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List of Different Majors in Criminal Justice

by Kristine Tucker

Criminal justice is a broad term used to describe the study and practice of law enforcement. Students often major in criminal justice or a related field when they plan to attend law school or enter a career field in the justice system. Some universities offer academic majors that fall under the broad category of criminal justice or have degree programs that are closely related to the study of criminal justice. Depending on the focus and scope of the program, some majors lead to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, and others lead to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree.

Taboo Behavior

Most criminal justice programs offer a major in criminology. A major in criminology leads to a B.A. degree because it doesn't specifically deal with technical scientific examination or discovery. Criminology is the study of criminal activity and examines reasons why offenders choose illegal, deviant and unlawful behavior. Students learn about society's responses to criminal behavior and how such behavior affects victims and communities as a whole. They also study the effectiveness of anti-crime policies, according to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. Criminology majors must complete courses in psychology, sociology, law and humanities.

Superheroes of the Justice League

Students at James Madison University (JMU) can major in "Justice Studies," a nontraditional approach to the study of criminal justice. Here, students learn to analyze behaviors that are often deemed criminal without making preconceived assumptions. They then assess methods for responding to those behaviors. By examining deviant behavior in a broader sense, without focusing solely on ways to punish or prosecute misconduct, students seek to find better ways of defining justice. They study the justice system as a whole and focus on justice problems at the international, national and local levels, according to JMU. This major might be beneficial for students who plan to work for organizations such as the United Nations, the United Way, the Department of Justice or the Peace Corps. Depending on the focus of their studies, students can obtain a B.A. or a B.S. degree with a Justice Studies major.

Technical and Social Sciences: A Good Mix

Some criminal justice students major in forensic psychology. This program of study leads to a B.S. degree because it requires extensive coursework in chemistry and biology. Forensic psychology is different from forensic science because it focuses on the connection between psychology and the criminal justice system. Forensic psychology majors study the "biological, cognitive, social and emotional components of criminal justice and its effects on the broader community," according to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Students use scientific data and research findings to examine criminal behavior from both scientific and sociological viewpoints. This major of study equips students for jobs in social work, psychology and law enforcement.

Crime and Punishment

Some colleges offer criminal justice majors in corrections. For example, Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) has a major called "Corrections and Juvenile Justice Studies." Students who major in correction-related studies examine the theoretical, historical and operational methods of law enforcement and corrections in the United States. They study methods of punishment to determine what types of correction are fair and reasonable for dealing with criminal behavior, for both juveniles and adults. Some specific EKU courses in this major include "Living and Working in Prison," "The Offender in the Community," "The Juvenile Justice System" and "Delinquency Interventions." This major is advantageous for students who plan to work in prisons, police stations or juvenile detention centers.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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