Exploring the Criminal Justice Educational System


Types of Degree Programs

The criminal justice educational system is one of the most complex and varied out of any other industries. The academic credentials associated with this industry can be as streamlined as a certificate program to as advanced and involved as a PhD. When determining the level of education you should obtain, you must hold a solid understanding of where you wish your career to take you. If you wish to work in upper management positions, you should be prepared to obtain advanced-level degrees. However, if you wish to work on a more entry-level basis, then a certificate, diploma or associate degree program may be your ideal choice.

Types of Criminal Justice Degree Programs

While there are many variations when it comes to a criminal justice degree program, there are several foundation degree programs that most interested parties will choose from. These include:

Certificate Program

Within a certificate program, you’ll generally undergo less than 12 months of study. These programs are ideal for candidates who wish to work in the criminal justice industry without having to spend the time and money on a college degree. A certificate in criminal justice prepares you for an entry-level role within the industry. Take note, if you decide to pursue a degree, most certificate programs don’t offer transferable credits. Therefore, you’ll have to start from scratch.

Associate Degree Programs

For those who are looking for a more solid foundation within this industry, but don’t want to spend the money on a limited certificate program, typically find a two-year associates degree in criminal justice is their ideal choice. This degree program qualifies you for higher-paying career options and is relatively cost-effective (especially when obtained at a community college). The most attractive option of an associates degree in criminal justice is its transfer-ability should you desire to return to school at a later date.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Those who wish to enter the criminal justice industry in a higher-positioned role, or wish to work in a specialty field, generally find their way into a four-year criminal justice degree program. Typically, this program requires a total of 60 credit hours spread out over eight semesters. Much like the associate’s degree option, a bachelor’s degree program offers an excellent foundation for those who wish to obtain an advanced degree program, such as a graduate certificate.

Graduate Certificate Program

If you’re searching for a way to heighten your employment options, many bachelor’s degree students choose to complete a graduate certificate program upon graduation. These smaller, more refined, training programs are typically about a specific topic within the criminal justice industry. This is an excellent option for those who know exactly where they wish to work upon graduation.

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