Criminal justice is a vast field, encompassing over 50 diverse career paths. A criminal justice degree could be used in many fields from attorneys to paralegals or from police officers to correctional officers. Students in criminal justice degree programs will learn about our justice system, how it works, and how to apply the knowledge they gain.
Accredited Criminal Justice Programs
Accreditation is an important factor that shows the education you receive from a criminal justice school adheres to a precise level of quality. Regional, national or private educational accrediting associations create evaluation criteria and administer assessments to ascertain if the standards are met. Programs and institutions that apply and meet those standards are granted accreditation.
Program certification or accreditation is not a requirement for employment in the criminal justice field. However, your degree must be from an accredited university or college. Therefore, it is crucial that before enrolling in a school, you verify that the institution is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency. This will ensure you receive a quality, comprehensive education that will prepare you for a career in the field.
Criminal Justice Degree Types
Criminal justice degrees are extremely versatile and can open new career opportunities in a variety of related fields. It is important to note that curriculum and degrees offered can vary greatly between schools. Types of criminal justice degrees include certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs. Considerations when choosing a degree include:
- Degree program length and options, including online, campus or hybrid
- Subject focus of the program, such as forensics, criminal justice or homeland security
- Job opportunities and career outlook after graduation
It is necessary to find out as much information as possible about each program before applying.
General Requirements for Admission
General requirements for admission vary by school, but most criminal justice programs are competitive. It is recommended that students interested in the program contact particular colleges about their specific general requirements for admission and submit a completed application if the program meets their goals.
Criminal Justice Program Curriculum
A criminal justice degree program curriculum includes both practical and theoretical courses that work together to provide a comprehensive knowledge of crime and delinquency, criminal law, courts, correctional facilities and law enforcement. Theoretical courses include topics such as criminology, crime and social policy and critical issues in corrections. Applied courses include DNA profiling and criminal and investigative procedures.
Online Learning Options and Benefits
Online programs are a flexible resource that can help you meet your goals and objectives, such as obtaining a degree, gaining new skills or advancing your career. They offer an education similar to what you receive on-campus. However, there are differences between online and on-campus degree programs that should be researched. For instance, online courses are better choices for those who live in remote areas with limited access to a school.
Career Opportunities in Criminal Justice
Employment in the criminal justice sector is expanding rapidly, which means there are many career opportunities for growth and advancement. The most popular jobs with a criminal justice degree include:
- Police officers
- Correctional officers
- Probation officers
- Forensic science technicians
Graduates may also elect to continue their training to work for the FBI, CIA or the Secret Service or further their education by attending law school.