Criminal justice degree programs are some of the most dynamic and complex. Throughout its course offerings, students will delve deep into social behaviors and criminal justice system processes. While the career opportunities for those with a criminal justice degree are wide – ranging from law enforcement to substance abuse counseling – the classroom studies for this degree are universally the same. Before delving into this complex world and before you find criminal justice schools, it’s essential to understand what’s expected of you and what courses you will likely encounter. Of course, the best course of action is to review the required coursework for the institution you plan on attending. It’s with this information you’ll be able to make an educated decision regarding whether or not this is truly the degree path for you.
Coursework Within a Criminal Justice Degree Program
The exact level and type of courses you’re expected to undergo will vary based upon the online program or training institution you are enrolled in. Along with the actual college, coursework is also decided based upon your desired level of education. For example, those seeking an associate’s degree will have different courses than those seeking a bachelor’s degree. Regardless, the following courses and course topics must be covered to provide students a well-rounded education.
- Criminology – This course offering discusses the various elements involved with crimes. Within a criminology course, students learn theories regarding: crimes, criminal behavior, victims, elements of a crime and how society affects the level of crime.
- Juvenile Law – Even those who aren’t seeking to work in the juvenile justice system will be required to undergo juvenile law training. This coursework delves into theories regarding the social upbringings that foster criminal behavior in juveniles, rehabilitation techniques for juvenile offenders and correctional facilities for underage offenders.
- Criminal Procedures – Regardless of the area of law you wish to work in, holding a strong understanding of criminal procedures is a fundamental element of any criminal justice degree program. Throughout the course offerings, students will learn each step involved within the criminal procedures, which include: arrest, booking, trials and post-trial steps.
- Constitutional Law – The constitution makes its self known in every aspect of the criminal justice system. Therefore, in order to succeed within this industry, one must be well-versed in constitutional law and how its elements factor the behavior and outcomes of criminal offenders.
Other courses that you’ll likely encounter include:
- Correctional Facility requirements and treatments
- Comparative criminal justice theories
- Justice System Administration
- Criminal Psychology
However, as stated above, your classroom experience will be determined by the degree level you wish to obtain. For example, the average bachelor’s degree program requires the aforementioned courses; however, students must select a concentration of study. Based upon this concentration, the following courses will vary. Standard areas of concentration include: forensic psychology, justice system management, security management, homeland security, corrections, juvenile justice, criminal investigator or substance abuse counseling.