Criminal Justice Degree Programs

criminal justice degrees

Getting a Criminal Justice Degree

A degree in criminal justice can open doors to an exciting career with excellent pay. Criminal justice careers span a variety of jobs from opportunities in local government, federal jobs, and the private sector. Job opportunities with a degree in criminal justice can be found across all 50 states and overseas too!

A degree in criminal justice can even provide opportunities to work for yourself by starting your own business or working as a consultant. A criminal justice degree is available as an associate degree, bachelor’s, or a master’s. There are also a variety of certifications available such as crime scene investigation, private security, and peace officer.

A degree (and certifications) in criminal justice will qualify the recipient for a wide variety of jobs. This is an especially great career path for military spouses as they are certain to secure excellent job opportunities across their many moves.

Don’t forget about the MyCAA Program for military spouses!

Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

> Search VA-approved schools with associate degrees in criminal justice.

An Associate Degree in Criminal Justice is a great starting point for those interested in this career path.

Don’t forget to look for certificate programs from reputable sources. Certifications from educational institutions are especially esteemed, as are certifications with law enforcement affiliations.

Certifications can offer students an opportunity to fast track their education in specific areas while working and gaining on-the-job knowledge to complement their academics.

Keep in mind that the GI Bill can be used for non-degree seeking programs through approved institutions.

Jobs With an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

  • Gaming surveillance officer– patrol and protect property from illegal activity. May work mostly in casino observation rooms, using audio and video equipment. Median annual salary: $30,000.
  • Correctional officer– oversee those who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. Median annual salary: $45,000.
  • Bailiff- law enforcement officers who maintain safety and order in courtrooms. Median annual salary: $45,000.

Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice

> Search VA-approved schools with bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice.

Students can earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and choose a specialty focus such as police administration, homeland security, and crime scene analysis. A Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice will open doors and opportunities including supervisory positions and a significant pay bump from an associate degree.

Jobs With a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice

  • Probation officer- work with probationers and parolees. Median annual salary: $54,000
  • Detective- criminal investigator that gathers facts and collects evidence of possible crimes. Median annual salary: $65,000.
  • Police officer– protect lives and property. Median annual salary: $65,000.

Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice

> Search VA-approved schools with master’s degrees in criminal justice.

Those earning a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice are well prepared to be leaders in their careers and related fields. When earning a master’s degree one can continue in their current career path with additional earning power, undertake leadership roles, or transition into teaching.

  • Postsecondary teacher- instructor for criminal justice programs. Average annual salary: $74,000.
  • Federal special agent- for a variety of agencies including FBI, ICE, Customs and Immigration, etc.  Median annual salary: $76,000.
  • First-line supervisor of detectives– directly supervise and coordinate activities of members of police force. Median annual salary: $92,000.

Looking to boost your education even further? Criminal justice is also a very popular doctoral program. Those seeking to earn their Doctorate in Criminal Justice will have opportunities to become the preeminent experts in their field.

Careers with a PhD in Criminal Justice include college professors, research and publication, and senior management positions such as chiefs and head administrators.

Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Ready to earn your degree in criminal justice?

Check out these great programs available at our partner schools:

Bethune-Cookman University

Offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.

Bethune-Cookman is a premier historically black university that participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

Farmingdale State College

Part of the esteemed SUNY system and offers an Associate of Science Degree with a concentration of law enforcement.

Farmingdale has two Bachelor of Science degrees.  The first has a concentration in law enforcement technology. The other has a concentration in police, courts, and corrections.

Farmingdale does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon program, but does have an excellent Office of Veterans Services which helps veterans navigate the admissions, registration and financial aid process.

Rutgers University-Camden

Offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice. Rutgers-Camden also offers a dual degree BA/MA program so students can fast track their education and earn their MA with an additional 7 classes over the undergraduate requirements. Rutgers participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

Southern Connecticut State University

Offers a Bachelor of Science in Sociology with a Concentration in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Southern Connecticut State University participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

The University of Cincinnati

Offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a fully online Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The University of Cincinnati participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

The University of Louisville

Offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. The University of Louisville participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

*All average annual salaries adapted and calculated from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. For more information click here.

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About the author

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Born in SoCal yet raised Tampa, Florida - Leah earned her undergraduate BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Central Florida. Leah earned her MA in the MALAS at San Diego State University, while also completing a graduate teaching certificate in English for Secondary Education. An avid traveler, she has visited more than 60 countries. With the birth of her son Spencer in 2012, Leah embarked on her biggest adventure (yet) as parent and Coast Guard wife.