What is Criminal Justice?
Criminal justice positions are extremely prevalent across the country and these positions can be found in police departments, corrections facilities, and courthouses.
When it comes to criminal justice positions in Missouri, there are an extensive array of career options within the state’s criminal justice system. In order to meet the demands of the criminal justice field, Missouri employs approximately 9,140 to 13,410 police officers every year. Many community colleges and other schools in this state offer locally useful degrees so that criminal justice professionals can excel in their career.
The best criminal justice schools in Missouri offer degrees that focus on the state’s correctional institutions and juvenile justice system. However, you might also take classes focused in administration or management, with a focus on the law, or aim to pass peace officer or state trooper training. No matter where you end up in the criminal justice system, a degree can help you continue on an upward trajectory.
A criminal justice professional is someone who strives to protect the community. Many of these professionals work at law enforcement agencies, private security firms, prisons, schools, and some even find positions with research facilities.Read More
The typical responsibilities of criminal justice professionals often include ensuring that people follow the law, keeping the community safe, and arresting or containing violators. The best criminal justice professionals in Missouri have excellent critical thinking, decision-making, communication, and listening skills. The most effective criminal justice professionals in this state also require a great deal of empathy.
Criminal Justice Education in Missouri
Online Associate Degree in Criminal Justice (AS)
Students who would like to explore the criminal justice field should definitely consider enrolling in an associate criminal justice degree program.
These programs will expose students to key topics including crime scene investigation, policing in America, ethical issues, contemporary juvenile justice, and legal studies. An associate criminal justice degree program typically takes a couple of years to complete. Students who graduate from these programs will be qualified for certain entry-level positions, such as police officer roles. Many associate criminal justice degree recipients also pursue a bachelor’s criminal justice degree.
The following schools offer an associates in criminal justice degree in Missouri: Mineral Area College, Crowder College, Lincoln University, St. Charles Community College, Columbia College, Jefferson College, East Central College, Ozarks Technical Community College, St. Louis Community College, and North Central Missouri College.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice (BS)
Students who are driven to pursue a career as a FBI agent or another entry-level position should consider enrolling in a bachelor’s criminal justice degree program. Students must complete courses such as Statistical Analysis, Research Methods in Criminology, and Ethics in Criminal Justice.
During the program, students may also engage in professional-based learning experiences at law firms, treatment facilities, and local police stations. Many colleges also offer a criminal justice club that students can join. As a member of this club, students will be more prepared for job opportunities in the criminal justice field.
A bachelor’s in criminal justice program can usually be completed in four years. If students have an associate criminal justice degree, a bachelor’s criminal justice degree program should only take two additional years to complete if they are taking classes full time.
Online Master's Degree in Criminal Justice (MS or MC)
A master’s criminal justice degree or an MBA with a criminal justice concentration is highly recommended for prospective students with aspirations to work in a leadership position. Many master’s criminal justice degree recipients pursue a career as a forensic examiner, police chief, criminologist, federal law enforcement officer, and other command level positions in criminal justice.
As part of this criminal justice degree’s requirements, students will need to take courses in subjects such as advanced criminology, criminal law, and criminal justice administration. Depending on the specific master’s criminal justice degree or MBA program, students may also be required to engage in thesis research.
If students are looking to enter security management in business, an MBA in criminal justice would be the best degree option. Generally speaking, this criminal justice program will take most students two years to complete.
Here are some of the best schools for a Master’s Criminal Justice Degree/MBA: University of Central Missouri, Missouri Southern State University, Missouri State University, Southeast Missouri State University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Missouri Baptist University, Webster University, Columbia College, and Saint Louis University.
Online PhD Degree in Criminal Justice (PhD)
A PhD/doctorate degree in criminal justice is specifically designed for prospective students who would like to obtain a teaching or research position in the criminal justice field. The primary goal of these criminal justice programs is to provide students with criminal justice theory and in-depth knowledge. Students will learn everything about foundations and contemporary criminology theory.
Students will also have the opportunity to participate in graduate teaching and research assistantships. However, before obtaining this criminal justice degree in Missouri, students must complete the required courses, qualifying papers and/or exams, and a dissertation.
The top school in Missouri for a PhD/Doctorate Degree in criminal justice is the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Become a Criminal Justice Professional in Missouri
For many people in Missouri, the path to pursuing a career as a criminal justice professional is unclear. The best way to become a criminal justice professional in Missouri is to follow these important steps.
- Graduate from High School:
The first step to becoming a criminal justice professional is to graduate from high school. A high school diploma is required to gain entry into an associate criminal justice degree program. For those who want to become a police officer in Missouri, they may only need a high school diploma or GED to complete the academy training course and start working in a police department.
- Earn a Criminal Justice Degree:
The second step to becoming a criminal justice professional is to earn a criminal justice degree in Missouri. Depending on a person’s specific career goals, they may need to receive an associate criminal justice degree, bachelor’s, master’s, MBA, or a PhD/Doctorate degree in criminal justice.
While students are enrolled in a criminal justice degree program, they should consider completing an internship or graduate assistantship, as well. They can even join a criminal justice club. These and internship experiences will prepare students for an extensive array of criminal justice careers.
- Choose a Career in the Criminal Justice Field:
When students graduate from a criminal justice program, these future criminal justice professionals should already have some idea of which career they want to pursue, especially if they participating in an internship or apprenticeship during their studies.
The most common criminal justice fields in Missouri include policing, corrections, crime scene investigation, forensics, criminal justice administration, criminology, cyber security, and many more.
Here are just some of the criminal justice employers in Missouri: Missouri State Department of Corrections, Missouri State Public Defender, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Options for Justice, and Jefferson County Juvenile Office.
- Obtain a Criminal Justice Certification:
Once criminal justice professionals get started in their career, they may need or want to obtain a certification to help them boost their resume and get into the role they are really hoping for. The following are a few careers that might be associated with criminal justice and often require certifications.
Substance Abuse Counselor:
The Missouri Credentialing Board offers the Missouri Alcohol Drug Counselor I certification for those who want to become a substance abuse counselor. To receive this certification, applicants must have a high school diploma or an associate degree and take a number of courses in the field.
Homeland Security Professional:
The University of Central Missouri and the Missouri State University offers a Homeland Security Certificate for aspiring homeland security professionals. Students must be enrolled at the University of Central Missouri or the Missouri State University to be considered for admission to this certificate program. They must also have a 2.75 grade point average.
The state requires future police officers to pass the Missouri Peace Officer License Exam, complete training from a law enforcement academy, and hold a high school diploma or GED. These police officer requirements have been set by the Missouri Department of Peace Officer Standards and Training.
- Substance Abuse Counselor:
- Join a Criminal Justice Organization:
Though this one is more of an option than a requirement, criminal justice professionals that join a professional organization will have access to many educational and network opportunities. Be sure to check out these excellent criminal justice organizations.
Criminal Justice Coalition:
A great way to promote criminal justice reform in Missouri is to join the Criminal Justice Coalition. As a member of this prominent organization, you’ll have the opportunity to advocate for fair policing, fair jury selection processes, fair incarceration practices, and much more. The coalition also has many events that members can attend throughout the year.
The primary mission of this organization is to support the state’s incarceration population. Members of this organization are strongly encouraged to lobby legislators, attend events, make donations, and more. The organization provides members with many great resources so that they can help the incarceration population more effectively.
The American Society of Criminology:
One of the largest criminal justice organizations is the American Society of Criminology. This organization prides itself in providing members with a ton of excellent criminal justice resources. Members will also have access to a career center, prominent publications, and an annual meeting.
- Criminal Justice Coalition:
Potential Careers for Criminal Justice Graduates
- Forensic Psychologist:
The primary objective of forensic psychologists is to help deal with criminal behavior, both on the front and back end of the system. They may be expected to create profiles of criminals, create treatment programs, conduct interviews, and examine crime scenes.
Most paralegals work alongside lawyers, and these legal professionals perform the following tasks: writing reports, interviewing clients, preparing important documents, overseeing court schedules, managing paperwork, and more.
- K9 Officer:
K9 officers work closely with trained dogs to protect communities. The job description of these professionals generally includes locating kidnapped persons, identifying narcotics or weapons, and finding suspects. These professionals may perform these duties with one of the following dog breeds: German Shepherds, Boxers, Rottweilers, or Labrador Retrievers.
- State Trooper:
State troopers are supposed to ensure that everyone on the road is safe. These professionals make it a priority to enforce laws, monitor traffic conditions, respond to crimes, and more.
- Victim Advocate:
Most victim advocates can be seen helping people cope after experiencing violent crimes. They may offer resources, facilitate therapy groups, inform victims of their rights, and provide referrals.
- Police Supervisor:
The main goal of police supervisors is to oversee their police force. They may monitor criminal investigations, respond to emergencies, and provide guidance to officers.
Detectives are on a mission to solve as many crimes as possible. During a typical day, these professionals may collect evidence, collaborate with law enforcement, conduct interviews, and examine crime scenes. They may even arrest suspects who may have committed a crime.
- Criminal Justice Professor:
Criminal justice professors teach college students about criminology and the justice system as a whole. A criminal justice professor may provide lectures on criminal justice theories, ethics in criminal justice, comparative criminal justice, and issues in law enforcement.