Criminal justice programs are offered at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Students learn about computer crimes, computer forensics, digital evidence, computer data analysis, and network security. Students can also take courses in criminology, victimology, and criminal theories, as well as courses on basic topics in computer applications and systems. Career options depend on the degree earned and can range from police officer or criminal investigator to criminologist or computer forensic specialist. Certain jobs may require additional on-the-job training beyond a degree, such as completion of police academy training.
Degree specialization options exist in the fields of computer forensics, investigation, and technology. Both undergraduate degrees will require students to have a high school diploma or GED to earn. The master's program specifies that a student have already completed an appropriate bachelor's degree before being allowed to enroll. The same applies to a doctorate, only with a master's degree and the addition of satisfactory GRE scores. Doctorate degrees will likely require a dissertation to graduate and some may be offered online.
Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice
Students in an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice program learn about standard law enforcement procedures and the criminal justice system. Students learn about legal practices, evidence, and criminals and learn how to analyze fingerprints and blood patterns, book criminals, and complete drug surveillance operations. Graduates can find jobs in local, state, and federal government agencies.
Classes involve hands on experience using law enforcement technology and computers and include:
- Computer introduction and basics
- Digital evidence
- Reporting and recording
Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice
Human behavior and law practices are taught in bachelor's degree programs, and many offer concentrations in computer security, crime, or investigation. Techniques for evidence collecting and investigation are learned.
Criminal justice courses teach practical and theoretical expertise. Some courses focus on using computer technology in criminal justice including:
- Computers and forensics
- Crime and computers
- Criminal justice research methods
- Ethical behavior
Master's Degree in Criminal Justice
An advanced degree can make it easier for students to find jobs with the federal government. Master's degree students are taught how computer technology helps solve crime and ways to use computers to investigate criminals. Policies in law enforcement and changes in the criminal justice system are discussed.
Industry professionals teach advanced classes on law enforcement and criminal justice. Computer technologies and applications are used. Courses include:
- Abnormal psychology
- Computer applications
- Criminology and victimology
- Evidence and procedure
- Juvenile crime
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
Doctoral Degree in Criminal Justice
At the doctorate level, students write, edit and research a dissertation on a subject of their choosing. Although doctoral degree programs are intended for candidates who intend to work in academia, there are also government positions available for those with a doctorate in criminal justice. Course and dissertation topics include:
- Analysis of computer data
- Applications of computers
- Criminal theories
- Criminal court system
- Evidential science
- Violent behavior
Popular Career Options
There are many careers within government that call for a criminal justice background and knowledge of computers.
- Booking officer
- Corrections officer
- Customs inspector
- Parole officer
A bachelor's degree in criminal justice is preparatory for employment in different government branches, including local, state, and federal agencies.
- Police officer
- Security officer
- State trooper
Opportunities to work for the FBI, CIA, and other government agencies are available for advanced degree holders in criminal justice. Graduates are prepared to take on management-level positions.
- Criminal investigator
- Drug enforcement administrator
- Secret service agent
- Security specialist
In addition to working at universities, criminal justice doctorate holders may seek employment within government agencies. There are certain jobs where a computer background is necessary.
- Computer forensic investigator
- Computer information specialist
- FBI agent
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, police and detectives are projected to see a 4% growth in employment opportunities during the 2014-2024 decade. In May 2015, detectives and criminal investigators averaged $79,620, while police and sheriff's patrol officers earned a mean wage of $61,270.
Criminal justice degrees focused on technology are available at all degree levels, training students in the application and uses of various pieces of technology for forensic investigation, security, and administration in a law enforcement career.