Students in Montana may choose from associate's and bachelor's degree programs in or related to criminal justice; minors in the field are also offered by a few schools. An internship opportunity and/or field experience are common parts of the curricula of such programs. Some associate's degree programs prepare students for transfer into four-year programs, while others serve to prepare students to work in the field immediately upon graduation. At least one university in the state offers concentrations within the field of criminal justice.
Six of the more than 30 schools in the state of Montana offer programs in criminal justice. Below is an overview of the programs available at five of these schools, followed by a comparison table with tuition info.
Blackfeet Community College
Blackfeet Community College was founded in 1974 and is located in Browning. This school offers an Associate of Arts in Human Services degree program that includes a focus option in criminal justice. Students must complete 30 credits of criminal justice coursework in addition to the general education requirements for the Associate of Arts program. Students may have the option to take courses in deviant behavior, tribal criminal law, criminal justice research methods, and juvenile delinquency. This program also features some fieldwork experience and gives students the opportunity to pursue an internship.
Dawson Community College
Located in Glendive, Dawson Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Criminal Justice along with Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS) options in the field. The AAS program is intended for students who plan on entering the workforce, while the AA and AS version of the program are intended for students planning to transfer to a four-year program. The school even has a '2+2' articulation agreement with Montana State University - Billings available to criminal justice students. Students can expect to take courses in criminal law, criminology, corrections, and criminal justice ethics. The AAS program also offers students some flexibility in their course options, allowing them to tailor the program to suit their career interests.
The school also offers an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice Law Enforcement with an option to focus on peace officer or private security training. This degree program can prepare students for entry-level positions at law enforcement agencies, loss prevention companies, or private/public security firms. Students in either option can expect hands-on training specific to their desired specialty in addition to classroom instruction.
Flathead Valley Community College
Founded in 1967, Flathead Valley Community College is located in Kalispell and sits on a 209-acre campus. The Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice degree program prepares graduates for entry-level jobs in the field. Students can learn to examine crime data, discuss causes of crime, and analyze important areas of the court system. This 64-credit program can be completed in four semesters and includes courses in criminal procedure, negotiations, writing police reports, and corrections.
Montana State University - Billings
Montana State University (MSU) - Billings, opened in 1927 and currently offers a bachelor's degree program in criminal justice. Students in MSU's 120-credit hour criminal justice Bachelor of Science program take required courses in criminology, criminal justice ethics, and sociology of corrections. Elective options include judicial politics, court procedures, crime prevention, victim protection protocols, and policing methods. The program also requires a set of sociology courses, including a capstone course and an internship or cooperative education experience. Students majoring in other study areas can opt for a criminal justice minor, which requires a total of 21 credits of coursework focused on criminal justice concepts.
University of Great Falls
Great Falls is home to the University of Great Falls (UGF). This Catholic school offers associate, bachelor's and minor programs in the field of criminal justice. These programs are designed to prepare students for a variety of fields within criminal justice, such as corrections, probation, private security, and law enforcement. Students in the associate program must complete 24 credits of criminal justice coursework in addition to general education requirements. Required courses include criminal law, law enforcement, and criminal justice systems.
Students in UGF's bachelor's degree program take introductory courses in law enforcement, criminal law, and criminal justice systems. The school offers four concentration plans for students majoring in criminal justice; they can choose from forensic investigation, resource enforcement, law enforcement, or corrections. Students can expect to complete from 61-81 credits of criminal justice coursework between the major and chosen concentration. Each concentration features different course options; for example, students in the resource enforcement option get to participate in an internship and take courses in zoology and ecology, while those in the forensic investigation concentration get to participate in labs dealing with evidence analysis.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Criminal Justice Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Blackfeet Community College||Two-year; private, not-for-profit; fringe rural||Associate of Arts in Human Services - Criminal Justice||$2,890*|
|Dawson Community College||Two-year; public; remote town|| Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice,
Associate of Science in Criminal Justice,
Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice,
Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice Law Enforcement
| $3,570 in-district
|Flathead Valley Community College||Two-year; public; fringe rural||Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice|| $3,964 in-district
|Montana State University - Billings||Four-year; public; midsize city|| Minor in Criminal Justice,
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
| $5,808 in-state
|University of Great Falls||Four-year; private, not-for-profit; small city|| Associate of Science in Criminal Justice,
Minor in Criminal Justice,
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics.