Criminal justice is a broad, multidisciplinary field dedicated to the study of laws and law enforcement. Students explore the historical and sociological motives behind different laws, as well as the various ways that laws are interpreted and enforced at the municipal, state and federal levels. Criminal justice is a common academic pathway for police officers, detectives and other members of the law enforcement community, as well as forensic scientists, criminal psychologists and legal professionals. A bachelor's degree is considered the minimum educational requirement for most criminal justice careers.

Many of today's students are choosing to earn online criminal justice degrees. The web-based format is typically more flexible than classroom-based education, enabling students to hold down a job and financially support themselves while they pursue a degree. The best online bachelor's in criminal justice programs feature the same rigorous coursework as traditional brick-and-mortar options. Online criminal justice programs often include internships, as well, which allow students to gain supervised training at police stations, law offices and other real-world workplaces where criminal justice majors tend to find employment.

Graduates of criminal justice programs can become police officers, detectives, probation officers, forensic scientists, criminal psychologists, and criminal profilers.
Students who graduate with an online bachelor's in criminal justice will be qualified for dozens of positions in law and law enforcement. Four of the most common career pathways for these degree recipients are detailed below.

Police and Detectives: Police officers and detectives are responsible for bolstering public safety and protecting human lives, property and natural resources. They also investigate crimes, collect evidence and arrest perpetrators of crimes; they often testify in court proceedings, as well. Other day-to-day duties include patrolling by car or on foot, writing police reports and obtaining different types of warrants.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants: These professionals act as supportive staff for practicing attorneys. Their job includes researching case studies, writing legal documents, requesting affidavits and preparing lawyers for trials and court appearances. Paralegals and legal assistants are also responsible for maintaining detailed client records, and must be skilled at legal database software that allows them to keep their records organized and up-to-date.

Forensic Science Technicians: These technicians gather physical evidence and analyze their findings in order to help investigators solve crimes. Their duties are largely compartmentalized to two locations: crime scenes and laboratories. They must be adept at identifying various types of evidence and utilizing different tools and lab equipment.

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists: Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with probationers, or individuals who have already been convicted of a crime. They meet with probationers on a regular basis to administer drug tests and discuss post-incarceration options, such as employment or higher education. They also monitor probationer activities to help ensure they do not reoffend, or commit more crimes.

Police and Detectives $60,270
Paralegals and Legal Assistants $48,810
Forensic Science Technicians $56,320
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists $49,360

Many criminal justice bachelor's degree recipients choose to continue their education with a master's program.

Employment Outlook for Criminal Justice GraduatesJOB PLACEMENT

A recent ranking by Pucker Mob listed 'criminal justice' as one of the best college majors for job placement, citing a 4.7% unemployment rate for all degree-holders in this field.

Best Online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degrees of 2018

1 University of Central Florida / Orlando, FL
2 Liberty University / Lynchburg, VA
3 Florida International University / Miami, FL
4 Crown College / Saint Bonifacius, MN
5 University of Massachusetts-Lowell / Lowell, MA
6 Arizona State University-Skysong Tempe, AZ
7 University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, NE
8 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
9 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion Marion, IN
10 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
11 Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Myers, FL
12 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
13 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK
14 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE
15 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
16 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
17 Park University Parkville, MO
18 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
19 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA
20 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus Norman, OK
21 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO
22 Rowan University Glassboro, NJ
23 City University of Seattle Seattle, WA
24 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
25 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN

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