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2023 Criminal Justice & Corrections Degree Guide

A major in Criminal Justice and Corrections prepares students to work in the field of public law and criminal justice. You will learn about crime, law, and the justice system through studying different disciplines.

There are many different concentrations in this major that allow students to focus on an area of specific interest. For example, students could choose a concentration in Maritime Law Enforcement to learn how to effectively stop smuggling, piracy, drug trafficking, and sex trafficking. Another focus is Corrections; this concentration will teach you about prison life and other correctional facilities including the study of social reform. Or they could choose Juvenile Corrections if they are more interested in working with children and adolescents.

Other popular specializations are Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administrations, Criminal Justice/Safety Studies, Forensic Science and Technology, Criminal Justice/Police Science, and Securities Services Administration/Management to name just a few.

In any of these concentrations, you can expect to take classes in criminology, ethics in law enforcement, victims of crime, gender issues in law, correctional administration, policing society, the U. S. criminal-justice system, criminal law, and statistics.

#7 Most Popular Major
113k Degrees Awarded
-0.4% Increase in Graduates

In 2020-2021, criminal justice and corrections was the 7th most popular major nationwide with 113,121 degrees awarded. This represents a small change of only -0.4% from the prior year's total of 113,581 criminal justice degrees awarded.

This year's Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Schools ranking compares 870 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of criminal justice programs later in this article.

2023 Best Colleges for Criminal Justice & Corrections
2023 Overall Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges >

Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Schools by Degree

Associate Degrees in Criminal Justice & Corrections
Bachelor's Degrees in Criminal Justice & Corrections
Master's Degrees in Criminal Justice & Corrections
Doctorate Degrees in Criminal Justice & Corrections


What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Criminal Justice & Corrections

Students should have a vast and absorbing interest in law, justice and social reform. This major requires math, statistics and science. Students will need to memorize theories and be able to apply methods to real-life situations. Critical reading skills will help you pull important information from dry texts as you read court cases, prison procedures and reports.

Interpersonal skills are important as you will work with various people from lawyers to criminals. Develop sharp listening and observational skills in order to pick up on crucial details. Students who are detail-oriented, organized and have a good memory will find success. This major involves the study of controversial and difficult information. This is in order to prepare students for tense and potentially dangerous situations in a career.

Criminal Justice Degree Program Entry Requirements

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. In addition to these basic criminal justice and corrections program qualifications, to serve in some criminal justice careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.

Criminal Justice & Corrections Degree Types

There are many different criminal justice degree levels. You can spend many years getting as high as a in criminal justice and corrections to something that takes less time like a . How long it takes to complete some common criminal justice degree levels is shown below.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to criminal justice, with approximately 34.5% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for criminal justice workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 31.9%
High School Diploma 22.4%
Some College Courses 12.7%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 12.1%
Master’s Degree 8.8%

61.0% of criminal justice workers have at least a associate. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in criminal justice and corrections careers have.


This of course varies depending on which criminal justice career you choose.

Criminal Justice Careers

Above Average Number of Jobs
$35.4k Average Starting Salary
8% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Graduates who major in Criminal Justice and Corrections will have the skills to work in a prison or another type of correctional facility. They are also found working for law enforcement or the coast guard. The interdisciplinary skills gained also prepare graduates for careers as psychologists, public administrators, or lawyers. Many of these careers will require graduate school.

Growth Projected for Criminal Justice Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your criminal justice degree? Criminal Justice & Corrections careers are expected to grow 7.6% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to criminal justice and corrections.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Accountants and Auditors 1,537,600 10.0%
Managers 1,071,700 8.0%
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers 731,900 7.0%
Correctional Officers and Jailers 415,500 -7.7%
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 362,600 14.2%

How Much Money Do Criminal Justice Grads Make?

Recently graduated criminal justice and corrections students earned an average of $35,428 in 2019-2020. Earnings can range from as low as $9,524 to as high as $116,926. As you might expect, salaries for criminal justice graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Criminal Justice Careers

Salaries for criminal justice and corrections graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top highest paying careers criminal justice grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Managers $115,590
Information Security Analysts $102,470
Computer Workers $93,350
Police and Detective Supervisors $93,100
Financial Examiners $90,310

Getting Your Criminal Justice & Corrections Degree

With over 4,716 different criminal justice degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased criminal justice school rankings to help you with this.

Criminal Justice & Corrections is one of 4 different types of Homeland Security, Law Enforcement & Firefighting programs to choose from.

Criminal Justice Concentrations

Major Annual Graduates
Criminal Justice Studies 46,814
Criminal Justice 32,891
Criminal Justice & Police Science 22,722
Corrections 4,039
Other Corrections & Criminal Justice 3,675

View All Criminal Justice Concentrations >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Fire Protection 13,766
Homeland Security 7,140
Security Science and Technology 6,888
Other Homeland Security 1,695

View All Criminal Justice Related Majors >


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