Criminal justice is an exciting field with many sub-fields, so that many different academic degrees can be useful in a criminal justice career. Criminal justice professionals often pursue many different degrees before beginning their careers, including law degrees, MPAs, and degrees in foreign language or IT fields. But what’s the best master’s degree for a career in criminal justice?
A Master of Science in Criminal Justice is the best degree for many people hoping to get into the field. Many people who pursue an MS in CJ have an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field, and hope to gain some background in law enforcement through the criminal justice master’s program. No matter what your background, you’ll be sure to have skills that you’ll be able to transfer to a career in criminal justice.
Anyone Can Benefit From a Criminal Justice Master’s Degree
People who go into criminal justice and law enforcement careers tend to have diverse backgrounds, especially in terms of undergraduate degrees. Law enforcement officers, criminologists, corrections officers, social workers, paralegals, rehabilitation specialists, and cybercrimes specialists have undergraduate degrees in fields as diverse as information technology, psychology, social work, corrections, law, research methods, or paralegal studies.
People with foreign language degrees can communicate with criminals and victims who speak Spanish, Arabic, or Chinese as a first language. People with finance degrees may use their knowledge of the financial world to solve white-collar crimes. Criminal justice professionals must be as diverse as crime and criminals themselves.
So, no matter what you studied as an undergrad, you’ll have skills that can come in handy in a law enforcement career. If you have a bachelor’s in sociology, an MS in CJ can prepare you for a career in federal law enforcement. If you have a bachelor’s in organizational psychology, an MS in CJ could prepare you for a career in intelligence and crime analysis.
While a criminal justice master’s degree is especially helpful for those who don’t have a bachelor’s in a related field, that doesn’t mean it’s not also very beneficial for those who do. Many law enforcement officers join the force at a young age, and pursue higher education after getting several years of experience. For these officers, a criminal justice master’s degree can be the perfect preparation for administrative and leadership roles in law enforcement. Online degree programs are perfect for those who want to earn an advanced degree without leaving the work force.
Benefits of a Master’s in Criminal Justice
A Master of Science in Criminal Justice can help you move up into an administrative position or begin a career in federal law enforcement. Those who succeed in law enforcement leadership positions typically have a master’s degree in criminal justice. Often, they’ll have one or more additional advanced degrees in fields like psychology or law.
If you want to specialize in a particular subfield of criminal justice, an MS in CJ with a track in Homeland Security, federal law enforcement, behavioral analysis, or intelligence and crime analysis is often the best way to do it. If your goal is a career in federal law enforcement, a master’s degree enables you to apply for a position as an FBI Special Agent right away. Those with only bachelor’s degrees must have at least three years of experience in law enforcement before they can even apply for the Special Agent position.
A master’s degree in criminal justice can also bring other opportunities, including the chance to change careers and move into a field like law or teaching at the university level. Many MS in CJ graduates appreciate the increased salary that comes along with the credential. A deputy police chief with a master’s degree earns more than $74,800, while a police officer with a bachelor’s degree earns only about $48,000. An FBI supervisor earns more than $89,000. If you already hold a position in law enforcement, earning a criminal justice master’s could allow you to qualify for an immediate raise.
If you’ve got your sights set on a career in law enforcement, Homeland Security, or a related criminal justice field, consider earning a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. Online degree programs make it easy to earn this credential without leaving the work force, and the MS in CJ is particularly valuable to those who are interested in a criminal justice career but don’t yet have the academic background.
The master’s in criminal justice can give you access to numerous opportunities, and help you command a higher salary too. The sooner you enroll in a criminal justice master’s program, the sooner can you can realize your dreams of a successful career in law enforcement. For more information on how to get started on your Master of Science in Criminal Justice, request more information below or apply online.