What You Should Know About This Degree
Criminal justice jobs can be physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. Police officers, FBI agents, and correctional officers often find themselves working in dangerous situations and interacting with violent or vulnerable populations. While criminal justice degree programs help students develop their critical thinking, communication, and perception skills, individuals considering a career in criminal justice should determine if they have the natural aptitudes necessary for succeeding in this field.
Many criminal justice jobs involve working with diverse populations, within the U.S. and in foreign countries. Being fluent in languages besides English can increase your job prospects. Certain jobs, particularly those with government agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), require additional training beyond a degree.
While certain jobs within criminal justice are expected to grow at an average or above average pace in the next decade, the overall job growth outlook for the field is slightly slower than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10 percent decline in correctional officer and bailiff jobs by 2031, thanks to changes in laws and state budgets affecting the number of prisoners and lengths of their sentences. Before enrolling in a program, consider what your career aspirations are and research the job prospects in those specific areas.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Criminal Justice programs:
- Does this program offer any specializations? Criminal justice is a broad field, and most bachelor’s programs will cover a variety of topics to give students a solid foundation. Through electives, students can concentrate in certain areas of criminal justice, including juvenile justice, crime analysis, cybersecurity, and more. If you have an interest in a specific area of criminal justice, be sure to select a program that offers coursework in that area.
- Are there any in-person requirements? Even if all of the coursework can be completed online, some programs may have internship or other experiential learning requirements that you must attend in-person. When reviewing the curriculum, check to see what, if any, in-person requirements the program has and where you are expected to complete them.
At this stage, you should look at the admissions requirements and deadlines for the programs to which you plan to apply. Gathering your application materials well ahead of deadlines will help your application process go smoothly. You should also consider your options for funding your degree, including financial aid, scholarships, grants, and, if you are currently employed, tuition assistance from your employer.