Bachelor's Degree

Earning a bachelor's degree is a smart career move. More and more people have decided that they want to work in the criminal justice field. As the popularity of these jobs continues to increase, so does the competition for landing these jobs. Organizations are looking to hire job candidates that can come in and make an immediate impact. A bachelor's degree can help you do just that.

If you want to pursue a career in criminal justice, consider earning a bachelor's degree in criminology or criminal justice. A criminology degree is geared more towards understanding criminal behavior. Coursework tends to be more theoretical, focusing on the social science aspect of crime. A criminal justice degree will focus less on theory and more on practical applications. Courses will teach students about criminal procedures, investigations, law enforcement, and corrections. One degree is not superior to another when it comes to landing criminal justice jobs. In fact, many schools decide not to treat these as two separate disciplines. Schools will often offer a mixture of courses to ensure that students are well versed in both theoretical and actual applications of criminal justice.


You will need to attend a four year college or university to earn a bachelor's degree. A completed application, a minimum GPA, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation may be part of the admission process. Each school determines its own unique requirements.

A high school diploma alone is not enough to be considered for admission. Colleges and universities also require a specific GPA. However, many schools will not look at your GPA in total. In high school, students may decide to load up on easy electives to boost their overall GPA. Colleges are aware of this and often only look at your GPA in core Math, English, and Science classes.

Colleges will usually require either ACT or SAT standardized test scores. Because states, and in some cases school districts, have different ways of measuring academic success, standardized tests level the playing field. Earning an "A" in Miami may be different than earning an "A" in Cleveland. So schools use the ACT and SAT to measure incoming students. These tests are the only standardized measure a college has to compare students from across the country. The more prestigious a school is the higher the test score you will need.

Typical Course Work

Students will be able to complete a bachelor's degree in four years. The first two years are spent completing general classes. Every student pursuing a bachelor's degree, regardless of their field of study, has to take these classes. You will have the opportunity to pick from a mixture of Science, Math, Liberal Arts, and English classes. Even though these classes are general in nature, make sure to choose ones that will help you in criminal justice jobs. Classes about psychology, communications, and even statistics are great choices.

The remaining two years are spent learning about criminal justice and criminology. These classes provide in-depth analysis of criminal behavior, teach various law enforcement techniques, delve into the psychology of offenders and victims, and demonstrate how to research and analyze different types of evidence. Many schools offer specialized course paths for specific criminal justice careers. Think about the types of criminal justice jobs you want to pursue and then speak with a professor or guidance counselor. They can help you choose classes that will help you achieve your career goals.

Why Bachelor's Degrees are Beneficial

A bachelor's degree will give you the opportunity to apply for a wider range of criminal justice jobs. You will not just be limited to basic entry level positions. The knowledge you gain in these classes make you eligible for mid-level positions too. In fact, many federal agencies will only consider hiring candidates who hold bachelor's degrees.

Another advantage of a bachelor degree is higher income opportunities. According to the United States Census Bureau, your lifetime earning potential is based on your level of education. Those with a bachelor's degree have the potential to earn at least $1 million more over a lifetime than someone with just a high school diploma, and $500,000 more than someone with just an associate's degree.

Last Updated: 04/29/2014