Criminal Justice Degree & Career Guide
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What Is Criminal Justice?
Criminal justice is the study of all aspects of the justice system, including policy, law, and corrections. You can pursue a bachelor’s, a master’s, and even a doctoral degree in criminal justice. Earning a degree in criminal justice can lead to a career where you focus on serving others in your community.
Criminal justice careers may delve into the theory and psychology behind criminal behavior and reform. Many criminal justice programs offer the option to specialize in specific areas. Common specialties within a bachelor’s in criminal justice program include criminology, forensic science, homeland security, and cybercrime.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Justice
What can you do with a criminal justice degree?
Earning a degree in criminal justice teaches you the skills and education needed to work in various areas of the criminal justice system. Depending on your program, you may prepare to assume different roles in law enforcement and forensics. You could even enter the legal side of the field and become a paralegal.
Many graduates who earn a criminal justice degree pursue careers in rehabilitation and counseling, as well. You could also become a youth correctional counselor or a victim's advocate with additional training.
What is the best degree for criminal justice?
The best degree for criminal justice depends on your personal preferences and long-term career goals. Some law enforcement jobs may only require an associate in criminal justice degree, whereas a criminal profiler may require a doctorate.
If you want to become a detective or an FBI agent, you'll most likely need to earn a bachelor's in criminal justice. Additionally, those who earn a master's degree may find the path from police officer to detective much quicker.
Is getting a criminal justice degree hard?
Although earning a criminal justice degree is challenging for some learners, the difficulty of pursuing the degree depends largely on your strengths and weaknesses. A bachelor's in criminal justice, for instance, will require you to take general education courses, like math and English, in addition to your criminal justice coursework.
Most criminal justice programs cover criminal law and criminal procedures, which could require memorizing important information. You may also need to complete a capstone project or research-based paper to graduate, which can be challenging.
What jobs can you get with a criminal justice degree?
Earning a degree in criminal justice can open the door to many opportunities. Depending on the type of degree you earn, you could find a job as a police officer, correctional officer, or crime scene technician. You could also pursue work as an investigator or drug enforcement agent.
Earning a bachelor's in criminal justice can provide a strong foundation for graduate-level coursework. If you're interested in pursuing education past an undergraduate degree, you could go to law school and become a lawyer. You could also pursue a doctoral degree in psychology and become a forensic psychologist.
Which criminal justice career pays the most?
Depending on a worker's degree and experience, there are many high-paying careers in criminal justice. Those who earn professional degrees and become judges can earn one of the highest-paying salaries in the field. In 2021, the median salary for judges was $128,710 per year.
Other criminal justice careers that offer high salaries include attorneys, FBI agents, criminologists, and financial examiners. These jobs require at least a bachelor's in criminal justice degree.
Is it better to get a BS or BA in criminal justice?
If you are interested in pursuing a bachelor's in criminal justice, you will find that some programs offer a bachelor of science while others offer a bachelor of arts. Neither a BS nor BA in criminal justice is necessarily better than the other, although one type may make more sense for you.
BS in criminal justice programs tend to have more science-based coursework. This could be a better option if you are interested in forensics or psychology. In contrast, a BA in criminal justice program typically offers a more liberal-arts-based approach, which may be a better option if you struggle with science coursework.