Prepare for an Education in Criminal Justice

What is Criminal Justice?

Whether we realize it or not, criminal justice touches just about every part of our lives. We see cops on the beat, helping people like you and me every day and responding to 911 calls.

When a crime’s committed, police detectives kick it into high gear to find the criminals and bring them to justice. Once they’re apprehended, our court system decides on the guilt or innocence of the accused. And when people are found guilty of a crime, our prison system steps in to punish and/or rehabilitate wrongdoers. At all levels, criminal justice schools play a role in educating police, paralegals, corrections officers, and more.

Whatever we think about this system, it’s doing an important job every day. The United States has more police officers than all but two other countries (China and India). There are more lawyers in the U.S. than in all but one other country (India). And there are more people in American jails and prisons than anywhere else in the world.

And receiving an education that may give you the skills looked for in the fields of forensics, law enforcement, the legal system, and corrections may be a first step toward helping your community or country.


forensic investigators in laboratory

Forensic scientists collect and evaluate trace evidence. It’s their job to analyze weapons, fingerprints and bodily fluids, and perform tests on other evidence.

Computer forensics and forensic psychology are two related professions that also help solve crime and bring people to justice.

Forensics is a popular field because of TV shows like CSI, and you can do it too if you have the drive … and the right education.

Learn the truth about forensics

Local Law Enforcement

red and blue lights flashing on top of parked car

There’s more to law enforcement than flashing lights. Law enforcement personnel includes cops and police detectives as well as sheriffs and state patrol. There are roles to consider in every branch of law enforcement, but the right education may be paramount to working in the field you want.

Explore the many law enforcement roles

Federal Law Enforcement

homeland security officer

Federal law enforcement is vital to the security and safety of our country. Agencies like the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, and more employ special agents to help enforce federal and interstate rule of law and keep Americans safe around the globe.

Contributing to the security of our country can be a satisfying objective as you build a career. Find out what education can help you achieve your goal.

Find out if a career in federal law enforcement is for you

The Courts (Paralegal)

paralegal standing in front of courthouse

Once the accused are apprehended, they have the right to their day in court, and our legal system ensures that everyone gets a fair trial. Even if you don’t want to become a lawyer, there are plenty of other roles in law firms, corporations, and government, such as legal secretary, paralegal, court reporter, and more.

Paralegals perform many of the same tasks as lawyers. In fact, behind every great lawyer, there are smart, hard-working paralegals.

Read about some of the supporting roles within the legal community, and get the education you need to help the litigation process go smoothly, negotiate settlements, and bring criminals to justice.

Find out how to serve justice and community


cybersecurity professionals consult at one desk over problem

Digital data is constantly being generated and shared at high speed, and there is a critical need to secure it. To protect data, organizations require skilled and highly-knowledgeable professionals who can secure computer networks and company information.

Many local and federal law enforcement agencies are looking for technically-trained cybersecurity professionals to help them uncover and stop the perpetrators of digital crimes.

Discover what you need for a career in cybersecurity

Emergency Management

six emergency workers in hard hats and protective jumpsuits search through ruined building

While emergency managers spend most of their time planning and preparing in case of different emergencies, these are the professionals who jump into action when tragedy occurs. An emergency management degree at any level can help you succeed in this critical role.

Learn what emergency management degrees are all about


corrections officer in courtroom

With over 749,000 workers providing for the needs of almost seven million clients (inmates, parolees and probationers), the correctional system goes well beyond prison walls. Corrections (including jails, prisons, parole, probation and community-based programs) is an important part of any society, and perhaps more so in the United States than in other countries.

Learn what education may help you find your place within in the American correctional system.

Read how to use your education in corrections

Advice From Real Criminal Justice Professionals

Our criminal justice contributors bring real-world experiences and authoritative research to every page served.

cody w telep

Cody W. Telep

Associate Professor and Associate Director
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University

stephen webb

Stephen Webb

Principal Lecturer and Criminal Justice Lead
Government & Criminal Justice, Regent University

vesna markovic

Vesna Markovic

Chair and Associate Professor of Justice
Law and Public Safety Studies, Lewis University

Paying for School

The U.S. Department of Education distributes about $150 billion a year in grants, work-study programs and low-interest student loans to more than 15 million students. This money helps students afford the college education they need to succeed in all branches of criminal justice studies.

Paying for school is one of the top priorities for anyone going to college. “Just how will I pay for it?” we all wonder. The answer is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. According to the Department of Education, this form takes less than an hour to fill out if you have all the required documents, and it’s the first step to qualify for federal financial aid.

So whether you’re thinking of a career in law enforcement, forensics, as a paralegal, or in corrections, read more about getting financial aid you need to afford that all-important college education.

Explore your financial aid options

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