But just how tough is it?
So you want to study criminal justice in college and you’re thinking of choosing (or “declaring”) a CJ major. You think you’re ready for the challenge.
Criminal justice is a field of study that covers a lot of ground, including law, sociology (how societies work), psychology, and community leadership. It opens up many career paths.
The aspects of a CJ major that would be tough for you depend on your personality, skills, interests—and, importantly, whether you decide to minor in this field of study instead.
CJ Major or Minor?
If you’re worried that a CJ major would be too much for you, that might be because there are parts of it that you want to study and others you’re not really interested in.
You always have the option of focusing on a different major with a CJ minor. Maybe you want to study biology but you’d like the option of applying those skills to forensic science, for example.
Other majors students often pair a CJ minor with include:
- Political Science
- Computer Science/Cybersecurity
Really, you could combine a CJ minor with just about any major area of interest. But if a career in criminal justice is your main goal, it’s best to flip the script and consider pairing a CJ major with a minor in one or more of these areas.
Courses in Your CJ Major
Let’s say you’ve decided to go for the CJ major. That means fulfilling all the requirements of the full criminal justice program.
So, what parts will be the toughest? That depends on you.
Maybe you’re a people person who does really well studying human behavior, but you struggle more to apply legal concepts and learn procedures.
Or, you might have a strong interest in the juvenile justice system and find it harder to focus on rehabilitative programs for adults. Or vice versa.
Whatever you’re not naturally interested in but need to understand to work in the field is what you’ll find toughest about your CJ major. (Every major, really!)
Some of your courses will include:
- Drug and Alcohol Abuse
- Intro to Criminal Justice
- Criminal Law & Procedures
- Juvenile Justice
- Abnormal Psychology
CJ Major Internships
You may find that your internship experiences are both the most challenging and the most interesting part of pursuing your CJ major.
Though you’ll be mostly observing and shadowing professionals, you’ll have the challenge of working in the field and the privilege of being present during real situations.
Here are a few examples of roles you might observe as an intern:
- Attorneys play a key role in the criminal justice system, defending clients in court or serving the local, state, or federal government as prosecutors.
- Client advocates work with individuals throughout the criminal justice process, from arrest to court hearings, their time as inmates, and transitioning back into society upon release.
- Corporate security officers monitor surveillance equipment, patrol private facilities, guard entry points, verify that visitors are allowed access, and other tasks to safeguard the premises.
- Financial crime investigators monitor and study financial activities for evidence of tax evasion, fraud, bribery, embezzlement (stealing from within a company), and similar crimes.
- Police officers initiate the criminal justice process through law enforcement actions that follow proper procedure, including thorough documentation to justify arrests to the court system.
- Substance abuse counselors assess juveniles and adults for service needs and run counseling programs that can help them break free of addiction.
These and many other opportunities allow you to observe first-hand how the criminal justice system works in the real world.
Get Your Criminal Justice Degree: The CJ Major at Bethany College
Here at Bethany College, you’ll study criminal justice as part of a liberal arts degree. You’ll graduate with a base of knowledge that will help you feel confident to enter your field of choice.
We believe that by studying law, sociology, psychology, and public administration in the context of the broader arts and sciences, you’ll be better able to make a difference in the world.
Plus, you’ll be pursuing your CJ major in a small-class setting, engaging in hands-on learning from expert professors personally invested in your academic journey.
So check us out! Learn more about Bethany’s criminal justice program here.