Justice Degrees: Criminal Justice Program Guide

The Justice System in the United States is one of the oldest and most profound areas of American history. There are hundreds of thousands of people working within the criminal justice system in the U.S., and there are a number of different occupation areas within criminal justice that you can work in to have a long and sustainable career.

Justice Degrees.com is one of the oldest criminal justice degree directories on the web. With over 2,000 criminal justice and related justice programs in our directory, along with multiple data sources, we have done our best to keep our website updated to help you find the right program for you to enter into a career in the field of justice.

You can use the main navigation to find online criminal justice programs and Associates, Bachelors, and Masters degrees. For more occupation-focused information, view the top 30 criminal justice careers list, or view some of the top criminal justice career profiles.

Whether you’re simply looking to further your career through legal training or begin a whole new career with a degree in criminal justice, we’ll help provide you with an easy-to-use website experience, comprehensive criminal justice program listings of hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States, and useful criminal justice degree summaries on types of criminal justice degrees and legal programs.

Criminal Justice Programs by State

With a lot of hard work and many helpful people, we have assembled one of the largest directory of criminal justice programs available in the United States. To find a criminal justice program nearest to you, just click on your state. Keep in mind though – many programs – criminal justice included – are bringing their curriculum and coursework to an online environment. This helpful for many people, and you might consider perusing our directory of online criminal justice programs.

You can also begin your search by using the Criminal Justice Degree Finder to get immediately matched to sponsored featured schools that offer the type of criminal justice degree you’re interested in pursuing, or read on and browse through the website and the various criminal justice degree summaries or find a criminal justice college location most convenient to you by funneling through state result listings. You can also read about different justice careers that are common for criminal justice degree holders.

What is Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice dates back to the founding fathers of the United States. Nowadays, those in criminal justice swear in to serve and protect the foundations America was founded on. Whether you are a police officer, investigator, criminal psychologist, or a forensics or cyber security specialist, most find a criminal justice degree to be worth it, and a career in criminal justice to be especially rewarding.

Criminal Justice Degrees

There are quite a few options for criminal justice degrees in the US. In fact, there are over 25 types of criminal justice degrees and specialties that schools, colleges, and universities offer throughout the United States. This is surprising to some, but there are many specialty degrees and training – some of which are very specific – that you can get within criminal justice because the effects of each specialty are so grand they can affect human life. This is why it is important to have an extremely experienced workforce of experts, which is the reason for so many different specialties within the field.

We will walk you through all types of criminal justice degrees – from a standard criminal justice or criminology program to an area of study as specific as juvenile delinquency corrections. We understand how important of a role all of these positions are in our justice system, and we understand how important it is that we continue to gain students and graduates within the field.

Before knowing the concentrations and specialties within criminal justice, it is important to understand the different degree levels for a criminal justice degree. Each degree level has different requirements and qualifications required for entry, and as you can imagine each degree level has different university options that result in different salaries.

Criminal Justice Programs

You can use the below list to navigate to some of the more popular criminal justice programs. We have provided detailed writeups on each degree, and you will find numerous program reviews and schools available for each program.

Criminal Justice Programs

Types of Criminal Justice Degrees by Degree Level

Associates Degrees in Criminal Justice

This is the starting point for a criminal justice career. Associate’s programs in criminal justice tend to be a bit more flexible in terms of schedule, and it is an excellent choice to get started in the criminology field. Most graduates with associate’s degrees in criminal justice qualify for entry-level jobs, namely as criminal justice administrators or coding/communication specialists. Many Associate’s degree holders work in law enforcement facilities.

+ Criminal Justice Associates Degree Detail

Bachelors Degrees in Criminal Justice

Many that have earned their Associate’s degree in criminal justice decide to move on and continue their education with a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Bachelor’s programs still qualify for entry-level jobs in criminal justice, but graduates with a B.S. or B.A. degree tend to bring in a higher salary, and also tend to have more opportunities for career advancement. Many people that have Bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice work with law enforcement, or with private companies that work in security or private law/legal/investigative outsourcing.

+ Criminal Justice Bachelors Degree Detail

Masters Degrees in Criminal Justice

Graduate-level criminal justice degree programs are typically for those interested in looking at crime on a much larger level, whereas Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree holders tend to focus more on single-instance crime cases. For example, it would be common for someone with a Master’s degree in criminal justice to understand the context of why crime exists in a city or state, and figure out solutions for how to improve crime rates. Master’s degrees in criminal justice usually consist of studying policies, programs, research, and data to come up with solutions that are largely impactful to communities.

+ Criminal Justice Masters Degree Detail

Doctoral/Ph.D. Degree in Criminal Justice

The Ph.D. in criminal justice is the terminal degree for the criminal justice field (the highest degree of study). Doctorate degree holders tend to work in research positions, or within public service leadership. Some that decide to get into politics get their Ph.D. criminal justice degree. Additionally, those interested in criminal psychology or sociology will earn their doctorate, as the higher level degree ends up paying off dividends in the long run.

Online Degrees in Criminal Justice

Within the field, there are many choices to study 100% online criminal justice programs – this is not the case for other fields. A lot of the coursework is based on theory and the study of prior research studies or criminal cases, so it makes criminal justice an ideal program to study online.
+ Online Criminal Justice Degree Detail

Online Criminal Justice Programs Available in: Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate

Types of Criminal Justice Degree Specialties

Criminal justice goes far beyond the basic fundamentals of our justice system. There are numerous specialties within the field. We highlight all of the criminal justice types/specialties below – it is a good idea to try to specialize in some form of criminal justice. This allows you to become an expert in your field, which usually yields a higher salary and more career opportunities for advancement. If you are not sure, however, stick to the basics. A criminology or criminal justice degree will allow for plenty opportunities, and these programs are typically more available. You can figure out an area of expertise later on or continue your study after you have started your career.

Criminology Degree

Criminology is the study of crime, and this is the most common specialty of criminal justice. It is closely related to the general education of criminal justice, but focuses more on theory, research, studies, and the “why” behind crime.
+ Criminology Degree Detail

Criminology Programs Available in: Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate

Criminal Justice Administration Degree

This is an excellent entry-level degree to pursue to get into the criminal justice field. More often than not, you’ll be more removed from direct criminal instances, as you will likely be working in an office setting, but criminal justice administrators are still extremely important to the legal system.
+ Criminal Justice Administration Degree Detail

Criminal Justice Administration Programs Available in: Associates, Bachelors

Forensic Science Degree

Forensic science is the study of gathering information and evidence to use in a criminal case. When people think of forensic science, they usually think of the aforementioned television shows, and they would be accurate.

+ Forensic Science Degree Detail

Forensic Science Programs Available in: Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate

Corrections Counseling Degree

Corrections counseling involves working in a probation or corrections department setting and helping others work through and out of the penal system. Corrections counselors typically work with recent parolees or recent prison releases to help them get gainfully employed, and to help them find housing.
+ Corrections Degree Detail

Corrections Programs Available in: Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate

Criminal Behavior Degree

The study of the sociology and psychology of criminal behavior is an evolving area in the field of criminal justice. More and more law enforcement agencies are making a considerable effort to understand the “why” behind a criminal’s intent to understand how to deal with them in one-on-one specific cases, then use that information to profile and prevent future crime from happening.
+ Criminology Degree Detail

Criminology Programs Available in: Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate

Crime Prevention Degree

Just as it sounds, studying crime prevention helps you understand the fundamentals of preventing crime from happening. Typically this goes hand-in-hand with law enforcement. If you are not working in law enforcement specifically, you will be working with them a lot with the crime prevention specialty.

Crime Statistics Degree

If you gravitate towards numbers, data, and trends, this is the degree for you. It is also an excellent choice considering the “Big Data” movement going on in technology right now. This specialty combines a passion for criminal justice with statistics to try to understand crime and prevent it from happening in the future. You will study how to look at statistical overlays with hundreds or thousands of data points, and use that data to come up with a solution to improve your measurable statistics. There is a lot of movement in this area with the data focus – you can expect to even be brought in on technological advancements to try to predict when and where crime will happen, Minority Report style!

Domestic Violence Degree

There has been a rise in domestic violence incidences, and several have been made very public this year, with numerous NFL (National Football League) professional athletes having charges brought on them (as well as videos). The domestic violence basic statistics are shocking (from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence): Every minute, 20 people are victim to domestic violence, 1-in-3 women and 1-in-4 men have been victim to some form of domestic violence, and more than 20,000 calls per day are made to domestic violence hotlines (source from the NCADV.org). It is those those astonishing statistics that motivate many people to pursue a criminal justice degree with a specialty in domestic violence.

Juvenile Delinquency Degree

The study of juvenile deliquency allows you to work with juvenile crime offenders. It is a difficult, but rewarding area of study. The effects of criminal justice employees specializing in juvenile delinquency have been good, however, as juvenile offenses as a whole have decreased since the ’90’s. Many factors go into the improvement, but there is still a ways to go, and there always will be. Working in the field, you may be involved with the corrections side of juvenile deliqunecy, but much of the focus now is being placed on the prevention side. Reviewing social factors, helping to get kids involved with social activities, and encouraging family and friend support are several factors that help keep kids engaged and out of trouble, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (source).

Criminal Law Degree

Criminal law is typically a path en route to becoming a lawyer. Most options are at the graduate degree level – Master’s or Ph.D.

Sociology Degree

Some may be surprised to see the generic sociology degree make it onto a criminal justice degree specialties list, but sociology really goes hand-in-hand with criminal justice. Sociology focuses on the social aspect of people, including social disorders, behaviors, and relationships, as does much of criminal justice as workers try to figure out the reasoning behind criminal activity and actions.

Criminal Psychology Degree

Criminal psychology is similar to criminal profiling, but in more of a professional office setting most of the time. Many criminal psychologists have their Doctorate/Ph.D. in psychology, and basically all have their Master’s degree.

Forensic Accounting Degree

When people think of crime, they tend to think of CSI, NCIS, and Person of Interest type shows that have crimes against humans most of time. However, accounting and financial fraud is one of the most widely spread crimes in this day and age, especially with the technology a criminal can get. Whether it is a well-documented and well-publicized Ponzi scheme, or a company trying to fudge its numbers to hide something, accounting fraud is extremely prevalent. Forensic accountants can follow the trail to figure out what is going on and to assist authorities to catch criminal activity.

Cybersecurity Degree

Cybersecurity is a growing crime due to the number of hackers and fraud experts that are taking advantage not only of individuals, but of very large, publicly traded companies. Most people are aware of the cyber attacks on Target and Home Depot in 2014, but JP Morgan Chase was also hacked, compromising 76 MILLION households, The NASDAQ stock exchange was even hacked back in 2011, as was Ivy League Harvard.

Court Reporting Degree

Stenography, or court reporting, degrees are offered at a number of campus-based and online-based schools nationwide. Most programs are less than two years, but that can get you into a job pretty quickly. Court reporters record via a computer conversations that happen within the court system. Whether it is a trial or a hearing, stenographers capture everything to ensure the accuracy of statements and judgments.

Criminal Profiling Degree

Criminal profiling is also known as offender profiling, and is the process of using data and behavioral/sociological similarities to help predict and identify criminal subjects. Basically profilers study the crime that occurred, including all details of the scene and activity, relate it to past occurrences that may be similar, review motives, relationships, and other evidence, and attempt to profile a group of possible suspects. Successful profilers have a strong attention to detail and an open mind.

Mediation Degree

Oftentimes mediation is used in divorce proceedings, but it can be used to help two sides work out any deal that is fair to both sides. A mediator helps make sure the process goes smoothly and fairly. It can be a challenging job as usually the two parties are at odds against each other, but there is a need for someone with patience and a fair rule. A mediation specialty degree can help you become a mediator of the courts.

Paralegal Degree

Paralegals assist mostly lawyers in the legal system. They help with research, contracts, organization, and proceedings. Some paralegals are more hands-on with cases than others, and sometimes paralegals decide themselves to become lawyers. This position is an excellent entry level position that pays well and opens you up to the legal system in many respects.

Homeland Security Degree

Homeland security involves a number of different security measures, including the protection of airports and other forms of travel, securing our borders, and cybersecurity. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security partnered with the US Department of Defense to protect civilian and military computer systems and networks.

Criminal Justice Careers

After hundreds of hours of research, we have found that many people working in the criminal justice field have several skills and qualities in common. Specific careers require more specific talents and learned skill, but there are still over-arching qualities that most working within the justice field have. View the top criminal justice careers for more specific information related to the exact profession within the justice system.

Criminal Justice Career Video from Saint Joseph’s College

Here is a career overview from Saint Joseph’s College on some examples of a criminal justice program and what you can do with a criminal justice degree.

Criminal Justice Career Profiles

Throughout our 30+ criminal justice career profiles, you will find similar skills that are more specific that align with the specific career. These are by no means a “must”, but if your natural skills and qualities align with these it will help you in your day-to-day job.

Working as an officer of the law, investigator, or deputy marshal:

It is important to remain calm and focused in pressure-packed situations.
Investigative and intelligent police officers can make a big impact on communities.
Detail Oriented
Writing detailed reports and accounting for specifics is imperative for any officer.
Working with juveniles, the court system, or as a probation officer:
Sometimes troubled youths need someone to listen to them to help them.
Being able to see multiple sides of arguments and figuring out solutions.
Being compassionate helps others understand how much they mean to others.