What Is the Study of Criminal Justice?

The study of criminal justice is an education in crime and, more specifically, the justice system. While students in online criminal justice programs in the United States focus primarily on the American government’s justice system, a criminal justice major typically includes some study into crime and justice across the globe. Studying criminal justice at the college level equips students with an understanding of law enforcement, corrections, and the court and legal system.

A Criminal Justice Curriculum

The study of criminal justice is something of an interdisciplinary field of study, combining studies in law, psychology and sociology, according to U.S. News & World Report. Often, students take classes such that cover topics such as the justice system, corrections, criminology, law enforcement and research methods. Through their coursework, students learn about the motives behind criminal behaviors and the factors, like a desire for rehabilitation, 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 and drugs and crime, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Of course, the study of criminal justice isn’t limited to core courses. At some of the best online criminal justice degree programs, students have the opportunity to 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 with an interest in computers might choose a concentration in cybercrime that will train them 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 or 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 from a criminal justice degree, even these roles vary.

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 degree 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 set out on their own to become private investigators. Some graduates from criminal justice degree programs put their knowledge of the courts and the legal system to work in the position of 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)

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