Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice

A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is an academic degree that can usually be completed in four years of full time study. It is typically the equivalent of approximately 120 college credit hours. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can be earned at four-year colleges and universities, including learning over the Internet where you have the ability to work at your own pace. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice will also provide you with more opportunities toward employment at the local community level, the state level, and the federal level. In fact, the minimum educational requirement for most federal agencies, such as the Secret Service or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is a four-year bachelor’s degree. Employment for a criminal justice job that requires a bachelor’s degree will typically have an annual salary in the range of $60,000 and above.

The advantage of a Criminal Justice degree at the bachelor’s level is the comprehensive nature of the criminal justice education that covers many of the following course topics:

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice: Where the course material will explore the historical, the structure, the philosophies, and the practices used in the American criminal justice system. The course will also look at criminal justice down through the ages and how the American system evolved from an earlier European set of guidelines in the rule of law. Of particular interest is how the American justice system attempts to strike a balance in allowing individual freedoms while at the same time provide a regulation of human behavior.
  • Theories of Crime and Delinquency: A course of study that looks at why individuals will engage in a criminal activity or delinquent behaviors. This form of study will also generally draw from other areas of education such psychology, sociology, biology, public policy, and political science.
  • Introduction to Law: A course of study that is designed to examine the foundations of the American Legal System and how the organization of the system sets in motion a method of legal thinking. This form of legal thinking is necessary to understand how the law functions, how to find the right law, and how to use it in support of shaping a courtroom argument.
  • Police Enforcement: A course of study that covers the history of police enforcement and how the role of the modern police is both similar to, and different from, the police of the past. The course will also look at how effective the policy of community policing is in accomplishing law enforcement. A study of the modern police force organization, corruption in the police force, and the everyday roles that a police force is required to fulfill are also general topics under police enforcement.
  • Corrections: A course in corrections that examines corporal punishment on one end of the corrections spectrum and the death penalty on the other end. The implementation of corrections is explored with regards to human rights, and how specialized populations that consist of drug, sexual, youth, violent, and mentally-challenged offenders may be singled out for particular emphasis. The administrative procedures used by the modern day correctional institutions are examined in light of their structure, organization, and implementation.

An internship in criminal justice is often coupled to a bachelor’s degree program, thus making this an excellent hands-on form of training. The most prominent internship programs are those where the opportunity is available to work with the local police force, to sit alongside a lawyer in the courtroom, to perform social work in a medical clinic or on school property, or to see firsthand the corrections process in action at a prison.

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