Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice: Program Overviews

Criminal justice programs at the bachelor's level are often designed for students wanting to learn more about criminology, ethics, and law enforcement. Discover information about the program, employment opportunities, and ways to continue your education.

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Essential Information

Criminal justice bachelor's programs typically explore topics like criminology, criminal law, crime causation and ethics, and they take about four years of full-time study to complete. Some programs offer concentrations like law enforcement, cyber-crime, crime scene investigation, juvenile justice and corrections. Hands-on experiences or internships with law enforcement or corrections agencies may also be required. The prospective student must hold a high school diploma or GED.

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

A criminal justice major must complete his or her general education courses before graduating. This can be done through a 4-year program that encompasses the entire curriculum or by transferring from a 2-year college. Although it is helpful to have direct work experience in a criminal justice field, it is not required. If a prospective student has military experience or an associate's degree, then he or she can be eligible for an accelerated bachelor's degree program. Students learn about crime and criminology, criminal justice ethics, and juvenile justice and delinquency. Additional topics include:

  • Judicial process
  • Introduction to corrections and policing
  • Criminal law
  • Criminal justice research methods and statistics

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

There are many options for careers in criminal justice, including police officer, drug enforcement agent, corrections officer, security guard or U.S. Marshal. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that between 2014-2024, available employment for police and detectives is expected to grow 4%, which is below the average for all jobs. According to the same source, the median annual salary of police and sheriff's patrol officers was $58,320 in May 2015.

Continuing Education Information

There is an option to pursue a Master of Science in Criminal Justice, as well as a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. Prospective master's degree students can be baccalaureate holders in pursuit of a more in-depth education, in addition to professionals who wish to pursue advanced levels in their fields.

A bachelor's degree program in criminal justice provides foundational coursework in criminal theory, the court system and related topics. Graduates of the program can move on to advance their education with a master's degree, or they can pursue positions as police officers or corrections officers, among other options.

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