Criminal Justice Degree
What is criminal justice?
Criminal justice is a system that deals with upholding laws, protecting citizens, prosecuting criminals who break the law, and institutionalizing guilty criminals. There are three main areas in criminal justice: law enforcement, legal, and corrections. Criminal justice is a broad field with many careers to choose from. Careers that fall under the criminal justice umbrella are police officer, paralegals, corrections officer, court clerk, probation officer, private investigator, sheriff, or a criminologist. You can also join several federal agencies like the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, Homeland Security, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Coast Guard, and US Marshalls. The first step to opening the door for these possibilities is to earn a criminal justice degree.
Where can I get a Criminal Justice Degree?
A criminal justice degree is available at many universities. The popularity of the program has caused many universities to offer online programs for distance learning opportunities. If you do a quick search online you will find that several prominent universities offer the degree through on-campus classes and online courses. A prospective student should research the various programs and find the best one that suits your needs. Each school has their own idea of what a criminal justice degree should be and could tailor classes to specific fields within criminal justice.
What courses do I have to take to earn a Criminal Justice Degree?
Courses will vary in name and content across different criminal justice degree programs. However, the general idea is the same. The courses you might have take could be introduction to criminal justice, introduction to criminology, introduction to policing, criminology theory, statistics, law enforcement, crime analysis, introduction to criminal law, advanced criminal law, legal writing, psychology, sociology, court systems, criminal law procedure, criminal justice research, introduction to corrections, management and leadership, public policy, and general courses a university would require you to complete towards your degree. As stated, each school will offer a variety of these classes under different names or might combine some of them. It is always best to review the curriculum and verify the courses are what you expect.
How do I pay for my Criminal Justice Degree?
If you can’t afford to pay for school out of your pocket there are several options to help assist you in earning your criminal justice degree. These options are scholarships, grants, and loans. You should seek out scholarship and grant opportunities before looking into loans. There are many organizations that award scholarships and grants. These scholarships can be for any school, a specific school, or specific degree programs; and they can be used for tuition, room and board, textbooks, study materials, or living expenses. The Pell Grant is federal grant to help students pay for school too. If you have exhausted your search for scholarships and grants then you can turn to loans. You apply for a Stafford or Perkins loans from the federal government. They offer subsidized and unsubsidized loans, depending on your type of need. Parents can also apply for a PLUS loan to help their children pay for school. The last option is to get a private student loan from private banks or other financial institutions. Each loan will have its own set of terms and conditions that outline repayment terms and interest rates.
What can I expect after receiving my Criminal Justice Degree?
After you have graduated with your criminal justice degree you have many career options to choose from. You can join the city police department, state police department, apply for the FBI, work in a courtroom, work in a legal office, or seek a promotion if you are already working. The salaries also vary depending on what career you have chosen. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average salary of a Police Officer is $51,410. A Police Detective’s average salary is $75,490. Corrections Officers make an average of $38,380. Federal agents like an FBI agent average $61,100 and US Marshalls make $73,170. Within the legal field, paralegals on average make $46,120, and court clerks make $49,170. Another career in criminal justice, private security, earns an average of $23,820. As you can see the pay ranges vary greatly. These are only averages so within each career your salary could increase to over $100,000 depending on your position, experience, and sometimes location. You can also use your degree as a stepping stone to other careers within the justice system. For example, many students use this degree to help them get into law school.