Juvenile justice is a multifaceted area including an array of disciplines such as criminology, sociology, administration and psychology. If you're considering a career in the juvenile justice system -- such as a probation officer, correctional treatment specialist, counselor or caseworker -- you'll need a postsecondary degree. Although some entry-level positions call for only a bachelor's-level degree, taking on leadership and specialty roles may require a master's.
Although individual master's degree programs may have their specific requirements, you'll find similarities between many juvenile justice schools' admissions policies. All master's-level programs require applicants to hold at least a bachelor's degree. A juvenile justice program may also require an undergraduate degree from within the field. For example, Prairie View A&M University requires all juvenile justice applicants to have a bachelor's in criminal justice or a related area. A related area may include psychology, public administration, sociology or political science. Additionally, applicants to a master's in juvenile justice administration may need to take specific prerequisite undergraduate courses in the social sciences or criminology.
Graduate-level juvenile justice programs may focus on a specific aspect of youth and the law. For example, National University offers a Master of Science in juvenile justice with a focus on special education. This type of program centers its curriculum on working with and helping special needs or special education children within schools, the court system or juvenile detention halls. Students with a background in special education or teaching can benefit from this type of degree and the criminal justice aspects when it comes to working with this specialized population in justice-related settings.
Some universities may fold juvenile justice programs under the more general criminal justice umbrella. This may include an elective concentration in the field or specialty seminars. For example, CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice offers a specialization in juvenile justice with classes on probation and parole, drugs and crime, the sociology of delinquency and gangs. The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers a Master of Arts in administration of justice that includes course work and seminars in juvenile justice topics.
If you are already working in the juvenile justice system, have another job that you want to transition out of, or have a hectic family schedule, an online option may fit your needs better than a traditional master's program. For example, the Eastern Kentucky University offers a fully online graduate degree in juvenile corrections and leadership. Must University also offers an online master's in juvenile justice. This program provides Web-based training in various aspects of juvenile justice, such as child development, psychology and sociology.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
- National University: Master of Science in Juvenile Justice Special Education
- University of Alaska Fairbanks: Master of Arts in Administration of Justice
- Eastern Kentucky University: EKU Online: Graduate Options in Adult, Juvenile and Community Corrections Leadership
- Must University: Master's Degree in Juvenile Justice
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.