What Is The Difference Between Criminal And Civil Law?

What Is The Difference Between Criminal And Civil Law?

Online Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice program graduate standing in front of Lady Justice statue.
Online Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice program graduate standing in front of Lady Justice statue.

Working in law is a challenging yet rewarding career path. You have an opportunity to learn about the historical origins of the justice system, gain new perspectives about human behavior, and directly impact law enforcement, corrections, social services, and the judicial system from the inside out. 

An associate’s degree in criminal justice allows students to immerse themselves in courses that prepare them to work in law enforcement, the legal system, and corrections. With an education in criminal justice, you will be integral in selecting the appropriate procedures associated with law enforcement administration and essential in the prevention, detection, and regulation of crime and criminal behavior.

Learn more about the core differences between criminal and civil law and how a criminal justice degree online could help you create positive change in your community and build a sustainable career with a positive job outlook.   

Definition: Criminal Law vs. Civil Law

Criminal law deals with crime and legal punishment of criminal offenses, such as theft, assault, robbery, murder, and others. In contrast, civil law deals with disputes between individuals and/or organizations when a form of compensation is awarded to the victim, such as landlord and tenant disputes, divorce proceedings, custody battles, personal injury, and others.

Central Christian College of Kansas Criminal Justice program graduate working through documents

Careers: Criminal Law vs. Civil Law

Pursuing a career in criminal and civil law opens the doors to numerous career paths and lucrative job opportunities. The types of cases, nature of work, and different organizations you will be employed with will vary depending on which category of law enforcement you choose. The following careers are available to individuals with an educational background in either criminal or civil law.

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Careers in Criminal Law   

  • Police Officer

  • Correctional Officer

  • Law Clerk

  • Attorney

  • Judge

  • Private Investigator

  • Criminal Profiler

  • Crime Prevention Specialist

  • Crime Scene Investigator

  • Drug Enforcement Administration Agent

  • Homicide Detective

Careers in Civil Law   

  • Paralegal

  • Legal Secretary

  • Legal Recruiter

  • Contracts Lawyer

  • Family Lawyer

  • Immigration Lawyer

  • Personal Injury Lawyer

  • Corporate Lawyer

  • Employment Lawyer

Education: Criminal Law vs. Civil Law

Working in legal services is a complex process whether you’re working in criminal or civil law. Each type of law requires distinct skills, experience, and education pathways. You can enter into jobs in law with various degree levels, from an associate’s degree to a Ph.D. program. 

Criminal Justice Programs

  • Criminal Justice: Associate’s Degree

  • Corrections Major: Associate’s Degree

  • Criminology Major: Bachelor’s Degree

  • Forensic Science Major: Certificate, associate degree, bachelor's degree, or higher

  • Police Science Major: Certificate, associate degree, and bachelor's degree 

  • Pre-law and legal major: Bachelor’s Degree

  • Criminal psychology major: Bachelor's degree, master's degree

Civil Law Programs

Criminal justice student watches online presentation and takes notes

What is the Purpose of an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice?

One of the fast tracks to learning essential skills to pursue a career in criminal justice is through an associate’s degree in criminal justice. An associate’s degree in criminal justice is designed for students who want to advance their career in law enforcement, corrections, social services, or the judicial system by becoming more familiar with the field of law enforcement and enhance general knowledge in the Liberal Arts.

The curriculum offers an introductory perspective of human behavior, law enforcement management, and applications of education following graduation. The courses intend to disseminate fundamental concepts within an ethical worldview.

The associate’s degree in criminal justice is an entryway to job opportunities for paralegals and legal assistants, which have a positive job outlook of 10 percent through 2029 (much faster than average occupations). This degree is also a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree and enrollment in law school and imparts some of the skills necessary to pass the LSAT.  

What is the Difference Between an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Law Degree in Criminal Justice?

An associate’s degree and a law degree in criminal justice are different educational paths that offer distinctive jobs after their completion. If you’re interested in completing a law degree in criminal justice you must start with a bachelor’s degree, pass the LSAT, and attend three years of law school. After graduating from law school you can complete an advanced degree or Juris Doctor degree.

Students do not need to complete a bachelor’s degree in law to gain entry to law school. Students with a bachelor's degree from every educational program can apply for admission to law school. 

An associate’s degree in criminal justice also offers many benefits. You can complete an online criminal justice degree one course at a time in as little as two years. This is an ideal option for individuals working full-time who require the flexibility of a program that is 100 percent online. 

Once you complete an associate’s degree you can benefit from career choices, flexibility, and gain the foundational knowledge to excel in law school if you choose to pursue that route. You can graduate with an associate’s degree and excel in a job in law enforcement, corrections, and other criminal justice careers. 

Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice at Central Christian College of Kansas

Central Christian College of Kansas offers an excellent associate’s degree in criminal justice program that educates students about the historical development of the criminal justice system, the ethical framework that influences law and public policy, and the real-world procedures of criminal law. Graduates may be directly involved in law enforcement administration and the prevention, detection, and regulation of crime and criminal behavior.

  • In the Central Christian College of Kansas Criminal Justice program, Students get access to courses that cover everything from introductions to criminal justice and corrections to the relationship between drugs and crime, law enforcement, the basic structure of the court system and court process, serial killers, terrorism and counterterrorism, criminal justice systems, managing investigations and evidence. Courses also introduce students to law and legal studies, an overview of patrol operations, forensic science, ethics, descriptive and inferential statistics, principles of criminal law, the science of criminal investigation, criminology, police administration, comparative justice, criminal procedure, criminological theory, victimology, juvenile justice, community corrections, and crisis management.

According to Tom Greco, Professor of Criminal Justice, foundational to the teaching at Central Christian College of Kansas is the “Core Four”: "The “Core Four” is how we live out our mission of providing a Christ-Centered Education for Character so that our students graduate as Christ-driven people of character. Our desire is for students to maintain a healthy, Christ-centered lifestyle in how they use their mind, heart, soul, and strength." 

Professor Greco adds: "Many of the questions being asked by our society today are discussed in our online classes. Issues can range from the role and responsibilities of police officers, training and professionalism of the force, ethics of our law enforcement officers, how to address juvenile misconduct, the roles of our courts, funding issues and concerns, responses to domestic terrorism, morality of the death penalty, role of corrections and the accountability of law enforcement officers and prosecutors to name a few."

Benefits of Studying At Central Christian College of Kansas

  • 100% online: completed one course at a time

  • Transfer previous college credits to earn your degree faster

  • No transcript or application fees

  • The online program is the same as our on-campus program

  • An AA in criminal justice allows you to begin work in the field immediately while simultaneously pursuing your bachelor’s degree

  • The courses are created and taught by real-world criminal justice experts

Susan Nitsch, Criminal Justice Professor, believes that by taking a Criminal Justice course with CCCK, "a student will gain a greater understanding of the importance of human rights, and how the international community values those rights, and seeks to protect them. Not only will students learn about the American justice system, but we will explore other justice systems of the world and gain a greater understanding of the importance and dignity which our system affords its citizens."

The Criminal Justice program at Central Christian College of Kansas embraces our redemptive role in society as well as God’s call to offer communal justice. Courses are taught by experienced officials in the legal systems, providing outstanding teaching on the subject matter as well as immediate areas of applicability to real-world challenges encountered by persons in the criminal justice system.

Contact us for an enrollment application. Want more program information? Complete our online form and we'll send you our brochure with detailed course information.