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Overview of Criminal Justice Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree Program

Majors Overview March 6, 2015

Get information about a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program in Criminal Justice and its coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

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

Students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice are prepared to perform work in corrections administration, in addition to various other career options, including private security, probations, and law enforcement.

Students receive training in forensics, criminal law, intelligence operations, and criminology. Coursework in Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Criminal Justice programs commonly incorporates hands-on training or internships, employing law enforcement technology, in order to give hands-on training.

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


Coursework in Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Criminal Justice programs includes a myriad of research and lecture-based courses, which teaches students about the justice system and crime. Core coursework may commonly include topic areas such as:

•Issues in terrorism
•Criminal behavior
•Corrections systems
•Criminal law
•Ethical issues in criminal justice
•Internet crime

Job and Wage Outlook

In May 2012, about 434,870 correctional officers were employed in the United States (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). There were also about 44,830 first-line supervisors of correctional officers employed at that time.

A job growth rate of 5% has been predicted for correctional officers over the 2012 – 2022 decade (BLS). High turnover in the profession, in addition to population growth drives these good job prospects. High turnover, in turn, is attributed to the stressful nature of corrections work that requires shift work and involves low pay. In May 2012, correctional officers brought home average annual wages of $38,970, while first-line supervisors of correctional officers earned $57,840 on average during that year.

Continuing Education Choices

Employers of correctional officers and managers prefer bachelor’s degree holders. Additionally, most candidates have a law enforcement or military background or are imparted on-the-job training. Experience rather than training typically allows correctional officers to advance into more senior administration roles. However, some bachelor’s degree program graduates may seek continuing education by earning a master’s degree or Ph.D. in criminal justice. These professionals are not required to have certification.

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