What Classes Do You Take for a Criminal Justice Degree?

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Unlocking the Path to a Successful Career in Criminal Justice

Are you passionate about upholding justice and maintaining law and order in society? Pursuing a criminal justice degree can be your gateway to a rewarding and impactful career. But what classes should you take to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge and skills in this field? In this article, we will explore the essential classes required for a criminal justice degree, providing valuable insights to help you make informed academic choices and set yourself up for success.

Understanding the Criminal Justice Degree

Before delving into the specific classes, it’s important to grasp the significance of a criminal justice degree. A criminal justice degree equips individuals with the foundational knowledge and practical skills necessary to excel in various roles within the criminal justice system. Whether you aspire to become a police officer, detective, forensic scientist, or work in corrections or legal support, a criminal justice degree can open doors to a wide range of rewarding career opportunities.

Core Classes for a Criminal Justice Degree

To build a solid foundation in criminal justice, there are certain core classes that are typically required in a degree program. These classes lay the groundwork for understanding the legal system, criminal behavior, and the intricacies of law enforcement. Let’s take a closer look at some essential core classes you can expect to encounter:

1. to Criminal Justice (CRIJ 1301)

This introductory course provides a comprehensive overview of the criminal justice system, including its history, structure, and various components. Students gain a fundamental understanding of the roles and responsibilities of law enforcement agencies, courts, and corrections. Through engaging discussions and case studies, this class sets the stage for a deep dive into the world of criminal justice.

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2. Criminology (CRIJ 1307)

In this course, students explore the causes and theories behind criminal behavior. It delves into the psychological, sociological, and economic factors that contribute to criminal activity. By studying criminology, aspiring criminal justice professionals can develop a deeper understanding of why crimes are committed, enabling them to work towards prevention and rehabilitation.

3. Criminal Law (CRIJ 1310)

Criminal Law is a pivotal class that introduces students to the legal framework governing the criminal justice system. Through an examination of statutes, case law, and legal procedures, students gain insight into the elements of criminal offenses and the rights of both victims and defendants. This class provides a solid foundation for those pursuing careers in law enforcement, legal advocacy, or criminal justice policy.

4. Policing in America (CRIJ 2313)

For individuals interested in law enforcement, this class provides a comprehensive overview of the history, ethics, and challenges faced by police agencies in the United States. Students learn about community policing, crime prevention strategies, and the importance of building positive relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This course fosters critical thinking skills and prepares students for the realities of working in law enforcement.

5. Corrections (CRIJ 2328)

The Corrections class examines the various aspects of the corrections system, including prisons, probation, and parole. Students gain an understanding of the goals and challenges associated with rehabilitating offenders and reintegrating them into society. This course provides valuable insights into the social and psychological dynamics of the correctional system, preparing students for careers in probation, parole, or corrections administration.

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6. Criminal Investigation (CRIJ 2314)

Criminal Investigation is an exciting class that dives into the techniques and methodologies used to solve crimes. Students explore the principles of evidence collection, crime scene investigation, and the application of forensic science. This course is particularly beneficial for those aspiring to become detectives, crime scene investigators, or forensic specialists.

Elective Classes for a Criminal Justice Degree

In addition to core classes, many criminal justice degree programs offer a range of elective courses. Electives provide an opportunity for students to specialize in specific areas of interest within the field. Here are a few example elective classes that can enhance your knowledge and broaden your career prospects:

1. Cybercrime and Digital Forensics

With the rise of technology, cybercrime has become a significant challenge in the modern world. This elective explores the investigative techniques and legal considerations related to cybercrime. Students learn how to gather digital evidence and analyze it for use in criminal investigations. This class prepares individuals for careers in digital forensics, cybersecurity, or as computer crime investigators.

2. Juvenile Justice

This class focuses on the unique aspects of the juvenile justice system, including the legal rights of minors and the rehabilitative approaches employed in juvenile courts. Students gain insights into the challenges faced by young offenders and develop a deeper understanding of juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention strategies. This elective is ideal for those interested in working with at-risk youth or pursuing careers in juvenile justice administration.

3. Victimology

Victimology explores the psychological, social, and legal aspects of victimization. Students learn about the impact of crime on victims and the various support services available to them. This elective provides valuable insights into victim advocacy, crisis intervention, and victim-offender mediation. It equips aspiring professionals with the knowledge and skills to assist and empower victims of crime.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Can I pursue a criminal justice degree online?
A: Yes, many accredited universities offer online criminal justice degree programs, providing flexibility for working professionals or those with other commitments.

Q: Are internships required for a criminal justice degree?
A: While internships are not always mandatory, they are highly recommended. Internships provide invaluable hands-on experience and allow students to establish connections within the criminal justice field.

Q: Can I specialize in a specific area of criminal justice?
A: Yes, elective classes allow students to specialize in areas such as forensic science, law enforcement, corrections, or legal studies, among others. Specializing can enhance career prospects and align your education with your specific interests.


Embarking on a criminal justice degree journey opens the door to a world of possibilities in the field of law enforcement, corrections, and legal support. By carefully selecting the right classes, you can acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in your chosen career path. Whether you opt for core classes that provide a solid foundation or elective courses that allow specialization, each class contributes to your overall understanding of the criminal justice system. So, take the first step, enroll in a criminal justice program, and pave the way for a fulfilling and impactful career in criminal justice.

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