Fundamentals of Criminal Justice
Undergraduate Certificate Online Program

The undergraduate certificate program in the Fundamentals of Criminal Justice is designed to expose students to the fundamental facts and workings of the criminal justice system. Students will be introduced to procedures in the legal system, learn the required steps in criminal investigations, and receive an overview of general judicial principles. Students will acquire knowledge that is readily applicable to their professional interests in the field of law and criminology.

Designed For You

The California Coast University online Undergraduate Certificate in the Fundamentals of Criminal Justice program was designed for complete flexibility for the student. All courses are self-paced and completed 100% online.

  • Low tuition with interest-free payment plans as low as $100/month.
  • Flexible programs designed to fit into your busy schedule. Self-paced study with no group projects, set meeting times, or exam dates.
  • The program is not structured in semesters, quarters, or terms. It is designed to allow students to begin their online studies at any time of the year.
  • CCU offers a tuition discount for Active Duty Military, Veterans, Law Enforcement, Firefighters, Government Employees, and CCU Graduates.
    We also offer a 10% discount for Corporate Partner employees. For more information on how to become a Corporate Partner, see our Corporate Partnership Information Page.
    *Employment verification is required. Offer good for students who enrolled after April 2018 and were offered discount at time of enrollment. Offer is not retroactive for students already enrolled. Discount and/or prices subject to change and/or cancellation at any time without notice. This offer cannot be combined with any other discount(s).
View Program Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to:


Explore The Program

The Undergraduate Certificate in the Fundamentals of Criminal Justice degree program consists of 4 total courses.
The required courses are comprised of: 4 Core .
There are 12 total semester units in this program.

4 Core Courses

The online Undergraduate Certificate in the Fundamentals of Criminal Justice degree program is comprised of the following 4 courses. Click on course title to expand and read more.

ID Course Name Units
BCJ 100 Introduction to Criminal Justice  3

Introduction to Criminal Justice aims to provide students with a general understanding of the criminal justice system’s response to crime in society. It is important to note that the general theme of this course involves the delicate balance between community interests and individual rights that criminal justice decision-making requires. This theme will be explored by examining the criminal justice process in some detail, focusing on how the system is structured to respond to crime.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explore the history of crime in America and corresponding changes in the American criminal justice system.
  • Explain how multiculturalism and diversity present special challenges to, and opportunities for, the American system of criminal justice.
  • Examine the development of criminological theory including the role of social research in that development.
  • Describe the development of American courts including the concept of the dual-court system.
  • Consider the history of punishments and its impact on the modern philosophy of corrections.
BCJ 230 Criminal Investigation  3

Criminal Investigation aims to provide students with an overview of the criminal investigation field. Course topics include the fundamentals of criminal investigation, follow-up investigative processes, methods for obtaining information, and how to approach the investigation of different types of crimes.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the solvability factors in a criminal investigation.
  • Identify the qualities of a good investigative report.
  • Explain how to collect and search for evidence at a crime scene.
  • Examine the role of investigative analysis to solve crimes.
  • Identify the legal guidelines for conducting searches.
  • Differentiate between interviews and interrogations.
  • Distinguish between the criminal intelligence and criminal investigation functions.
BCJ 240 Procedures in the Justice System  3

Procedures in the Justice System covers the fundamental principles and procedures employed in the investigation of crimes. The course connects criminal procedure cases to the real world through innovative pedagogy and encourages critical thinking. This course is designed to help students develop a working knowledge of the steps of investigation, beginning with the initial security of the crime scene and concluding with the presentation of evidence and proper testimony in court in such a way as to make the concepts easy to apply to any state’s specific procedural laws.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the law of constitutional criminal procedures.
  • Understand criminal procedures in its social, political, and historical contexts.
  • Review the purposes and rules that emerge from cases.
BCJ 351 Forensic Science  3

Forensic Science explores the forensic investigation process and procedures. Students will learn how to identify, gather, and analyze multiple types of evidence through contemporary case studies. This course is designed to make the subject of forensic science comprehensible to a wide variety of students who are, or plan to be, aligned with the forensic science profession.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Define and distinguish forensic science and criminalistics.
  • Describe proper techniques for packaging common types of physical evidence.
  • Understand the difference between qualitative and quantitative analysis.
  • Understand the use of DNA computerized databases in criminal investigation.

Prerequisites to Admission:

The applicant should meet the following prerequisites in order to be admitted to the program: An applicant must be at least 18 years of age and have successfully obtained a high school diploma, GED, or its equivalent.

FAQ About Coursework

Required units may be satisfied in the following ways:

  • California Coast University has developed comprehensive Study Guides, for each course, that are designed to coordinate and sequence the learning materials within the required textbook. The following points will help to illustrate how the Study Guides are designed:

    • Study Guides are based on specific college level textbooks, which may be obtained from local bookstores, the publisher, or the University's Rental Library.
    • Each Study Guide is organized with a complete syllabus, along with instructional materials to guide the student chapter by chapter through the corresponding textbook.
    • Each Study Guide contains an overview and summary of all textbook chapters, along with a listing of important keywords (with definitions), and self-tests (with answers) on key points.
    • Study Guides include 4 unit exams equally spaced throughout the instructional materials, one writing assignment per unit, and the final examination.
    • Examinations are designed to test the student on the information contained within the preceding chapters.
    • All tests have no time limit and may be completed as open book tests.
  • Transcripts of previously completed academic work are evaluated and credit may be transferred to meet existing coursework requirements. The following guidelines are utilized when accepting transfer credit for a certificate program:

    • The University will accept transfer credit from applicable courses completed at colleges or universities accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or foreign equivalent.
    • Certificate students may receive transfer credit for up to 6 semester units of previously completed coursework. Students may transfer up to 9 semester units of credit completed at California Coast University.
    • To be eligible for undergraduate academic credit, transfer grades must be equivalent to a letter grade of C (2.0 GPA) or higher.
  • During the admissions process, all professional experience is reviewed to determine if an applicant has sufficient occupational experience to warrant completing a Challenge Examination in lieu of a Study Guide for a particular course. The following factors are considered:

    • An applicant may be offered an opportunity to complete a Challenge Examination if the candidate's occupational expertise appears to be comparable to the objectives identified for a particular course.
    • Successfully passing a Challenge Examination will demonstrate an acceptable level of competence for that course.
    • If a student does not pass a Challenge Examination they are assigned a Study Guide for completion.
    • The maximum amount of Challenge Examinations allowed for each program level are: Associate 4; Bachelor's 10; Master's 2; Doctorate 0; and Certificates 1.