What to Expect in Criminal Justice Programs

Criminal justice students can earn a wide variety of degrees, such as diplomas and certificates, associate degrees, bachelor degrees, and master degrees. Majors that fall under the scope of criminal justice include criminal justice, criminology, corrections, and legal studies.

Most criminal justice students, regardless of their degree level, will take a broad suite of core major classes that cover the history of the law, court systems and procedures, crime theory, criminal justice ethics, security, law enforcement and police operations, prisoner and victim rights, and investigation. Advanced criminal justice studies often include a range of electives that cover more specific topics such as gang behavior, juvenile law, hate crimes, white collar crimes, and drug control.

Entry-level criminal justice careers generally require some sort of educational program, whether it be a diploma or certificate program or an associate's degree. Many criminal justice programs are designed so that students can earn a short-term degree, start working, and then continue building their educational credentials to advance in their criminal justice careers.