August 19, 2016
If primetime programming is to be believed, the criminal justice system can be broken into two separate, but equally important groups protecting the people: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. But while these roles have their place, the realities of today's law and order present opportunities beyond the reruns you see on the small screen.
Opportunities have expanded well past the cliché of the patrolman on his beat to modern-day threats and challenges that need sophisticated responses. So why not take your studies of justice online with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Southern New Hampshire University?
SNHU's criminal justice online program can prepare you for the evolving needs of the marketplace with offerings in six overarching areas: Corrections, Criminology, Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, Human Services, Legal Studies and Advocacy, and Police Administration and Operations. You may also opt to earn a broader degree and piece together a program through electives that best match your desired outcomes.
Corrections is the newest offering, available as a degree program in the spring of 2016. Although its name may lead you to imagine a life working in prisons, the scope is far broader, says SNHU Career advisor Sonja Moffett. "States are realizing they need to do a better job reintegrating offenders into the community," Moffett said. Career paths in this field include parole and probation officers, as well as roles addressing the drug and alcohol issues that are often closely associated with incarceration.
Other possible outcomes include work in juvenile justice, an appealing option for students who want to help children to get off the wrong path and steer them in the right direction to stay out of the penal system. Students targeting this degree may already be employed in social services and trying to parlay that experience into a role where they can work with individuals who are in need of assistance. Jobs in parole and probation may await graduates with a bachelor's degree, and these roles are critical in getting offenders back into the community and reducing the rate of recidivism.
The job outlook for social and community service managers is promising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 10 percent growth in this field though 2024, which is faster than average. Although many employers may prefer candidates with a master's degree, a bachelor's degree and relevant work experience can start your career on the right foot.
Among the most popular programs in the criminal justice online offerings is the concentration in homeland security. Students learn about threat assessment and intelligence gathering needed to succeed. This path appeals to some of SNHU's non-traditional students who arrive with military service, security clearances and invaluable experiences to this ever-growing field.
Students who wish to take their studies further may continue in the Master of Science in Criminal Justice in Advanced Counterterrorism, a more sophisticated, deeper dive into the strategies, challenges and implications of homeland security efforts. "A master's degree is more the norm," Moffett said. But not everyone walks a straight line from bachelor's degree to graduate program. "We see a lot people coming back after they see where their career takes them."
Criminology, the science and psychology of criminal behavior, is a perennial favorite among students studying criminal justice online. Students working toward this degree examine what leads to crime and the psychology behind it. They may leverage their degree into work in law enforcement, social work or security.
But of the many changes in the criminal justice online field, Moffett says the demand for cybersecurity expertise in recent years has been impossible to ignore. "That is the wave of the future," Moffett said.
The numbers confirm her observation. According to the BLS, information security analysts earned a median salary of $90,120 per year in 2015.* With entry-level opportunities requiring a bachelor's degree, this new field offers significant room to grow. Information security analyst is just one role falling under the overarching umbrella of cybersecurity. At SNHU, cybersecurity enthusiasts can pursue a Bachelor of Science in information technologies with a relevant concentration and/or take their studies to the next level with a Master of Science in Cyber Security. Opportunities will likely span every sector of business, government, banking, insurance and more, as organizations and corporations steel themselves against hackers and cyberattacks. The BLS predicts the industry growth for information security analysts in particular will be about 18 percent through 2024, much faster than average.*
In addition to its myriad of degree programs, the online campus offers the flexibility needed by many of its students. While some of these students are of traditional college-age, more are returning to school to complete a degree, hoping to advance in their current field or a new career path. Multiple term start times mean you can be in hot pursuit of that career-changing skill set right away. You don't have to wait until fall to get started. But a degree will only take the best candidate so far, and that is where SNHU's unique investment in its students' outcomes makes the real difference in the lineup of the usual suspects of criminal justice online programs.
Outreach is a core component and key value in SNHU's model. "We are really proactive about understanding what our students' unique goals are," Moffett said. Students in the graduate cohort work with advisors to develop a strategic career path. Career advisors on staff begin with a call to learn more about the student's goals, if a career goal is even in mind. Subsequent calls are when the advisor works hand in hand with the student to customize their documents for that position or help narrow the focus on a field that matches best their aspirations and skills. "Our goal is to help connect our students with employers," Moffett said. "By the time they get in front of an employer, they've done the mock interviews, resume work and behavioral tests."
An internal job board and business development services aren't just available to recent graduates. It's a service for life. Moffett, who works closely with students in every criminal justice online program, says it is the difference that sets SNHU apart. "I know I sincerely care about my students and I sincerely care about their outcomes. I can honestly say that my colleagues who work in the different disciplines and degree programs at SNHU feel the exact same way," she said. "It's awesome."
*Job market data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook is intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities and is not to be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. SNHU cannot guarantee employment.
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