Criminal Justice and Corrections

Criminal Justice and Corrections Degree Coursework

Criminal justice and corrections programs offer general and advanced academic training in fields such as law enforcement, probation, parole, juvenile delinquency, forensics and youth and adult offender treatment.

Although colleges and universities offer undergraduate certificate and diploma programs in criminal justice and corrections, many students go on to earn Associate’s degrees and Bachelor’s degrees as employers who hire professionals in criminal justice and corrections fields often look for these more advanced degrees.  A few students, particularly people who plan to work as law enforcement administrators, forensics officers at state crime laboratories or federal agents, go on to get graduate criminal justice and corrections degrees.

Regardless of the degree you get, when you major in criminal justice and corrections at accredited postsecondary schools, you are generally required to take several of the below courses:

  • Concepts of criminal law
  • Introduction to corrections
  • Public safety
  • Evidence collection
  • Report writing
  • Policing
  • Forensics
  • Criminology
  • Crime analysis
  • Global issues
  • Crime causes
  • Juvenile offenders
  • Sociology
  • Introduction to psychology
  • Interpersonal communications

Criminal Justice and Corrections Degree Offerings

As previously mentioned, you can earn several different types of undergraduate and graduate certifications and degrees in criminal justice and corrections.  Some criminal justice and corrections undergraduate diploma and certificate programs are the Criminal Justice Certificate Program (CJCP) and the Correctional Studies Diploma Program (CSDP).  You can complete these programs in as little as 64 weeks.  Some programs focus on adult and juvenile justice systems, while others focus on rehabilitation psychology and crime prevention.  

Associate’s, bachelor’s and graduate level criminal justice and corrections degrees often make the difference between you getting senior level law enforcement or criminal justice jobs.  The fields of criminal justice and corrections offer Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice, Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice, Associate of Applied Business in Criminal Justice and Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration degrees.  Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration and Management, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Corrections and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Law Enforcement degrees generally take four years to complete. 

Earning Advanced Criminal Justice and Corrections Degrees

You can also get more advanced degrees like the Master's degrees of Science in Intelligence Management, Master's of Science in Strategic Security, Master's of Science in Cyber Crime and Master's of Science in Criminal Justice.  If you go to college or university for approximately two more years, you can earn a Doctorate degree in public safety or human services.  Accredited postsecondary schools also offer doctorate degrees in criminology and criminal justice.

The Choice Is Yours: Classroom or Online Program

Fortunately, you can complete graduate and undergraduate degrees, certificate and diploma programs at an online college.  You can also enroll in and complete the programs on-site at colleges and universities.  Of course, if you take your courses online you can complete classroom assignments on your own schedule.  This way you can work part-time or even full-time and fulfill the requirements of the programs while you earn a salary. 

On the other hand, if you get your degree in a classroom setting, you get to meet your professors and other students face-to-face.  Friendships can develop and after you graduate you can network with these students to earn a higher paying job.  The options are open.  The good news is that there is a setting (e.g. online, classroom) that best suits your personal needs and wants.

Benefits of Getting Criminal Justice and Corrections Degrees

Benefits you gain from earning criminal justice and corrections degrees last your entire lifetime.  For example, with the degrees you will gain:

  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Ability to solve problems in short periods of time
  • Thorough knowledge of the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems
  • Suicide prevention skills that you can effectively use in real life situations
  • Understanding of various cultural backgrounds
  • Knowledge of how family relationships impact society as a whole
  • Workable steps to take to prevent teens from entering a life of crime
  • How to identify and respond to criminal aggression and other forms of criminal behavior
  • Understanding of criminal justice laws and regulations
Job Outlook for Criminal Justice and Corrections Majors

A concern that many college and university students have, especially when it comes time to start paying back their student loans, is whether or not jobs will be available in their career fields after they graduate with their degrees.  Good news awaits criminal justice and corrections degree majors.  In fact, as of May 2008, the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs for criminal justice and corrections majors are expected to grow by 22 percent from 2008 through 2018.  When you consider the fact that approximately 21 percent of these professionals are self-employed, you can see how the job opportunities for criminal justice and corrections majors who have an entrepreneurial spirit can increase.

After you get criminal justice and corrections degrees you can work as a private detective, police officer, parole or probation officer, corrections officer or administrator, social worker, federal agent, forensic psychologist, cyber security specialist, homeland security administrator, state highway patrol officer or security patrol officer.  If you combine your criminal justice and corrections degree with a legal degree you can also work as an attorney in the criminal justice system. 

Types of employers you can work for with criminal justice and corrections undergraduate and graduate degrees are:

  • State crime commissions
  • Department of Defense
  • Police departments
  • Sheriff departments
  • Highway Patrol departments
  • Juvenile justice centers
  • Prisons and jails
  • Liquor control boards
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Public and private schools
  • Customs
  • Airports
  • Federal, state and local courts
  • Customs agencies
  • Narcotics bureaus
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