With a degree in criminal justice, you’ll be prepared for a number of exciting, well-paid roles, that genuinely help people. This is a highly rewarding job, and one that will always be in demand.
Don’t know what a criminal justice degree can do for you? Essentially, this is the degree you will take if you are interested in advancing a career in law enforcement. For those finishing school, this is a great choice for entering the force at a higher level, and receiving better pay and more interesting work as a result. For those already working as police officers or in related roles, this can be a great option for career advancement.
And because it’s not possible to get a criminal justice degree online, that means it’s more than possible to “learn while you earn.”
But just how much of a commitment will you be making? How intensive is this degree? And can it really make a big difference to your salary and prospects?
What You Will Learn
If you take a criminal justice degree, you will learn some more in-depth aspects of law enforcement and detective work. These include1:
Chain of Evidence
This is a key subject matter that is critical to understand law enforcement. This looks at the procedures necessary to keep evidence clean and to avoid tainting or tampering. Students learn the basics and how to handle different types of evidence.
Law and Due Process
Due process refers to the way the law is enforced. It discusses the court systems, and how to secure a crime scene/interview suspects, make an arrest, etc.
Use of Proper Force
This teaches students how to use appropriate force for any given situation in order to maximize their own safety, and that of the suspect.
A surprisingly large amount of police work involves communicating with press. This module teaches how to handle that relationship in order to improve outcomes and to improve public relations.
One of the largest subject matters. This involves talking to witnesses, finding and interviewing suspects, collecting evidence, etc.
If you think these subject matters sound interesting, then you may enjoy a criminal justice degree.
Of course, it is possible to enter the force without a degree. A police officer can begin their career with no more than a high school diploma. However, with a bachelor’s in criminal justice, a candidate will be able to enter at a higher level, or progress more quickly.
As many aspects of criminal justice are inherently physical, you may be concerned that completing a degree online will leave you with a lesser understanding. Indeed, this was once the view among employers, but that view has since evolved. Students find that their online degrees are treated as equal to any others, and that they have just as complete an understanding.
Not only is all the theory the precise same, but students are given the opportunity to learn in person by completing externships and similar opportunities. And indeed, candidates do not even need to reveal on their application that their degree was earned online. It is generally thought that employers are more concerned with the name of the school, which has a bigger bearing on the quality of the education.
And remember: it is possible to get a job on the force with a diploma. Any form of bachelor’s degree will be a significant step up from that, and a lot of practical learning will happen “on the job.”
Criminology vs Criminal Justice
Criminology and criminal justice are distinct disciplines. Criminology is the specific study of crime, and this can lead to positions in welfare and social work. Criminal justice on the other hand is specifically focused on the criminal system, due process, and the knowledge necessary to work in law enforcement.
With a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, you will be eligible to apply to a wide range of positions within the police force. Some common job roles for graduates include:
- Probation officer
- Forensic science technician
- Private detective
- Security guard
- Crime scene investigator
- Computer forensics investigator
- State trooper
- Correctional officer
It’s worth noting that any bachelor’s degree can prepare you for a host of different job roles. Earning a bachelor’s will demonstrate a great deal of commitment, motivation, critical thinking, communication, and more. This can help you to enter nearly any organization at a higher level than you otherwise would. So even if you don’t have a specific job role in mind, if you find police work fascinating as many people do… you might consider an online criminal justice degree!