Criminal justice is a popular field of study. It’s also a broad field, however, and students may find it helpful to specialize in a particular area. Many students’ interest in criminal justice comes from television and movies or from watching loved ones in the criminal justice system and wanting to have a part in helping to improve that system. Choosing a criminal justice specialization will aid in making sure that the student’s coursework is relevant to the student’s future occupation.
One area of specialization is corrections and case management. This would be the area of specialization a student should choose if hoping to work in jails and prisons in some way. A focus in this area might lead to work as a probation officer or a guard in a federal prison. But students might go into other areas as well. They might work in administration, or they might focus on writing, developing and advising on policy for prisons and jails. Because students who specialize in this area will have strong groundings in the history and psychology of prisoners and penal systems, they will be well-suited to work in this field after graduation.
Another area is IT or the study of criminal justice alongside the study of computer crime. This is a fast-changing and exciting field. Students learn about computer crime and methods to prevent it as well as about forensics. Computer forensics involves tracing crime on computers that have been seized from alleged criminals. Cyber crime is a good field for students who want to work in an area where they will constantly be learning and acquiring new skills.
Criminalistics is yet another area, and it is probably the specialization that is closest to the type of jobs in criminal justice that students have seen on television and in movies. This area involves investigating crime scenes, forensics, collecting and analyzing evidence and writing reports and appearing in court. Students might work for federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration or with state agencies after graduation.
These are just a few of the areas of specialization available, and at the graduate level, a student can specialize even further. Even at the undergraduate level, however, some schools offer degrees with a specific focus on one or more areas of specialization, so students looking into criminal justice careers should make sure that their interests match that of the school they choose. The same is true for online degrees. Students who are confident of the area in the criminal justice field that they hope to pursue can begin to specialize in that area from day one of their studies.