A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice will assist you in obtaining an interesting career in a variety of fields, some of which may surprise you. The obvious openings include corrections officers, border patrol agent and DEA agent. But other criminal justice jobs such as a park ranger, coroner and even a social worker are less obvious. There are literally dozens of avenues you can pursue once you have obtained a criminal justice degree.
However, the fact is, no degree will guarantee you a particular job. That is why getting your degree from the best institution possible will provide you with the confidence and resume you need to stand out from the crowd. Here are the 10 top options for getting the most respected criminal justice degree in the field.
1.University of Pennsylvania
This is the only Ivy League school in the country which offers an undergraduate program in criminology. The University of Pennsylvania also happens to be the most selective criminal justice degree program in the United States. Acceptance to this school will certainly put you at the top of the pack after graduation. The program is focused more on the creation of effective criminal justice agencies rather than the implementation. So, if your dream is to become someone who enforces laws such as a police officer, this is no likely to be a program which appeals to you.
2. Florida State University
With nationally top ranked instructors and the country’s top two criminologists as faculty members, Florida State means business. The school offers a full range of criminology programs, with hands-on research projects and full internships. The faculty are contributors to many scholarly criminology publications. Florida State’s standards for entry may be less stringent than the University of Pennsylvania, but acceptance is hardly a breeze. A serious effort in high school with exceptional SAT scores are required.
3. Sam Houston State University
Established in 1963, the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University has been considered the leader in criminal justice academies. The university employs some of the top people in field of criminal science, brought in from all across the world. They have a bachelor’s degree programs as well as a master’s degrees and a Ph.D. program as well.
4. Washington State University
Washington State University has a liberal arts based criminology program offered through their system. This program is based more on the social aspect of the program will find this degree program useful. Probation officers, social workers and juvenile justice workers are often successful positions gained through this program. It has also proven to be a useful base for those who wish to continue their education with an advanced degree in law.
5. Rutgers School of Criminal Justice
Rutgers has been considered one of the top schools in the field over its 40-year career. Their undergraduate program is extensive and offers over 400 majors to choose from. Students are given the opportunity to learn through genuine hands-on experience in the field. All instructions are kept current and applicable to issues being dealt with in the system today.
6. George Mason University
This is the perfect place to consider if you feel a position with Homeland Security is something you want to pursue. Consistently ranked as one of the top criminology programs in the United States, their program is called the Criminology, Law and Society program. Students are able to conduct research and internships and work towards a major which can give them the first step towards a career with the government. Everything from research to public speaking is taught within the frame of the program, ensuring graduates are ready for whatever path they select.
7. Northeastern University
The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern is a five year program which divides its classroom instructional time with field experience. A dual-degree with human services is a unique option to the school. This allows students to have the ability to bring their knowledge into their communities. By pursuing a joint bachelor’s degree and master’s degree students can obtain their master’s degree with only one additional year of education.
8. University of Maryland, College Park
The criminal justice program at the University of Maryland was established in 1969. Today its reach extends all the way to China, as they have a master’s degree program at the Nanjing Normal University Law School. Consistently listed as one of the top doctoral programs for criminology in the country, the University of Maryland is a great place to begin a criminal justice education. Their programs are held at three separate campuses, so which degree you are interested in obtaining will decide which campus you will attend.
9. University of Albany
Much of what makes the criminology program at the University of Albany so effective is its expansive coverage of the topic of criminal justice. Where some degree programs focus on the types of social issues which cause criminal activity and other programs discuss enforcement of laws to prevent or punish, the criminology program at the University of Albany looks at the issue of crime and justice as a one subject. They incorporate the cultural issues related to crime as well as the prevention of crime and enforcement of laws into their curriculum ensuring students are given a well-rounded education on the subject.
10. University of Missouri-St. Louis
The emphasis on the education offered at Missouri’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is an openness with the public. Research is completed in real world situations, sharing of findings in peer-reviewed publications is expected of all faculty and a commitment to intensive training by all students are all facets of the program. The faculty members at the University of Missouri are employed within the criminal justice field, providing students an in-depth and realistic look at the work environment they will be facing.
A bachelor’s degree is a good starting point for a career in the field of criminal justice. It is important to remember that many of these careers will also require additional training and certification. Some of them may also require a more advanced degree.
If paying for your education is a concern, there are grants and scholarships available across the country. Your guidance counselor can provide you with a list of options available to you. Contact your local law enforcement agency to see if they offer any programs of their own. You can also find a lot of information through various websites.
Check out our Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs for 2015