Should I get a degree in criminal justice?

Do you want to make the world a better place? To repair the harm caused by crime? Consider a major or minor in the criminal justice department. Criminal justice prepares you to pursue a number of different career options. Students also can combine the major with additional majors and/or minors to broaden their horizons. Besides the career benefits, the major provides insight into all aspects of the criminal justice system (policing, courts, corrections, victim services), and an understanding of the legal system and the Constitution.

What skills do those with a criminal justice major have?

Basic skills that you will strengthen as a criminal justice major are communication skills, restorative justice skills, people skills, problem solving skills and criminal justice process skills. The most important skills required for careers in this field are critical thinking, decision making and the ability to communicate with the wide variety of people who are clients of the criminal justice system. There is a criminal justice safety net. The purpose of this figurative net is to not only punish offenders but to restore victims, offenders and communities to their pre-incident status. Programs often look at rehabilitation, restitution and redemption as the ultimate goals of the system.

What are some classes that I may take as a criminal justice major?

Most generalist programs do not look to have someone specialize in any particular niche of the criminal justice system. Instead, the goal is to understand and be familiar with the entire system. This prepares students to pursue a career in any number of fields within it. However, there are a variety of concentrations. For example, Restorative Justice courses may include Law, Justice and Society, Restorative Justice and Conflict Transformation and Mediation. Legal studies focus on Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Procedure, and Introduction to the Juvenile Justice System. Other courses examine Policing and Corrections.

What internship opportunities could I have?

Criminal justice students are encouraged to participate in numerous available internship opportunities. It is important to discover if your perception of your future career is a realistic option for you. The best way to do this by experiencing it through an internship at an agency. After you start a program, talk with your advisor to discover more about your options.

Examples of places that offer criminal justice internships are the U.S. Marshals Service, local law enforcement agencies, juvenile and adult probation, victim services, public defender and prosecutor’s offices, local or state correctional facilities, and private-sector treatment facilities dealing with addiction and/or mental health services.

Interested in internships? To learn more, read our blog on finding the best internship for you!

What careers could I have with a degree in criminal justice?

Graduates from this department can work for federal, state level and local law enforcement agencies. Jobs can also be found at local and state-level correctional facilities, county and municipal probation, crime victim service providers, local courts, addiction or mental health service providers and as practicing attorneys. These careers continue to be in high demand. Many students become employed by agencies before graduation, often through participating in internships.

At Bluffton University…

Our faculty at Bluffton University are former or current criminal justice practitioners who have years of experience with and contacts within many agencies. We emphasize restorative justice in many of our courses. Students are encouraged to double major and/or minor to make them more prepared to enter the high demand fields of mental health and addiction services, policing and correctional services.

At Bluffton, criminal justice is an academically rigorous program developed to produce leaders in the academic field, corrections, law enforcement, mediation and community organizing who embrace the philosophy of restorative justice. Discover more about the program by scheduling a visit today!

Written by Kaylee Rauch ’26, public relations student assistant with information from Michael Barrett, assistant professor of criminal justice