Answer: Like in other 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. Research skills can be advantageous, especially at the graduate level.
A criminal justice administration degree program provides broad preparation for working in positions of leadership in criminal justice. Criminal justice administration degrees have a 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 2017, the related occupation of first-line supervisors of police and detectives earned a median salary of $87,910.1 While it is possible to work in criminal justice administration with only a high school diploma and related job experience, it is becoming the norm for these occupations to require at least an associate’s degree or technical certificate.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
The bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration at Alvernia University comprises 123 credits, including 42 credits of the criminal justice administration major, and typically takes 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 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.
Tarleton State University offers a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice Administration program for students who are already working in the field. To be eligible to apply, students must have a minimum of 496 professional training hours specifically related to the criminal justice field. These training hours can come from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), certifiable military training, federal criminal justice training, and/or recognized training from other states. A student’s professional training hours transfer into 33 credits for the program, which requires 120 credit hours in total. A minimum of 30 credit hours must be completed at Tarleton, although students do have the option to transfer other qualifying academic credit. This program is offered online and at the Stephenville, Fort Worth, Midlothian campuses. The broad curriculum covers classes such as Criminal Evidence, Juvenile Delinquency, Homeland Security, and Criminal Justice Ethics. Tarleton State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Online Criminal Justice Administration Degree Programs
The online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Excelsior College offers a flexible educational format for working adults. This program is designed for individuals who have relevant work or military experience who need the flexibility offered by an 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 credit hours to earn the degree. While approximately half of these courses are determined by the university’s arts and sciences requirements, 33 credit hours 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 Excelsior also hosts a master’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in justice administration. Online students are able to complete coursework largely at their own pace and the same instructors teaching traditional courses also teach the university’s online course offerings.
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. A major in criminal justice with a concentration in the administration of justice from a four-year degree program can lead to supervisory or management roles. Graduate study may be particularly advantageous for advanced 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.
A criminal justice administration degree may help graduates get started in a number of criminal justice related careers. Some examples include:
- Border Patrol Agent
- Crime Prevention Specialist
- Criminal Investigator
- First-Line Supervisor of Corrections Officers
- First-Line Supervisor of Police and Detectives
- Homicide Detective
- Probation Officer
Criminal Justice Administration Professional Certification
As graduates may work in diverse positions, there is no required professional certification for this field. Those who are working as sworn law enforcement officers will need to meet their state’s requirements for law enforcement training and certification, including training at the police academy. Joining professional associations related to a specific sub-field of criminal justice administration, such as court services or forensics, can provide candidates with networking opportunities as well as professional development that may be advantageous in the eyes of employers.
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 in related fields will vary tremendously. For example, criminal investigators earned a median of $79,970 in 2017 while security managers earned a median of $105,610 and probation officers earned a median of $51,410.1,2,3 All positions, from criminal investigators to security managers to probation officers, have average projected job growth of 5 to 9% through 2026. 1,2,3
- American Correctional Association: A professional development network for professionals interested in correctional administration opportunities.
- Justice Research and Statistics Association: An organization for data-driven professionals, researchers, and policy makers in the criminal justice field.
- National Criminal Justice Association: Researches and advocates on behalf of its membership in Washington DC on federal criminal justice issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
What skills do I need to excel in a criminal justice administration degree?
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: First-line Supervisors of Police and Detectives: https://www.onetonline.org/link/details/33-1012.00
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
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