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Is a Criminal Justice Graduate Certificate Worth It?

Trends in criminal justice employment and education reveal that graduate certificates are definitely worth the effort required to obtain one. The demand for criminal justice professionals with advanced training is on the rise. This is a great time to enter, or advance, within the many facets of the criminal justice industry. The reality is that the most efficient way to advance one’s career is to earn a bachelor’s degree, a graduate certificate or a master’ degree in criminal justice.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts job growth for police and detective at about 7% between 2016-2026. In 2017, detectives and police officers’ median salary was $62,960. Criminal justice support roles, like paralegals, are expected to grow at 15% from 2016-2016, much faster than average.

Professional positions, especially management and leadership, demand that a job applicant complete occupational training in criminal justice studies. Some of the ways in which one can advance their career are to earn a baccalaureate degree, a graduate diploma or a masters degree. One must carefully consider the fundamental difference between a graduate certificate vs master’s degree and a graduate certificate vs bachelors degree to select the education path that best suits them.

Battle Royale: Graduate Diploma vs Master’s vs Graduate Certificate vs Bachelor Degree

A criminal justice graduate certificate hits the high spots, as it were, of a master’s degree, focusing just on the courses specific to criminal justice and omitting courses that aren’t directly related. With a criminal justice graduate certificate, criminal justice professionals have the option to increase their knowledge and credentials without the more lengthy traditional degree-granting programs.

In many master’s certificate programs, a student may only need 4-6 criminal justice courses to earn the graduate certificate. When comparing a post-baccalaureate certificate vs master’s programs, one saves time by selecting the graduate certificate program. Adult learners with a full-time job or family appreciate the flexibility and the benefits of a graduate certificate program.

On the other hand, a graduate certificate vs bachelor’s degree is an easy contest. Because it adds more credentials and advanced, specialized skills, a graduate certificate vs bachelor’s degree means more job opportunities and a better can for promotion. For many criminal justice professionals, the sweet spot is right in between – the time, work, and expense of a master’s degree isn’t really worthwhile, but the extra umph of a graduate certificate in criminal justice is just the boost their career needs.

Additionally, the cost of earning a criminal justice graduate diploma vs masters degree is often significantly reduced, since students are only taking (and paying for) a portion of the coursework. The cost of earning a college degree, be it a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, is costly. While there are scholarships, grants, loans, and financial aid to assist students with the cost of these degrees, the cost can be prohibitive. Despite the overwhelming cost of a college degree, industry studies reveal that those who earn a degree/certificate will generally (and quickly) earn a larger salary.

Benefits of Graduate Certificate Programs

To ensure you get the most from the graduate certificate, select a school that offers one of the best graduate certificates regarding criminal justice by following this guidance:

Be vigilant and select a graduate certificate program offered online by a school that has received accreditation from a quality accreditation agency. Selecting a school with accreditation ensures you receive the appropriate amount of value of certificate programs.

Be certain that the provides earned college credits; one of the benefits of graduate certificate programs is a head start on a master’s degree, if you decide to take that route. Continuing education credits are often confused, and incompatible with college credits. Credits earned while studying for one of the best graduate certificates act as a step towards the completion of a master’s of criminal justice degree.

If you are already working in the criminal justice field and want to study for a criminal justice graduate certificate, it’s a good idea to see if your employer offers tuition reimbursement. Any degree is worth it if it’s free.

Related Rankings:
Top 10 Online Graduate Certificate Programs
Top 10 Online Master’s in Criminal Justice


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