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Schools for Aspiring Private Security Specialists: How to Choose

Private security specialists either protect the assets of companies or the public from criminals. Individuals wishing to learn more about how to become a private security specialist should consider studying criminology or criminal justice. This article will discuss the important considerations of how to choose a school, the various areas of specialty and the top ten schools for criminology or criminal justice majors.

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Individuals who are interested in becoming private security specialists have the choice of earning associate's, bachelor's, master's or PhD degrees in criminal justice or criminology, which are offered by most 4-year universities. They should research specialization options for criminal justice majors, program flexibility and internships before selecting a school.

Top 10 Schools for Private Security Specialists

These institutions offer criminal justice and/or criminology degree programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition
(2015-2016)*
University of Maryland--College Park College Park, MD 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $9,996; Out-of-state $31,144
University at Albany--SUNY Albany, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $8,996; Out-of-state $22,116
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $11,000; Out-of-state $26,334
University of Missouri--St. Louis St. Louis, MO 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $9,394; Out-of-state $23,812
Pennsylvania State University--University Park University Park, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $17,514; Out-of-state $31,346
University of California--Irvine Irvine, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $13,252; Out-of-state $37,960
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $6,507; Out-of-state $21,673
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $13,560; Out-of-state $36,360
Rutgers University -- Newark Newark, NJ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $13,597; Out-of-state $28,987
CUNY--John Jay College New York, NY 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's In-state $6,810; Out-of-state $13,920

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a program in this field.

  • Degree levels can determine job prospects: an associate's is appropriate for general security work, but other positions, such as a corporate investigator, require a bachelor's degree.
  • Students interested in specializing, such as in cybersecurity, should ensure that the appropriate coursework is available at a prospective university.
  • If flexibility is important, students may want to consider the time it will take to complete the program, the daily schedule for attendance or whether classes are offered online.
  • Internships allow students to gain hands-on experience in the field and begin building relationships with potential employers.

Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

Most associate degree programs are 2-year programs, although some can be earned in as little as 18 months. This degree is designed for aspiring private security specialists who wish to work in general security or individuals wanting to transfer into a bachelor's degree program.

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology

Most corporate investigator jobs require a bachelor's degree. Students can gain hands-on application working in private security through internships.

Those who are interested in becoming private security specialists can consider pursuing a degree in criminal justice or criminology to prepare to enter this career field. It's possible to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree, and also an option to continue graduate studies towards a master's or doctoral degree in either of these disciplines.

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