A degree in criminal justice leads to jobs in law enforcement, court administration or a position at a corrections facility. An associate degree provides a basic education that is used to transfer to a four-year degree or for full-time employment after graduation. A bachelor's degree provides a more comprehensive education in criminal justice and creates more career opportunities. All degree programs in criminal justice require the same types of classes, covering topics in criminal justice, research methodology, writing and investigation.
Criminal Justice-Specific Courses
Multiple criminal justice courses are required for a degree in criminal justice. These range from introductory courses to those that explore specific aspects of criminal justice, such as women and criminal justice. At Arizona State University, students must take Introduction to Criminal Justice, Advanced Criminological Theory and Women, Crime and Justice. At Remington College, students must take Comparative Criminal Justice Systems, Criminal Justice Management and Juvenile Law and Justice. Each program varies in its requirements, but each program includes several courses that introduce students to criminal justice and explore advanced topics.
Crime Scene Investigation Courses
Practical skills training is a part of many criminal justice programs, including how to properly investigate a crime scene and document that information for criminal proceedings. Students at Des Moines Area Community College must take Criminal Investigation and Scientific Investigation if they are completing the law enforcement concentration. However, if they are working towards a general A.A.S. in Criminal Justice, they have the option to complete Crime Scene Investigation, E-Crime Investigative Methods, and Impressions and Bloodstains. At the University of Maryland University College, students completing a bachelor's degree must take Criminal Investigation and Crime Scene Investigation.
Research Methodology Courses
Research and investigation are both key skills for those working in criminal justice. All degree programs in criminal justice require course work in research methodology. Arizona State University requires students completing a bachelor's degree to take both Research Methods and Statistical Analysis. Students at Remington College take Criminal Justice Research Methods and Data Resources. At the University of Maryland University College, students take Introduction to Research and Advanced Research Writing. Other classes include a research component in the form of research papers or special projects.
Good writing and communication skills are important for any job, but they are essential in the field of criminal justice, where crime reports and documentation plays a key role in criminal proceedings. Most bachelor's programs include an English composition general education requirement, which teaches the basics of college-level writing. Additional writing courses may be required. For example, at Remington College, bachelor's degree seekers must also complete Advanced Composition. Students at Des Moines Area Community College take Communications and have the option to take Criminal Justice Report Writing. At the University of Maryland University College, students take Introduction to Writing and Introduction to Professional Writing.
- University of Nevada Las Vegas: Department of Criminal Justice: Degree Requirements
- Arizona State University: School of Criminology and Criminal Justice: Degree Requirements
- Remington College: Criminal Justice Courses
- Des Moines Area Community College: Criminal Justice AA or AAS
- University of Maryland University College: Major in Criminal Justice
Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.