If you’re interested in crime and public policy, then a college major in criminal justice or criminology could be right up your alley. Perhaps you’ve already envisioned yourself at the scene of an unsolved crime, uncovering the one piece of evidence that puts the puzzle in place. (Did you ever notice how quickly that occurs on TV?) Of course, that could happen, but it’s wise to consider that crime scene investigation and forensics are just two of the many, many paths available to you when you earn your degree in criminal justice.
Benefits of a Criminal Justice Degree
Did you know that criminal justice programs are popular for pre-law students? Law schools like to admit students from diverse educational backgrounds, and degrees in criminal justice prepare students to appreciate the importance of the legal system. So, if you aim to practice criminal law, a criminal justice major is a logical first step.
In fact, a good criminal justice program at a reputable college will prepare you for any number of careers. For that reason, most criminal justice programs emphasize the development of logical reasoning, problem-solving ability, and solid communication skills, all of which translate into any number of professional environments. A school for criminal justice also cover the basics of law, crime, public policy, and social systems.
Focusing Your Criminal Justice Degree
Your school for criminal justice or criminology program may offer concentrations that will allow you to delve deeper into the area of criminal justice that really catches your interest. Such options might include corrections, juvenile justice, security, law enforcement—and yes, crime scene investigation and forensics!
Be aware that some colleges have a criminal justice program administered through a distinct criminal justice department, while others offer criminal justice majors within related fields, such as anthropology, sociology, or political science. By nature, criminal justice and criminology are multidisciplinary. If you’re planning to apply to grad school, you might also consider a double major or a complementary minor. Whether it’s a foreign language, a hard science, or a minor in public affairs, such additional training will help to enhance your application.
Consider an Associates Degree
If you are not interested in completing a four-year criminal justice program, career-oriented two-year programs in criminal justice are offered by many community colleges, with specializations including forensics and security. Whatever schools make it to your list, be sure to research the accreditation status of each. Recognized accrediting agencies can be found at the U.S. Department of Education Web site.
The desire for excitement and intrigue leads many a student to major in criminal justice. As you will learn, the rewards of entering a field where you can truly help others and make a difference are plentiful as well.