Individuals with a strong sense of ethics and an interest in helping to manage crime often find themselves drawn to the field of criminal justice. If this is the case, earning a criminal justice bachelors degree, online or on campus, may be the answer to the fulfillment they seek. A bachelors in criminal justice opens the door to a variety of positions that include sheriff, forensics investigator, criminal profiler, court bailiff, and police detective. A criminal justice bachelors degree will provide the student with either a general understanding of the field, which allows for more job flexibility, or may be concentrated to a particular subject and career goal. It is up to the individual to tailor the education to fit their own ambitions, but degree programs do exist which allow this personalization.
University Degree Offerings
Portland State University’s program in Criminology and Criminal Justice program offers a comprehensive study of criminology and criminal justice, from prevention, enforcement and the justice system, to punishment, corrections, and rehabilitation. Students can investigate the intricacies of criminal psychology and sociology to examine how and why criminals do what they do. Explore the varied landscape of crime though detailed courses focusing on criminal behavior and crime analysis.
Portland State University Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Criminal Justice Degrees
Why a Bachelors of Criminal Justice Degree
A bachelor’s program will prepare the student for employment in local, state, or private criminal justice agencies. Criminal Justice is an interdisciplinary field, which means that skills from many different concentrations of study come together to make up the coursework. To earn a bachelor degree in criminal justice, a student will be required to take courses in psychology, sociology, criminal justice, political science, computer skills, oral competency, and as mentioned earlier, courses in whatever field of study they choose to specialize. A total of 120 course hours are required wherein one class is usually worth 3 hours, and students must therefore complete 40 classes for graduation. Some online criminal justice bachelor degree programs will also require that a minor be earned in order for completion of the criminal justice major to be finalized. A minor consists of 12-15 course hours, and may be in any field of study.
Criminal Justice Courses & Areas of Study
Criminal Justice Career Opportunities
A bachelors in criminal justice will enable a student to find a job in the field of their choice quite easily, as jobs in the criminal justice field are increasing in availability, contrary to the job recession sweeping the rest of the career market. Beginning pay rates in the field range from $35,000 to $48,000 per year, depending on the career chosen. Careers are readily available, and most government institutions will offer a variety of benefit packages for their employees, which may include dental, health, and retirement benefits. At the core of the work is a sense of achievement that stems from serving the community. Criminal justice is not for everyone, and those individuals who opt to work in the field demonstrate an uncommon level of service and merit.
In addition to the benefits listed above, a criminal justice bachelors degree online is excellent preparation for further study in a criminal justice master’s program or pursuit of a career in law. If instant entry into the work force is not desired, there is ample opportunity for higher education or modification of career goals.
Online Criminal Justice Degrees
A bachelor degree in criminal justice may be difficult to earn in a traditional university setting if the student in question is not geographically close or has inflexible, pre-established work hours or prior commitments. In this case, an online criminal justice bachelor degree may be an ideal solution. By earning a criminal justice bachelors degree online, a student will be able to complete their degree without sacrificing any quality of education, as most universities offer online degree programs. It is true that courses online, by simple fact, cannot offer the same social interaction and development that occurs within a physical classroom – discussions will take place through an online forum or use of email. However, class availability is often more available for online students, as class sizes are not limited by the physical space of a classroom.
To remedy the issue of missing interpersonal skills, there are online programs that have been developed so as to include only a few days of mandatory classroom meetings, and permit the rest of the coursework to be completed online. An online criminal justice bachelor degree of this combination creates an education that is as beneficial as a traditional degree without sacrificing elasticity and flexibility.
Those with a criminal justice bachelors degree will find themselves to be a rare and necessary commodity in the modern world. The field is exciting, the work is rewarding, and a degree will carry a student as far into a career of criminal justice as they desire to go.
Criminal Justice Degree Education & Admissions Requirements
In order to begin the pursuit of a bachelor degree in criminal justice, a student must first be accepted to the college or university in which they intend to earn their degree. In addition to the admissions requirements, most universities require that a series of core classes, which usually compose 30% of the total courses, be completed before course loads may reflect a full-time pursuit of a criminal justice bachelors degree. These prerequisites will include courses in English Composition, Mathematics, Natural or Earth Science, Literature, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and World Diversity. Once these core classes have been completed, the student is permitted to tailor their courses each semester to exclusively study for their bachelors in criminal justice. Many degree programs require students to determine a specialty area in which to concentrate their education. These areas range from social issues and criminal justice to localized areas of the justice system. As schools differ in regard to the paths of study offered, it is highly recommended that students ascertain whether or not a school offers the major or specialty that is of greatest interest to them.
Criminal Justice Degree Accreditation
It is crucial that a Criminal Justice degree program have the proper credentials, particularly because of the type of careers students have or will have who earn that certificate. Regional accreditation is the most recognized type in the United States. Other important accrediting agencies for criminal justice programs include the Council for Higher Education Association (CHEA) and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS).
Top Ranked Criminal Justice Degrees
When looking for a college or university to obtain your degree, take into consideration what top rank institutions have to offer. Top rank schools cost more but they also set a higher precedence for your education. By obtaining an Criminal Justice degree from a top rank institution, your degree program is automatically validated as being of superior quality. Criminal Justice degree programs are offered by several top ranking institutions in the country, as substantiated by the U.S. News and World Report for 2012. By choosing this degree from one of the high ranking schools, you can obtain a world class education to enhance your future.
Criminal Justice Professional Organizations
There are several organizations for Criminal Justice professionals:
- American Correctional Association
“The ACA is the oldest and largest international correctional association in the world. ACA serves all disciplines within the corrections profession and is dedicated to excellence in every aspect of the field.”
- American Bar Association: Criminal Justice Section
The ABA is the largest voluntary professional association in the world. With more than 400,000 members, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public. With its diverse membership of judges, private criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, public defenders, academics, and other criminal justice professionals, the Criminal Justice Section of the ABA is uniquely situated to bring all the various actors to the table to address today’s most pressing criminal justice issues.
- American Society of Criminology
The American Society of Criminology is an international organization concerned with criminology, embracing scholarly, scientific, and professional knowledge concerning the etiology, prevention, control, and treatment of crime and delinquency. This includes the measurement and detection of crime, a review of legislation and the practice of law, as well as an examination of the law enforcement, judicial, and correctional systems.
- National Association of Police Organizations
The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) is a coalition of police unions and associations from across the United States that serves to advance the interests of America’s law enforcement officers through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education.
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is the preeminent organization in the United States advancing the mission of the nation’s criminal defense lawyers to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or other misconduct.
- Criminal Justice Resources: Associations and Organizations
This site, maintained by Jon Harrison of Michigan State University, has an amazingly thorough list of groups and organizations. If you do not see what you’re looking for in our very brief list above, try this mega-list of links.