Are Ethics Classes a Part of a Criminal Justice Degree?

If you are interested in a career in the criminal justice field, you may be wondering if there are certain ethics classes for criminal justice that you’ll be required to take as part of degree coursework. To find out if you’ll need to take this type of course, take a look at your school’s general education requirements, the courses that are needed for your major and what kind of job you would like to have after graduation.

General Education Requirements

If you are planning on attending a regionally accredited, four-year university in the United States, you are probably going to have to take quite a few general education courses. Some of these classes will cover math and science, and others will focus on English and history. While you may not have to take a lot of ethics classes to meet your general education requirements, you’ll probably have to take at least one. As a sub-discipline of philosophy, ethics will make you ask and try to find the answer to tough questions such as:

  • How does one determine if something is moral or immoral?
  • What is the difference between good and bad?
  • What makes a choice right or wrong?

Criminal Justice Major Requirements

In addition to taking general education courses, you will have to take many criminal justice classes to get your degree. Ethics classes for criminal justice are usually more specific and focused than general ethics courses. For instance, it’s a good idea for any criminal justice student to take a class that deals with the treatment of suspects and convicted criminals. Depending on which branch of the criminal justice system you want to get into, a legal ethics course may also be required. This type of class will help you learn about what is considered appropriate behavior for lawyers and judges. If your college offers specific ethics courses, but doesn’t require criminal justice majors to take them, consider taking one or two of them as electives. As long as you are not trying to double major or earn more than one minor, you’ll probably need to take a few electives in order to graduate, so you might as well make them count.

Future Career

According to CareerProfiles, the five most popular careers in the criminal justice field are:

  • police officer
  • paralegal
  • probation officer
  • detective
  • legal secretary

Because there are so many areas that you can specialize in, you will probably end up taking slightly different courses than your friends and peers who are also majoring in criminal justice. Don’t be afraid to choose classes that may seem odd to others as long as they make sense for your chosen career path. For instance, if you want to become an animal control officer or work in search and rescue, try taking an ethics course that focuses on animals. On the other hand, if you want to be a correctional officer, try to find a course about dealing with inmates.

You will probably be required to take at least one ethics class during your criminal justice degree program. Even if you find it is not a requirement, you may want to use your elective credits to take some ethics classes for criminal justice. These classes will help you prepare for the decision making processes that will be required in your criminal justice career.