Free Online Lectures and Courses for Criminal Justice

The field of criminal justice is an exciting one; there are countless job opportunities available to graduates and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median annual salaries like $38,970 for correctional officers or $56,980 for police officers. A criminal justice degree can lead you to a career working the streets as a patrol officer, solving homicides as detective, or managing an operation at the administrative level – choices as engaging as they are distinct.

If you are looking for a job that requires little education to begin with, but that offers the opportunity for fast professional and financial growth, criminal justice may be for you. For instance, you can take advantage of stable career opportunities an associate degree offers, like in police work.

Sample Courses

After fulfilling a school's required prerequisites, students can begin to take classes that suit their particular interests in the criminal justice field. Courses vary from program-to-program, but generally include some version of the following subjects: introduction to correctional systems, criminal theory, crime in America, crime procedures, victimology, and fundamentals of criminal law. Criminal justice majors may also find courses in sociology, psychology, and writing helpful, since a lot of criminal justice work relates to writing reports and understanding various psychological and cultural influences.

Possible Specializations

Within the field of criminal justice, there are numerous specializations, including computer forensics, criminalistics, criminal justice policy, administration, corrections and case management. Your chosen specializations will play an important role in your future as a criminal justice professional; as a police officer, you may be assigned to a narcotics division after taking drug-related courses, or, as a teacher, you may end up designing a course built around your research on sexual assault. Having a specialization will make you a more well-rounded criminal justice professional, and may assist you in securing a job after college.

Degree Types

The level of degree you acquire will likely dictate where you work, what specializations are available to you and the amount of money you'll make on-the-job. One of the many benefits of getting a degree in criminal justice is that there really are job opportunities for graduates at all levels. The following information will assist you in deciding which degree is best for you, or if a certificate in criminal justice best suits your goals.


An associate in criminal justice offers the opportunity to join the workforce quickly, while still filling requirements for additional, more complex degrees. Associate degree-seekers can expect to be proficient in the skills necessary to become a police officer, detective or corrections officer.


Gaining a bachelor's in criminal justice can open up additional opportunities for you, like the ability to become a probation officer, a rewarding career that offers a comfortable median annual salary of $48,190, according to the BLS.


Students who go on to receive a master's in criminal justice are typically interested in applying their knowledge of criminal justice to a career in teaching or research. Postsecondary criminal justice and law enforcement teachers make a median annual salary of $62, 770, according to the BLS. Teaching and research positions can be found at universities nationwide.


Students pursuing a Ph.D. in criminal justice can expect to learn about policy, as well as a number of of other interesting subject areas; Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, for example, offers courses in criminological theory and research methods, as well as an 18 credit dissertation course, for which students have the opportunity to do their own in-depth criminal justice research. Students will participate in in-depth research efforts, with the goal of improving the criminal justice system. A Ph.D. in criminal justice is a great degree for students who want to discover how the justice system fits into modern society, and the various ways that criminal justice professionals can initiate change.

Ideal Candidates for a Criminal Justice Degree

A criminal justice professional must have a strong desire for justice, as well as the following traits: a serious and vigilant desire to serve the public, the ability to interact with a wide swath of people, dedication to physical fitness and the ability to think quickly and react in high stress situations. It may also be beneficial for certain criminal justice professionals to learn a second or third language, depending on the area they work in. For example, police officers working in Southern California or Miami may all but have to speak fluent Spanish.

Career Pathways

Many students are attracted to a degree in criminal justice because the term is so broad, and the variety of available jobs is enticing. If you are interested in pursuing the degree, it may be wise to reflect upon where you would like to end up. Doing so will help you figure out what degree to get, and will lead you in the direction of a particular specialization that suits your skill set and interests. In addition to your program's coursework, there are many professional organizations, blogs, books and online courses to help you further immerse yourself in the field. For starters, you'll find some excellent open courseware opportunities below.

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Get More Out of Your Online Criminal Justice Courses

Criminal Justice Journals & Trade Magazines

  • Journals

    • Criminal Justice Review

      Focused on the domestic United States, this quarterly provides a broad perspective on the world of criminal justice and acts as a forum for professionals to share their research.

    • Journal of Criminal Justice

      This journal discusses how the aspects of the criminal justice system relate, interact and function individually while focusing on them as a whole.

    • Journal of Criminal Justice Education

      This journal acts as a forum for the discussion, debate and dissemination of information and ideas pertaining to criminal justice and criminology higher education.

    • Journal of International Criminal Justice

      An Oxford Journal, this periodical delves into the world of criminal justice from the perspective of lawyer, the law, and jurisprudence.

    • The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice

      This magazine targets a wide audience, covering topics for students and providing articles on research methods, media, and CJ programs.

  • Trade Magazines

    • Crime Magazine

      Aimed at the general public, not academics, this magazine brings criminology to the people with stories on organized crime, celebrity crimes, cold cases and ...

    • Criminal Justice Magazine

      The American Bar Association publishes this high-level magazine, which includes deeply analytical pieces on the workings of both domestic and international ...

    • Deputy & Court Officer Magazine

      Published by the National Sheriff's Association, this zine covers "topics pertinent to the criminal justice and public safety community."

    • Homeland Security Magazine

      Targeting policy-makers who work to keep our nation safe from terrorism and respond to natural disasters, the stories in this magazine discuss the latest in ...

Criminal Justice Grants & Scholarships

  • Grants

  • Scholarships

    • Alphonso Deal Scholarship Award

      Deadline: May 16

      Award Amount: 2-year college or university tuition

      This scholarship is given to high school seniors interested in higher education in law enforcement or criminal justice.

    • American Statistical Association Special Student Funding

      Deadline: April 15

      Award Amount: $500

      A one-time award from the ASA and the BJS for undergraduate or graduate students to attend the International Future of Statistics Workshop.

    • Army Staff Sgt. Richard S. Eaton Jr., Scholarship

      Deadline: January 31

      Award Amount: $1,000

      Awarded to an undergraduate student who is pursuing a degree in a field related to national security, counterintelligence or social services.

    • Jim & Anna Hyonjoo Lint National Security scholarship

      Deadline: July 31

      Award Amount: $1,500

      Given to undergraduate students to further their studies in, and increase their knowledge of, national security and counterintelligence on a global level.

    • North Carolina Sheriffs' Association

      Deadline: TBD

      Award Amount: $1,000

      Undergraduates in criminal justice are eligible to apply for this scholarship; priority is given to students with family in North Carolina law enforcement.

    • Out to Protect Scholarship

      Deadline: May 23

      Award Amount: $500-$1,000

      Awarded to those enrolled in a basic training program for law enforcement, who identify as LGBT, have good class standing and are role models in the community.

Criminal Justice Internships

  • CIA Internship Programs

    Deadline: N/A

    The CIA has a host of internships, ranging from those for high schoolers to those for graduate students; participants can choose to work in clandestine service, engineering, or IT, to name a few.

  • FBI Honors Internship Program

    Deadline: N/A

    Open to students ranging from high school to postgraduate, a select few get an insider’s perspective on the Bureau while advancing their knowledge of criminal justice, the law and national ...

  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers College Intern Program

    Deadline: N/A

    Students majoring in criminal justice, criminology, or a related field can intern with this DHS division; interns will work with a FLETC mentor to prepare for a federal law enforcement career.

  • Office of Communications Internship

    Deadline: N/A

    OCOM, part of the DOJ, offers internships to undergraduate students with majors in political science, government, criminal justice, public policy, or communications.

  • Open Society Foundations: Legal Research Intern

    Deadline: N/A

    This internship is open to law students seeking experience in criminal justice reform, human rights, and "the building of legal capacity for open societies."

  • Pathways Program

    Deadline: N/A

    For high school, college, and professional students, this internship with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is for those looking for federal careers.

  • SHP Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative

    Deadline: N/A

    Hosted by the Department of Homeland Security, this internship gives college students the chance to work with DHS officials on cybersecurity-related issues.

  • Summer Law Intern Program (SLIP)

    Deadline: N/A

    The Department of Justice recruits law students for this summer internship, allowing students who have completed at least one semester of law school to work in the DOJ offices.

  • Volunteer Legal Internships

    Deadline: N/A

    The Department of Justice welcomes over 1,800 students into Justice components and U.S. Attorneys' Offices every year, in cities around the country.

Criminal Justice Student & Professional Organizations

  • Student Organizations

    • Alpha Phi Sigma

      This Greek organization is dedicated to the advocacy of criminal justice education, maintaining ethical standards within the field and keeping up with the ...

    • American Criminal Justice Association (Lambda Alpha Epsilon)

      This Greek organization is made of both CJ professionals and students and has many national chapters devoted to the study of the justice system.

  • Professional Organizations

    • Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

      This international association aims to "foster professional and scholarly activities in the field of criminal justice" and provide a forum for discussing ideas.

    • American Correctional Association

      Devoted to all aspects of the corrections profession, the ACA provides resources, training and opportunities for students interested in pursuing this field.

    • American Society of Criminology

      Comprised of students, professionals and academicians, members of the ASC have a forum to discuss the changes and issues facing the criminology and criminal justice fields.

    • Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council

      This organization is "made up of members representing law enforcement and homeland security agents," and it provides a means of sharing criminal intelligence for public safety.

    • Cyber Law Enforcement Organization

      Organized as a way for law enforcement officers to protect cyberspace, CLEO helps investigate crimes online and provides training resource for those coming into the profession.

    • Federal Bar Association

      Dedicated to the development and advancement of the federal law, the FBA strives to bring together all those interested in learning best practices and improving the system.

    • Law Enforcement Intelligence Units

      With agency-based membership, LEIU strives to protect constitutional rights through the timely dissemination of information relevant and important to maintaining law enforcement standards.

    • Southern Criminal Justice Association

      Encompassing the Southern states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the SCJA encourages professional development through an annual conference, subscriptions to relevant journals and discourse.