What Is the Study of Criminal Justice?

The study of criminal justice is an education in crime and, more specifically, the justice system. Students in online criminal justice programs in the U. S. focus primarily on the American government’s justice system. A criminal justice major typically includes some study into crime and justice around the globe. Studying criminal justice at the college level equips students with an understanding of:

  • law enforcement
  • corrections
  • the court and legal system

A Criminal Justice Curriculum

According to U.S. News & World Report  criminal justice is something of an interdisciplinary field, combining studies in:

  • law
  • psychology
  • sociology

Often, students take classes covering topics such as:

  • the justice system
  • corrections
  • criminology
  • law enforcement
  • research methods

Students learn about the motives behind criminal behaviors and the factors that go into a society’s response to those behaviors. Some of the courses students commonly take in online criminal justice programs include:

  • criminal procedure
  • crisis negotiation
  • abnormal psychology
  • violence in the family
  • drugs and crime

Of course, the study of criminal justice isn’t limited to core courses. At some of the best online criminal justice degree programs, students can choose an academic specialization that will help prepare them for their intended careers.

Aspiring special agents might enroll in a program that offers a homeland security specialization. Students interested in computers might choose a concentration in cybercrime, learning to identify and respond to crimes committed in the digital realm. Students can also pursue specializations that will prepare them to work in:

  • forensics and crime scene investigation
  • leadership roles in law enforcement
  • administrative roles in the justice system

Jobs in the Criminal Justice Field

When it comes to career preparation, the study of criminal justice is more versatile than it seems at first. Law enforcement is one of the more direct career paths with a criminal justice degree.

Criminal justice graduates may find employment with their local police force, or they may join a federal agency such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Many students in a criminal justice program go on to work in corrections as probation officers or corrections officers.

Still others use their knowledge of criminal behavior and justice system procedures to become private investigators. Some graduates from criminal justice degree programs use their knowledge of the courts and the legal system to become a paralegal, assisting attorneys with cases.

If you’re considering a career in law enforcement, corrections or a related path, criminal justice could be the major for you. For the right student, the study of criminal justice is a fascinating subject that combines scientific perspectives with a focus on human and social behavior.

Related resource:

Top 30 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)

Brenda Rufener
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