Law enforcement professionals provide a service to society by protecting citizens from crime and bringing criminals to justice. Regardless of where you fall on the law enforcement spectrum, from local or state police to the armed forces to homeland security, advancing your career depends on taking advantage of continuing education opportunities available to you, such as gaining a master’s in criminal justice.
The biggest jump-start you can give your career is completing an advanced degree program in your field. Ideally, you want to be able to tailor your degree program to your specific purposes or field of interest. Pay attention to the business and administrative management aspects of the career and make sure any advanced degree program you consider includes adequate coursework in these areas.
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice program is carefully designed to meet the continuing education degrees of law enforcement professionals in both the public and private sectors. Saint Joseph’s University’s program (SJU) is a prime example of the type of curriculum that delivers a solid set of core courses supplemented by electives that align with career objectives and interests.
The following are common concentrations of study that can be pursued in a master’s degree program in criminal justice:
Administration/Police Executive. This is a track that can be used to enhance your leadership, management, administrative skills, knowledge, and ability to prepare you for management positions in contemporary criminal justice agencies.
- Behavior Counseling. This is a great track for clinicians who want to apply their skills in the field of criminal justice for the treatment and prevention of offenders through counseling and behavior evaluation.
- Criminology. This track is the one to choose if you’re more interested in criminal justice theory rather than application. It sets the stage for entering an academic career or pursuing doctoral studies in criminal justice, law, criminology, or sociology.
- Intelligence & Crime Analysis. In this field, learners develop deliberative cognitive abilities and methodologies to produce intelligent information regarding crime that allows for informed decision-making at all levels of law enforcement. It is ideal for those wishing to pursue crime analyst positions at the local, state, or federal levels.
- Federal Law Enforcement. If federal-level law enforcement is your career aim, this track will provide all the specialized tools and skills needed to be successful in your career, preparing you for any number of positions, including investigation, prosecution support, and correctional roles.
- Homeland Security. The Homeland Security Track goes beyond terrorism to cover all areas of citizen safety, from emergency management and natural disaster relief to border protection and counterintelligence. This track is ideal for front-line Criminal Justice professionals who want to pursue high-ranking positions at the local, state, and federal levels.
- Probation, Parole, & Corrections. This track prepares learners for positions in which a variety of parole, probation, and correctional aspects come into play; assisting citizens stay on the right path and make a lasting impact on their lives.
Tailored Certificate Programs
If you already have a master’s degree, obtaining a post-master’s certificate is a further great way to stay current in your field or gain an additional concentration.
Local Training and Development Options
Check with your own local and state law enforcement departments to find out what specific training programs are available and what’s needed in your area. You might be surprised at just how many different education options can either be taken locally or through online learning. If you’re not finding what you need, check with your human resources department and they should be able to point you in the right direction for finding the best professional development opportunities. Another good place to start is The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), which offers training in many local and state agencies through the Office of State and Local Training (OSL).
If advancing your law enforcement career is a priority to you, there are many options available to meet your continuing education needs. The first step is getting clear about the direction you want to take your career in, then using the information you gather as a guideline for exploring which continuing education options make the most sense for you. In no time, you’ll be well on your way to moving your career forward.