Are you passionate to learn how to defend, or prosecute? Or perhaps you’d like to pursue fighting crime or preventing terrorism? Attaining a criminal justice degree (also called a criminology degree) or law degree from an accredited institution can lead to a variety of career paths for you to attain your goals.
A Criminal Justice Degree or a Law Degree can be completed either on campus or online, from a 2-year Associate Degree all the way through to a Doctorate in Criminal Justice or Law. Read below to learn about an Associate Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, or Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice (Criminology) or Law.
Criminal Justice and Law Degree Choices
Depending on your career goals, and the amount of time you wish to dedicate towards college-level studies, you will choose from either an Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate (PhD) in Criminal Justice/Criminology or Law. We recommend contacting a few colleges to arrange a time to meet with their admissions counselors, either by phone or in person. By speaking directly with an admissions counselor, you’ll be able to ascertain which criminal justice degree, or law degree,suits you best.
What subjects do you study for a criminal justice or law degree?
While specific coursework varies among colleges, generally speaking all criminal justice degree courses, or law degree courses,cover similar material. The following are subjects covered for any level of criminal justice degree or law degree:
- Constitutional Law
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal investigations
- Computer Database Navigation
- Criminal Psychology
- Correctional Facilities
- Related Communications, Mathematics and English composition courses.
Associate Degree in Criminal Justice or Law
An Associate Degree (AA or AS) in Criminal Justice (Criminology) or Law is typically two years of full-time study. An Associate Degree in Criminal Justice or Law often leads to better opportunities for entry-level positions. In addition, the Associate Degree in Criminal Justice or Law also provides students with a strong introduction to the entire world of criminal justice or law, possibly leading them to explore options they had not considered beforehand.
Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice or Law
Generally speaking, a bachelor’s degree (BA or BS) will offer you more job opportunities than an associate degree. In fact, Rasmussen College conducted a study which showed that 20 times more job opportunities exist for bachelor’s degree graduates than for graduates with only an associate degree.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice or Law offers more specialized study tracks than an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice or Law. Specialized Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminal Justice and Law include courses in legal proceedings, legal theory,corrections and case management, law enforcement, homeland security, crisis management, and political science.
Graduates of an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice or Law may qualify for some of the following positions:
- Correctional officer
- Probation officer
- Correctional treatment specialist
- Private investigator
- Police detective
- Behavioral disorder counselor
Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice or Law
A Master’s in Criminal Justice Administration or Law is usually considered the gold standard for criminal justice professionals. With a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice, or a Law Degree (J.D.), you will more likely be considered for upper management positions than if you have only a Bachelor’s or Associate degree in criminal justice or law. While a Master’s Degree is usually rigorous academically, since it is the ticket to higher-level criminal justice opportunities, students usually find that the dedication pays off after graduating with a Master’s in Criminal Justice Degree or a Law Degree (J.D.).
Choosing A Criminal Justice School: Online or Onsite?
In the past, getting a college degree, of any level, often meant putting your life on hold for years to attend onsite campus classes. While traditional criminal justice and law degree programs are still offered by colleges and universities across the country, online degrees are no longer a fringe option. In fact, there are many online programs from which to choose, some of which are considered high-caliber in accordance with college ranking systems.
In addition, a plethora of lower-priced, yet high-quality options are available from a number of other online criminal justice or law degree programs.
- Online criminal justice or law degrees are typically considered to be on par with on-campus degrees.
- A graduation certificate does not indicate the place of study, therefore, an online degree would be indistinguishable from an onsite degree from the same institution.
- Some online degrees can be obtained at a different pace than taking classes on campus – either quicker, or slower, depending on your needs. This level of flexibility can be particularly beneficial to those already employed, and/or balancing a family with their studies.
To be sure, not all online degree programs offer the same options. If you are considering a criminal justice or law degree in the near future, be sure to be in touch with the admissions counselor at each school you are considering. Here are some guideline questions to discuss with an online criminal justice or law degree program admissions counselor:
- Are the classes held at specific times online, or can they be viewed at later time via recording?
- Is part-time study available?
- Is the time frame set, or can I spread out the classes for a shorter or longer time period? • Is the time frame set, or can I spread out the classes for a shorter or longer time period?
- What are the methods of communication between instructors and students, and between classmates?
- Are there online student networking opportunities provided by the school?
- Does this school assist in arranging paid, or course-credit, internships?
- Do online students benefit from alumni services like those for on-campus students?
Improving Job Prospects After Graduation
Students wishing to be lawyers will need to graduate with a Master’s in Law (J.D.) and pass their state BAR exam. At the same time, many post graduates with criminal justice degrees or law degrees go on to pursue certification in specialized areas of criminal justice or law in order to further their credentials for job prospects. Additionally, criminal justiceor law degree graduates often join industry organizations, both local and national, in order to expand their networking opportunities. These postgraduate options are often offered online..