At the master’s degree level, there are different types of criminal justice degrees for students to consider. Each of these graduate degrees focuses on a different aspect of law enforcement and criminal justice, allowing students to delve deep into the facets of the field that most interest them. If you’re still trying to decide which master’s degree in criminal justice is the right choice for you, then you should consider studying in-demand degree paths such as criminology, forensics and homeland security.
One of the most popular types of criminal justice degrees for graduate students is criminology. Criminology is the study of crime, particularly with regards to the psychological and sociological aspects of it, according to U.S. News & World Report. Students in a graduate criminology program seek to understand why and how crimes occur – not just to satisfy their own curiosity, but also to prevent future crimes from occurring. In addition to more general coursework in subjects like criminal justice and research methods, criminology programs include classes that explore the motivations that lead to or discourage criminal activities. Some courses you might take as a criminology student include spirituality and crime, society’s response to serial killers, neighborhoods and crime, hate crimes and white-collar and corporate crime.
Forensics is another type of criminal justice degree that appeals to many graduate students. In a forensic science program, students develop the skills to gather and examine crime scene evidence, according to U.S. News & World Report. A forensic science technician uses these skills to recreate crime scenes – and answer tough questions about how the crime happened – in settings such as police departments, medical examiner offices, crime laboratories and morgues. The work of a forensic science graduate helps solve crimes, apprehend perpetrators and close cases. Students pursuing a master’s degree in forensics may take a variety of specialized forensics courses, such as forensic psychology, forensic analysis and toxicology. They also need to take many science courses, including biology, chemistry, genetics and statistics. Many forensics allow students to specialize further in subjects such as digital forensic science, drug chemistry and forensic science administration.
3. Homeland Security
If you feel a calling to help protect the United States from terrorism threats, then homeland security might be the perfect type of criminal justice degree program for you. In a graduate-level homeland security degree program, you will study national security, cybersecurity, intelligence, emergency management, risk management, crisis communication and ethics and strategic planning, according to U.S. News & World Report. You could also pursue a specialization in topics like information security, public health, agricultural biosecurity and food defense, public administration or emergency management.
No matter which aspect of criminal justice and law enforcement most appeals to you, there’s a master’s degree program that can help you advance your career. With faster than average job growth and high income potential expected for many criminal justice and related careers, there are excellent opportunities open to graduates of each type of criminal justice master’s degree program.