Earning a Criminal Justice Diploma

If you are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, corrections or private security services, then earning a criminal justice diploma is an excellent option. This one-year course is designed to provide the theoretical, practical and professional knowledge needed for careers in policing, courts, probation, parole and private security.

The degree can lead to a variety of careers, including local and state police work, federal law enforcement positions, private detective and security jobs, social workers and law school. Some students also choose to continue their education to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field.

Bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice generally require 120 credits and four years of study, with options to specialize in areas like juvenile crime, forensics or corrections. Graduates of these programs are prepared to apply their education to a wide range of criminal justice careers and can expect to see greater job opportunities, higher salaries and a lower rate of unemployment than professionals who hold only an associate degree.

A bachelor’s degree can also be used to transfer into a master’s or doctoral program. In most cases, bachelor’s degree graduates are able to take on more advanced criminal justice positions, such as probation officers or detention center directors, while master’s degree holders can pursue academic and research roles in the field.

Master’s degrees in criminal justice typically require 30 to 40 credits and can be completed in two years. These programs prepare graduates to advance to supervisory or leadership positions in the field by taking a big-picture view of the factors that shape criminal behavior and societal problems associated with it.

Many criminal justice schools offer online programs, and this allows students to access lectures and study materials anywhere and at any time. This flexibility can make it easier for learners to maintain their busy schedules while earning a criminal justice degree.

Some criminal justice schools also offer a bachelor’s in liberal arts, which gives students the opportunity to learn about the social sciences and humanities while exploring the broader scope of the criminal justice field. This can help them decide on a particular career path that suits their interests, goals and personality.

PhDs in criminal justice typically require four years of full-time study, with coursework focusing on theory, research, and government policy. These programs can be particularly beneficial for individuals who wish to teach or enter scholarly research positions in criminal justice, but who may not have the desire to become a practicing lawyer.

SJDs in criminal justice are also required for lawyers who wish to take on a more research-based approach to their career. This degree is earned through first-year courses in legal scholarship, research methodologies and social science disciplines, followed by qualifying examinations and a dissertation.

Ultimately, this degree qualifies students to pursue a law practice and is the most commonly awarded degree within the field of criminal justice. This degree is also known as law school, and it requires that graduates pass the bar exam in their home state before they can begin practicing law.