Criminal Justice Degree Requirements: General and Specific

College and Criminal Justice

The percentage of large police agencies requiring a college degree has nearly doubled since 1990. If you're looking into a career in law enforcement, consider pursuing a criminal justice degree now to increase your chances of finding a job.

But law enforcement isn't the only career option for a criminal justice degree holder. That's why you're required to take such a range of coursework. You may unexpectedly identify the career of your dreams that you didn't even know existed!

Looking to pursue a degree in criminal justice? We've got you covered! Here, we'll cover the basic criminal justice degree requirements.

What is a Criminal Justice Degree?

First, what exactly does the field of criminal justice entail? Criminal justice focuses on law enforcement, citizen protection, and criminal punishment. When you study criminal justice, you'll learn all about the theories behind laws and law enforcement techniques. 

Career options for criminal justice degree holders include:

  • Crime scene investigator
  • Criminal profiler
  • FBI agent
  • Forensic psychologist
  • Police officer
  • Private investigator

As you can see, it's a versatile degree that will provide a strong foundation for any jobs in the criminal justice system.

Most criminal justice bachelor degrees will need 120-160 credit hours. But not all those courses will be degree-specific. So, what courses will you need to take for a criminal justice degree?

General Education Requirements

All college degrees have general education requirements. In this way, criminal justice degree requirements are no different. But why?

The idea is that all college graduates should have a basic skill set. Bachelor's degree holders should be able to do basic math, even if they study English. They should be able to write comprehensively, even if they're studying math.

The specific general education requirements vary by university and degree program. But there are a few common to most degree programs.

Most schools require you to take English composition on a college level. Being able to write clearly and effectively is a skill set required in all career paths. When writing criminal justice reports, you'll be thankful for your English composition course.

Math credits are also required by most degree programs. The extent will vary, but most colleges make you take at least basic algebra. Whether you're at the store or doing your taxes, basic math skills are essential for daily life.

Colleges also have you take some form of natural science. Whether that be general chemistry, biology, or something else is usually left to your discretion. This is part of the effort to fight the country's growing trend of science illiteracy.

Degree programs often ask you to take a social science component, too. But as a criminal justice degree holder, you're likely to need to take a lot more than the basics during your education.

Finally, you'll need to take humanities courses. These include subjects like art, literature, music, history, or foreign languages. This will provide a basic understanding of how humanity culturally expresses itself.

Most general education requirements are easy to transfer between schools. Want to complete your degree sooner? Consider taking Ed4Credit courses for your general education requirements.

By taking these courses through our website, you can save yourself money by avoiding inflated university prices. And you can save time by taking these courses during the summer. Check out our course list to find your general education requirements!

Degree-Specific Requirements

Once you get your general education requirements out of the way, what's next? You'll need to complete the rest of your criminal justice degree requirements from a list of selected courses within your major.

Some general courses will be required when you begin your degree. As you progress, your advanced courses can be hand-picked to better align with your ideal career.

So, what are the criminal justice degree requirements? Again, it varies by university. But in general, you can expect to take courses in the following subject areas.

First of all, you'll have several introductory courses for the major. This typically will include at least one course in criminology and one course in criminal justice. You'll take these courses your freshman year, so you know right away if the major is right for you.

You'll then need to choose a selection of major-specific electives. Because these can be all over the board, it's best to choose electives that are relevant to your desired career choice. These may include courses in policing, corrections, policy, economics, and law and society.

Most degree programs also have you take social sciences courses to understand criminal behavior. These include advanced coursework in psychology and sociology. 

Your degree program also may need you to take courses in criminal justice research. This will prepare you to better understand research on crime and the criminal justice system. For this, you'll need to take courses in statistics and research methods.

Finally, many programs need internship credits. Even if these aren't required by your program, doing an internship in your field can help you find a job after you graduate. After all, 60% of paid internships lead to job offers.

Are You Ready to Start Your Criminal Justice Degree Requirements?

Now you know the criminal justice degree requirements to expect when pursuing your criminal justice degree! Are you interested in earning credits towards your degree while saving time and money? Consider Ed4Credit.

Ed4Credit offers the general education credits you need to take for your criminal justice degree. Sign up for a demo course for free today and see if Ed4Credit is right for you!

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