Criminal Justice Colleges

Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary field which combines the principles of law, sociology and psychology. Criminal justice students are interested in learning about the crime and the individual who commits it. They also learn how various social conditions and governmental policies affect the increase and decrease of crime rates. They are interested in knowing why certain people of a specific socio-economic and ethnic background are more prone to committing crimes than others.

An obvious career choice for those with Criminal justice degrees, especially with associate and bachelor's degrees, is to become police officers, detectives, correction officers, etc. However, those with master or doctoral degrees in criminal justice may pursue research jobs in the field or become postsecondary teachers.

Criminal justice colleges

Criminal justice colleges all across the United States offer various degree and non-degree academic programs.
A certificate in criminal justice is usually offered by sociology departments. Those who are either working in or want to work in social services fields, victim services, homeland security, policing, corrections and judiciary, may benefit from such a certificate. The duration of these certificates is not fixed; they may last from a few weeks to a year.

An associate degree in criminal justice is a 2-year comprehensive study of:

  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Correctional organizations
  • National criminal justice system
  • Students may be taught both theory and application in the fields of:

  • Constitutional law
  • Criminal justice report writing
  • Policing
  • Introduction to corrections
  • Criminal procedure
  • Criminal evidence
  • Criminology
  • Graduates may qualify to apply for careers in:

  • Dispatcher (police and emergency services)
  • Case worker
  • Security officer
  • Corrections officer
  • An undergraduate student majoring in criminal justice would be taught theories and methods of social sciences with particular emphasis on the understanding of criminal activity, social policies and crime control, criminal court procedures, policing and corrections.

    Generally a 4-year degree, it has the following objectives:

  • In-depth knowledge of criminal theories and their explanation of crime
  • Implications of public policies on crime
  • Workings of the administration of justice
  • Conducting research
  • Interpreting data collected from qualitative and quantitative analytical methods for understanding crime, and other social problems
  • Ability to communicate effectively using research conclusions and scholarly sources of information on crime theory and policy
  • Career options for those with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice are many. One such option is to become a correctional treatment specialist and probation officer. They work with offenders on their rehabilitation and help them not commit crimes again.

Online & campus criminal justice schools

All of the abovementioned degree and non-degree programs are offered online as well. These online programs are ideal for those who are middle to senior level criminal justice officers who are unable to attend classes on campus due to their work schedule. Online degrees in criminal justice are offered at all levels including the master's degree. Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ) degree is a 40 credit hour program which may be completed in 20 months or more.

MCJ learning goals are:

  • Expand on the existing knowledge and experience of criminal justice theory and practice.
  • Sharpen critical thinking skills, communication abilities and refine analytical skills.
  • Gain in-depth knowledge of the latest emerging issues in criminal justice.
  • Prepare students to pursue a doctorate degree.
  • Prepare students for a career in teaching
  • Use research methods to analyze criminal justice challenges.

  • Law enforcement, corrections officers and court professionals stand to gain the most from this degree. Furthermore, MCJ may also help those looking to change careers.

Typical courses at criminal justice schools

Course titles and their scope of study will depend upon the level of study. For example, some of the courses offered at the certificate level may be titled as:

  • Sociology of Law
  • Criminology
  • Social Problems
  • Probation and Parole
  • White Collar Crime
  • Crime and Forensics
  • Race and Policing
  • Serial Mass Murder
  • Corporate Crime
  • Gender Crime
  • Hate Crime
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Constitutional Law
  • Introduction to Civil Liberties
  • Law and Culture in America

  • Courses typically taught at the associate degree level may be titled as:

  • Introduction to Forensics
  • Current Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Victims Advocacy
  • Policing in America
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Introduction to Terrorism

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice core requirements may be titled as:

  • Principles of Criminal Justice
  • Sociological Methods
  • Courts, Society, and Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Law
  • Corrections: Concepts, Systems, and Issues
  • Police and Society

  • Core electives may be titled as:

  • Introduction to Urban Affairs
  • Rehabilitation and Re-Integration
  • Drugs and Society
  • Technology, Environment, and Society
  • Domestic Violence
  • Crime and Delinquency

  • The required courses with Master of Criminal Justice may include:

  • Victimology
  • Forensic Behavioral Analysis
  • Research Methods
  • Analytical Methods
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Terrorism
  • White Collar Crime
  • Youth Crime Problems
  • Criminology

  • Students may elect to specialize in:

  • Criminal Justice Administration or
  • Cyber Crime

Admission requirements

General admission requirements for the certificate program in criminal justice may include:

Admission requirements for traditional and online criminal justice programs may be different; requirements for the former may be more stringent than the requirements for the latter. However, the value of online degree may be at par with the traditional degree, especially when it is accredited.

How Long Does It Take to Graduate from a Criminal Justice College?

A number of colleges like the Northwestern Michigan College, Jackson College and Portland Community College, are offering Criminal Justice degrees. Students can opt for an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S) in Criminal Justice which will take 2 years to complete. They can also go for a Bachelor of Science (B.S) in Criminal Justice which will be completed in 4 years. These degrees help students understand the structure and history of the criminal justice system and the theories of crime causation.

What Are the Requirements to Graduate from a Criminal Justice College?

In order to obtain an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Criminal Justice, students have to complete a minimum of 60 to 90 credits and have to obtain a minimum grade of 2.0 in every course. They also have to maintain a minimum CGPA of 2.0. The coursework is composed of a variety of modules such as Sociology, Social Institutions, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Deviance and Violence and Introduction to Psychological Profiling. Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science (B.S) in Criminal Justice have to complete around 120 credits.

How Much Can I Earn after Graduating from a Criminal Justice College?

After graduating from a Criminal Justice College, students can find employment as Detectives at private security firms and law enforcement agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security or the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The annual median income of Police and Detectives was $63,380 in 2018. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated a positive employment growth of 5 percent in this field from 2018 to 2028.

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Filing the program's application online

  • The following may serve as a general guideline for admission into the associate degree in criminal justice:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Filing the program's application online
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Essay

  • Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice may require the following for admission:

  • Submission of program's application online or by mail
  • Official transcripts
  • Personal statement essay
  • SAT scores
  • TOEFL (if required)

  • Admission into the MCJ degree may require the following:

  • A bachelor's degree
  • GRE or GMAT scores
  • Official transcripts
  • Current resume
  • A 500 words essay on a given topic
  • A completed application form

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What undergraduate degree is best for getting into criminal justice schools?

A:There are no specific undergraduate major requirements to get accepted by criminal justice schools. If you are planning to enroll in a graduate-level criminal justice program, you will have to meet the admission criteria of the school which can vary from place to place. These requirements may include: letters of recommendation, minimum GPA, and a bachelor degree transcript.

Q:What gpa do you need to get into criminal justices school?

A:The CGPA requirements may vary from school to school. Having a GPA of 3.0 or above can help improve your chances of being accepted by many schools. Some schools also accept applicants who have a GPA of 2.5 or lower. You can check with prospective schools to learn more about the admission criteria and requirements.

Q:What prerequisites do i need for criminal justice school?

A:There are no specific prerequisite courses you need for criminal justice schools. You will have to meet the admission requirements set by the school. Typically, these requirements include: college or high school degree transcripts, minimum GPA score, and letters of recommendation. You can get more information about the admission requirements by contacting the selected criminal justice school.

Q:What to do after criminal justice school?

A:With a degree in criminal justice, you can explore a variety of career options. You can consider joining the police department, court systems, homeland security department, border patrol, corrections and probations department, and more. Your degree-level, skill set, and area of specialization will influence your job opportunities and income potential.

Q:What are the prerequisites for criminal justice school?

A:The prerequisites for criminal justice school would vary from university to university. Depending on the university's particular criteria, you might be required to complete courses in a few subjects before you apply for admission. These would be courses in psychology, political science, sociology, public administration, economics, philosophy and history.

Q:How to enroll in a criminal justics school online?

A:The first thing you need to do is to look for a criminal justice program that suits your requirements. This would include finding a program in the location you want it, according to the fee structure you are looking for, and in accordance with whatever your prior educational level is. Once you have located the college you want to go to, it is simply a process of logging on to their website, checking for entry requirements and enrolling accordingly.

Q:How many credits do I need to graduate from a criminal justice school?

A:The credit hour requirements may vary slightly from college to college, and will also depend on the degree-level you are pursuing. For example, to earn an associate degree in criminal justice, students will have to earn 60-70 credit hours whereas the credit hour for a bachelor degree is 20-30 credit hours. The credit hour requirement of a masters degree in criminal justice typically ranges between 30 and 40.

Q:How long does it take to graduate from criminal justice school?

A:The answer to that depends on the level of education you are going for. An associate degree in criminal justice would take around 1 to 2 years. A bachelor's degree would take 3 to four years, a master's degree would take 1 to 2 years, while a PhD/doctorate degree in criminal justice could take up to 5 to 6 years.

Q:How much does it cost to go to criminal justice school?

A:The cost of a criminal justice degree would depend on the level of education you are going for. For instance, if you are going for an associate degree, it would cost less than a doctorate in criminal justice. Besides that, the cost of this degree would also vary from college to college. Depending on the quality of the program and the repute of the college itself, the overall tuition cost might experience variations.

Q:What programs do criminal justice schools offer?

A:Different colleges and universities offer different sort of programs in this field. You could go for a bachelor of science in criminal justice, an associate of applied science in criminal justice, or a master of science in homeland security and emergency management. You will also have a few certificates options such as corrections certificate and private security certificate.

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