Masters Degree in Criminal Justice

Masters Degree in Criminal Justice

A masters degree in criminal justice program is specifically designed to prepare students to hold leadership positions in the criminal justice field. There are online and traditional on campus masters degree programs for criminal justice and the majority of programs, regardless of where they are offered, are about two years in length.

Criminal Justice Masters Degree Curriculum

Students who enroll in a masters in criminal justice program should expect to complete courses in social justice and criminology as well as statistical analysis and computer applications in direct relation to the criminal justice field. Masters degrees are highly focused in their studies and this is certainly true for the masters degree in criminal justice. While students will complete a range of courses in different disciplines, all are directly related to working in the field of criminal justice. In addition to coursework, students must also complete a graduate thesis in order to meet degree requirements.

Career Implications for a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice

Masters Degree in Criminal Justice

Individuals who hold a masters degree in criminal justice have a range of career opportunities available to them. They may find employment as a police officer or detective, parole or probation officer, private detective or consultant. While the majority of these kinds of civil service positions don’t require a masters degree, those individuals who hold a more advanced degree have better career prospects, including greater opportunities for promotion, pay raises and transfers to new, exciting roles in their chosen field.

As previously mentioned, most civil service jobs in the criminal justice field don’t require but do look favorably on candidates who hold a masters degree. There are some positions in the career sector that do require a masters degree in criminal justice as the minimum education for a qualified candidate. Following are a few of the jobs in which a masters degree is required.

  • Law Enforcement Supervisor
  • IT Security
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Public Safety
  • Emergency Management

Education and Experience in the Criminal Justice Field

In many criminal justice jobs, particularly those in law enforcement and security, experience is very important in career advancement. Time on the job and strong performance, especially in difficult situations, is highly valued and as such is a key factor in being promoted. That being said, individuals who pursue a masters degree in criminal justice can often “bypass” experience requirements, allowing them to advance more quickly in promotions and in transfers to other departments. Placement in supervisory level positions is just one of the potential career benefits of obtaining a masters in criminal justice.

Having a masters degree is not the only means of advancing to more prized positions in the field of criminal justice, of course. Experience level and performance also play a big role; however, it is becoming more and more common for individuals in the criminal justice field to pursue an advanced degree. In other words, competition for those top jobs in the field is getting heavier.

If you have only good performance and years of experience on your side and come up against candidates for promotional opportunities with the same level of performance and time in on the job, a masters degree can be the determinate factor in the decision of who to promote. If those you’re competing with for the job have a masters degree in criminal justice, you may be at a disadvantage. Holding a graduate degree yourself will make you a more desirable and competitive candidate.

Deciding on a Masters Program

Some students decide to complete their graduate degree with a local college or university. This is certainly an option and one in which you’ll have a lot of interaction with other students and instructors during your classroom work.

For other students, especially those who are currently working full time in the criminal justice field, attending class at a traditional campus can be difficult, if not impossible. Your work schedule and other commitments will strongly influence what kind of masters degree in criminal justice program you choose.

You may decide that completing your degree with an online or other distance learning program is the most practical and convenient way to earn your masters. As more and more working adults are now interested in furthering their education, both for personal and professional gain, there are more schools offering accredited graduate level degree options, including a number of excellent schools that offer masters degrees in criminal justice.

Online Masters Degree in Criminal Justice Programs

If you decide that a distance learning or online masters of criminal justice program is right for you, you’ll want to select a school that holds current accreditation and ranks highly among the schools offering graduate degrees in the field. There are several online masters degree in criminal justice programs available.

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