If you’re interested in making a difference in your community and safeguarding the rights of citizens within it, consider studying for a degree in criminal justice. A criminal justice degree allows you to work in law enforcement, corrections, within the courts, or in security. There will always be a high demand for those with expertise in criminal justice, and with a degree, you can further advance your career and be a great role model for others.
Why Do People Receive a Degree in Criminal Justice?
There are several reasons why people choose to study criminal justice. A criminal justice degree opens the door to many career options, including law enforcement, legal professions, forensics, cybercrime, and social work. A criminal justice degree also allows you to help others and protect people from illegal activity.
With a career in criminal justice, you can enjoy job stability and excellent fringe benefits. In addition, this degree will prepare you for a challenging job that requires strong problem-solving skills and the ability to think independently. If you’re looking for an exciting career where every day is different and exciting, you may want to consider pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
What Can You Do with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice?
You can enter various career fields once you’ve received an associate degree in criminal justice. Some of the many career opportunities available include:
Police officer – After graduating from the academy, police officers are responsible for enforcing the law, issuing citations, testifying in court, and arresting those engaged in criminal acts. They respond to emergency and non-emergency calls, documenting incidents and filing reports.
Corrections officer – responsible for overseeing the management of correctional institutions. They enforce order within the facility, keeping inmates safe from potential assault and other crimes. They are responsible for confiscating contraband, transporting prisoners to and from the courthouse, and coordinating prisoner rehabilitation programs.
Private investigator – works to uncover the details of a person’s life. This information may be helpful if they are to testify in court or if the individual has filed an insurance claim against a company. Many private investigators spend significant time in the field conducting surveillance. Others may primarily work in an office, completing most of their research online.
Fish and game warden – primarily enforces fishing, hunting, and boating laws. They may also participate in search and rescue missions, investigate boating accidents, and investigate claims of illegal poaching.
Bailiffs – have the same type of intensive training as correctional officers, but their duty is to maintain order inside the court during legal proceedings. They are responsible for administrating the oath before testimonies, calling witnesses to stand, and announcing the judge’s arrival.
Police dispatcher – tasked with answering emergency and non-emergency calls, maintaining clear communication with police officers, and providing as much detail as possible when assigning calls. They must stay calm and clear-headed under pressure and monitor the status of first responders as they answer each call.
Security officer – Security officers are not usually licensed police officers. However, they play an essential role in keeping people safe. Many security officers may work in hospitals, colleges, and banks. They often collaborate with police officers, such as detaining shoplifters until the responding unit arrives.
What Are the Core Requirements for an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice?
Following is a list of the core classes required for an associate degree in criminal justice, as well as some information regarding what each course entails:
Criminology – This class delves deep into the study of crime and criminal behavior. You will learn about public policy as it relates to crime, data-based strategies to lower crime rates, crime prevention, and predictions.
Introduction to Corrections – This comprehensive course will discuss the history and development of correctional institutions. You will learn more about the opportunities and challenges that prisoners and correctional guards face daily.
Introduction to Security and Law Enforcement – This class will look at the history of law enforcement, the criminal justice system in the United States, and the limitations placed on law enforcement in a democratic society. You’ll also learn about the ethical dilemmas that officers face daily.
Introduction to Criminal Justice – This course will introduce you to criminology theories and the concept and operations of criminal justice functions. You’ll learn a variety of criminology theories, define various types of criminal behavior, and discuss current-day legal challenges.
Juvenile Delinquency – Juvenile Delinquency focuses on deviant behavior by legal minors in the United States. You will explore the methods and philosophy of the juvenile court system, prevention programs, and how to control and treat juvenile delinquency.
Introduction to Criminal Law – This course reviews the basics of criminal law and explores the roles of the prosecutor, paralegals, and defense attorneys and how a trial takes place. It also examines the characteristics of criminal acts, how to define them, constitutional limits, and punishments.
What Can You Do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice?
While an associate degree in criminal justice opens the door to various career options, some require a bachelor’s degree due to the work’s higher level of responsibility. You can qualify for several additional positions if you receive a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. These positions include:
Promotions Within Law Enforcement – Many police departments require that officers receive at least an associate degree and departments may further incentivize obtaining a bachelor’s degree through pay raises. In some departments, officers interested in higher-grade positions such as detective, sergeant, and lieutenant will find they can only receive such ranks if they obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Probation and Parole Officers: These professionals supervise those on probation or parole. They ensure compliance with court orders, link individuals to rehabilitation resources, and report progress or problems to the court system.
Legal Assistant or Paralegal: Criminal justice graduates may work in law offices, assisting attorneys with trial preparation by conducting legal research, writing briefs, and organizing evidence.
Victim Advocate: These professionals aid victims of crimes, including explanations of legal proceedings, referrals to resources, and emotional support.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent: These federal agents enforce laws regarding the illegal entry and exit of persons and goods from the United States.
What Are the Core Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice?
While a bachelor’s degree includes the classes discussed in the associate’s degree, it is a more comprehensive degree plan with additional coursework. Following is a list of the additional core classes required for a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice as well as a short description of what each course entails:
Criminology – studies deviant behavior and what social factors may cause a person to commit a criminal act. This course examines behavioral and social connections and covers various theories of why crime occurs.
Intro to Corrections – This course discusses the development of the modern-day correctional system as well as the future of correctional institutions. You’ll learn more about the rehabilitation programs within institutions and the legal issues surrounding them today.
Introduction to Security and Law Enforcement – During this class, you’ll learn more about the responsibility of law enforcement in the United States and various agencies’ historical backgrounds and functions.
Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation – This course focuses on gathering and collecting evidence and establishing facts when investigating a crime. You will learn how to process a crime scene and expert techniques for documenting evidence.
Juvenile Delinquency – This course will help you better understand why adolescents commit crimes and the factors that may lead to criminal behavior. You will also become familiar with the critical role that social workers play in the juvenile courts.
Introduction to Criminal Law – During this class, you will learn all about how the criminal justice system works, how law enforcement approaches crime, and the psychology behind criminal behavior. You will also find out why people commit crimes, and the consequences criminal acts have on society.
Constitutional Law – This course will expand your knowledge of your rights as an American citizen as well as delve into what rights all suspects have when under arrest. You will also examine historical court cases that impact the criminal justice system.
The Law of Evidence – This course will help you understand the fundamental rules for court proceedings and what may or may not be allowed into evidence during a trial. Other important topics will include the role of the jury, hearsay, character evidence, and expert testimony.
Correctional Operations – introduces you to the fundamentals of the correctional system and provides an overview of the legal issues, practices, and policies as they currently stand. You will also learn more about case laws, legal standings, and how they affect offenders and officers.
Research Methods for Criminal Justice – This course delves deep into scientific research processes of criminal justice, including sorting and gathering data, examining current research findings, and how to construct a research proposal.
Criminal Law – breaks down how various crimes are defined and the recourse for committing each type of illegal activity. You will learn about how courts determine sentences and criminal procedures.
Police Administration – During this course, you will learn about contemporary law enforcement procedures and tactical training. You’ll also learn about state ordinances and local and constitutional laws.
Criminal Procedure – This course will examine the methods of investigating and prosecuting crimes. You will also learn more about the defendant’s rights and the historical origins of criminal proceedings.
Communication Skills for the CJ Professional – The criminal justice field relies heavily on good communication skills. This class will help prepare you to write legal documents, communicate crime scene details, and how to de-escalate tense situations.
Ethics in the Criminal Justice System – Ethics refer to the guiding principles of society’s standards of behavior. Ethics in the criminal justice system can involve highly complex, multifaceted issues, especially since it often regards questions of moral judgment. You’ll learn more about the ethical side of criminal justice and explore topics as they relate to crime and punishment.
CJ Integrated Capstone Project – During your capstone course, you will take the knowledge you have learned throughout your coursework and design and develop a project demonstrating your mastery of the program. This project may be in the form of a research paper or a hands-on demonstration of your choosing.
If you’ve always wanted to find a meaningful job that allows you to make a positive difference in the lives of others, a criminal justice degree may be the right fit for you. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree is extremely versatile and can help qualify you for a wide range of career options that are in high demand. By studying for a degree in criminal justice, you can pursue a career you will be proud of.
Want to Learn More?
Associate of Arts Criminal Justice Program
This program has been designed for those students seeking an education in the field of Law and Law Enforcement among other careers of great demand. It will offer students a broad background in the Criminal Justice System, and includes courses in communication, humanities, behavioral science, mathematics, natural science, and computers. Florida National University will award an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice upon graduation to those students who complete the necessary requirements. These students may continue their education at the bachelor’s level to other accredited universities, or begin careers in the field including law enforcement, court system, and private industry.
Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice Program
The purpose of the Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice Program is to expand students’ critical and analytical thinking skills, advance students’ ability to communicate complex data, both verbally and written, and prepare students for higher-level positions within the criminal justice sector, or gain admission to graduate-level programs.
If you are interested in nursing, let Florida National University answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more about our Criminal Justice degree programs.