What You Should Know About This Degree
Law enforcement jobs such as a police officer, correctional officer, or crime scene investigator are physically demanding, mentally stressful, and often dangerous. Individuals working in criminal justice need a blend of aptitudes and qualities, including physical stamina, perceptiveness, communication and critical thinking skills, and the ability to remain calm in high-stress situations.
Because of the demanding nature of these jobs, specialized training programs beyond formal education are often required. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) requires 12 weeks of training for agents, and 21 weeks of training for intelligence analysts. Even if you have a master’s degree, be prepared for additional training before entering the workforce.
Certain jobs within the criminal justice field are expected to experience a decline in employment over the next few years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of correctional officers will drop 7% by 2026, as changes in laws and state budgets impact the number of prisoners in the U.S., and the length of their sentences. Be sure to research your area of interest within criminal justice, to understand your job prospects post-graduation.
You should also find out if a master’s degree is required for the job you seek. In some areas of criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree and on-the-job training are sufficient for employment and promotions.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Masters in Criminal Justice programs:
- Am I eligible for this degree? Depending on the master’s program, you may need a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. If you do not have this specific educational background, some programs may let you complete prerequisite coursework in order to enroll.
- Does this program have the specialization that I want? As the field of criminal justice is so diverse, many programs offer concentrations to help you master skills for particular jobs. Specializations include crime analysis, cybercrime investigation and cybersecurity, fraud management, and more. If you are considering a concentration, make sure you select a program that offers that area of focus.
During your research process, you should also be sure to investigate the school’s admissions process and requirements. You can typically find this information on the school’s website, or by contacting their admissions department. Also consider your financing options for graduate school, including financial aid, scholarships, assistantships, and tuition remission or reimbursement from your employer.