Criminal Justice Degrees and Specialties

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Learning about the different criminal justice degrees and their options in a field of study that you’re passionate about can be crucial to deciding which program to enroll in. If you’ve been going back and forth about whether or not to pursue different criminal justice degrees, you might be wondering what types of degrees are available for people who decide on this major.
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Dr. Sheryl Van Horne earned her PhD and MA in Criminal Justice from their School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, as well as bachelor degrees in Psychology, Sociology, and German from Rutgers College. Currently an assistant professor and director of criminal justice at Arcadia University, Dr. Van Horne speaks about criminal justice misconceptions, education, and the future of the field in a full interview here.

Specialties in Criminal Justice Fields

If you’re passionate about majoring in criminal justice and have a specific concentration in mind, you may earn the skills to become qualified to work in a criminal justice specialty and by choosing one of the man criminal justice degrees. Below are some examples of specific careers in the criminal justice field. Keep in mind that all compensation varies based on company/government agency, experience level, state, and education level.

  • Forensic Science Technician: $52,840 median annual salary. Requirement of a bachelors degree is a typical entry-level positions.[i]
     
  • Judges and Hearing Officers: $102,980 median annual salary. Requirement of a law degree or doctoral degree is a typical requirement for this position.[ii]
     
  • Information Security Analyst: $86,170 median annual salary with a projected 37% job growth through 2022. Typical entry-level education required is a bachelors degree.[iii]
     
  • Social and Community Service Managers: $59,970 median annual salary with a projected 21% job growth through 2022. Typical entry-level education required is a bachelors degree.[iv]
     
  • Emergency Management Director: $59,770 median annual salary. Typical entry-level degree requirement is a bachelor degree.[v]
     

For information on more careers and salaries for professions related to criminal justice degrees, visit the Criminal Justice Careers

What types of criminal justice degrees can I earn?

Because there is need for people in the criminal justice field with backgrounds at every education level, criminal justice degrees are available at the associatesbachelorsmasters, and doctorate levels. You can also enroll in a paralegal certificate program, which may result in landing a position in the legal branch of criminal justice. Criminal justice degree programs will most likely incorporate ancillary courses, but you can expect that some courses will focus on understanding criminology (the study of crimes and why they’re committed) and criminal justice (how to prevent crimes/punish criminals). Courses will vary depending on the school you choose.

Course examples in a program to earn your online bachelors degree in a criminal justice:

  • Criminology
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Applied Criminal Justice Ethics
  • Computers, Technology, and Criminal Justice Information Systems

Course examples in a program to earn your online masters degree in criminal justice:

  • Criminological Theory
  • Research Methodology
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Critical Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Academic and Professional Communications in Public Safety

Course examples in a program to earn your online doctorate degree in criminal justice:

  • Contemporary Public Safety Leadership
  • Interagency Collaboration on Significant Events
  • Management and Leadership Theory
  • Diversity Issues in Public Safety
  • Advanced Qualitative Research Methods in Public Service

You may note, as courses for different criminal justice degrees get more advanced and specific as the degree level climbs higher. While working towards earning these degrees, some institutions will allow you to focus on a concentration, such as forensics, health policy and management, homeland security, public administration, public health, or nonprofit management and leadership.


[i]bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science-technicians.htm  [ii] bls.gov/ooh/legal/judges-and-hearing-officers.htm  [iii] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm  [iv] bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm  [v] bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm

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