Selecting the Right Criminal Justice Degree Program near Huntsville Alabama
So you have made the decision to attain a criminal justice degree near Huntsville Alabama. But after you have decided on the type of program you would like to work toward, just how do you go about choosing a college that will provide the proper training to help you achieve your career objectives? Naturally the institution you pick must offer the criminal justice major and degree that you have an interest in. And you will probably begin by searching for colleges that are nearby your home and comparing the tuition for each school. But there are additional considerations that you should investigate prior to making your ultimate selection. For instance, the accreditation and reputation of the school are significant factors as well. And if you are interested in attending classes sitting at your computer instead of sitting in a classroom, then finding a reputable online degree program will similarly be a part of your search process. We will address these and other criteria that you might want to utilize in your vetting process when picking the right criminal justice college for you. But to begin with, let’s talk a little bit about the criminal justice degrees and majors offered as well as the benefits of attending online schools.
Available Criminal Justice Degrees near Huntsville AL
Just like with most other professions, criminal justice degrees are becoming more commonly needed for many positions in the field. And as the level of education and degree earned increases, so increases the employment opportunities to choose from in Huntsville AL. There are four degree levels available, starting with the Associate Degree in criminal justice. Usually a two year degree, it offers an introduction to such specialties as law enforcement, corrections and the judiciary system. An increasing number of police departments are seeking candidates with no less than an Associate Degree. The four year Bachelor’s Degree normally includes the same subjects as the Associate Degree, just more extensively. The more comprehensive education makes available more opportunities for such professions as FBI agents, probation officers or intelligence analysits. Advancing to a Master’s Degree can take an additional two years of classes in addition to obtaining the Bachelor’s Degree. The Master’s Degree makes it possible for students to become experts in a specific area of criminal justice. Along with the options offered with the lower degrees, graduates can also become instructors, court officers or social caseworkers. Finally, for students interested in research or teaching at the college level, the Doctoral Degree or PhD is offered as well. Generally requiring anywhere from four to seven years to complete, it is a far more intense version of the Master’s program. Of course the time requirements for attaining any one of the four degrees will depend on the credit load carried by the student.
Available Criminal Justice Majors
There are many specializations to choose from when determining which major to pursue for your criminal justice degree. Perhaps CSI has always fascinated you after enjoying numerous episodes of the assorted crime scene investigation TV programs. Or quite possibly you have always wanted to be a law enforcement officer, or even an FBI agent. Whatever your career objective, you need to choose a degree and a major in criminal justice that will ready and qualify you for that position. Choosing a school and program that specializes in that area would certainly be the ideal decision toward that end. Possibly you have not yet decided on a career focus or a specialty yet. In that scenario, it would be a good idea to investigate all of the degree options offered from the various colleges and universities. Below is a partial list of majors for criminal justice degrees offered in the Huntsville AL area:
- Law enforcement
- Homeland security
- Forensic science
- Social Work
- Crime scene investigation
- Pre-law Studies
- Police science
Before enrolling in the college you have chosen, research the degree program you have an interest in as well as the college. Even if a criminal justice school is accredited and has an excellent reputation in general does not guarantee that all of its specialty programs are equally highly regarded. That’s why it is essential to choose a major first prior to selecting a school to enroll in.
Criminal Justice Online Schools
A number of students might not have access to a criminal justice degree school in their vicinity, or they might just prefer the flexibility of earning a degree online. Regardless of the reason, they will find that there are accredited options available online. There are numerous colleges domiciled within the USA that provide online degree programs similar to those offered on campus. And for a number of Huntsville AL students, particularly those who continue working part or full-time while attending college, the convenience and accessibility of online programs may make them the sole option. And as an added benefit, online schools are often lower in cost than traditional options. Tuition may be lower and expenses for such things as commuting and study materials may be eliminated or reduced also. Just verify, just like for any school you are reviewing, that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (more on accreditation later). But if you are dedicated, and can learn in this kind of unsupervised environment, then obtaining your degree online may be the best alternative for you.
What to Ask Criminal Justice Schools
By now you have undoubtedly decided on a criminal justice major and degree program, including if you want to earn your degree online or by going to classes on-campus. With those decisions made, it’s time to begin searching for Huntsville AL area schools and fine tuning your options. Considering that there are a large number of colleges to select from, literally hundreds within the USA alone, it’s important to have a checklist of qualifying questions to ask when evaluating colleges. Clearly cost is a significant factor and you will need to select a college that is within your academic budget. And we have already discussed a few others also, including accreditation, reputation and location. To help you focus on those concerns and more, following is a list of questions you might wish to ask the colleges you are thinking about prior to making your ultimate selection.
Is the Criminal Justice School Accredited? Numerous criminal justice schools have received one or more accreditations from regional or national agencies. One of the most highly regarded is the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). Schools and programs that have been accredited by the ACJS have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and course of instruction. It’s important to confirm that the degree program and school you enroll in are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization for several reasons. Along with helping confirm that you receive a quality education, it will also help in qualifying for financial assistance or student loans, which are often not obtainable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many Huntsville AL employers have a preference for graduates of colleges that are accredited with excellent reputations.
What is the School’s Reputation? As stated previously, in conjunction with accreditation the reputation of the school you attend is important as well. It’s especially crucial if you are entering the profession with no relevant prior work history. Without any prior experience, Huntsville AL employers will be considering the quality of your education as a key factor when going over your resume. There are several school rating organizations where you can get college rankings and reviews, such as U.S. News and World Report. They examine the quality of the core curriculum, the reputation of the instructors and other factors contributing to the academic programs. Bear in mind that a school with an overall less than outstanding reputation may still be well respected for a specific degree program that you might have an interest in.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Find out what the graduation percentages are for the Huntsville AL colleges you are looking at. A low percentage may be an indication that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out, or that the instructors were not capable of teaching the curriculum. It’s also important that the colleges have job assistance programs with higher placement rates. A job placement program will help you land that first pivotal job after graduation that marks the starting point of your career in criminal justice. A higher placement rate will not only help validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but that it also has a large network of employers to help students obtain jobs after graduation.
How Far Away are the Campuses Located? As we mentioned at the opening of this article, one of the initial things you will most likely consider when looking for criminal justice colleges is the location of the schools. Unless you have determined that you will relocate or perhaps live on campus, the school you choose will have to be within commuting distance of your Huntsville AL residence. Certainly attending classes online will eliminate the need for travel and make location a moot issue. One thing to bear in mind is that if you opt to attend a school not in your resident state, you could be charged a higher tuition than resident students, particularly for state colleges and universities. Community colleges also tend to charge students higher fees if they reside outside of the school district or state.
How Large are the Classrooms? Unless you prefer to get lost in the crowd, attending smaller classes offers the option for more interaction with the instructors. Large classes afford little chance of getting individualized instruction if needed. One way to evaluate the interaction between students and faulty is to audit a few classes prior to making your ultimate determination. Speak with several of the students and find out what their experiences have been. Also, talk to the instructors and ask them what their teaching approaches are. You may also want to ask what their backgrounds have been in the Alabama criminal justice field.
Are Classes Available as Needed? Finally, it’s important to make sure that the final program you pick offers classes at times that are compatible with your busy lifestyle. This is particularly true if you opt to still work while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Huntsville AL, make certain they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, verify it is an option also. And ask what the make-up policy is in case you have to miss any classes due to illness or emergencies.
Enrolling in a Criminal Justice School near Huntsville AL?
If you are considering attending a criminal justice college near Huntsville AL, following is some interesting and useful background information about the Huntsville area where your school campus will be located.
Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County and south into Morgan County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 census. Huntsville is the third-largest city in Alabama and the largest city in the five-county Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, AL Combined Statistical Area, which at the 2013 census estimate had a total population of 683,871. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area's population was 417,593 in 2010 to become the 2nd largest in Alabama. Huntsville metro's population reached 441,000 by 2014.
It grew across nearby hills north of the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command nearby at the Redstone Arsenal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Huntsville to its "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010" list.
The first settlers of the area were Muscogee-speaking people. The Chickasaw traditionally claim to have settled around 1300 after coming east across the Mississippi. A combination of factors, including depopulation due to disease, land disputes between the Choctaw and Cherokee, and pressures from the United States government had largely depopulated the area prior to 1805. That year Revolutionary War veteran John Hunt settled in the land around the Big Spring. The 1805 Treaty with the Chickasaws and the Cherokee Treaty of Washington of 1806 ceded native claims to the United States Government. The area was subsequently purchased by LeRoy Pope, who named the area Twickenham after the home village of his distant kinsman Alexander Pope.
Find the Best Criminal Justice School near Huntsville AL
Making sure that you choose the ideal criminal justice college near Huntsville AL is vital to your receiving the proper training to be successful in this growing and exciting profession. Employers respect which college you earned your criminal justice degree from, so it’s to your benefit to care as well. Achieving the greatest potential success in your criminal justice career starts with selecting the right criminal justice college based on your career goals. As we have covered in this article, it’s important that the school and degree program you choose both are accredited and have excellent reputations. Additionally, confirm that the college has a job placement program with a high success rate for placing its graduates. You originally came to this site due to an interest in 4 Year Criminal Justice Degree. However, by utilizing our checklist of questions, you will have the ability to evaluate and compare the criminal justice colleges you are considering so that you can narrow down your choices and make the right choice. And when you have made the right decision, you will receive the proper training so that you can launch your successful career in criminal justice.
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