For many individuals interested in pursuing a career in the criminal justice field, what courses are offered as part of a degree in criminal justice is important for getting started. In most programs, students will complete general education, elective, and criminal justice major coursework to fulfill graduation requirements, depending on your specific major.
General Education Requirements
Whether working toward completion of an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, students in a criminal justice program will complete several general education courses, typically before moving into major or elective coursework. These courses are create a well-rounded overall education, as well as build a foundation of knowledge and skills for students to continue on to upper level coursework.
In addition to the beginning level requirements such as composition, mathematics, and various humanities courses, upper level general education requirements are also often completed. Such courses include ethics, political science, professional writing, and organizational psychology. These courses can sometimes be applied toward the elective course requirements as well.
Although the specific number of credits required for graduation varies by program, degree, and institution, most bachelor’s degree programs require between 120 and 140 credits. Many of these credits are filled with electives. Depending on the program, electives can be a course from any department that is not already a general education requirement from chemistry or biology to sociology or literature.
In addition, some programs require upper level elective courses within the criminal justice major or within a related discipline. For example, students might be required to take a set number of credits in courses such as social justice, biology of the crime scene, court room oratory, crisis communication, crime in American pop culture, racial justice, and leadership skills.
Major Coursework in Criminal Justice Degree Programs
There are a number of required courses within the criminal justice major for students that are helpful in preparing for the workforce. Most programs include classes at the introductory level such as criminal investigations, criminal procedures, crime control, introduction to criminology, and research methods and analysis.
Some examples of major coursework include juvenile law and justice, corrections in contemporary society, risk management, law enforcement essentials, criminal justice management, restorative justice, forensic psychology, and crime intelligence. Students might also be required to complete a number of sociology courses in addition to the core criminal justice courses to fulfill the major coursework requirements.
Career Skills after Graduation
Some career possibilities for criminal justice graduates include law enforcement officer, corrections officer, parole or probation officer, child protective services specialist, youth advocate, and a number of state and federal investigator positions. Each of these positions requires computer literacy, solid ethics, interviewing skills, researching and analysis skills, critical thinking, patience, management skills, empathy, and social interaction skills. For additional information on helpful skills and knowledge in the criminal justice workplace, visit the National Criminal Justice Association athttp://www.ncja.org/.
One of the benefits of a completing a degree in a criminal justice program is the diversity of the courses and curriculum, helping to prepare graduates for traditional law enforcement careers as well as for positions in social work and other related fields.