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Promote a safe, secure community.

With a degree in criminal justice, there are dozens of possible career paths. From work in correctional facilities to security agencies, you could put your career training to work to serve your community. For those with military experience, our COE-accredited criminal justice degree program opens up even more possibilities, including positions at government agencies. Whatever your goal, our criminal justice degree program trains you in the job-focused skills that get you Day 1 Ready for a new job.

Day 1 Ready means having the knowledge, skills, and confidence to perform on Day 1 of a new job, and we are committed to teaching the skills that employers seek. This El Paso criminal justice degree covers criminal behavior, legal proceedings, rehabilitation, police practices, and corrections. Keep up with coursework, and you could graduate in under 17 months*.

The criminal justice degree goes beyond basic instruction. Our personalized career services focus on all aspects of career readiness, from finding the right jobs to resume building to interview prep—help and support you won’t get with most information criminal justice associate degrees. We are always in touch with potential employers and may be able to help connect you to real opportunities. If you are ready for the challenge, we’ll work with you to get you Day 1 Ready.

*Based on successful, full-time enrollment

Fast Facts

Next Start Date
November 15

Course Length: 17 Months *
Class Hours:
Lab Hours:
Clinical Hours:

* Based on successful, full time enrollment

Career Opportunities for Graduates

Graduates of our Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice program receive academic preparation for corrections, security practices, and other related fields, depending on a wide variety of requirements. Members of the military could have a wider range of opportunities.

Potential Job Titles: Correctional Treatment Specialists, Retail Loss Prevention Specialists, Government agents

Why Vista College?

The Right Skills for Real Jobs

Vista College designs its legal programs around the real skills that employers seek, getting you Day 1 Ready for jobs that are hiring today.

Course Title Credits
Introduction to Criminal Justice 8
Fundamentals of Criminal Law 8
Courts and Criminal Procedures 8
Corrections 8
Ethics 8
Victimology * 8
Organized Crime * 8
Police System and Practices 8
Crime and Criminals * 8
Criminal Investigation * 8
Criminal Behavior * 8
Introduction to College Mathematics 9
Introduction to Computer Science 4.5
Introduction to Psychology 4.5
English Composition I 4.5
English Composition II * 4.5

Introduction to Criminal Justice


This course provides an introduction to the criminal justice system. The primary goal of this course is to develop a general understanding of the criminal justice system’s purpose and response to crime in society. The course focuses on the history and philosophy of the American criminal justice system; the development of law enforcement, courts, correction, and the modern operations of these agencies; and, how they function together.

8 credits
70 theory hours
20 lab hours

Fundamentals of Criminal Law


This course examines criminal law from the aspect of historical evidences and classifications of crimes and criminal responsibility. Topics include the elements of criminal offenses, principles of criminal liability, complicity, defenses, justifications, excuses, crimes against persons, crimes against property, and crimes against public order.

8 credits
70 theory hours
20 lab hours

Courts and Criminal Procedures


This course examines the role of the judiciary in the criminal justice system in detail; the different levels and jurisdiction; the prosecution of offenders; the basic right to counsel; the concept of pretrial release; the purpose and function of the grand jury; the procedural processes of adjudication; types and purposes of sentencing; the rules of evidence; rules concerning trial procedure; the disposition of criminal cases; and the various means of structured sentencing.

8 credits
70 theory hours
20 lab hours



This course examines the history, philosophy and components of the American corrections system. It provides an overview of the origins of correctional systems in the United States; and, examines the programs that make up the correctional system to include jails, probation, parole, intermediate punishments, and prisons.

8 credits
70 theory hours
20 lab hours



This course is an intense examination of the ethical considerations faced by personnel in the criminal justice industry. The topics include an examination of cultural values and mores, understanding what constitutes moral and ethical behavior; and, how it all applies to the everyday decision making process.

8 credits
70 theory hours
20 lab hours



This course is a comprehensive and balanced exploration of victimology, a controversial issue in criminology that seeks to provide a better understanding of how society and the criminal justice system treat victims as a whole. Over the past two decades, much of the data comes from statistics gathered through the FBI’s annual NIBR Report and Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey.

8 credits
70 theory hours
20 lab hours

Organized Crime


This course introduces the student to Organized Crime. It reviews the beginnings and evolution, both foreign and domestic, of Organized Crime groups. It will also cover the theories of organized criminal behavior, the businesses that organized crime groups participate in, how we look at terrorism as it relates to organized crime and how to control the spread of organized crime.

8 credits
70 theory hours
20 lab hours

Police System and Practices


This course provides an introduction to the inner workings of the police department to include administration, CID, special operations teams, internal affairs, school resources, and other specialized community policing groups, with special emphasis on patrol procedures.

8 credits
70 theory hours
20 lab hours

Crime and Criminals


This course introduces students to the study of crime and criminal behavior as well as to theories of crime causation. It reviews different types of crime and examines crime control policy.

8 credits
70 theory hours
20 lab hours

Criminal Investigation


This course provides students with instruction in the fundamentals of criminal investigation by examining the processes involved in identifying and arresting criminal suspects, identifying the types of crimes and offenses, and in preparing for court.

8 credits
70 theory hours
20 lab hours

Criminal Behavior


This course introduces the student to Criminal Behavior. It reviews the origins of criminal behavior. It will cover human aggression and violence along with juvenile delinquency as it relates to criminal behavior, criminal psychopathy and mental disorders as they relate to crime. The course will cover a broad spectrum of topics including homicide, family violence, sex crimes, multiple murders and school/workplace violence. Finally, the course will offer insight into terrorism, property and public order crimes, violent economic crimes, crimes of intimidation and how substance abuse and alcohol relate to criminal behavior.

8 credits
70 theory hours
20 lab hours

Introduction to College Mathematics


Introduction to College Mathematics covers basic math topics such as solving for whole numbers and equations, understanding proper and improper fractions, converting decimals and figuring percentages. Other topics covered include calculating simple interest, annuities, loan amortization, checkbook reconciliation, and business statistical problems such as mean, median and mode.

9 credits
90 theory hours

Introduction to Computer Science


This course introduces various information and communications technologies and explains how information systems are used to solve problems.

4.5 credits
45 theory hours

Introduction to Psychology


This course includes the study of the theories and concepts of psychology including the scope of psychology, biological foundations and the brain, sensation, perception, motivation, personality, learning/memory, emotion, states of consciousness, personality theories, cognition, life-span development, and applied psychology.

4.5 credits
45 theory hours

English Composition I


This course introduces students to critical reading and writing, research techniques, citation and documentation formats, as well as the use of correct grammar and sentence structure to communicate effectively.

4.5 credits
45 theory hours

English Composition II


This course builds on the skills learned in English Composition I. It develops written communication skills with an emphasis on the use of the writing process, the analysis of readings, and the practice of writing for personal and professional applications.

4.5 credits
45 theory hours

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