How to Choose From a Confusing Array of Specialized Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Nowadays law enforcement is, to put it mildly, a lot more complex than it once was. More sophisticated criminals, ever-changing technologies and new concerns about how foreign terrorists can injure Americans have re-shaped the jobs of professional “good guys” in all areas of criminal justice. The Homeland Security Department, which was only formed in 2002, now has a $50 billion dollar budget and 216,000 employees. Most of them worked relatively independently as border guards, customs agents or transportation security specialist until the attacks of 9/11/2001 prompted the government to change their mission and work with each other in different ways.

At the same time, the methods that police departments use to assemble crime evidence for court cases and to deal with the issues of criminals in the penal system and in the community have evolved quickly, creating a need for new kinds of specialists both in enforcement and prevention-type functions. That has created a need for everything from computer security experts to human services specialists and even new kinds of business administrators who can manage the complex budgets of large law enforcement organizations.

Bachelor Specializations
If you’d like to get your career started with an associate’s degree, you’ll probably be looking at a fairly generalized 2-year criminal justice curriculum. But when you’re ready to move to the bachelor’s degree level, you’ll find that, in addition to the basic BA or BS degree in criminal justice, there are all sorts of other more specialized degrees to consider. If you shop around, you’re likely to find colleges offering over a dozen different specialty degrees within this career track.

The good news is that, at the bachelor’s degree level, you can get specialized training in a particular area of criminal justice that interests you without losing the generalized learning that can qualify you for a broad range jobs. Regardless of the school you attend, your bachelor’s degree program will almost certainly include a core of liberal arts courses in humanities, math, social sciences and the like as well as a series of “major” or “core” courses that cover subjects like corrections, juvenile Justice, legal and procedures, drugs and crime, ethics and criminal behavior. The study for your specialized degree will, in many cases, involve less than 8 courses, with a possible independent study project added on.

Here’s a rundown on some of the most popular “specialized” criminal justice degrees being offered online right now at the bachelor’s degree level.

Criminal Justice Management
A degree in this specialty prepares you for either a “front line” type job as a police officer, parole or correction officer or a more administrative/supervisory position. The latter can be anything from a position as a local police chief to a senior manager of a department in a state police organization or even a national agency. The degree can give you some career flexibility if you are not sure at the outset whether you want to be in a true enforcement position, or if you would prefer to be more of an administrator working on disaster response policies, technology strategy or personnel issues. Of course, it’s also true that many supervisory positions require a mix of theoretical and practical knowledge, which a management degree like this can help provide.

Homeland Security
A degree in homeland security is designed to prep the graduate for work in the very rapidly growing Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or possibly in a regional or local police organization that co-operates on disaster planning with national agencies. The Homeland Security Department now incorporates many agencies like Border Protection, FEMA, the Secret Service, Customs and even The Coast Guard which used to be independent organizations. As such, it’s now a very large organization (over 170,000 employees) that is continuing to hire people with a very wide range of skills. Homeland security degrees usually include a mix of training in computer security or “cyber-warfare,” airport security, counter-terrorism and inter-departmental emergency planning. The career path can be either in front-line enforcement positions (border guard, customs inspector) or in more office-based work in administration or technology. Pay scales for jobs in DHS can run anywhere from $35,000 up to $60,000, with senior administrators making more.

Social and Criminal Justice
This specialization is, as the name implies, a mix of sociology and criminal justice disciplines. In addition to the standard criminal justice subjects like corrections, law enforcement and investigations, students in this major study theories of sociology – how institutions and society function – in a law enforcement perspective. Learning how to research issues that affect governments and individuals and draw policy conclusions is generally an important part of the curriculum. Job opportunities with this degree include Court Worker Specialized in Juveniles, Prison Counselor, Parole Officer, Community Mediator or any number of administrative jobs like Urban Planner, Corporate or Government Research Analyst, Demographer or Consultant in Industrial Relations.

Criminology is one of the bedrock specialties that have been a key part of the criminal justice system for many years. Stated simply, it is the analysis of criminal behaviors, coupled with an effort to provide useful explanations for why people commit crimes and what methods they use in breaking the law. At its more analytic level, criminology involves the study of how and why crimes are committed throughout entire societies. A degree in this field will usually include in-depth study of psychology and sociology, to train specialists who can develop a profile that might help the police capture a criminal, testify as an expert in court, develop programs to prevent crime or to rehabilitate criminals coming out of prison. Courses in a specialty like this might include white collar crime, policing in society, counseling and guidance, theories of deviance or abnormal psychology. Jobs for criminologists exist in the court system, prevention departments in law enforcement agencies and corrections.

Juvenile Justice
Sometimes combined with corrections, juvenile justice is a specialty for those who want to help the police, the courts and the penal system deal with young offenders. Courses can cover topics like the community context of juvenile offenders, international issues with juvenile offenders, laws and ethics or key societal trends affecting juvenile criminals. Intervention techniques and dealing with behavioral disorders are generally a key part of the curriculum. Job opportunities in this specialty are very wide ranging in the criminal justice system, and include functions from counselor or probation officer to a juvenile court attorney for students to carry on to a graduate law degree.

Corrections officers tend to be in fairly steady demand, given the large U.S prison population. A degree in this specialty prepares a graduate to maintain security in supervising either convicted criminals or people awaiting trial. It is a sometimes challenging career category where professional must work to prevent assaults inside the prisons, various types of disturbances or even escapes.

Forensics and Investigations
Forensics can be a science or health care specialty, but in criminal justice it generally involves collection and analysis of evidence from crime scenes, and the use of that evidence in court prosecutions. A forensic technician can be a kind of puzzle solver for the police. Degrees under the forensics heading will often include technical training in DNA, toxicology and other lab specialties. Degree programs that combine forensics and investigations, on the other hand, will often focus on the broader methods involved in in-depth criminal investigations. A related specialty that’s grown popular in recent years is computer forensics, which involves investigating crime-related data stored on laptops, phones and other devices.

Human Services
Earning an HS degree under the criminal justice heading can prepare you to enter a career providing social services to varied criminal populations, from low-income persons to juveniles at risk of criminal behavior. Key employers in this area include government and private family support services, mental health clinics and rehabilitation programs. The degree can also prepare you to work in a detention center. These degrees sometimes go under the heading of “client services” or “special populations.”

International Criminal Justice
A specialty that has grown in importance in recent years not just because of terrorism issues but due to the increasingly “cross-border” nature of many crimes, international criminal justice can have a unique attraction if you are interested in world crime issues. The curriculum usually focuses on understanding the differences between various national law systems, and the issues it presents police who a pursuing international criminals. This type of degree can also provide entree to work in certain areas of the Homeland Security Department that are focused on foreign terrorists. Other potential employers in this field include the FBI and even multi- national police organizations like Interpol.

Criminal Justice Degree Online – Get the Education You Need Quickly and Easily

Do you want to obtain a degree in criminal Justice but do not have the time or resources? If yes, then perhaps getting it online might be a good idea.

As children, we all dream of becoming sheriffs, police officers, crime reporters, CIA agents, detectives or even an FBI Agents. However, in order to delve into any of these professions, you must first get a Criminal Justice Degree. Fortunately, you can easily obtain a Criminal Justice Degree Online.

However, many of us are still dubious about the quality of education received through online program or means of distant learning.

Online vs. On campus studies

Getting a the degree Online is not entirely dependent on actual training. It focuses more on principles, theories, case studies and policies. Plus, an online degree program is very ideal for distance learning. The only major differences between an online degree program and class room studies are the schedules and the actual physical interaction between students and instructors.

In addition, when you choose to study online, you have the liberty to set your own pace. You can study at whatever hours or timing is convenient for you be it early morning, midday or even late at night. Moreover, you must bear in mind that this method of learning requires a little more discipline and dedication on your part.

The Key to Good Education – Accreditation

Once you find out about the degree you want to obtain online and what it exactly entails, you can start looking for the right school. Accreditation plays a key role here. You should make sure that the school that you choose has been awarded approval by a recognized organization and is renowned around the world. Next, you must look into the various courses and the curriculum that is being offered in your chosen school. Are the courses up to the required standards? Does the curriculum cover everything you need to know?

To help you out, here are some of the well known schools that offer online programs as well:

  1. American Intercontinental University
  2. Ashford University
  3. Colorado Technical University
  4. Everest University
  5. Keiser University eCampus
  6. Lincoln College
  7. Salem University
  8. University of Phoenix
  9. US Career Institute
  10. Virginia College

Costs and Courses

Education in any field of criminal justice does not come cheap. Even if you only enroll for a simple bachelor’s program, your budget and savings may be put to the test. Thus, when choosing a Criminal Justice Degree Online, make sure find out about tuition costs and the availability of financial aid in advance.

After reading all this, don’t you think it is about time that you start looking for a Criminal Justice Degree Online?

Thinking About Doing A Criminal Justice Degree?

When you are applying for a position in a police unit such as the FBI, DEA, Police or juvenile justice centers, the need for a degree in criminal justice is obvious. It is also worthwhile studying a degree just to have a background in the subject before enrolling on a degree in law school.

Receiving a criminal justice degree would give a person a deeper understanding of the law with regards to criminals, forensic experts, and the justice system that is necessary when working in real life. Criminal justice is one of the fields of study that you may have to do to enter a police force. While it is not a prerequisite, it would be a great benefit to have a background in this and would definitely put you above your competitors.

One advantage of a Criminal Justice degree is you get a comprehensive understanding of criminal law, public order, crime and the social system. The course will develop your logical reasoning skills, communication skills and problem-solving skills. It will also encourage students to comprehend and appreciate the justice of a country as a complex system.

Several colleges and universities offer criminal justice degrees and it is possible to study from home via the internet. If you want to have a flexible schedule you might consider this method of learning because online degrees are often flexible both in terms of the number of years of study and when you choose to study. Specializations are also available online and there is a great range of courses from International to Comparative Justice. It may be worth finding out whether you can study part-time whilst at the same time, entering employment somewhere in the criminal justice system in order to gain experience that would prove vital once you’ve completed your course and are looking for your first career move.

You can find a variety of online degrees offered by a wide range of institutions and they are accessible at most levels.

Options to become a bit more specialized include the chance to train to become a Crime Scene Technician or Correctional Officer as well as studying a Private Security Certificate.

Associate degrees often require two years of criminal investigation focused on technical skills in the police. A degree can be spread over a period of four years and the end can be an entry-level position in the judicial system or federal agencies. Master’s degrees are also offered for those often seeking a higher role in their field.

Whatever degree you want to enroll upon, it is often better to research all your options and find out about as many courses as possible. Following this you will be equipped with the knowledge of the actual degree programs, as well as any costs and timings. Plus, you’ll be sure that you have the best course for you which should be the main focus of your research.

Find out more about online Criminal Justice degrees.

The Basics of a Criminal Justice Degree

Following the tragic events of 9/11 there is today a much greater awareness throughout society about such issues as homeland security, airport security, public safety and management, international terrorism, criminology and criminal psychology and many other related subjects. Interestingly these are all subjects you can major in or obtain specializations in through degrees in criminal justice/criminology. And more interestingly, such a degree in criminal justice/criminology can get you a job a lot more easily than a degree in a number of other subjects. This is because the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified careers in criminal justice as one of the top five careers in the coming years in terms of future job opportunities.

You can get degrees in criminal justice/criminology from both traditional schools as well as online schools. If you are a working adult, online courses will suit you a lot more than a traditional program since to complete an online program you do not have to give up your job or relocate or disrupt your life in anyway.

More importantly, if you are a working adult already working in the field of criminal justice, an online degree will get you that much coveted promotion or switch to a more well paying job. You can also get a degree much quicker than through the traditional route as most online criminal justice/criminology programs allow you to take credit for your working experience or any on-the-job training that you may have gone through.

A degree in criminal justice/criminology will open up many different careers for you at the local, state or federal government level as well as in the private sector. You can also get teaching jobs in various colleges and universities if you have a master’s or a PhD degree in criminal justice/criminology.

Within the broad field of criminal justice/criminology you can specialize in different fields such as criminal justice administration, criminology, criminal and business law, court procedures, policing, corrections, juvenile justice, domestic violence, court report writing, private security, homeland security, public safety and management, economic crime and fraud management, cyber crime, paralegal studies, forensic science, crime scene investigation etc.

Depending on your major or specialization, a criminal justice/criminology degree in any of these areas will make you eligible for jobs in local, state or federal law enforcement, law firms, agencies such as the FBI, banks and insurance companies, corrections facilities, law courts, organizations responsible for public safety and a host of similar organizations. The salaries in these careers are also quite attractive with median salaries for such careers being around $40,000 a year.

A Criminal Justice Degree Online Creates a World of Opportunity

The world of criminal justice will always have career opportunities for college graduates and adults who are interested in this field. Actually, with the advent of Homeland Security and the increase in border patrols and other security measures, the field of criminal justice is growing by leaps and bounds. Enrolling in a criminal justice degree online program may open up a world of opportunity for anyone with a keen interest in the field.

Those who choose to pursue a degree in criminal justice will have a wide array of career options available to them. This could be in forensics, homeland security, criminology, community corrections including probation or parole officers. Other possibilities include working in the court systems or correctional facilities, for private security agencies or in the juvenile justice system. More opportunities exist with the FBI, US Marshals, county sheriff departments and city police departments. Opportunities exist to work with children or adults, in the private sector or with the government, in crime prevention or managing criminals.

Clearly the opportunities to work in the field of criminal justice are wide ranging. Many require a college education of some level. Criminal justice degree online programs range from the associate level up to the level of Ph D. Each of the programs require a prerequisite level of education and/or experience in order to qualify. In order to pursue a masters level degree, the candidate for enrollment generally would be required to already have earned a bachelors degree, and so forth. For someone just starting their post high school education, bachelor and associate degree programs abound.

An online degree is ideal for many who have time or other constraints due to career and family responsibilities. Typically, these programs offer very flexible scheduling and the opportunity to work at your own pace. Some have a residency requirement for a portion of the coursework, but many do not. Generally, credits earned from prior university or community college education will be applicable toward the credits needed for someone to earn their degree online. Many students prefer to receive all course materials online, but many also prefer the more traditional textbook method, so you will want to make sure that the programs you are considering offer the option that best suits your study preferences.

The number of educational institutions offering criminal justice degrees online is growing as fast as the field itself. The University of Phoenix has a well established online department and is one of the best advertised programs. Capella University is another online school that offers a criminal justice program. Many other schools better known for their physical campuses are also offering online criminal justice programs, such as Boston University and Walden University. The list is impressive.

A brief search on the internet will allow a person with interest to compare the costs, features, and coursework requirements of a number of schools. For the most part, location will not be an issue, which can greatly increase the options. If you are interested in the field and the array of opportunity it offers, there is really no longer any reason not to pursue a criminal justice degree online.