Bachelor of Arts (BA): Criminal Justice Degree Overview

In a Bachelor of Arts program in criminal justice, students learn to assess the effects of crime on communities, evaluate methods of crime prevention and design community programs that promote safety and lawful behavior.

Essential Information

Within criminal justice bachelor's degree programs, students examine criminal behavior in relation to society, law enforcement and the justice system. These 4-year bachelor's programs are sometimes offered in online formats. In addition to a high school diploma or the equivalent, applicants to some programs may also need to complete basic college coursework prior to admission.

Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

Students in criminal justice programs learn to create solutions for problems involving ethics and the fair treatment of both victims and accused individuals. Course topics typically incorporate sociology and crime study. For those interested in becoming attorneys, criminal justice curricula can form the foundation for pre-law degrees. Bachelor's students may complete courses such as:

  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Corrections
  • Criminal law
  • Crime control
  • Law enforcement

Popular Career Options

Graduates can seek opportunities as administrators or researchers within the justice system, law firms, law enforcement agencies or community groups. Additional opportunities are available within corporate security. Job titles available to graduates include:

  • Federal marshal
  • Probation officer
  • Policy specialist
  • Criminal investigators
  • Victim advocate

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, criminal investigators and detectives could expect a 1% job decline from 2014-2024. The average annual wages for these workers were $79,620 in May 2015.

Continuing Education

Graduates can participate in certificate programs in justice system administration, intelligence analysis, security and anti-counterfeiting to enhance their knowledge. Interested individuals can pursue master's degree programs in criminal justice or criminal justice administration or apply to law school.

A Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice program can train students in the required law enforcement and criminal law background to qualify for careers in the field. However, graduates should be aware that some careers in law enforcement and criminal justice require completion of training academies or extensive on-the-job training. Graduates may consider pursuing graduate degrees or certificates.

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