Bachelor of Criminal Justice: Degree Overview

A bachelor's degree program in criminal justice offers an interdisciplinary curriculum with multiple specialties available. In the program, students will explore law enforcement techniques, court processes and criminal justice theory.

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Essential Information

In addition to core criminal justice topics, criminal justice bachelor's degree programs typically cover statistics and research methods, multicultural understanding, and political and legal issues. Specialized criminal justice degrees may also be available, such as a Bachelor of Criminal Justice in Justice Administration or Bachelor of Criminal Justice with a concentration in homeland security/emergency preparedness.

Although bachelor's degrees typically take 4 years to complete, accelerated programs may be available at some schools. Some programs require an associate's degree in a related field or relevant work experience for entry.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Corrections Admin
  • Corrections, Probation, and Parole
  • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
  • Criminal Science
  • Forensic Science
  • Juvenile Corrections
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Police Science and Law Enforcement
  • Securities Services Mgmt
  • Security and Theft Prevention Services

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice

Students in this program will be required to fulfill general education requirements, such as math and English. Beyond general studies, students will take required courses such as law, corrections procedures, public safety and criminal psychology. Coursework may cover:

  • Criminology
  • Public administration
  • Child and young adult psychology
  • Constitutional law
  • Sociology and corrections or social policies

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a bachelor's degree program are prepared to work in law enforcement, security, corrections, probation or a related field, although in some cases, additional training or licensing may be required. Individuals may qualify for positions with government agencies, correctional and judicial systems, local law enforcement agencies or private security companies. Possible job titles include:

  • County sheriff's deputy
  • Probation officer
  • Corrections officer
  • Corrections case manager
  • Court administrator
  • Criminal investigator
  • Domestic violence shelter counselor

Employment of police and detectives is predicted to increase by four percent between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reported that jobs for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists could increase by 4% during that same time. As of May 2015, police and sheriff's patrol officers earned a median salary of $58,320 and probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned a median salary of $49,360, per the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

Some careers in criminal justice may require further training, certification or licensing beyond the bachelor's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), correction officers, probation officers and law enforcement personnel are usually required to complete a training program through the agency, department or company they work for. If an individual is to carry a gun, he or she may need to complete further training or obtain a permit or license to carry a firearm. The BLS also stated that a graduate degree, such as a master's degree in criminal justice or a related field, is commonly desired or required for career advancement in law enforcement fields.

People wishing to advance in their career to higher-level administrative or managerial positions in law enforcement, social services, corrections and related fields may consider completing a master's degree, such as a Master of Science in Criminal Justice or Master of Criminal Justice. Degree requirements may include a comprehensive exam, a master's thesis or a capstone experience.

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice includes courses in criminal law, public administration, and constitutional law. Students should be aware of certification, licensing and training beyond the bachelor's degree that may be required for specific careers in different states.

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