Criminal Justice Degree Requirements

If you are interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice, then getting a degree in this field is essential. A criminal justice degree will equip you with the knowledge and skills to work in law enforcement, corrections, or legal professions. However, before embarking on this journey, it is important to understand the criminal justice degree requirements. In this article, we will provide an overview of what the degree entails and what prerequisites must be met.

Criminal Justice Degree Requirements

What is a Criminal Justice Degree?

A criminal justice degree comprises courses that give students an understanding of how the American criminal justice system functions. The curriculum incorporates elements of psychology, sociology, and law to ensure graduates can handle various aspects of the profession.

Usually, students complete several general education courses in English composition, math, science and humanities before commencing their criminal justice curriculum. However, these prerequisites may vary from one institution to another.

Types of Criminal Justice Degrees

Criminal justice degrees come in different levels depending on your career goals and interests:

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree typically takes two years to complete and consists mostly of basic courses covering topics like criminology and corrections. This level of education provides a foundation for entry-level positions in law enforcement agencies such as local police departments or state correctional facilities.

Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor’s degree usually takes four years to complete and encompasses more advanced courses about crime theory and investigation procedures. Individuals who hold a Bachelor’s degree qualify for higher-paying jobs across different areas like forensic science or private security.

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree usually requires two additional years beyond a bachelor’s program focusing on research methods and analytical skills development. It prepares individuals for leadership roles including top positions within federal organizations such as the FBI.

Doctorate Degree

The Doctorate level represents most extensive study provided by universities specializing in criminology or related fields focusing on research rather than practical application. These degrees may qualify holders for top positions in government, academia or research.

Criminal Justice Degree Requirements

Now that you understand the different types of criminal justice degrees let’s take a closer look at the requirements:

Associate’s Degree Requirements

  • A high school diploma or GED.
  • Successful completion of prerequisite coursework, such as English composition and math.
  • Completion of core courses, including criminology and corrections.

Bachelor’s Degree Requirements

  • A high school diploma or GED.
  • Successful completion of prerequisite coursework, such as English composition and math.
  • Completion of core courses in criminalistics, criminal law & procedure, ethics and correctional facilities management.

Master’s Degree Requirements

  • A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum GPA requirement (varies by university)
  • Resume highlighting career trajectory/experience
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement outlining academic/career goals
    • Successful application to relevant graduate program with special emphasis on specialized applications towards critical areas such as forensic psychology or homicide investigation.

Doctorate Degree Requirements

The requirements for a Doctorate degree typically include:

  • An undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice or related field
  • Minimum GPA requirement (varies by university)
  • Relevant experience in the field (e.g. Law Enforcement)
  • GRE scores
  • Formal Application to relevant Doctoral program with additional attention paid to research background/ interest.


A Criminal Justice degree is an excellent foundation for a promising career within the legal system. Choosing the type of degree to pursue depends on your career goals and interests. Researching what each degree entails before embarking upon it can help ensure you complete it without any surprises along the way!

Remember that each educational facility is unique; therefore, always refer back to their guidelines when making decisions about enrollment – this helps ensure smoother realization of academic objectives without failing in any course along the way!


What are the basic criminal justice degree requirements?

The basic criminal justice degree requirements include completing core courses, electives, and fieldwork. You will also need to maintain a certain GPA and pass any necessary exams.

Can I earn a criminal justice degree online?

Yes, many universities offer online programs for criminal justice degrees. However, it’s important to make sure the program is accredited and offers the same resources as an on-campus program.

Do I need prior law enforcement experience to pursue a degree in criminal justice?

No, prior law enforcement experience is not required to pursue a degree in criminal justice. However, having some experience may be beneficial in understanding the material and applying it to real-life situations.

What types of jobs can I get with a criminal justice degree?

A criminal justice degree can open up various career paths including law enforcement, corrections, probation/parole officers, private investigation, and more.

Is there a specific GPA requirement for a criminal justice degree?

Each university may have different GPA requirements for their criminal justice programs. It’s important to check with your specific university regarding their policies on GPA requirements.

Can I specialize in a certain area within Criminal Justice?

Yes! Many Criminal Justice programs offer specializations such as forensics, criminology, law enforcement administration or intelligence analysis that allow you to focus on an area of interest within the field of Criminal Justice.

Can I transfer credits from another university towards my Criminal Justice Degree?

Yes! Most universities accept transfer credit from other institutions as long as it meets their guidelines for accreditation standards and course equivalencies. It’s best to check with your University’s Registrar office for specific information about transferring credits.

What is the difference between a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Criminal Justice?

The main difference between a BS and BA in Criminal Justice is the emphasis on science-based or liberal arts-based coursework. A BS will typically require more science courses such as statistics, forensic science or criminal law while a BA may place more emphasis on social sciences like sociology or psychology.

What type of fieldwork can I expect to do for a criminal justice degree?

Fieldwork for a criminal justice degree can vary depending on your specialization and university requirements, but it can include internships with local law enforcement agencies, working with community organizations or doing research projects under the supervision of faculty members.

Can I study abroad while pursuing my degree in Criminal Justice?

Yes! Many universities offer study abroad programs and courses that focus on international perspectives within Criminal Justice including comparative systems of justice, human rights issues, and cross-cultural conflict resolution skills.

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