Where Can a BA in Criminal Justice Take You?
For many, the first job that comes to mind when they hear “criminal justice” is police officer. And while police officers do make up a significant portion of criminal justice professionals, the field encompasses many other positions related to the law and efforts to enforce it. Regardless of what area of criminal justice they are in, those who work in this important field often do so out of a passion for serving their community and country, fighting crime, and protecting the people and systems that uphold law and order in our society.
If you share this passion, an online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice is a smart starting point to gain the theory and practical skills needed for a successful career. Here’s a closer look at this exciting field and some of the various career paths available to graduates.
Criminal Justice Career Pathways
Earning a degree in criminal justice can prepare you for a number of career paths focused on keeping our citizens and communities safe from crime, threats, and harm. Some law enforcement careers are focused on responding to those who break the law. Others work in the immediate aftermath of a crime. Still others work in more preventative roles.
Types of law enforcement agencies can vary in their focus and jurisdiction. You may be interested in helping your local municipality, or maybe you’d prefer to work at the state or federal level. Federal agencies that employ criminal justice professionals include:
- U.S. Department of State: Managing American diplomacy, advocacy, and safety on an international stage, the State Department offers law enforcement careers including diplomatic security and various agent positions charged with protecting Americans abroad.
- U.S. Department of Justice: The DOJ handles law enforcement at the federal level – this includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the United States Marshal Service, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security: DHS is home to many of the federal law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), United States Secret Service (USSS), United States Coast Guard (USCG), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Specific job titles in the criminal justice field include:
- Border patrol agent
- CIA agent
- Corrections officer
- Court bailiff
- Crime scene investigator
- Emergency dispatcher
- FBI agent
- Fish and game warden
- Forensic evidence technician
- Fraud investigator
- Gaming investigator
- Immigration/customs agent
- Police officer
- Private detective
- Probation officer
- Security guard
- State trooper
- TSA agent
- U.S. air marshal
Earning a B.A. in Criminal Justice can also prepare you to work as a paralegal or serve as a launching pad for law school, equipping you with the foundational skills for a career focused on shaping, changing, and upholding the law.
Do I Need a Bachelor’s Degree to Work in Criminal Justice?
Whether or not you need a bachelor’s degree depends on the career you’re seeking. If you desire to become a police officer, requirements for admittance into the police academy vary by state. But even if a specific law enforcement organization doesn’t require it, a bachelor’s degree—especially one in criminal justice—can help boost your application. If your goal is to become a law enforcement officer at the federal level, a bachelor’s degree is usually required.
What Will I Learn?
UTEP’s online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice is a 120 credit-hour degree program, including 36 credit hours of coursework specific to criminal justice. Faculty members who teach in our online criminal justice degree program courses come from a wide range of backgrounds that combine to provide students with skills to help prepare them for a variety of career paths.
- Enhancing your understanding of criminal behavior and its associated impact on society
- Obtaining an understanding of criminal law regulations
- Discovering new ways to promote public safety through the application of law enforcement principles
- Learning and engaging in discussions about current immigration and border protection issues
Courses focus on preparing you with knowledge and abilities that will help you succeed on the job, including critical-thinking skills, an understanding of how the human mind operates, and the ins and outs of the laws themselves, so you can properly proceed with an investigation. The UTEP Connect degree has a unique focus on crime along the United States-Mexico border; UTEP’s border location provides students with access to many local agencies, and faculty form relationships with criminal justice agencies so students can benefit from putting their classroom learning to work.
Ready to take the next step in applying to the B.A. in Criminal Justice or any of the other 100% online undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs at UTEP Connect? Get started by submitting this form to have an enrollment counselor contact you directly.