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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:
 

  • 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

  • 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.

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