What Is the Best Graduate Program to Enter With a Criminal Justice Degree?

Criminal justice programs combine a wide range of topics in one single field of study. While some students assume that the program primarily deals with how the criminal justice system in the country operates and what happens to criminals, the field also incorporates areas of law, psychology and sociology. After finishing an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, you can move on and complete an advanced degree in the same field or a related field.

Criminal Justice

Before you start looking at the variety of programs that you can enter with a criminal justice degree, you should consider attending a graduate program in criminal justice or criminology. After completing the program, you can work as a professor at a community college, work for the government or work in the private sector. Most criminal justice graduate programs are terminal programs, which means this is the highest degree you can earn. If you want a PhD, you need to look at other fields.

Law School

Many students who graduate with a criminal justice degree later attend law school. Law school is a two-year program that requires an intense level of study, but the program can also last for three or more years. Once you finish the program, you cannot immediately find work as a lawyer. You must first pass the bar exam, and upon passing that exam, you receive your license to practice law in your state. According to Michelle Fabio, you also need a good score on the LSAT, at least one letter of recommendation, a personal statement and a short essay. This essay usually asks you to write a paper on why you want to work as a lawyer.

Forensic Psychology

One of the fastest growing fields in psychology is forensic psychology. Some believe this is due to the popularity of television shows and movies that delve into how forensic psychologist work and what they do. These psychologists often work in prisons and jails, and they typically talk to inmates about their lives and crimes. You also have the option of entering the research field, which involves compiling data, writing papers on those findings and drawing connections between different types of crimes and the people who committed those crimes.

Other Options

With a criminal justice undergraduate degree, you can also enter other graduate degree programs. Digital forensics is a growing field that looks at digital crimes and the rise of those crimes over the last few decades. Many students later work for the government in the Department of Justice or Department of Homeland Security. International crime is another field that might interest you. These students look at crimes that cross the borders of the United States and how crimes overseas can affect American residents. Some students also enter a Master of Public Administration program. An MPA degree lets you work in the private or public sector as an administrator.

Criminal justice is a constantly growing and changing field. The number of students interested in these programs increased after 9/11, and the popularity of those programs just keeps growing. Attending graduate school gives you access to more jobs and increases your chances of finding a job after graduating. You can enter almost any program that you want, but forensic psychology, criminology and law school are some of the more popular choices for students.