What Classes Do You Take for a Criminal Justice Degree?

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Are you passionate about justice and fascinated by the inner workings of the criminal justice system? Pursuing a criminal justice degree can open doors to a rewarding career in various fields within the criminal justice system. However, choosing the right classes is crucial to ensure you acquire the necessary knowledge and skills. In this article, we will guide you through the classes you can expect to take while pursuing a criminal justice degree and help you make informed decisions about your educational journey.

Understanding the Criminal Justice Degree

Before diving into the specific classes, it’s important to understand what a criminal justice degree entails. A criminal justice degree is a comprehensive program that provides individuals with a deep understanding of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, corrections, courts, and rehabilitation. This degree equips students with the necessary skills to work in various roles within the criminal justice field.

Core Classes for a Criminal Justice Degree

Introduction to Criminal Justice

The foundation of any criminal justice degree program begins with an introductory course. This course provides an overview of the criminal justice system, its history, and the fundamental principles that guide it. Students learn about the different components of the system and explore the roles and responsibilities of professionals within the field.

Criminology and Criminal Behavior

Understanding the factors that contribute to criminal behavior is essential for anyone pursuing a criminal justice degree. This course delves into the study of criminology, exploring theories and concepts related to criminal behavior. Students learn to analyze various factors such as social, psychological, and economic influences that contribute to criminal activities.

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Policing and Law Enforcement

For those interested in law enforcement, a course on policing is a vital component of a criminal justice degree. This class focuses on the different aspects of policing, including the history, organization, and strategies employed by law enforcement agencies. Students gain insights into the challenges faced by police officers and learn about community-oriented policing approaches.

Corrections and Rehabilitation

The corrections system plays a crucial role in the criminal justice system. This class provides an in-depth understanding of the correctional system, including prisons, probation, and parole. Students explore the goals of rehabilitation and learn about the various programs and practices aimed at helping offenders reintegrate into society.

Courts and Judicial Processes

A comprehensive criminal justice degree program also covers the functioning of the courts and the judicial processes. This course examines the structure of the court system, the role of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other legal professionals. Students gain insights into the trial process, legal procedures, and constitutional principles that guide the administration of justice.

Specializations and Elective Courses

While the core classes provide a solid foundation in criminal justice, many programs offer specializations and elective courses to tailor your education to a specific area of interest. Some common specializations within criminal justice include:

  • Forensic Psychology: Explores the intersection of psychology and the criminal justice system, focusing on mental health assessments, criminal profiling, and eyewitness testimony.

  • Homeland Security: Covers topics related to terrorism, emergency management, intelligence analysis, and border security.

  • Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics: Focuses on the investigation and prevention of cybercrime, including computer forensics, network security, and data protection.

  • Juvenile Justice: Examines the unique aspects of the juvenile justice system, including the rehabilitation of young offenders and the prevention of youth crime.

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Elective courses allow you to further customize your degree based on your specific interests, such as white-collar crime, victimology, or criminal justice policy.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the prerequisites for a criminal justice degree?
A: Most criminal justice programs don’t have specific prerequisites. However, having a strong foundation in subjects like English, social sciences, and psychology can be beneficial.

Q: Can I take online classes for a criminal justice degree?
A: Yes, many universities and colleges offer online criminal justice degree programs. Online classes provide flexibility and convenience, allowing you to balance your studies with other commitments.

Q: Are internships required for a criminal justice degree?
A: While not always mandatory, internships are highly recommended. Internships provide valuable hands-on experience and networking opportunities, enhancing your employability and understanding of the field.

Q: Will a criminal justice degree qualify me for law school?
A: A criminal justice degree can be a stepping stone to law school, but it does not guarantee admission. Law schools consider various factors, including undergraduate GPA, LSAT scores, and extracurricular activities.

Q: What are the potential career paths with a criminal justice degree?
A: Graduates with a criminal justice degree can explore diverse career options, including law enforcement, probation and parole, corrections, private security, victim advocacy, and crime analysis.


In conclusion, choosing the right classes for a criminal justice degree is crucial for a successful career in the field. The core classes provide a solid foundation in the various aspects of the criminal justice system, while specializations and electives allow you to delve deeper into your specific interests. By understanding the classes offered and tailoring your education accordingly, you can embark on a fulfilling career contributing to the pursuit of justice and safety in society.

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