Students interested in studying criminal law can choose from several different degree programs in the field. Here we discuss some of the degree options, as well as the various career opportunities and job outlooks.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
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In today's increasingly security-conscious world, one always in-demand career field is criminal law and justice. Programs in criminal law and criminal justice cover various topics within the judicial system, investigations and corrections. Many programs offer specializations within a certain area of the field, such as criminology or security. With a criminal justice degree, you can find a secure, well-paid job with great benefits, and one in which you can be of service to your community. Adult education programs in criminal law and criminal justice are offered at various levels of study and include undergraduate certificates, associate's and bachelor's degrees, as well as master's degrees. More information is found below.
Programs At a Glance
Criminal Justice Programs
- Undergraduate certificate programs in criminal justice require 15 credit hours, while an associate's degree requires 60 credit hours.
- Bachelor's degree programs in this field require 120 credit hours.
- These programs are available both on-campus and online.
Criminal Justice Administration
- A bachelor's degree program in this field can be completed in five years.
- Master's degrees are also available with a concentration in this area.
- These programs are typically offered on-campus, though online degrees are available.
Public Administration Programs with a Specialization in Criminal Justice
- This master's degree program requires 36 credit hours and can be completed in less than two years.
- This program is offered on-campus and online.
Courses in Adult Education Criminal Law Programs
Adult education criminal law programs offer a multitude of courses for potential students. Topics include criminal law and procedures, basic investigations, juvenile justice, criminology, social psychology, corrections, and cultural diversity. Undergraduate programs require students to take some general education courses in addition to the core classes and electives. Students in a master's program typically have to complete a capstone course or final project.
Careers in Criminal Justice
One possible career option open to the criminal justice major is the field of law enforcement - you could serve as a police officer at the municipal, county, or state level. Other options are to work in private security, in homeland security, or perhaps as a corrections or probation officer. Also, you could work in the court system, or perhaps as a paralegal or legal assistant. If you like, you could even put your criminal justice training towards obtaining a license as a private investigator.
Salary Information and Job Outlook
Salaries vary depending on which area you choose as a specialty. The median annual salary for police and sheriff's patrol officers, as of May 2015, was $58,320, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), whereas the median salary for private detectives and investigators was $45,610 annually. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned a median of $49,360 per year; paralegals and legal assistants earned a median of $48,810 annually.
Police and detectives were projected by the BLS to have a job growth rate of 4% from 2014-2024. Private detectives and investigators were projected to have a job growth rate of 5%, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists were projected to have a job growth rate of 4%, and paralegals and legal assistants were projected to have a job growth rate of 8%, all over the same decade.
Criminal law programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels and are usually offered on-campus and online. Graduates of these programs are prepared for a wide range of careers in the field, including detectives, patrol officers and legal assistants.