10 Types of Criminal Justice Majors and Related Jobs

A degree in criminal justice can prepare you to serve your community and uphold values of justice and peace throughout your career. The important and necessary work of defending and protecting the rights and safety of others involves a career path that typically includes a focused approach to education and training.

The career outlook is especially promising for those who earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in criminal justice, with salaries ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 and above, along with the potential to make a significant difference in people’s lives and have a positive impact on your nation and community. Here is a closer look at some well-known positions in criminal justice:


Types of criminal justice degree majors

Since criminal justice is such a diverse field, you can choose from a wide variety of criminal justice degrees and certifications. Some majors require a bachelor’s degree, while others only call for certification or an associate’s degree. Here is a list of the various criminal justice degree specialties you can pursue.

1. Corrections major

Students who major in corrections learn about prison culture and get ready for jobs in prison and jails. While the majority of majors graduate and begin working in prisons, some elect to engage in academic research in this field.

Degree level: Associate degree

2. Criminology major

Students majoring in criminology concentrate on criminal behavior, the nature and causes of crime, and the criminal justice system. A criminology major will also prepare you for case study analysis, understanding criminal law and policy, applying research techniques, and comprehending the roles of psychology and sociology in criminology and criminal justice.

Degree level: Bachelors degree

3. Forensic science major

To prepare students for careers in crime scene investigation, computer forensics investigations, cybersecurity, forensic analysis, and research, forensic science encompasses a variety of skills. Depending on your area of interest within forensics, there are several degree options available in this expanding field. For instance, a computer forensics major pursues a bachelor’s degree while a crime scene technician only needs a certificate.

Degree level: Certificate, associate degree, bachelors degree and higher

4. Police science major

If you’re interested in a career in law enforcement, think about majoring in police science. You will study every facet of a police officer’s job responsibilities as a police science student, including conducting investigations into crimes, fostering interpersonal communication skills, and following procedures for handling stressful situations. Some police science majors, like those in law enforcement and border patrol, lead to an associate degree or higher, while others, like those in private detective coursework, lead to bachelor’s degrees or higher.

Degree level: Certificate, associate degree, bachelors degree

5. Pre-law and legal major

A Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a pre-law and legal studies concentration typically focuses on skills necessary for paralegal and attorney job roles. You will study the theories underlying laws, the justice system, and the workings of law enforcement agencies and the judicial system as a pre-law student.

Degree level: Bachelors degree

6. Criminal justice major

A wide range of majors are covered by criminal justice degrees, from paralegal and private investigator bachelor’s programs to certificate programs for law enforcement and corrections. In general, a degree in criminal justice will give you a foundation for further, more focused research into the field.

Degree level: Certificate, associate degree, bachelors degree

7. Sociology major

Before enrolling in a bachelor’s program with a focus on sociology, criminal justice majors in sociology first complete an associate program. This major may open up career opportunities in sectors like human services, rehabilitation services, and public relations.

Degree level: Associate degree, bachelors degree

8. Criminal psychology major

Criminal psychology is concerned with criminal behavior, or the motivations and history of a criminal This major necessitates undergraduate study, where students concentrate on human behavior theories and analyze and interpret criminal behavior and activity. Criminal psychology graduate degrees can be obtained after completing a bachelor’s degree program in the subject.

Degree level: Bachelors degree, masters degree

9. Law enforcement administration major

Majors in law enforcement administration typically have prior law enforcement experience and learn the abilities needed to supervise and direct police and security officers. A bachelor’s degree, prior work experience, or a law enforcement certification are all prerequisites for law enforcement administration as a major.

Degree level: Bachelors degree

10. Rehabilitation services major

A rehabilitation major offers career opportunities in substance abuse programs, therapy, and counseling services in prisons, as well as sociological topics. To ensure you acquire the skills necessary for working in this field, think about majoring in psychology and sociology in addition to rehabilitation.

Degree level: Associate degree, bachelors degree

Advantages of a criminal justice degree

Students who complete criminal justice degree programs graduate with a diverse skill set. You can expand your knowledge base by learning new skills and gaining experience in a variety of different fields. Students in criminal justice programs frequently claim that their coursework covers a wide range of skill sets that span several different areas of the major. You will encounter various studies in sociology and psychology, information technology, social work, and more as a criminal justice student that will require particular skills.

Consider majoring in criminal justice if serving your community, analyzing criminal behavior, providing rehabilitation services, or working in law enforcement sound appealing to you.

Types of jobs for a criminal justice degree

Since there are numerous majors and degrees in criminal justice, there are numerous jobs available to criminal justice graduates and certified individuals. The various positions that are open in the field of criminal justice are listed below.

A behavioral specialist in the field of criminal justice may work with children who are at risk of engaging in criminal activity or other negative behaviors. The expert collaborates with social workers, community leaders, families, and schools to monitor and implement behavior modification techniques for at-risk youth.

Primary duties: Correctional officers primarily serve in prison security roles. These positions have responsibilities for monitoring inmates’ rights and privileges, keeping prisons and jails in order and enforcing rules, and reporting on inmate behavior.

Protection of communities and property is a law enforcement officer’s top priority. Patrolling neighborhoods, managing traffic, responding to emergency calls, writing citations, making arrests, and filing incident reports are additional responsibilities for law enforcement officers.

Primary responsibilities: A paralegal’s responsibilities typically include drafting and filing paperwork, conducting caseload research, speaking with witnesses and defendants, and developing defenses for or against other people or organizations.

Primary responsibilities: A social worker may collaborate with neighborhood law enforcement, behaviorists, and rehabilitation experts to deter criminal activity. Although not all social workers work in criminal justice, those who do are frequently required to carry out these tasks in addition to others like helping families and abuse victims, diagnosing behavioral and mental disorders, and providing substance abuse counseling.

An intelligence analyst’s primary responsibilities include data collection and analysis in order to assess and recognize patterns in criminal activity that can help law enforcement agencies prevent and reduce crime.

The primary responsibilities of forensic scientists are to gather and examine physical evidence of crimes that have been committed. Forensic scientists frequently collaborate with law enforcement authorities to solve crimes while using portable tools and equipment.

Case management for the defendant, arraignment, pretrial proceedings, settlement discussions, and attendance at court proceedings are typically defense attorney duties. There are many organizations at the local, state, and federal levels where defense lawyers can work.

A judge’s main responsibilities include presiding over court cases and ensuring that the law is upheld and applied in the courtroom. Additionally, judges must decide on motions, issue rulings, and instruct juries.

Primary responsibilities: Criminal profiling is one of the most prominent duties of criminal psychologists. Other responsibilities include assisting law enforcement with crime analysis, criminal behavior analysis, and frequently providing expert testimony in court cases.


What is the best major for criminal justice?

Top 10 Most Useful Criminal Justice Majors for 2021
  1. Information Security. The field of information security is expanding quickly as more businesses move their operations online.
  2. Criminology. …
  3. Psychology. …
  4. Paralegal. …
  5. Social Work. …
  6. Rehabilitation. …
  7. Private Detective. …
  8. Research Methods.

What careers are important to the field of criminal justice?

Here are a few options that depict the wide array of paths to choose from when seeking a career in the criminal justice field.
  • Forensic Psychologist. …
  • Paralegal. …
  • Intelligence Analyst. …
  • Youth Correctional Counselor. …
  • Private Investigator. …
  • Forensic Science Technician. …
  • Criminal Profiler. …
  • Investigative Reporter.

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