
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers220N/A$74,860
Source: BLS, May 2017

Scholarships and Financial Aid

To offset the cost of tuition and other college-related expenses, many state and local agencies offer scholarships to students majoring in criminal justice, law enforcement, and criminology. These scholarships range in monetary amount and eligibility requirements. Interested applicants should refer to the scholarship’s website to learn more about eligibility requirements and deadlines.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Missouri Sheriffs’ Association $1,000

Who Can Apply: The Missouri Sheriffs’ Association awards scholarships to 16 high school seniors attending an in-state institution to study criminal justice. View Scholarship

Michael K. Carlie Make A Difference Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship was created for Missouri State students majoring in criminal justice or criminology. Students must complete 60 hours of coursework, including 12 hours of work in the criminal justice/criminology major, while maintaining a 2.5 GPA. Applicants submit two letters of recommendation detailing how they help children in need. View Scholarship

Cape County Friends of Law Enforcement Varies

Who Can Apply: Southeast Missouri State University students with a 3.0 GPA majoring in criminal justice are eligible to apply. Applicants must be high school graduates from Cape Girardeau county. View Scholarship

Bill P. Colvin Criminal Justice Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: The scholarship serves University of Central Missouri students majoring in criminal justice. Applicants must be a full- or part-time junior, senior, or graduate student with strong interest in the criminal justice field. View Scholarship

Doris Fishman Administration of Justice Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: To apply for this scholarship, applicants should be a University of Missouri-St. Louis undergraduate student pursuing a degree in criminal justice or criminology. Junior-level students with a 3.0 GPA are encouraged to apply. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Missouri Residents

Bright Flight Program $3,000

Who Can Apply: The Missouri Department of Higher Education awards this scholarship to high school students with exceptional SAT/ACT scores and a 2.5 GPA. The scholarship is open to students planning to attend an in-state institution. View Scholarship

Marguerite Ross Barnett Memorial Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: College students with a full- or part-time job should consider applying for this scholarship. It grants financial assistance to a student who works at least 20 hours per week and maintains a 2.5 GPA. View Scholarship

Charles L. Bacon Memorial Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: The American Legion Department of Missouri issues two scholarships to college-bound Missouri residents under age 20. Applicants must be full-time, undergraduate students who are members of the American Legion, Sons of the Legion, or descendants of a member. View Scholarship

Kris Paper Legacy Scholarship for Women in Technology $1,500

Who Can Apply: Each year, a female high school or college student from the greater Kansas City area receives the Kris Paper Legacy Scholarship. Applicants must uphold a 3.2 GPA and volunteer in the community. View Scholarship

Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program $300 to $4,600

Who Can Apply: The program provides financial aid to Missouri residents enrolled in a college or university. The FAFSA, specifically the Expected Family Contribution, is used to determine award amounts. View Scholarship

Resources for Criminal Justice Students in Missouri

Law Enforcement Agencies in Missouri

Professional Organizations

Working in the criminal justice system requires skill and expertise. Professionals need to build a strong network of supporters and colleagues to help them navigate the industry and work through tough times. Missouri offers several exclusive organizations dedicated to criminal justice professionals. Nationally, other organizations connect professionals from all over the world and provide important internship opportunities to college students. If you’re pursuing an online criminal justice degree in Missouri, consider joining one of these groups.

Criminal Justice Association

Southeast Missouri State University hosts an organization for criminal justice majors interested in pursuing careers in law enforcement or the justice system after graduation.

Midwestern Criminal Justice Association

The MCJA works closely with the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences to foster relationships with academics, researchers, and criminal justice workers. The organization serves 12 states in the region including Missouri and Kansas.

Missouri Juvenile Justice Association

The MJJA strives to improve the professional skills of workers in the juvenile justice system. It offers training opportunities and forums to state workers and actively advocates for local children in the system.

American Society of Criminology

The ASC is an international group committed to studying and researching criminology while building relationships between working professionals and researchers.

American Correctional Association

Established in 1870, the ACA connects workers from all divisions of the criminal justice system and offers students the opportunity to intern at federal and state prisons.

American Jail Association

The AJA focuses on improving the conditions and operations at the nation’s correctional facilities. It holds annual conferences and training sessions to help members.

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