What You Should Know About This Degree
A bachelor’s in criminal justice prepares you for a career in a range of sectors, including social services, government agencies, nonprofits, and public and private research agencies. If you’re looking for a role as a forensic technician or a federal agent, you need additional specialized training in natural sciences and federal law enforcement, respectively.
Though crime rates are falling on state and federal levels, growing population size and increased demand for public safety services mean the need for police officers and detectives is expected to grow by 5% until 2029. Still, funding for these jobs depends on government budgets, and available jobs can vary per location and year. A few things can improve your chances of getting a job in this sector, such as speaking a foreign language, having prior military or investigative experience, or holding a bachelor’s degree.
As a police officer or criminal investigator, you need to have a license to carry a firearm and a certificate in first aid and CPR. These are usually easily earned on the job, although some states might ask you to obtain them on your own. If you’d like to work as a law enforcement agent at the federal level, you need to undergo additional training, usually at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, or a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
Here are a couple of questions to consider when researching bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice:
- Am I eligible for this program? Anyone who has completed their high school education can apply for a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, although some universities may require minimum SAT or ACT scores. Likewise, certain programs require a minimum of 2.0 GPA or higher. For some law enforcement careers, you must be a U.S. citizen, so consider this when making your long-term career choice.
- How long does it take to complete this online degree? All degrees offer at least 120 credits upon completion, yet their duration can vary from state to state. Some universities provide intensive online programs that can be completed within a year; however, most states require four years of undergraduate education for a bachelor’s degree. Most universities are very flexible with their curriculum and method of training delivery, so you should find a program that suits your specific needs easily.
Most universities offer financial aid for talented students if you apply early through their admissions office. You can also apply for federal student aid, although the deadline for these scholarships may vary from state to state and college to college.