A criminal justice degree is a perfect course of study for anyone who is interested in issues related to crime, such as law, public policy, law enforcement and criminal investigations. Although a criminal justice degree is not necessarily a prerequisite for becoming a police officer, it is the chosen field of study for many men and women who pursue law enforcement careers. A criminal justice degree, however, has greater applicability beyond the field of law enforcement.
What you need to know to become a police officer is taught in police academy training, so a criminal justice degree is often not required to become a police officer. However, many prospective law enforcement officers study criminal justice in college to satisfy their departments' educational requirements. Many police departments require officers to have at least two years of college education, though they do not necessarily require a particular major field of study. Many police officers obtain degrees in criminal justice to deepen their knowledge of their chosen profession and for a sense of accomplishment.
Degree programs in criminal justice cover the basics of government, law, government policy and sociology. In addition, criminal justice programs emphasize good written communication, problem solving and critical reasoning skills.
Some criminal justice programs may offer concentrations, allowing students to focus on a specific area of interest. Examples of concentrations include law enforcement, penology or corrections, criminology and forensics.
In addition to work as a police officer, a criminal justice degree may prepare someone for work in juvenile justice work, security or corrections management. In addition, crime scene investigations and forensic science have become increasingly popular careers. A double major in criminal justice and a science field such as biology or chemistry may prepare someone for employment as a forensic scientist.
A criminal justice degree also provides excellent preparation for graduate-level study in criminology or other social science fields. It also is a popular major among students who are interested in attending law school. A criminal justice degree gives students a good introduction to the basics of criminal law.
- Photo Credit Photo Courtesy of ICE