What Can You Do with a Degree in Administration of Justice?

Degrees in administration of justice typically cover criminology, ethics and crime control and law topics. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for administration of justice graduates.

Administration of justice degrees lead to careers in law enforcement, forensics or law. That said, law enforcement is usually the primary focus of the curriculum.

Essential Information

An administration of justice degree is normally designed to give students the tools for a career in law enforcement or corrections. Other options for a graduate with an administration of justice degree include careers in forensics or law, but these normally require further education at the master's or doctoral level.

Career Title Police Officer Detective or Criminal Investigator Probation Officer
Education Requirements High school diploma along with police academy training; a degree may be beneficial High school diploma along with police academy training; a degree may be beneficial Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% (for police and sheriff's patrol officers) -1% 4%
Median Salary (2015)* $58,320 (for police and sheriff's patrol officers) $74,300 $48,190

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Administration of justice degrees typically lead to careers that fall within two categories: law enforcement or corrections. Some examples of law enforcement careers are police officers and detectives. Parole officers fall within the corrections category and may be a good career choice for candidates with a bachelor's degree in administration of justice, because this field requires a four year degree.

Police Officer

Police officers ensure safety and order of the people within a given area by enforcing laws. The minimum requirement for this position is a high school diploma, and candidates must also pass through a police academy. A degree in criminal justice or law enforcement may also be beneficial. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual income for police and sheriff's patrol officers was $58,320 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that this career field is expected to see five percent for job growth from 2014-2024.

Detective or Criminal Investigator

Detectives and criminal investigators are responsible for investigating crimes, which can include gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses and suspects, arresting suspects and testifying in court. Detectives typically begin their careers as police officers, so the education requirements are the same as those for police officers, including at least a high school diploma and training through a police academy. The BLS projected a one percent decline in jobs for detectives and criminal investigators from 2014-2024, which may be attributed to shrinking local and state budgets as well as declining crime rates. The median annual income for these professionals was $74,300 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Probation Officer

Probation officers help to rehabilitate individuals who are in custody or on parole or probation. They may recommend specific actions or stipulations regarding the individual's release, career or educational plans. Prospective probation officers should seek a bachelor's degree in social work, law enforcement or a related field. According to the BLS, career growth for this field will see a 4% increase from 2014-2024. The median annual salary for probation officers was $48,190 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Administration of Justice - Law Enforcement Options

Administration of justice degrees may be offered with a focus in law enforcement. While some positions in the field, such as those of police officers, do not require a degree, formal education can still lead to additional job opportunities and chances for advancement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), positions in federal agencies are more likely to require a degree. Law enforcement careers that can benefit a degree in administration of justice include the following:

  • Police officer
  • Sheriff's deputy
  • State patrol or state police
  • State or local investigative officer
  • Inspector for Customs or the US Postal Service
  • US Marshal deputy
  • Agent for federal organizations such as Border Patrol, FBI, DEA or Secret Service

An administration of justice program concentrating in law enforcement teaches students about criminal law, criminology, crime control, ethics, evidence processing and communication. Students are taught to understand the process of the justice system from arrest to sentencing. Courses also explore criminal psychology and motivation.

Administration of Justice - Corrections Options

The field of corrections is centered on processing, detaining, incarcerating and rehabilitating those who have been convicted of crimes. Careers in corrections that benefit from a degree in administration of justice include the following:

  • Detention or correctional officer
  • Parole officer
  • Probation officer
  • Juvenile justice counselor
  • Pre-release or employment counselor
  • Halfway house manager

With a focus in corrections, administration of justice students learn about crisis resolution, criminology, corrections procedure, criminal law, ethics, communication and negotiation skills. Students are taught how to deal with inmates, encourage positive growth and reduce recidivism.

Other Options

Administration of justice degrees are typically available at the associate's degree and bachelor's degree levels. Many careers, such as those that involve the courts, law, forensics and advanced crime investigation often require graduate degrees in criminal justice or forensics. Administration of justice degrees can be used as a stepping stone on the path to such professions. Other options in the public and private sectors include loss prevention and fraud deterrence for corporations and government agencies.

An administration of justice degree might qualify graduates for careers as a police officer, detective or probation officer. If you'd like to uphold the law as a law enforcement official then earning an administration of justice degree would be a great investment.

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