Criminal Justice Schools: Choosing the Right School for You

Criminal justice schools

When you start researching potential criminal justice schools, whether undergraduate or graduate, you may be surprised by the sheer number of options from which you have to choose. In part, this can be attributed to the recent fanfare surrounding the field. Between popular TV shows and a national emphasis on homeland security, numerous individuals have been inspired to pursue a criminal justice or criminology career. But picking the right schools is tricky business.

Things to Consider When Choosing Your School

So how do you find the one that’s right for you? That depends. To start, you should consider why you are choosing criminal justice and think about what you intend to do with your criminal justice degree. The best path for a future police detective differs from that of a future forensic scientist. If you aren’t yet sure of your intended career, that’s OK. However, it can definitely help to guide your choice of criminal justice schools if you do have a goal.

Next up, it’s time to flex your investigative skills and develop a well-rounded list of suspects— that is, schools. If you intend to study criminal justice at the college level, the first order of business is to determine whether you are interested in picking a school with an academic focus or one that offers a more career-focused curriculum. Of course, many criminal justice schools offer a good balance of the two, but again, your particular goals will help you to determine which schools are a good fit for you.

Two-Years or Four-Years?

Two-year programs at criminal justice schools or criminology programs are typically focused on career-based education, whether you want to be a paralegal, forensic technician, or security agent. If you are choosing criminal justice career training, be sure to find those programs that will prepare you for work in your discipline of choice.

As you look at colleges, consider the availability of criminal justice-related internships. Some criminal justice schools offer students the chance to work for a criminal justice agency for credit. Other programs allow you to observe or work in prisons, drug treatment facilities, courts, or other sites that provide a bird’s eye view into the real-world applications of the criminal justice system. This type of opportunity will prove invaluable whether you plan to go straight into the workforce or apply to grad school after earning your four-year degree.

When you move on to the graduate level, your criminal justice education is all about preparing yourself for the line of work in which you intend to focus your criminal justice career. Thus, you’ll want to look carefully at both the philosophy of your criminal justice school as well as the particular research interests of the faculty. As a graduate research assistant, you could find yourself taking part in their work!

Financial Considerations

As you assess your criminal justice school options, be sure to also take financial considerations into account. Tuition costs, the availability of financial aid, and the depth of your personal financial resources are all important things to consider. Be realistic, but don’t limit yourself. With a bit of tenacity, sources of financial support for your criminal justice education can often be found, whether in the form of scholarships or student loans.

As a discipline, criminal justice offers both intrigue and excitement. Spend some time honing in on the right criminal justice program, and the rewards will be plenty.

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