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Criminal Justice Degrees: Preparing for a Noble Career

Criminal justice is defined as the system of practices, methods, resources, and government agencies utilized in order to prevent and fight crime, punish and rehabilitate those who have committed violations under the law, and generally establish peace and order in society. In order to properly function, governments need a set of laws to be followed, and it is the responsibility of the criminal justice system to enforce those laws for the betterment of all members of society. 

Because of its inherent need in society, criminal justice continues to be indispensable. Academically, criminal justice remains a popular choice for students pursuing a college degree. In 2010, a total of 39,413 bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice were granted by US educational institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Criminal justice programs provide plenty of employment opportunities for graduates. Perhaps the most obvious career path is law enforcement — bachelor’s degree holders can pursue careers as police officers, state troopers, detectives, federal agents, or US border patrol agents. Others may find work as corrections officers, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists. A degree in criminal justice may provide employment opportunities within social work.

Even though a career in criminal justice may pose some risks (especially in law enforcement-related careers), quite a number of students pursue criminal justice programs. There’s certainly a different kind of satisfaction gleaned from a career that could provide a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Individuals may find a career in criminal justice more appealing and a viable option to a desk or office career, than a regular desk or office-bound job.

The following offers median annual salaries for criminal justice-related careers, as stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2010:

  • Police officers – $53,540
  • Detectives – $68,820
  • Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists – $47,200
  • Corrections officers – $39,040

Finally, criminal justice is one of those professions that offer many opportunities for advancement. Police officers may be promoted to detectives or recruited as FBI agents; corrections officers may advance to supervisory positions.

Program Options

Found below are some of the Criminal justice programs you may consider when enrolling at an accredited, educational institution near you:

  • Certificate degree
    • Certificate in Criminal Justice
    • Certificate in Forensic Accounting
  • Associate degree
    • Associate in Criminal Justice
    • Associate in Criminal Investigation
    • AA Criminal Justice
    • AA Criminal Justice Management
  • Bachelor’s degree
    • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (with specializations in Corrections, Crime Scene Investigation, Forensics, Homeland Security, Juvenile Justice, or Law Enforcement)
  • Master’s degree
    • Master of Science in Criminal Justice (with specializations in Homeland Security, or Cyber-security)

Check for accredited schools that offer accredited programs in criminal justice near your area now — just use the search box on the upper left corner on this page to get instant results.


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov)
  • National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov)