What Does it Mean to Study Justice Administration?
The criminal justice system in the United States is structured around various ways of administering justice to people who commit crimes and on behalf of people who are victims of crime. Citizens rely on justice administrators to uphold the country's justice system in many different capacities.
College degree programs in justice administration are designed to help enrolled students learn about the intricate workings of the United States justice system. Students can craft their own broad informational foundation about many specific aspects of the justice system, about many different investigative techniques, and about many different forms of crime.
Types of Justice Administration Degrees
Students who choose to enroll in a college degree program in justice administration come from all kinds of educational and experiential backgrounds, especially in online programs, which can accommodate the schedules of working professionals or parents. While some justice administration students are just out of high school, others are already justice administration professionals who have been working in the field and wish to obtain a higher degree in order to take their careers to the next level of pay and responsibility.
Justice Administration Degree Program Curriculum
No justice administration college degree program is exactly like the next. Each program has its own unique strengths, and its own unique philosophy, mission, and academic focus.
Still, most programs have some academic overlap. For instance, most degree programs emphasize an integration of the fields of criminology, criminal justice, and sociology. Students often engage in extensive and intensive research, learning about and making use of various research methods. It also common for students enrolled in a justice administration degree program to conduct in-depth studies of various theoretical perspectives in the fields of criminal justice and the study of criminology. Students may also be required to complete coursework in the areas of international criminal justice, domestic and international criminal justice policy, and social control systems.
Beyond classroom course requirements, students may also be expected to complete fieldwork within his or her chosen concentration. The particular fieldwork requirements may vary, but they can often be fulfilled through an internship program and subsequent research and writing.
Justice Administration Career Preparation
The nature of the positions that students can pursue after graduation from a justice administration degree program is largely dependent upon the level of college degree they have earned.
Students who earn a bachelor's degree in justice administration may find themselves able to earn entry-level employment in criminal justice agencies at the local, state or federal level. They may also be capable of earning security positions at private businesses or public institutions. However, their prospects may improve if they decide to continue their education in justice administration at the graduate level.
Students who earn a master's degree in justice administration may be able to earn positions at many levels and in many capacities. These upper-division graduates may concentrate their careers on researching and evaluating justice systems in both public and private agencies, or they may be involved with the development and implementation of public policy. They may teach in the justice administration department of an educational institution such as community college, or they may go on to continue their own education at the doctorate level.
Many agencies in the field have begun to encourage prospective employees to complete some level of postsecondary education with a focus on justice administration. Some courses that prospective justice administration employers encourage job applicants to have completed are finance, computer science, foreign language, electrical engineering, and physical education.
What Can You Do With a College Degree in Justice Administration?
A graduate of a justice administration degree program might go to work in a variety of work settings, including the military, U.S. embassies abroad, the prison system, and social service agencies. They might work as security directors, law enforcement officers, parole officers, child welfare caseworkers, or in other related occupations. Here are a few examples:
Uniformed Police Officer
Police Officers who work in municipal police departments of towns, villages, rural areas, and other small communities must usually maintain general duties of law enforcement. They must patrol regularly and respond to calls. Police officers who work in larger police departments are usually responsible for more specified duties in more specified locations. In a large urban area, for example, a police officer may be assigned to a particular neighborhood where he or she is expected to build relationships with local residents. A police officer may also be specifically assigned to a business district of a major urban center. While on shift, police officers may need to identify, track, and arrest people suspected of engaging in criminal activity. Police officers at all levels and in all locations must maintain written reports and records about their job activities.
Detectives and Criminal Investigators
The job of a detective is to collect evidence in response to a criminal case. Some detectives are part of a larger taskforce with the job of fighting particular kinds of crime and criminal activity, such as homicide or fraud. Detectives are plainclothes investigators who must examine a case until it is solved or dropped. General duties of a detective might include conducting interviews, examining written reports, conducting systematic observations of suspected criminals, and participating in arrests.
Customs inspectors examine, weigh, measure, and otherwise monitor commercial and noncommercial materials that enter and leave the United States. Customs inspectors must inspect the personal baggage and belongings of people entering and leaving the United States. They also must examine the items on vehicles, airplanes, trains, or vessels that cross the US border. Customs inspectors have the authority to seize smuggled items and arrest violators of United States law.
Justice Administration Career Outlook
Many people enjoy the high level of challenge and vitality of a job in the field of justice administration. Aside from the emotional benefits of pursuing a career in the field, many people in the justice workforce discover that many agencies offer a pension after 20 to 25 years of devoted service. This arrangement allows many workers in the field to pursue a new career while still in their youth.
Employers in this field tend to exercise high levels of selectivity in regards to their employees. This selectivity is especially present in agencies at the state and Federal levels and in affluent communities. The competition relaxes slightly at the local level and in urban areas with high rates of crime.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that career opportunities for criminal justice employees are expected to grow at a rate approximately equal to the average rate for all occupations between 2008 and 2018.
Justice AdministrationProfessional Associations
For more information about pursuing a degree and a career in the field of justice administration, you may wish to contact the following organizations:
- Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- American Correctional Association
- American Criminal Justice Association
- American Probation and Parole Association
- American Society of Criminology
- National Association of Investigative Specialists
- American Society for Industrial Security