Bachelor of Science (BS): Criminal Justice Degree Overview

A Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program can be an important first step toward advancement in a field that offers many career options. Earning this degree gives graduates the option of entering the workforce, advancing their studies to become lawyers or teaching criminal justice.

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Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Criminal Justice

This program provides courses related to police, courts and corrections systems, as well as a background in humanities, science and mathematics. The curriculum meets the needs of both students looking to gain entry to the field and those already employed in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Some programs offer concentrations, such as corrections, crime and justice, legal processes, loss prevention or juvenile justice. Distance learning is offered at some schools. Applicants must show proof of a high school diploma or GED for admission.

Course Topics

Core curricula in the criminal justice B.S. program are designed to give the student a thorough understanding of all aspects of the criminal justice system. In addition, professional internships may be available for students to gain experience working in the field. Coursework in the B.S. program may include:

  • Criminology
  • Security and police administration
  • Juvenile justice system
  • Legal research
  • Correctional strategies
  • Fire investigations
  • Correctional alternatives
  • Domestic terrorism
  • Gender in criminal justice

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals working in or pursuing employment in the field of criminal justice should have plenty of available opportunities, though the number of open jobs may be less than average compared to other career fields (www.bls.gov). The BLS stated that between 2012 and 2022, employment of detectives and police was predicted to grow five percent, while probation officers and correctional treatment specialists could expect an employment decrease of one percent.

Continuing Education Information

Although candidates may find some criminal justice positions with only an associate's degree, others, such as probation officers and correctional specialists, require a bachelor's degree. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for instance, requires that applicants have a bachelor's degree and some work experience in criminal justice (www.fbijobs.gov). Candidates may also be required to complete formal training at an academy or law enforcement agency, as well as certification examinations. Graduates may also choose to advance their education by securing a master's degree or pursue careers as lawyers or criminal justice teachers.

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