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Criminal Justice Degree: Online vs. On Campus

When deciding to get your criminal justice degree, you may have a choice between getting a criminal justice degree online vs. on a campus. The experience of getting your education online or in a classroom has many points to be compared. Some advocate that education in the subject matter is the only important factor, whereas others will point to other factors that are important such as social interaction in a classroom setting.

Depending on your time constraints, obtaining a criminal justice degree online may be the only way you can get one. For those that have no other constraints, you may be able to attend classes in a classroom each day. However, the time commitment is not the only factor to consider in deciding to get a criminal justice degree online versus in a campus setting. Several other factors should be evaluated as well.

Competition for Class Space

Many colleges and universities are literally buried in applications for admission every term. The competition can be quite fierce. Individuals that have rather poor academic records or may be entering with only a GED can have a difficult time gaining entrance. While the admission to an online school isn’t easy, it does provide a better chance for a person to get an education in the field in which they are interested.

The admission to a 2- or 4-year college is not based on openings in a particular degree program, such as criminal justice, but is based on the openings of the entire school. Online courses can accept students based on a particular course of study. This means that online schools are often better able to meet the needs of the individual than a school that covers a wide variety of subjects.

Classroom Versus Online

The social interactions that occur in the classroom of any course can be a beneficial and constructive teaching tool. The exchange of ideas in an environment of openness is educational both in bringing a diversity of thoughts and in learning to communicate with others. This face-to-face interaction is a facet of the educational process that, to date, cannot be mimicked in the online environment.

Criminal justice degree online programs can facilitate the exchange of ideas between students but this is mostly through the use of a forum. People that avail themselves of the opportunity to use the forum gain some of the benefits of the classroom, but they still miss the opportunity to hone their interpersonal skills. In the field of criminal justice, those skills will be extremely important.

Getting the Best of Both Methods

Some degree programs have incorporated a system that is mainly taught in an online format but that brings classroom interaction into the mix. Many courses have a component of their schedule that includes meeting in a classroom for a few classes during the term. This is arranged on one or two evenings or Saturdays during the term to allow for the face-to-face interactions and to allow questions to be asked in a more personal way. This teaching style includes some of the benefits that classroom teaching provides while allowing for the flexibility that is popular with online classes.

Some Specialties are Better Suited for Classrooms

Due to the hardware requirements in some specialties of criminal justice degree programs, some particular degrees may be better suited for the classroom. For instance, a criminal justice degree with a specialty in forensics or computer crime would be difficult obtain entirely online. These particular fields benefit from the ability to get into the lab and learn through hands-on interactions. You can obtain a criminal justice degree online in one of these specialties through a few schools, but your learning experience may suffer due to the inability to actually have the hands-on experience.

Getting Your Criminal Justice Degree

Whether you decide to get a criminal justice degree online or in a classroom, acquiring a criminal justice degree provides the ability for an individual to better their situation and perhaps move into a new career direction. Online courses and degree programs are ideally suited both for those who want to get into the field and also for those that already have a job in the criminal justice system but want to move up or into a new area.