The Associate of Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice is designed to teach students the fundamentals of the criminal justice system: law enforcement, the judicial system, and corrections. This associate degree program is designed to prepare students by presenting numerous ideas, topics, and research which are directly connected to various aspects of human behavior in the social environment as they apply to the many levels of criminal justice understanding. Students will also be introduced to a variety of interdisciplinary concepts, such as those found within sociology and psychology and how they relate to the student of criminal justice. The curriculum is designed to offer a balance of theory and application to encourage and develop critical thinking skills. An A.A.S. degree in Criminal Justice enables students to enhance their skill and knowledge base in working with diverse populations.
Criminal Justice is a rapidly growing field of interest. The Criminal Justice program provides the opportunity to build a solid foundation in the area of criminal justice, which will help prepare students for various entry-level positions in areas such as:
- PA State Police Officer (Students must complete at least 60 credits of collegiate work. Students wishing to pursue a regional policy academy ACT 120 certification may do so prior to or after obtaining a college degree.)
- PA Police Academies (If a student chooses to attend Penn Highlands after completing their Police Academy training (Municipal or State), a total of 24 credits will be applied toward their Criminal Justice A.A.S. degree.
- Security Officer
- Victim Advocacy Counselor or Victim Services Trainee
- Probation Officer Trainee
- Corrections Officer Trainee
- Institutional Parole Assistant
- DCNR (Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources) Ranger Trainee
- Specialized Law Enforcement Instructor (Permanent, Part-time Employment)
- Evidence Technician
- Youth Detention Counselor
- Legal Assistant
- Crime Statistics Analyst
- Insurance Investigator
- Retail Loss Prevention
Upon completion of the program, the student will be able to:
- Define the major concepts, theoretical perspectives of the criminal justice system (courts, criminal law, criminal procedures, and the adult and juvenile justice systems), and history as they relate to the disciplines of sociology and criminology.
- Identify and analyze emerging trends (deviance, victimology, punishment, etc.) in the criminal justice field through research and statistical data.
- Introduce strategies for working with diverse populations by recognizing and developing skills such as ethical standards, leadership principles, and legal practices in law enforcement, the judicial system, and corrections. Apply skills and knowledge working with diverse populations in law enforcement, corrections, probation, and parole.
- Link skills and knowledge necessary for entry-level employment in one of the three components of the criminal justice field (law enforcement, the judicial system, and corrections). Communicate and apply fundamental ethical, management, leadership, and legal guidelines (e.g., Constitutional law) that govern the field of Criminal Justice.
Obtaining the Degree
To earn the Associate of Applied Science Degree in Criminal Justice, students must:
- Matriculate into the program.
- Satisfactorily complete all degree requirements, including General Education and Major Requirements of the degree.