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Criminal Justice Degree

Criminal justice degrees focus on the delivery of justice to individuals who have committed crimes by those who have studied and analyzed criminal behavior and rehabilitation. Criminal justice degrees are offered at the associate, bachelor, and graduate levels, and certificates can be earned post-education to learn more about specific areas of criminal justice. Ideal candidates are honest, driven by a sense of responsibility, and are observant.

Associate Level

An associate’s in criminal justice, like most 2-year programs, is considered an introduction into the field. In the case of criminal justice, though, it’s enough to obtain entry-level positions. The curriculum will contain an introduction to criminology, as well as a focus on understanding the theories behind the American criminal justice system.

Careers for those with an associate degree include: Police Officer, Campus Security Officer, Victim Advocacy Counselor, Probation Officer, Corrections Officer, Evidence Technician, Youth Detention Counselor. The average salary with an associate’s is $35,000.


Earning a bachelor’s in criminal justice provides more insight into the courts and corrections systems. This 4-year program can be obtained as either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, depending on whether you want to work in a technical or scientific field. Both will take a deeper look into research methods and ethical concerns in criminal justice, as well as alternatives to incarceration.

Career paths for criminal justice degree-holders include: Corrections Officer/Manager, FBI Agent, Police Officer, Private Investigator, Forensic Accountant, Crime Scene Investigator, Paralegal, Air Marshal, US Marshal, Custom & Border Patrol Agent, Emergency Management Director, Secret Service Agent, Transportation Security Screeners, Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Fish and Game Warden, Bailiff, Court Clerk, Information Security Analyst, Document Examiner, Diplomatic Security Agent, IRS Criminal Investigator, Probate Investigator. Entry-level pay for criminal justice fields is $40,000.

Graduate Education

The next level in criminal justice is a master’s degree, and this level delves deeper in research methods and statistics, along with policy analysis. Curriculum will likely include courses on victimology, criminal mind and behavior, budgeting and planning, issues in policing, and contemporary issues in corrections. A graduate degree in criminal justice typically leads to higher levels within the same types of workplaces as a bachelor’s, such as supervisor, director, or manager.

Taking criminal justice to the next educational level, a PhD is, as usual, an indication of a life of research and academia. The primary goal is to seek out better crime control through understanding crime and justice. Educational, research, and advanced public policy roles are the natural progression after earning a PhD in Criminal Justice.

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