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What is Criminal Justice?
The overarching goal of criminal justice professionals is to protect their communities. As a criminal justice professional, you may be expected to respond to crime scenes, collect evidence, investigate crimes, enforce the law, patrol jurisdictions, support victims of crime, prevent crimes, write reports, and examine crimes. Specific responsibilities will vary greatly, depending on the type of criminal justice professional and which branch of criminal justice you work in.
As far as where criminal justice professionals work, they can be found in a wide variety of places. Criminal justice professionals can work in correctional facilities, non-profit agencies, state/federal courts, juvenile justice facilities, rehabilitative centers, law enforcement agencies, research centers, and many more places.
The best criminal justice professionals have excellent problem solving, communication, ethical decision-making, and research skills.
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Online Criminal Justice Education in Maryland
The primary purpose of criminal justice professionals in Maryland, and every state, is to keep communities safe. Since this state has the eleventh-highest violent crime rate, criminal justice professionals here are more important than ever.
The good news is that many schools in this state offer locally useful criminal justice degrees for future criminal justice professionals. The criminal justice degree programs in this state are designed to prepare students for careers at the state and local levels. However, criminal justice degree programs can also prepare students for careers at the federal level.
After the completion of a criminal justice program in Maryland, graduates will have the necessary skills to work in corrections, juvenile justice, administration, law enforcement, research, and many more criminal justice fields.
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Online Associate Degree in Criminal Justice (AS or AA)
An online associate in criminal justice degree is an extremely convenient and affordable way for students to begin their criminal justice journey. These programs are specifically designed to prepare students for entry-level positions, such as a police officer or a position in corrections. They also equip students with the necessary knowledge to excel in a bachelor’s criminal justice program at a four-year university if they ever choose to continue their education.
Students of criminal justice degree programs in Maryland will learn everything about basic law enforcement. After studying the key principles of law enforcement, current students should have gained a solid foundation in the criminal justice field.
During a criminal justice degree program, students will have the opportunity to connect with their criminal justice professionals (many of whom have first-hand experience in the field), engage in hands-on experiential learning, and even engage in a ride-along or seminars that can bring them in close contact with those who are currently working in criminal justice or spent much of their lives in the field.
An associate criminal justice degree program typically takes a couple of years to complete.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice (BS or BA)
The overarching goal of an online bachelor’s in criminal justice degree is to prepare current students for impactful careers in policy, research, and reform. As a matter of fact, a bachelor’s criminal justice degree is the perfect option for future criminal justice professionals who want to pursue a high-level position, such as work as an FBI agent.
The curriculum for a bachelor’s criminal justice degree generally consists of forensics psychology, theories of crime, constitutional law, research methods in criminal justice, and criminal investigation, among other pertinent courses. This is, of course, after a student completes their general education courses. If a student has already completed an associate degree, they should already have finished most, if not all, of their general education requirements.
Most students are able to complete a bachelor’s criminal justice program in four years.
Online Master's Degree in Criminal Justice (MS or MA)
An online master’s in criminal justice degree or online MBA with a focus in criminal justice, which are less common, is specifically designed to provide current professionals with extensive knowledge in criminology and criminal justice research. After graduating from one of these programs, students will be able to excel in leadership roles including security management positions.
During a master’s criminal justice degree or similar MBA, current students will learn all about criminological theory, correctional counseling, research methods, criminal justice administration, and much more. Depending on specific school, students may be required to complete 33 to 36 college credits.
Online PhD Degree in Criminal Justice (PhD)
A PhD/Doctorate degree in criminal justice is for current criminal justice professionals who want to pursue a career as a criminal justice professor or a criminal justice researcher.
In one of these high-level programs, they will have the opportunity to work closely with faculty who already have many years of experience researching the criminal justice field. By collaborating closely with faculty, students can excel in their research projects and gain credibility, expert status, or a degree that can earn them tenure at a well-respected institution. These programs also often offer teaching assistantships to current students.
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Become a Criminal Justice Professional in Maryland
Many people may be interested in becoming a criminal justice professional in Maryland, but just aren’t sure where to start. Here are the specific steps to become a criminal justice professional in this state.
- Graduate from High School
The minimum educational requirements for police officers is that they have a high school diploma or GED.
- Choose A Career in the Criminal Justice Field
There is an extensive array of career options that fall under criminal justice including corrections, crime scene and forensics, criminology, cyber security, and justice administration. You might be interested in working with the Maryland State Police, Maryland Natural Resources Police, Maryland District Courts, Prince George Corrections Department, or Juvenile Services Department. It’s best to know where you want to end up before you start your education.
- Complete a Training Program
Maryland State Police Academy Training is an option for anyone who wants to become a police officer in Maryland. Training consists of several college-level classes, which will cover everything that students need to know to be an ethical police officer. During this training, students will also learn gun safety, state motor laws, and much more. Once students complete this training, they’ll be qualified to serve as police officer anywhere in Maryland.
The MD Police and Correctional Training Commissions is an option for anyone who wants to become a correctional officer in Maryland. During the program, participants will learn important topics such as defensive tactics, mental health awareness, firearms, use of chemical agents, and more. After participants completes this training program, they’ll be certified to work as correctional officers.
- Earn a Criminal Justice Degree
Depending on where you wish to work, a criminal justice degree may be necessary. An associate criminal justice degree is typically required for the following professions: police officer, correctional officer, and juvenile counselor.
A bachelor’s criminal justice degree is usually suggested for future criminal justice professionals who want to obtain a career as victim’s advocates, homeland security professionals, psychometrists, and K9 officers.
A master’s criminal justice degree/MBA is perfect for future criminal justice professionals who want to become lab scientists and a PhD/doctorate is recommended for anyone who wants to work as a criminal justice professor or a criminal justice researcher.
Careers for Criminal Justice Graduates
- Homeland Security Professional:
Homeland security professionals have an extremely important role. They work to protect the whole country. If you are not interested in joining homeland security specifically, you could also find a position with the CIA, NSA, Secret Service, ICE, and more. To excel as homeland security professionals, you must be able to think critically and have excellent communication skills.
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- K9 Officer:
K9 Officers are criminal justice professionals who pride themselves in protecting their local community. During a typical day, these types of criminal justice professionals usually work with various dog breeds to study crime scenes, track down criminals, and search for drugs or weapons. Many of them collaborate closely with law enforcement officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the US Customs and Border Protection, and the Transportation Security Administration. As K9 Officers, they’re expected to have excellent strength/stamina, impressive animal handling, and outstanding interpersonal skills.
- Corrections Officer:
Also referred to as prison officers and detention officers, corrections officers primarily monitor people who have been arrested and convicted of a crime and are being held in correctional facilities. The specific duties of these criminal justice professionals generally include overseeing inmate work assignments, maintaining order in correctional facilities, screening visitors, generating reports, and preventing unruliness.
- State Trooper/State Highway Patrol:
State Troopers and State Highway Patrol Officers are focused on the major roadways in their home states. The following are often the responsibilities of these criminal justice professionals: enforce traffic and road laws, arrest criminals and suspected persons, investigate crime scenes, interpret evidence, write traffic tickets, and create reports. These criminal justice professionals can work in cities or rural areas.
- Criminal Justice Professor:
The primary goal of criminal justice professors is to teach college students about criminal justice, basic law enforcement, and corrections. Along with teaching courses, these professionals must also create lesson plans, hold office hours, and grade class work. The best criminal justice professors offer current students feedback regarding how they can perform better in class and some may engage in criminal justice research.
Criminal Justice & Law Degrees & Career Paths