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Overview of Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree Program

Majors Overview March 7, 2015

Get information about bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice and their coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Criminal Justice

Students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice are taught about the roles of courts, corrections, and laws, in addition to the ways in which these legal institutions are pertinent to the juvenile and adult justice systems.

Students enrolled in juvenile-focused programs are imparted education on theories relating to our legal system and the practical skills necessary in the performance of jobs in the broad fields of corrections and probation. The program is devised to teach students about important concepts in legal procedures, legal issues, and criminal law; there may also be an emphasis on the ethical aspects of the field.

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma.


Coursework within bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice with a focus on juvenile probation and corrections typically covers criminal justice, policing, and legal systems, which are courses that are pertinent to the particular area of expertise. Students enrolled in these programs are also allowed to opt for elective courses in the humanities and sciences. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as the following:

•Corrections and rehabilitation
•Juvenile delinquency
•Ethical issues in criminal justice
•Criminal justice
•Correctional institutions
•Legal systems

Career Choices

Those who graduate from the program can seek occupations in numerous areas germane to law enforcement, including parole offices, juvenile residential institutions, courts, rape crisis centers, jails, state police departments, and sheriff departments.

Prospective probation officers may opt for specializations in working with juveniles. Those who complete the program can choose to pursue correctional officer positions in juvenile correctional facilities or federal prisons. Graduates may choose from job roles such as:

•Correctional officer
•Correctional treatment specialist
•Probation officer
•Parole officer

Job and Wage Outlook

Correctional officers can expect a job growth rate of 5%. Probation officers, parole officers, and correctional treatment specialists are likely to see negligible growths, if any, over the 2012 – 2022 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

In 2012, probation officers, parole officers, and correctional treatment specialists brought home an average annual salary of $48,190, with $83,410 earned on average that year by the top 10% in the field; during that year, correctional officers banked $38,970 on average. A minimum wage of $69,610 was made on average that year by the 90th percentile or above (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Those who complete a bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice can choose from an extensive array of continuing education options. Bachelor’s degree holders can enroll in graduate degree programs in numerous fields, including criminal justice, public administration, or legal studies. Those who complete these degree programs may seek supervisory or senior positions. Some graduates may choose to enter law school in order to go on to practice law.

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