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Criminal Justice Administration Degree

A criminal justice administration degree program provides broad preparation for working in positions of leadership in criminal justice. Criminal justice administration degrees have a greater focus on criminal justice policy, planning, and preparation, and may be a good fit for individuals who want to pursue a career that does not involve directly working with criminals or victims of crimes. Because of the diverse career paths graduates may follow, salary data is not available; however, in 2015, criminal investigators earned a median salary of $77,210 and 40% had a university degree.1

Did you know? A criminal justice administration degree is a good fit for individuals who are interested advancing to supervisory or management positions at a law enforcement agency after gaining experience in an entry-level position.

Criminal Justice Administration Training and Courses

Criminal justice administration programs prepare students for work as law enforcement officers, court clerks, paralegals, and correctional officers. With the wide range of career paths available to criminal justice administration degree program graduates, your coursework will be as varied as each of those jobs implies. You’ll learn about the development of law and precedent, as well as the impact of current events on how the legal field practices today. You will also learn about evidence and the importance of accurate record keeping. If you choose a bachelor’s degree program, you will be able to take more courses in specific subsets of criminal justice that interest you, like forensic science, management, or counterterrorism. Graduate studies typically focus on administration issues at the advanced level with the opportunity to complete a capstone project on a particular area of interest.

Typical courses found in a criminal justice administration degree include:

  • Foundations of Justice Issues
  • Criminal Behavior
  • Foundations of Law Enforcement
  • Legal Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Mental Health and Criminal Justice
  • Crisis Management Skills
  • Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Risk Assessment
  • Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Advanced Justice Analysis

Traditional Criminal Justice Administration Degree Programs

Alvernia University logo

Alvernia University (Reading, PA)

The bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration at Alvernia University comprises 123 credits, including 42 credits of the criminal justice administration major, and can take as little as four years to complete. Alvernia University has a small 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio and averages fewer than 20 students per class at the undergraduate level. As part of the program, students can also choose to complete a research component, earn credits, or work with a non-profit organization at the university’s Washington Center in Washington DC or through a study abroad semester. In addition to senior-level coursework, the program culminates with a three-hour experiential learning exercise called the Grand Final Scenario in which students must work as a team to negotiate a hostage situation created by university faculty.

Methodist University logo

Methodist University (Fayetteville, NC)

The Master of Justice Administration at Methodist University prepares students for a career analyzing and improving the criminal justice and law enforcement systems. The program is a hybrid of online and weekend on-campus courses at the Salemburg and Edneyville campuses in North Carolina. Students meet for traditional courses on the weekend and complete additional work at home through online coursework during the week. The program includes 12 courses taken during three terms throughout the year and can be completed in as little as one year. To help students focus their studies, all students complete a customized capstone program with a faculty supervisor that allows them to study a criminal justice administration issue in-depth before graduating. Methodist University is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and combines liberal arts education with a spiritual element.

Online Criminal Justice Administration Degree Programs

Excelsior College logo

Excelsior College (Albany, NY)

The online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Excelsior College has many possible concentrations, including criminal justice administration. This program is designed for individuals who have relevant work or military experience that need the flexibility offered by a fully online degree program. It may even be possible to earn transfer credit for previous study or military experience related to the program. Students must complete 120 credits. While half of these courses are determined by the university’s arts and sciences requirements, 33 credits must be completed in the concentration area including a capstone project. Up to six graduate level credits can be taken and applied to future graduate study as a master’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in justice administration is also available. Online students are able to complete coursework at their own pace and the same instructors teaching traditional courses also teach the university’s online course offerings.

University of Cincinnati logo

University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH)

The University of Cincinnati offers an online Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an optional concentration in Law Enforcement & Crime Prevention. This program focuses on the skills needed to work in law enforcement developing crime prevention strategies in leadership and management roles. Students with an undergraduate degree in any subject are eligible to apply and up to nine credits from previous graduate study in criminal justice can be applied towards the degree. The program takes one year of full-time study or two years of part-time study to complete with courses offered in the fall, spring, and summer terms. The required courses include five core courses, three concentration courses, and three electives. The online course format can be completed any time of day with no required site visits to graduate.

Criminal Justice Administration Job Description

With a formal education under your belt, you have a variety of career options in criminal justice. Law enforcement and court employee positions are available at every level of government, from local to federal. While many local and state positions can be obtained with a two-year associate’s degree, federal law enforcement positions nearly always require a bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate degrees often have a major in criminal justice with a concentration in administration of justice. Graduate study may be particularly advantageous for supervisory roles or for roles in federal law enforcement, such as FBI agents, once you have gained field experience. While many jobs can be found in government and law enforcement, graduates may also work in private security, research, or advocacy organizations concerned with criminal justice issues. Whichever path you take, a criminal justice administration degree affords you the flexibility of choosing from a number of jobs in a field that always needs new employees.

Related Jobs

A criminal justice administration degree may help graduates get started in a number of criminal justice related careers. Some examples include:

You can also view current job openings in your state and research job requirements at our criminal justice job board.

Criminal Justice Administration Professional Certification

As graduates may work in diverse positions, there is no required professional certification for this field.

Criminal Justice Administration Salary and Job Outlook

Given the variety of jobs graduates of criminal justice administration programs may pursue, salary and job growth rates vary tremendously. For example, criminal investigators earned $77,210 in 2015 while security managers earned $104,850 and probation officers earned $49,360.1,2,3 Criminal investigators had no projected job growth, while security managers and probation officers had a slow projected growth rate of 2 to 4% through 2024.1,2,3

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What skills do I need to excel in a criminal justice administration degree?

Answer: Like many individuals in criminal justice programs, you should be organized and passionate about criminal justice with good communication skills. Administration programs focus on critical analysis and planning so the ability to think about complex issues and evaluate alternatives is important.

Question: Can I get promoted faster with a graduate degree in criminal justice administration?

Answer: While a graduate degree highlights advanced learning and skills, your job performance in entry-level positions will also be a key factor in your success in this field.

1. O*Net OnLine: Criminal Investigators: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3021.03
2. O*Net OnLine: Loss Prevention Managers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-9199.07
3. O*Net OnLine: Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1092.00