Criminal Justice ASB Degree
Questions Answered

How will studying law enforcement, courts, and corrections prepare me for a career in criminal justice?

It gives you the knowledge and hands-on experience to be successful in all of these areas.  By learning about all of the possible areas in CJ, you understand how the areas overlap and rely on each other to make the system work.  You may be a corrections officer, but it is the police who arrest the offender and bring them to the jail. It was the 911 dispatcher who reported the crime to the police. It will be the judge and probation officer who deals with the offender that you transport from the jail to the courthouse.  

Can I specialize in a particular area such as criminology, forensic science, or legal studies during my associate degree?

No.  You will be educated in all of these areas of CJ. However, if you continue on with your education, you will be able to obtain higher level degrees in each topic– such as a bachelor’s degree that specializes in Forensic Science.  South Hills has articulation agreements with some schools that offer Bachelor’s Degrees. For more information visit:

Are there certificate programs that can supplement my associate degree in Criminal Justice?


How does Police Academy Training or Basic Law Enforcement Training fit into my career path after obtaining an associate degree?

Refer to the next question/answer.

Can I become a police officer after obtaining an associate degree in criminal justice, and do I need additional certifications like Act 120?

In PA, to apply to become a PA State Trooper you need an associate degree or 60 credits of higher education.  So, once you obtain your associate degree from South Hills you will be able to apply for the PA State Police.  If you are hired by them, they will send you to their police academy for training.  THIS IS NOT ACT 120.  ACT 120 IS FOR LOCAL POLICE OFFICERS.  If you want to become a local police officer after getting your associate degree, you will need to check out the requirements of each police agency.  Some agencies will hire you without your ACT 120 certification and pay for your training after they hire you.  Other agencies will require that you are certified prior to hiring you. 

How will I be prepared for careers in Cybercrime Investigations or Digital Forensics with an associate degree in Criminal Justice?

While both of these topics are briefly discussed in the Associate’s level program, these are advanced topics in law enforcement/forensic science.  Additional training will be needed to work specifically in these areas.  However, this training is often offered by police agencies to officers once they are hired and have experience in the field.

What kind of career opportunities and advancement opportunities can I expect with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice?

Career options include: PA State Trooper, local police officer, Sheriff, juvenile advocates, corrections officers, private security officers, etc.  The more education and / or field experience you get, the more you can advance in the CJ field. 

What kind of skills will I gain from Criminal Justice Administration Programs while obtaining my associate degree?

Handcuffing techniques and certification, pepper spray certification, ability to : investigate crime scenes, apply PA sentencing guidelines, collect evidence properly, apply PA crimes code and rules of criminal procedures to cases; emergency response certifications