Program Description

Have you always wanted to work in the law enforcement field? Can you see yourself helping victims of crimes? Do you enjoy putting together the pieces of a puzzle in order to solve a mystery? If these appeal to you, maybe pursuing the Criminal Justice Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree is the choice for you.

Degree Programs

Criminal Justice (Associate of Applied Science)

The Criminal Justice program is focused toward the professional and educational needs of students interested in careers in criminal justice and toward current criminal justice personnel who desire to increase their proficiency or to improve their professional career opportunities.

Required Courses & Learning Outcomes

See a list of required courses and learning outcomes for this program.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is criminal justice?

Criminal justice describes the entire system designed to enforce laws, prevent criminal behavior, and apply consequences when those laws are broken. The three main parts of the system include:

Law Enforcement
Police officers and detectives make up the bulk of this section of the criminal justice field, which aims to patrol streets and prevent crimes, as well as investigate after crimes are committed.
Judicial System
This is also known as the court system and includes judges, attorneys, and prosecutors. This part of the criminal justice system comes into play after a crime is committed to determine the innocence or guilt of an accused individual.
Correctional System
When an individual is found guilty, he or she enters the correctional system, which may include jail time, probation, or rehabilitation.

Degrees in criminal justice give you the opportunity to work in certain roles throughout the criminal justice system, depending on your interests and talents.

Is a criminal justice associate degree only for people who want to be police officers?

No. A criminal justice degree prepares students for a variety of careers related to criminal justice and social services. This degree gives you an introduction to the criminal justice system and the laws designed to prevent criminal behavior.

The criminal justice system is vast and covers everything from preventing crime and rehabilitating violators to supporting victims and reaching at-risk youth. While many criminal justice students do plan to become police officers, the field offers many other career paths.

What type of career does a criminal justice associate degree prepare me for?

A Criminal Justice AAS program prepares graduates for a wide range of entry-level careers in law enforcement, the court system, correctional facilities, and similar fields. Police officers often come to mind at the mention of criminal justice, but that is not your only option. Here are some possibilities once you earn your associate degree in criminal justice:

  • Police officer
  • Detective
  • Private investigator
  • Correctional officer
  • Crime scene technician
  • Bailiff
  • Security officer
  • Victim advocate
  • Probation officer
  • Game warden

While the Criminal Justice program supplies you with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the criminal justice field, some career paths may require additional training.

What will I learn in the program?

A criminal justice program typically covers a wide range of topics, including criminal law and courtroom procedures. You will learn the basics of the criminal justice system, including the laws designed to prevent crime, court procedures when a crime is committed, and supporting the victims of crime.

Criminal justice programs typically cover a broad range of topics to give you exposure to the situations you are likely to encounter to better prepare you for your career. The courses provide real-world skills you can apply in a criminal justice career. An associate degree program typically also includes some basic subjects, such as math, computer science, and English composition. Those skills are more important than you may realize in a law enforcement career, and gives you a strong foundation and a well-rounded education in preparation for your new career.

Admissions & Advising

Cecil College is an open enrollment institution. Get more information, find out how to apply, or meet with an advisor.

Transfer

Whether transferring coursework to Cecil College or transferring your completed degree or certificate to a four year institution, transfer is a viable option to help meet your educational goals.

Transfer information for Maryland colleges and universities is available through the Articulation System of Maryland (ARTSYS) website at www.artsys.usmd.edu. Additional transfer information can be found on the Transfer Agreements page.

Faculty

Cecil College's fulltime and adjunct Criminal Justice faculty are highly credentialed in their disciplines and have years of teaching and professional experience.

More Frequently Asked Questions About the Criminal Justice Program

Who can enroll in the Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice program?

This degree is designed for any student who is interested in a career in criminal justice and any sworn law enforcement officer who desire to increase their proficiency or to improve their professional career opportunities. Law enforcement officers who have successfully completed an approved Cecil County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy may be awarded up to 31 credits of coursework for academy training. Interested students who want to take advantage of this option will need to present a Maryland Police and Training Commission certification card or official transcripts and graduation certificate to be considered. Detention Center officers who have successfully completed an approved Cecil County Detention Center Training program may be awarded up to 13 credits of course work for successfully completed academy training. Interested students who want to take advantage of this option will need to present official transcripts and a graduation certificate to be considered.

How do I enroll in this program?

To enroll in this program, contact Charlie O’Brien, the primary advisor for the Criminal Justice program, at (410) 287-1895. To be eligible for the 31 credits, applicants must apply to the college admissions; complete the credential assessment form and send the form, along with the required credentials to the Cecil College registrar, Dr. Tomeka Swan, One Seahawk Drive, North East, Maryland 21901.

In addition, all students who seek enrollment at Cecil College must take placement tests in English and mathematics if they have never taken a college-level English and/or math course.

Why do I have to take placement tests?

For students to be successful in the courses they take at Cecil College, they must be ready for college-level work. To ensure that students are ready for college-level courses, the state of Maryland requires that all students be assessed in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics before enrolling in credit-level courses. If a student does not receive the appropriate score on placement tests, he or she will be placed in the applicable developmental-level course(s).

Is anyone exempt from taking the placement tests?

Yes, you can be exempt from the placement tests if you:

  • have taken college-level English and/or math and can obtain the official transcripts showing that you have passed these courses at another college;
  • have taken the college-level Accuplacer tests given at another college and scored at an appropriate level within the last two years; or
  • have taken the SAT math test and scored 500 or higher, or the ACT math test and scored 21 or higher.

When and where do I take the placement tests?

Placement tests are given at the Cecil College Math Lab and Testing Center, located in the Engineering and Math Building, room 310. Students must bring their Social Security number (SSN) and photo ID when they come to test. Each skills assessment takes approximately 45 minutes. Please allow 2-3 hours to take all 3 subject assessments if necessary. For more information about placement tests or their hours of operation, call the Testing Center at (410) 287-1015.

Why does Cecil College’s Criminal Justice program award 31 articulated credits to sworn law enforcement officers who have completed a Maryland approved training academy?

The Maryland Higher Education Commission allows Maryland colleges to award credits via credential assessment provided that learning can be verified through various means of assessment and that it is equivalent to the learning gained through formal collegiate instruction. Since officers who have completed their education through a Maryland approved training academy have undergone a rigorous educational experience related to criminal justice/law, it has been determined that law enforcement officials have met these requirements. The articulated courses include:

Course Code Course Title Credits
CRJ 101 Introduction to the Criminal Justice System 3
CRJ 110 Police Community Relations 3
CRJ 133 Forensic Techniques in Crime Scene Investigations 3
CRJ 201 Criminal Investigation 3
CRJ 205 Criminal Law 3
CRJ 208 Ethics in the Criminal Justice System 3
CRJ 211 Probation, Parole, and Community Corrections 3
CRJ 214 Delinquency and Juvenile Justice 3
CRJ 225 Police Organization and Administration 3
CRJ 275 Physical Fitness 1
CRJ 299 Cooperative Education Experience in Criminal Justice 3

What other courses do I need to complete in order to earn my degree?

To complete the Associate of Science in Criminal Justice, you will need to complete 29 credits in addition to the 31 articulated credits in criminal justice courses. Of those 29 credits, 15 credits must be taken at Cecil College. The remaining course to be completed are:

Course Code Course Title Credits
BIO or
CHM or
PHY
Biology, Chemistry, or Physics Elective with Lab 4
EGL 101 Freshman Composition 3
HST 202 United States History II 3
MAT 127 Introduction to Statistics 4
PSY 101 Introduction to Psychology 3
SPH 141 Public Speaking 3
SPN 101 Introductory Spanish 3
CRJ 221 Criminology 3
EGL 211 Technical Writing 3

Why does Cecil College’s Criminal Justice program award 13 articulated credits to detention center officers who have completed a Maryland approved training academy?

The Maryland Higher Education Commission allows Maryland colleges to award credits via credential assessment provided that learning can be verified through various means of assessment and that it is equivalent to the learning gained through formal collegiate instruction. Since officers who have completed their education through a Maryland approved training academy have undergone a rigorous educational experience related to criminal justice/law, it has been determined that detention center officials have met these requirements. The articulated courses include:

Course Code Course Title Credits
CRJ 101 Introduction to the Criminal Justice System 3
CRJ 211 Probation, Parole, and Community Corrections 3
CRJ 214 Delinquency and Juvenile Justice 3
CRJ 275 Physical Fitness 1
CRJ 299 Cooperative Education Experience in Criminal Justice 3

What other courses do I need to complete in order to earn my degree?

To complete the Associate of Science in Criminal Justice, you will need to complete 47 credits in addition to the 13 articulated credits in Criminal Justice courses. Of those 47 credits, 15 credits must be taken at Cecil College. The remaining course to be completed are:

Course Code Course Title Credits
BIO or
CHM or
PHY
Biology, Chemistry, or Physics Elective with Lab 4
EGL 101 Freshman Composition 3
HST 202 United States History II 3
MAT 127 Introduction to Statistics 4
PSY 101 Introduction to Psychology 3
SPH 141 Public Speaking 3
SPN 101 Introductory Spanish 3
CRJ 110 Police Community Relations 3

Can I complete this degree online?

Much of the coursework can be completed in an online format. Online courses are taught entirely over the Internet using Blackboard™ and require students to have off-campus Internet access.

Am I required to take the specific courses associated with this degree?

In many instances yes, since the course may be required to meet state regulations associated with granting that degree. However, there may be opportunities for substitution of courses in some areas. For example, while Statistics is the preferred math course for this degree, another higher level math may be substituted upon review from the department chair. However, students will need 4 credits of math to meet the degree requirement and can work with their advisor on how to do so. Many of the courses not only meet degree requirements, but also transfer and contribute to the completion of a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

If I’ve already taken some college-level courses, do I have to take them over again for this program?

You must complete at least 15 of the required remaining credits at Cecil College in order to obtain the Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice. However, if you have transfer credit(s) from another accredited college/university, you may have those official transcripts sent to the Cecil College Registrar for evaluation. For Sheriff’s Officer Academy graduates, if those courses meet the requirements for the program, up to 14 credits can be transferred in. For Detention Center Academy graduates, up to 32 credits can be transferred in.

Are there other ways I can obtain credits towards my AAS in Criminal Justice?

Yes. The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) provides nationally recognized credit for learning gained through experience or independent learning. Cecil College will award credit for the CLEP exams listed in Appendix D of the college catalog, provided the minimum passing score of 50 (computerized version) has been met. Students interested in learning more about CLEP should contact an academic advisor. Students must have official CLEP score reports sent to Records and Registration at Cecil College.

Additionally, students who have extensive knowledge or training in an area may be eligible to ‘test out’ of a content area and receive credit for that course. For example, if a student is fluent in Spanish, the test out option for Spanish 101 may be a viable option. There is a fee associated with the assessment for testing out of a subject area and receiving credits.

Even though they transferred in via credential assessment, can I take other criminology degree courses?

Of course, any student, desiring to enhance their knowledge are welcome to take additional coursework. Please see the advisor or criminal justice faculty member for guidance.

Am I responsible for paying the tuition to Cecil College and buying the books with this program?

All costs for tuition, fees and books are the responsibility of each student. Tuition and fees are at the current tuition rate for either in-county or out-of-county students, depending on circumstances.

Can the credits from the Criminal Justice program transfer to a four-year college or university after I graduate?

Cecil College has articulation agreements with Bowie University, Coppin University, Frostburg University, Mount St. Mary’s University, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Towson University, and University of Maryland-University College. These agreements allow students who have graduated from the AAS in Criminal Justice degree program to transfer all their credits to one of these four-year institutions.

In addition, many bachelor's degrees require some additional general education course work that can be taken at Cecil College. Please see the advisor for Criminal Justice for specific transfer information.