Last updated on February 9th, 2024 at 01:22 pm

The sheer number of people needed to keep the wheels of justice turning in the US is staggering, to say the least. While this is great news for people who choose to work in this field, choosing the best educational path to a satisfying administrative justice career can be a bit confusing. 

A basic Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice might be just what you need if you want to walk a beat as a police officer, keep the peace as a correctional officer, facilitate courtroom processes as a bailiff, or pound the pavement as a private investigator. While an associate degree can prepare you for entry-level careers in criminal justice, those interested in more advanced roles in criminal justice administration should seriously consider a Bachelor of Arts in Administration of Justice. While both programs share many courses and subject areas in common, the latter program is significantly better equipped to prepare you for an administrative career in criminal justice. 

Keep reading to learn more about the need for administration of justice graduates within the criminal justice system and the various reasons to pursue an administration of justice degree. 

How the Criminal Justice System Works

The US justice system consists of three major arms that work together to take criminal cases from initial incident response to final punishment and rehabilitation efforts. Cases begin with law enforcement professionals, who investigate criminal activity while accumulating evidence to identify likely perpetrators and begin building a prosecution against them. In some cases, one or more private investigators or detectors may play a role in the evidence-gathering process. 

When this process is reasonably complete, the case enters the US court system, which has the job of assessing all evidence to argue and ultimately determine the guilt or innocence of the accused perpetrator. Depending on the nature of the case and its associated criminal laws, prosecuting attorneys will attempt to convince judges and/or jurors that the accused is responsible for the legal charges at hand. It is important to note that people accused of crimes are “innocent until proven guilty” in America. 

If prosecutors succeed in proving guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the accused will be convicted and thereby enter the US corrections system that is tasked with delivering appropriate punishment and, ideally, correcting criminal behavior. From fines to probation to incarceration to rehabilitation, the corrections system has a number of corrective measures at its disposal, but it must adhere to the many constitutional safeguards that protect the rights of those accused and convicted. 

How Administration of Justice Professionals Help the Criminal Justice System Work 

By graduating with an administration of justice degree, you can position yourself for any number of positions within the criminal justice system. Similar to a criminal justice degree, the administration of justice degree can prepare you to become an officer with local, county, or state police departments, as well as a correctional officer or councilor, a courtroom bailiff, or a private investigator or detective. Other entry-level jobs commonly available to a bachelor-level administration of justice graduate include:

  • Adult or juvenile parole or probation officer
  • Corrections system case manager
  • Fish and game warden
  • Security officer
  • Crime scene investigator
  • Crime analyst
  • Crime victims service provider
  • Child protective services provider
  • Fraud investigator
  • Postal inspector
  • Immigration and customs enforcement agent 

With a master’s degree in administration of justice and extensive professional experience, you can progress to advanced and senior-level criminal justice positions such as: 

  • Police unit manager or patrol supervisor
  • Police lieutenant
  • Police precinct captain
  • Warden or associate warden
  • Day reporting center manager
  • Crisis and transition services specialist 

All of these positions are critical when it comes to greasing the wheels of justice to ensure that they are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. In fact, many of the supposedly “lower-level” jobs listed above serve as lynchpins of the criminal justice system, and quite frankly, that system would come to a screeching halt without them! 

Why Pursue an Administration of Justice Degree? 

While a Bachelor of Science or Master of Science in Administration of Justice may not be required for many of the entry-level jobs listed above, a degree in this field can open countless doors when it comes to securing an administrative position in the US criminal justice system. Certain advanced and/or highly desirable career paths are far more accessible with an administration of justice or another appropriate college degree. Most federal law enforcement positions, such as those with the FBI and CIA, require a relevant bachelor’s degree and extensive additional training. 

Even if you simply want to become an officer with your city police department, an administration of justice degree can give you a significant advantage while completing training at the police academy and establishing yourself in the professional arena. Furthermore, it will perfectly position you for further specialized training, advanced postsecondary education, and accelerated career advancement.

Skills Developed in an Administration of Justice Degree Program 

Preparing you for any number of criminal justice career paths, administration of justice programs instill knowledge and skills that range from a firm command of basic legal principles and legal system processes to in-depth problem-solving, critical reading, information gathering, situational analysis, and leadership capabilities. 

In a Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice program, you will encounter courses that teach:

  • Basic police functions, including the historical development of the police, police roles, types of patrol, community-oriented policing, volunteer policing, and crime prevention techniques
  • The concepts for influencing and changing human behavior, correctional management and the structures and operations it involves, legal responsibilities of the state from conviction to release, and issues around sentencing
  • The juvenile justice system, including legal issues, unique challenges, probation, and intermediate sanctions like residential treatment and wilderness/challenge programs
  • Corporate and white-collar crime, from the history of it in America to governmental and political corruption, organized crime, computer crime, and corporate negligence
  • Modern management theory within the criminal justice landscape and the application of those techniques, including civil liability, political power, and ethics 

A Master of Science in Administration of Justice program goes into further breadth and depth to cover topics such as:

  • Analyzing criminological theory within the context of current research findings to identify ways to improve decision-making or to implement new practices or procedures
  • Evaluating criminal justice policies to critique both intended and unintended consequences and the ethical principles in current criminal justice management and practices
  • Creating researchable questions and applying appropriate statistical methods to improve evidence-based decision-making
  • Distinguishing unique management problems and challenges in the field of criminal justice, offering support for administrative policymaking 

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Administration of Justice Degree Program

Because no two students have the exact same wants and needs, colleges strive to make their administration of justice programs as versatile and targeted as possible. Here are five criteria to consider when looking for the right program. 

Curriculum and Courses Offered 

Take a close look at the course catalog and descriptions of all administration of justice programs under consideration. Because the career paths available to an administration of justice graduate are so varied, you will want to ensure that you will leave your chosen program with the training that you need. 

Online vs. On-Campus Programs 

When it comes to efficient scheduling and effective learning, the choice between online and on-campus models is very important. Online programs might offer considerable convenience, but in-person instruction has been proven to boost overall student understanding. 

Accreditation and Program Ranking Considerations 

Depending on its geographic location and areas of academic concentration, a quality school will generally have accretion through one or more official agencies with respected higher learning credentials. You may also want to check school rankings for the particular programs in which you are interested. US News and World Report, for example, presents its detailed list of program-specific Best Colleges on an annual basis. 

Faculty and Research Opportunities 

Beyond accreditation and competitive ranking, you will want to ensure that your program of choice has talented faculty members in your areas of interest. You may also be able to work directly under these faculty members conducting research. 

Personal and Career Goals 

The key to all the program criteria above is letting your own unique objectives guide you as you evaluate them. What are your areas of professional interest? How important is career advancement to you? The answers to questions such as these will do wonders when it comes to pointing you in the right educational direction. 

Job Opportunities and Earning Potential with an Administration of Justice Degree 

While the wide array of career paths available to administration of justice graduates come with a similarly wide range of employment outlooks and average salaries, you can get a general grasp on the relative power of the administration of justice degree by examining the police officer/detective position. Some of the most common career paths for administration of justice graduates are law enforcement officers and detectives. They have an average income of just over $66,000 per year, according to the latest statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. With a projected job growth rate of 3 percent through 2031, employment expansion for these positions is slightly slower than average. 

Achieve Your Goals with a Degree in Administration of Justice 

If you want to reap the benefits of Bachelor of Arts in Administration of Justice, and you need a program that works within your current life schedule and responsibilities, contact Salem University today!

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