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Education and Career Overview for Students Interested in Criminal Justice

Majors Overview December 22, 2013

Students will be taught the basics of legal system operations and criminal behavior in an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree program in criminal justice. Those participating in these programs learn the skills and knowledge necessary to find entry-level work in the criminal justice field or to continue their education.

A.S. Programs in Criminal Justice

Technical schools and community colleges are among those that offer criminal justice associate’s degree programs which are perfectly suited to the needs of professionals who have already begun their careers in law enforcement, apart from first-time students. Students enrolled on these programs can expect to acquire an in-depth understanding of police research methods and strategies.

Various kinds of crimes are examined by students who also take a look at the legal consequences resulting from criminal behavior. Students enrolled in some programs are allowed to focus on areas such as law enforcement, security or corrections. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.


Students involved in a criminal justice program are taught sociological and biological theories, decision making skills and criminal law principles. General education courses are augmented by coursework in topic areas such as:

•Juvenile delinquency
•Constitutional law
•Criminal justice
•Criminal law

Career Choices

Those who successfully complete the two-year program can expect to hone the research methods and investigative skills required to seek jobs in federal, state and local law enforcement organizations. They may seek various work roles including:

•Security personnel
•Criminal investigators
•Correctional officers
•Police officers
•Probation officers

Continuing Education Choices

After they complete an associate’s degree program in criminal justice, graduates may seek continued education by earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice wherein they are imparted practical and theoretical knowledge about the criminal justice system and crime, thereby assisting students by broadening their perception of complex issues that concern society and enhance their career prospects.

Beyond the bachelor’s degree, an interested individual may want to continue his or her education by earning a master’s degree in criminal justice or a related area. Coursework in a master’s degree program is devised to teach students specialized and theoretical knowledge, in addition to basic analytical techniques and research methods employed to understand how effective the current justice and legal systems are. High-level specialized knowledge and scientific research methodology are emphasized by doctoral programs, and students are thereby prepared for careers in research or academia.

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