A career in criminal justice provides the opportunity to help your community or country as you make a positive contribution to the local, regional, state, or federal justice system.
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Students who are interested in a degree in criminal justice are often those who wish to serve their community in some capacity. Perhaps they want to work in local law enforcement, making their community safer. Some are interested in participating in the state or Federal level, working for organizations such as the FBI, State Patrol, or elsewhere in the state or Federal justice system. Understanding the path you'd like to take will help you determine the best school and the best degree program for you.

Types of degree programs:

You can pursue criminal justice degrees at a variety of levels. There are certification programs as well as associate or bachelor level programs to choose from. Typically, a bachelor degree will give you the greatest opportunity and is often desired by prospective employers.

There are several different degree programs available. Here are some examples:

  • Law Enforcement: This degree program is often sought after by students who wish to become police officers or detectives.
  • Cybersecurity: A graduate in cybersecurity will help keep computers, networks and information systems save from hackers
  • Computer Forensics: This Degree is similar to cybersecurity, but it focuses on identifying and preventing computer or internet-based crimes.
  • Counterterrorism: Students learn how to identify, respond to and prevent terrorist threats.
  • Emergency Management: Learn how to prepare for and respond to a variety of emergency situations.

Before you choose a degree program, you should have some idea of what you want your focus to be. Some focuses, such as law enforcement have certification programs that will enable to you start your career as a police officer within a fairly short timeframe, but it is still recommended that you continue on to receive a bachelor degree in order to maximize your opportunities throughout your career.

Choosing a school:

Choosing a school for a criminal justice degree is similar to choosing a school for other degrees. You'll want to make sure that your prospective school has a robust criminal justice degree program, that would allow you to take a variety of classes and possibly change your focus. It's important to remember that many students change their major at some point in their college career. Having a robust criminal justice program will likely help you if you decide to change your focus at some point during college.

Visit your prospective school if at all possible before deciding to attend. A college visit will help you get an idea of that the campus culture is like and whether you think you would thrive in that environment. In addition to a visit, talk to some students, academic advisors and admissions personnel to make sure you learn as much about the college as possible.

In addition to academics and culture, location will likely be a deciding factor in choosing a school. Do you want to be close to home or would you rather attend school out of state? In a case where a few schools look attractive, location might be a deciding factor.

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