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Justice Administration Degree Programs by Program Level

A bachelor's or master's degree in administration of justice provides a study of the criminal justice system and related administrative practices. These degrees provide entry-level opportunities within law enforcement and court administration agencies.

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Essential Information

Bachelor's programs can prepare students for their first jobs. Students learn about the origins of our criminal justice system and they study general education subjects. A high school diploma or equivalent is necessary, and prerequisite coursework may be required. Through advanced research opportunities and seminars, students of master's degree programs can expand their knowledge of justice administration and prepare for high-ranking careers.


Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice

A 4-year bachelor's degree program in justice administration should provide students with an overall background of the criminal justice system in the United States while at the same time providing them with a general education background in humanities, mathematics and social sciences. Students enrolled in such a program learn about the theories and policies surrounding both the adult and the juvenile criminal justice systems currently in place in the country. They also learn the basics of law enforcement, the U.S. corrections system and criminal procedures.

Bachelor's degree programs in administration of justice are typically offered through 4-year universities and colleges. Before declaring a major in administration of justice, students enrolled in these colleges are often required to first complete courses in college mathematics, communication and English.

One of the primary goals of the curriculum found within a bachelor's degree program in justice administration is to provide students with a fundamental background in criminal justice that they can segue into an entry-level career or else a graduate degree program in the field. Some of these broad courses include:

  • United States law enforcement
  • Theories of crime and justice
  • Criminal procedures
  • Juvenile criminal justice
  • Criminal behavior
  • U.S. corrections policy

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Master of Science in Administration of Justice

Graduate degree programs in the field of justice administration are designed to provide students with an opportunity to further their understanding of criminal justice and criminal processes through advanced research and seminar courses. Such programs can prepare students for upper-level and leadership positions in the criminal justice field, or can allow them to specialize in a particular branch of the field, such as criminal justice management or administration of policy. Master's degree programs in justice administration also often provide students with insight into the ethical, philosophical and historical implications related to the field.

One of the most common educational prerequisites to gaining admittance into a graduate program in justice administration is first completing a bachelor's degree in a field such as criminal justice or law enforcement. Many programs also require students to complete a Graduate Records Examination (GRE) before applying.

While seminar courses included within a master's degree program in justice administration can differ based upon a students' individualized plan of study, some common core courses remain. These include:

  • Theories of criminal justice
  • Law and ethics
  • Justice and public policy
  • Law enforcement and management
  • Comparative justice systems
  • Philosophy of justice policy

Popular Career Options

A degree in administration of justice can prepare individuals for several different professional roles within the criminal justice field. Graduates are eligible to pursue entry-level positions in several organizations related to the preservation of justice in the U.S. Some of these might include:

  • State and local police departments
  • Sheriff departments
  • Court administration departments
  • Juvenile delinquency prevention programs
  • Security organizations

A master's degree in justice administration can prepare graduates to gain positions of leadership within criminal justice departments and organizations. Some potential career choices include:

  • Chief of police
  • Justice department director
  • FBI director
  • Professional investigator

Salary and Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that police and detectives and correctional officers will experience a slower than average employment growth for the years 2014 through 2024. The BLS reported that police and sheriff's patrol officers earned a median annual wage of $58,320 in May 2015. Correctional officers and jailers earned $40,530 as a median annual wage in the same year.

Students with an interest in the criminal justice system and legal administrative practices may wish to pursue a degree in justice administration. Bachelor's- and master's-level programs are available, and provide an excellent pathway into this career field. Typical jobs include law enforcement, court administration, and juvenile delinquency prevention. Advanced degrees allow for promotion to positions of supervision within various law enforcement organizations.

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