Picking the Right Criminal Justice School near Bessemer Alabama
So you have made the decision to earn a criminal justice degree near Bessemer Alabama. But once you have decided on the type of degree you would like to work toward, just how do you go about selecting a school that will provide the right training to help you realize your career goals? Naturally the institution you pick must offer the criminal justice degree and major that you are interested in. And you will no doubt start by searching for schools that are close to your home and comparing the tuition for each school. But there are other issues that you need to examine prior to making your final decision. For example, the reputation and accreditation of the college are significant factors as well. And if you have an interest in attending classes in front of your computer instead of sitting in a classroom, then finding a quality online training program will also be a part of your due diligence process. We will address these and other criteria that you might want to utilize in your vetting process when picking the best criminal justice college for you. But first, let’s take a look at the criminal justice majors and degrees available along with the benefits of attending online schools.
Criminal Justice Degree Programs near Bessemer AL
As with most other professions, degrees in criminal justice are becoming more frequently needed for many careers in the field. And as the level of education and degree earned advances, so increases the job opportunities available in Bessemer AL. There are four degree levels offered, beginning with the Associate Degree in criminal justice. Typically a 2 year degree, it offers an overview of such specialties as law enforcement, corrections and the judiciary system. More and more police departments are looking for applicants with at least an Associate Degree. The four year Bachelor’s Degree usually includes the same topics as the Associate Degree, just more extensively. The more expansive education makes available more options for such occupations as FBI agents, intelligence analysts or probation officers. Advancing to a Master’s Degree can involve an additional 2 years of classes in addition to attaining the Bachelor’s Degree. The Master’s Degree makes it possible for students to become specialists in a particular aspect of criminal justice. In addition to the opportunities provided with the lesser degrees, graduates may also become instructors, court officers or social caseworkers. And finally, for those interested in research or teaching at the college level, the Doctoral Degree or PhD is available as well. Generally taking anywhere from 4 to 7 years to complete, it is a far more rigorous 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 pick from when determining which major to elect for your criminal justice degree. Maybe CSI has always fascinated you after viewing numerous episodes of the different crime scene investigation TV programs. Or perhaps you have always dreamed of being a law enforcement officer, or even an FBI agent. No matter what your career goal, you need to pick a degree and a major in criminal justice that will ready and qualify you for that position. Enrolling in a program and a school that focuses on that specialty would clearly be the ideal decision toward that end. Perhaps you have not yet made up your mind on a specialty or a career focus yet. In that scenario, it would be advisable to investigate all of the degree options offered from the various universities and colleges. Following is a partial list of majors for criminal justice degrees offered in the Bessemer AL area:
- Law enforcement
- Homeland security
- Forensic science
- Social Work
- Crime scene investigation
- Pre-law Studies
- Police science
Prior to enrolling in the college you have selected, research the degree program you have an interest in along with the school. Even if a criminal justice school is accredited and has an excellent reputation as a whole does not mean that all of its specialty programs are equally highly respected. That’s why it is essential to choose a major first before choosing a college to enroll in.
Criminal Justice Online Schools
Some students might not have access to a criminal justice degree college in their region, or they might just want the independence of earning an online degree. Regardless of the reason, they will discover that there are accredited options available online. There a large number of colleges located within the United States that provide degree programs online much like the ones offered on campus. And for a number of Bessemer AL students, particularly those who continue working full or part-time while earning their degree, the accessibility and convenience of online programs may make them the only option. And as an additional benefit, online colleges are often lower in cost than on campus alternatives. Tuition can be cheaper and expenditures for such things as study materials and commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just verify, just like for any college you are reviewing, that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (more on accreditation later). But if you are motivated, and can study in this type of independent environment, then earning your degree online may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Criminal Justice Programs
At this point you have no doubt come to a decision on a criminal justice major and degree program, as well as if you intend to obtain your degree online or by attending classes on campus. Having made those decisions, it’s time to begin searching for Bessemer AL area schools and fine tuning your options. Considering that there are a large number of colleges to select from, literally hundreds within the United States alone, it’s essential to have a list of qualifying questions to utilize when assessing colleges. Certainly cost is an important factor and you will need to select a school that is within your academic budget. And we have already discussed several others as well, including accreditation, reputation and location. To help you address those concerns and more, below is a list of questions you might want to ask the colleges you are reviewing prior to making your final decision.
Is the Criminal Justice Degree Program Accredited? A large number of criminal justice colleges 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 undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and course of instruction. It’s imperative to verify that the program and college you enroll in are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization for a number of reasons. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it will also help in acquiring student loans or financial aid, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many Bessemer AL employers prefer graduates of colleges that are accredited with good reputations.
What is the College’s Reputation? As mentioned previously, in conjunction with accreditation the reputation of the college you enroll in is significant as well. It’s particularly critical if you are getting in the profession with no relevant prior job history. With no previous experience, Bessemer AL employers will be weighing the quality of your education as a key factor when reviewing your resume. There are several school rating organizations where you can obtain college rankings and reviews, including U.S. News and World Report. They examine the quality of the core curriculum, the reputation of the teachers and other factors contributing to the educational programs. Bear in mind that a college with an overall less than excellent reputation might still be well respected for a specific degree program that you may have an interest in.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Find out what the graduation percentages are for the Bessemer AL colleges you are considering. A lower rate may be an indication that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out, or that the instructors were not up to the task of teaching the course of study. It’s also essential that the schools have job assistance programs with higher placement rates. A job assistance program will help you land that first crucial job after graduation that denotes the starting point of your career in criminal justice. A higher placement rate will not only help validate that the college has a good reputation within the industry, but that it also has a sizable network of contacts to assist students in obtaining jobs after graduation.
Where are the Schools Located? As we discussed at the opening of this article, one of the initial things you will probably consider when looking for criminal justice colleges is the location of the schools. Unless you have determined that you will move or perhaps live on campus, the school you enroll in will need to be within commuting distance of your Bessemer AL residence. Naturally attending classes online will remove the need for travel and make location a moot issue. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to go to a school outside of your state of residence, you could be required to pay a higher tuition than resident students, especially for state universities and colleges. Community and junior colleges also usually charge students higher fees if their residence is outside of the state or school district.
How Big are the Classrooms? Unless you prefer to disappear in the crowd, going to smaller classes provides the opportunity for more interaction with the instructors. Big classes afford little chance of receiving personalized instruction if needed. One way to evaluate the interaction between faculty and students is to sit in on a couple of classes prior to making your ultimate determination. Talk to some of the students and ask what they have experienced. Also, talk to the instructors and ask them what their teaching styles are. You might also want to inquire as to what their experiences have been in the Alabama criminal justice field.
Are Classes Compatible With Your Schedule? Finally, it’s crucial to confirm that the final program you pick offers classes at times that will accommodate your hectic lifestyle. This is particularly true if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bessemer AL, check that they are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, make sure it is an option also. And find out what the make-up policy is should you need to miss any classes due to illness or emergencies.
Enrolling in a Criminal Justice School near Bessemer AL?
If you are considering attending a criminal justice college near Bessemer AL, following is some interesting and useful background information about the Bessemer area where your school campus will be located.
Bessemer is a city southwest of Birmingham in Jefferson County, Alabama, United States. The population was 27,456 at the 2010 Census. It is within the Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area, of which Jefferson County is the center. It developed rapidly as an industrial city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The town was founded in the postbellum era by the Bessemer Land and Improvement Company, named after Henry Bessemer and owned by coal magnate Henry F. DeBardeleben. He had inherited Daniel Pratt's investments. The mayor and councilmen voted to incorporate the city of Bessemer on September 9, 1887. Located 16 miles southwest of Birmingham, Bessemer grew rapidly and its promoters believed that it might overtake the other city in economic power.
Given the iron ore, coal and limestone deposits in the area, the city became a center of steelmaking from about 1890 through the 20th century. It attracted rural migrants from across the South, as well as European immigrants. By the 1950s, the city was majority African American in population.
Pick the Ideal Criminal Justice Degree Program near Bessemer AL
Making certain that you pick the right criminal justice school near Bessemer AL is vital to your receiving the appropriate training to be successful in this growing and exciting profession. Employers value which college your criminal justice degree came from, so it’s in your best interest to care as well. Achieving the greatest potential success in your criminal justice career starts with choosing the ideal criminal justice college based on your career goals. As we have discussed in this article, it’s important that the school and degree program you select both are accredited and have excellent reputations. Additionally, confirm that the school 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 Criminal Justice Masters Programs. However, by utilizing our checklist of questions, you will have the ability to analyze and compare the criminal justice colleges you are reviewing in order to narrow down your options and make the right selection. And when you have made the right decision, you will receive the proper training so that you can start your successful career in criminal justice.
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