How to Choose the Right Criminal Justice Degree Program near Birmingham Alabama
So you have made the decision to pursue a criminal justice degree near Birmingham Alabama. But once you have decided on the kind of degree you would like to pursue, just how do you undertake picking a school that will provide the proper training to help you achieve your career objectives? Naturally the college you choose must offer the criminal justice degree and major that you have an interest in. And you will no doubt start by looking for schools that are nearby your home and comparing the cost for each school. But there are other factors that you must investigate prior to making your ultimate decision. For example, the reputation and accreditation of the college are significant factors also. And if you are interested in attending classes in front of your computer instead of sitting in a classroom, then finding a reputable online training program will similarly be a part of your search process. We will discuss these and other qualifications that you might wish to include in your vetting process when picking the ideal criminal justice college for you. But to begin with, let’s take a look at the criminal justice majors and degrees offered as well as the benefits of attending school online.
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered near Birmingham AL
Similar to many other professions, degrees in criminal justice are becoming more frequently required for a number of careers in the field. And as the level of education and degree earned advances, so increases the employment opportunities available in Birmingham AL. There are four degree levels available, starting with the Associate Degree in criminal justice. Normally a 2 year degree, it offers an overview of such specialties as law enforcement, corrections and the judicial system. An increasing number of police departments are looking for candidates with no less than an Associate Degree. The 4 year Bachelor’s Degree usually addresses the same subjects as the Associate Degree, just more extensively. The more comprehensive education makes available additional opportunities for such occupations as FBI agents, intelligence analysts or probation officers. Progressing to a Master’s Degree can take an additional 2 years of classes after earning the Bachelor’s Degree. The Master’s Degree enables students to become specialists in a particular area of criminal justice. Along with the opportunities 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. Usually taking 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 earning any of the four degrees will depend on the course load carried by the student.
Available Criminal Justice Majors
There are many specialties to choose from when determining which major to pursue for your criminal justice degree. Maybe CSI has always fascinated you after watching numerous episodes of the different crime scene investigation shows. Or quite possibly you have always wanted to be a law enforcement officer, or even an FBI agent. No matter what your career goal, you need to choose a major and a degree in criminal justice that will prepare and qualify you for that position. Enrolling in a program and a school that focuses on that specialty would naturally be the ideal option toward that end. Possibly you have not yet decided on a career focus or a specialty yet. In that case, it would be best to explore all of the degree alternatives available from the numerous universities and colleges. Below is a partial list of majors for criminal justice degrees offered in the Birmingham 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, investigate the degree program you have an interest in along with the school. Even if a criminal justice college is accredited and has an outstanding reputation in general does not indicate that all of its specialty programs are equally highly respected. That’s why it is very important to choose a major first before picking a school to enroll in.
Criminal Justice Schools Online
Some students might not have access to a criminal justice degree school in their area, or they may just want the convenience of earning an online degree. In either case, they will find that there are accredited online options available. There a large number of schools domiciled within the United States that provide online degree programs much like those offered on campus. And for many Birmingham AL students, particularly those who continue to work full or part-time while earning their degree, the accessibility and convenience of online colleges may make them the sole option. And as an additional benefit, online schools are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition can be cheaper and costs for such things as study materials and commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain, as with any college you are reviewing, that the program you select is accredited by an approved agency, for example the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (more on accreditation later). But if you are dedicated, and can study in this kind of unsupervised environment, then earning your degree online may be the best option for you.
What to Ask Criminal Justice Degree Programs
At this point you have no doubt decided on a criminal justice degree program and a major, including if you want to earn your degree online or by attending classes on-campus. Having made those decisions, it’s time to begin searching for Birmingham AL area schools and narrowing down your options. Because there are a large number of schools to choose from, in fact hundreds within the United States alone, it’s imperative to have a checklist of qualifying questions to utilize when evaluating colleges. Naturally cost is an important factor and you will need to select a college that fits within your academic budget. And we have already pointed out several others as well, including accreditation, reputation and location. To help you focus on those issues and more, below is a list of questions you might wish to ask the schools you are considering before making your ultimate decision.
Is the Criminal Justice School Accredited? A large number of criminal justice schools have acquired one or more accreditations from regional or national organizations. 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 imperative to make sure that the program and college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization for a number of reasons. In addition to helping confirm that you receive a quality education, it will also assist in qualifying for student loans or financial aid, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Birmingham AL employers prefer graduates of schools that are accredited with good reputations.
What is the Reputation of the Program? As mentioned previously, in conjunction with accreditation the reputation of the college you enroll in is important as well. It’s especially crucial if you are getting in the field with no relevant prior employment history. Without any previous experience, Birmingham AL employers will be considering the quality of your education as a key factor when going over your resume. There are a number of school rating organizations where you can find school rankings and reviews, such as U.S. News and World Report. They examine the quality of the course of instruction, the reputation of the instructors and other aspects contributing to the educational programs. Bear in mind that a school with an overall less than excellent reputation might still be well respected for a specific degree program that you might be interested in.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Find out what the graduation percentages are for the Birmingham AL colleges you are considering. A low percentage may be an indicator that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out, or that the instructors were not capable of teaching the curriculum. It’s also essential that the schools have job assistance programs with high placement rates. A job placement program will help you get that first crucial job after graduation that denotes the start of your career in criminal justice. A high placement rate will not only help validate that the college has an excellent reputation within the field, but that it additionally has a large network of contacts to assist students in obtaining jobs upon graduation.
How Far Away are the Campuses Located? As we touched on at the beginning 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 decided that you will relocate or perhaps board on campus, the school you pick will need to be within commuting distance of your Birmingham AL home. Naturally attending classes online will remove the need for travel and make location a moot issue. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to go to a school not in your resident state, you might be charged a higher tuition than resident students, especially for state universities and colleges. Community and junior colleges also tend to charge students higher fees if their residence is outside of the state or school district.
How Big are the Classes? Unless you prefer to disappear in the crowd, attending smaller classes offers the option for more interaction with the instructors. Larger classes afford little chance of getting individualized instruction if needed. One means to assess the interaction between faculty and students is to audit a couple of classes prior to making your ultimate determination. Talk to some of the students and ask what they have experienced. Also, speak with 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 Available as Needed? Finally, it’s important to make sure that the final school you choose offers classes at times that will accommodate your hectic lifestyle. This is especially important if you choose to still work while going to college. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, check that they are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm it is an option also. And ask what the make-up policy is should you have to miss any classes because of emergencies or illness.
Enrolling in a Criminal Justice School near Birmingham AL?
If you are considering attending a criminal justice college near Birmingham AL, following is some interesting and useful background information about the Birmingham area where your school campus will be located.
Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2017 population of 210,710, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2017, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,149,807, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and, at the time, a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could work in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.:14
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it nicknames such as "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.
Pick the Best Criminal Justice School near Birmingham AL
Making certain that you select the right criminal justice program near Birmingham AL is essential to your obtaining the appropriate training to be successful in this exciting and growing field. Employers value which college your criminal justice degree came from, so it’s to your benefit to care also. Achieving the ultimate possible success in your criminal justice career begins with selecting the ideal criminal justice college based on your career objectives. As we have addressed in this article, it’s imperative that the college and degree program you decide on both are accredited and have excellent reputations. Also, 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 Online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree. However, by utilizing our checklist of questions, you will be able to evaluate and compare the criminal justice schools you are reviewing in order to narrow down your choices and make the right selection. And when you have made the best decision, you will get the appropriate education so that you can launch your successful career in criminal justice.
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