How to Get a Criminal Justice Degree in Connecticut

How to Get a Degree in Criminal Justice: The 5-Step Guide

Criminal justice is a rewarding career field that involves seeking justice for those caught up in the court system.

Professionals in this field interact with various individuals and circumstances to uphold the laws and legal system of the country and state. Typical criminal justice careers include police officers, private investigators, crime prevention specialists, forensic psychologists, and more.

Students interested in a career in criminal justice should consider earning their criminal justice degree, where they will learn and understand the three main elements of the justice system: the courts, policing, and corrections.

Below, we’ll explain how to get a degree in criminal justice in five steps.

What is a Criminal Justice Degree?

A criminal justice degree is an interdisciplinary, postsecondary award that prepares students for a future in law enforcement, corrections, and the courts system. The curriculum is focused on the rules and systems related to holding criminals accountable for their crimes and restoring the losses incurred by the victims of those crimes.

Students also learn how to detect, arrest, and prosecute criminals in society through courses focusing on the following:

  • Law enforcement
  • U.S. legal system
  • Criminal investigations
  • National security and terrorism
  • Criminological theory

Additionally, students can enroll in certification and degree programs such as an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in Criminal Justice. The type of degree needed will depend on the career the student wants to have.


Learn more about your career possibilities by downloading our free Criminal Justice Get Started Guide!


How Do You Get a Criminal Justice Degree?

Getting a criminal justice degree requires education, training, and experience. Once you clearly understand your goals, you can begin researching schools that offer the criminal justice programs that would be best for you. Focus on finding a reputable institution with experienced faculty and a strong curriculum. Above all, dedication and hard work make a criminal justice career rewarding and fulfilling.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

The first step to earning a criminal justice degree starts long before the first college class. It begins by completing high school and earning a diploma (or equivalent) which will enable you to apply to colleges and universities with criminal justice programs.

Getting good grades will increase your chances of getting into the college you want to attend.

Step 2: Research and Apply to Criminal Justice Programs

Now that you are ready to apply, take time to research the schools and the admissions requirements for criminal justice programs you are interested in.

Helpful questions to research include:

  • Are there criminal justice schools near me?
  • Where can I find the best criminal justice schools and top degree programs?
  • Is the criminal justice school I’m considering accredited?
  • Will the criminal justice program make me eligible for my dream career?
  • Is the criminal justice degree program flexible and accessible to me?

Upon determining the programs and universities you are interested in, you can learn about their admissions requirements and apply.

Each university and program is different, but most schools will need your high school transcript, test scores (SAT or ACT), letters of recommendation, and a personal statement or essay.

At Goodwin University, our application process is straightforward and supportive. Students complete their application online, interview with an admissions officer, provide their official high school or GED transcripts, and ensure any program-specific requirements are met (such as prerequisite coursework). Accepted applicants can then work with an admissions officer to determine their class schedule and register for classes.

Learn more about Goodwin’s admissions requirements here.


Step 3: Complete a Criminal Justice Degree Program

Now that you’ve applied and been accepted into a criminal justice program, it’s time to complete the degree.

Associate degree programs usually consist of 60-90 credits and take about two years of full-time study to complete. Bachelor’s degree programs have an average completion time of four years and often consist of 120 credit hours.

Criminal justice degrees include various coursework in different areas of criminal justice, such as criminology, psychology, political science, and sociology.

In addition to general education courses, foundational criminal justice courses include:

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Problems of Law Enforcement
  • Introduction to Social Research
  • The American Political System
  • Introduction to Corrections

By exposing students to all aspects of this career through these courses, they can decide on a concentration or area of interest. Standard concentrations are law enforcement, restorative justice, homeland security, forensic science, and criminology.

Step 4: Complete an Internship

While an internship is not always required by degree programs, it is an extremely valuable way to gain experience in the field.

Students should look for opportunities to work in a law office or volunteer with the local police department in order to learn more about the legal system or law enforcement.

Check with your university to see if there are any internship agreements with police departments, detention centers, and probation officers in your area.

At Goodwin University, our career services center can help students identify a location and prepare your resume in order to secure the internship.

Step 5: Graduate and Begin your Exciting Criminal Justice Career

Now that all the coursework is complete and you have received your certification or degree, you can apply to criminal justice positions and begin your career.

The criminal justice field offers various rewarding and in-demand job opportunities in the public and private sectors.

For example, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of private detectives and investigators will grow six percent by 2031, with 3,700 openings projected each year.

Here are some other popular and high-paying career paths for criminal justice majors:

  • Judge
  • Forensic specialist
  • Forensic accountant
  • Police officer
  • Correctional officer
  • Law clerk
  • Senior Attorney

Now, more than ever, we need criminal justice experts who are passionate about solving crimes and making our communities safer. No matter your chosen career path, a degree in criminal justice will enable you to provide immediate aid and support to those you serve.

The flexible Criminal Justice degree program at Goodwin University is designed to prepare students to face relevant scenarios and challenges in their careers through classroom instruction and hands-on learning experiences. All courses are offered on-campus and available days and evenings to fit every student’s needs and schedule.

Contact us today to learn more. Enrollment is hassle-free, and we’ll be here to help you personally and professionally.