Learn What You Need to Know About Becoming a Criminal Justice Major

A criminal justice major teaches students about the three primary components of the justice system: courts, cops, and corrections. The study of criminal justice and corrections entails criminological research methodologies, criminological theory, and the psychology of criminal conduct. In addition, those in this sector work to ensure that society runs smoothly and safely.


What Is a Major in Criminal Justice and Corrections?

Students who study criminal justice receive a liberal arts and social sciences education and criminal justice and corrections-specific training. Juvenile justice, criminal law, incarceration, the judicial process, administration theory and evaluations, and crime prevention are all areas of study for this major. In addition, the major incorporates issues from history, political science, communications, psychology, and sociology to enrich students’ coursework. For example, students might concentrate in law enforcement, forensic science, homeland security, crisis management, or correctional and case management. 

A law enforcement specialization, for example, is likely to focus on police interactions with the community at all levels of the justice system. Courses for that specialty may cover law enforcement ethics, the structure of police organizations, and the day-to-day administrative operations of the police force. Those confused about their career path can become generalists in criminal justice and corrections. Field experience and internships with the FBI or police departments allow students to apply their academic skills in real-world conditions. Some schools offer the opportunity to study abroad to learn how other countries tackle criminal justice challenges.

Common Coursework for Criminal Justice and Corrections Majors.

Many of the courses necessary for this major are criminal justice and criminology, psychology, political science, and sociology. Introduction to criminal justice; difficulties of law enforcement; introduction to sociology; introduction to social research; the American political system; and statistics for criminology and criminal justice are among the core courses in these fields. More advanced courses cover themes such as social psychology, constitutional law, civil liberties: equal protection, corrections difficulties, courts and sentencing, crime and delinquency prevention, and contemporary criminological theory. 

For example, in the course “Difficulties of Corrections,” students learn about the American corrections system, contemporary problems with the system, punishment philosophy, the prison experience, alternatives to incarceration, and other topics. These broad areas of a study expose students to the field’s aspects and allow them to choose an area of interest. In addition, understanding the law, policing ethics, human behavior, and best practices in the sector will help students excel no matter what career route they choose.


How to Determine Whether This Major Is Right for You

When deciding on a major, students should consider what piqued their interest in this field of study and then select a specialization based on that answer. This major is ideal for students interested in the law, have excellent interpersonal skills, and desire to help others by serving society. 

People who work in the criminal justice system are frequently faced with difficult decision-making scenarios, so they must remain calm and professional under pressure. Working with law-abiding persons to assist them to achieve progress in the community, rehabilitating convicted criminals to help them rejoin society, advocating for victims, or supervising offenders on parole or probation can all lead to a satisfying career path.

What Can I Do With a Major in Criminal Justice and Corrections?

Those with a criminal justice and corrections degree can pursue various careers in law enforcement and other law-related fields. The undergraduate degree lays the groundwork for those who pursue law school or other graduate degree programs. Criminal justice majors can work for the government as a federal agent, in the private sector as a private investigator, or various positions such as court reporter, administrator, criminal justice educator, or researcher. 

Furthermore, criminal justice majors can work as parole or probation officials, juvenile court counselors, correctional administrators, social workers, federal law enforcement officers, or municipal, county, or state police officers. Some of these vocations, such as counseling, psychology, and social work, necessitate higher degrees or licensure. Working in the criminal justice system or law enforcement has an added benefit: employees earn excellent health and retirement benefits.