How to Pick the Right Criminal Justice School near Decatur Alabama
So you have decided to pursue a criminal justice degree near Decatur Alabama. But after you have decided on the kind of program you would like to work toward, just how do you go about selecting a college that will provide the proper training to help you achieve your career objectives? Naturally the institution you select must provide the criminal justice major and degree that you are interested in. And you will undoubtedly begin by searching for colleges that are near your home and comparing the cost for each college. But there are additional factors that you need to investigate before making your final choice. For instance, the accreditation and reputation of the college 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 quality online training program will also be a part of your due diligence process. We will address these and other criteria that you might wish to include in your vetting process when selecting the right criminal justice college for you. But first, let’s talk a little bit about the criminal justice degrees and majors available along with the advantages of attending online schools.
Criminal Justice Degree Programs near Decatur AL
Just like with most other professions, criminal justice degrees are becoming more frequently needed for various careers in the field. And as the level of education and degree obtained advances, so increases the employment opportunities available in Decatur AL. There are 4 degree levels offered, starting with the Associate Degree in criminal justice. Usually a two year degree, it offers an introduction to such areas as law enforcement, corrections and the judiciary system. A growing number of police departments are seeking candidates with no less than an Associate Degree. The four year Bachelor’s Degree typically covers the same topics as the Associate Degree, just more in depth. The more comprehensive education makes available additional options for such occupations as FBI agents, probation officers or intelligence analysits. Progressing to a Master’s Degree can take an additional two years of classes after obtaining the Bachelor’s Degree. The Master’s Degree makes it possible for students to become specialists in a particular aspect of criminal justice. Along with the options provided with the lower degrees, graduates can also become instructors, social caseworkers or court officers. And last, for those with an interest in teaching at the college level or research, the Doctoral Degree or PhD is offered also. Typically taking anywhere from four to seven years to finish, it is a far more rigorous version of the Master’s program. Needless to say the time requirements for earning any one of the four degrees will depend on the credit load carried by the student.
Criminal Justice Majors Offered
There are a number of specialties to select from when deciding which major to pursue for your criminal justice degree. Maybe CSI has always interested you after enjoying numerous episodes of the various crime scene investigation TV shows. Or perhaps you have always wanted to be a law enforcement officer, or even an FBI agent. Whatever your career objective, you need to pick a degree and a major in criminal justice that will prepare and qualify you for that job. Enrolling in a program and a school that focuses on that specialty would obviously be the best option toward that end. Possibly you have not yet decided on a specialty or a career focus yet. In that scenario, it would be a good idea to explore all of the degree options offered from the numerous universities and colleges. Following is a partial list of majors for criminal justice degrees offered in the Decatur AL area:
- Law enforcement
- Homeland security
- Forensic science
- Social Work
- Crime scene investigation
- Pre-law Studies
- Police science
Prior to enrolling in the school you have chosen, investigate the degree program you have an interest in along with the college. Even if a criminal justice college is accredited and has an outstanding reputation as a whole does not guarantee that all of its specialty programs are similarly 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
A number of prospective 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 options available online. There many schools located within the USA that provide degree programs online similar to those offered on-campus. And for many Decatur AL students, especially those who continue to work part or full-time while earning their degree, the convenience and accessibility of online colleges in many cases make them the sole option. And as an added benefit, online schools are often more affordable than on campus alternatives. Tuition may be lower and costs for such things as commuting and study materials may be eliminated or reduced also. Just make certain, 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 study in this type of independent setting, then obtaining your degree online may be the best alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Criminal Justice Schools
By now you have no doubt decided on a criminal justice major and degree program, as well as if you intend to earn your degree online or by attending classes on campus. Having made those decisions, it’s time to begin looking for Decatur AL area colleges and fine tuning your options. Considering that there are so many schools to pick from, in fact hundreds within the United States alone, it’s imperative to have a list of qualifying questions to utilize when evaluating schools. Naturally cost is a significant consideration and you will need to pick a college that is within your academic budget. And we have already pointed out several others as well, such as reputation, location and accreditation. To help you address those concerns and more, following is a list of questions you may want to ask the schools you are looking at before making your final decision.
Is the Criminal Justice College Accredited? Numerous criminal justice colleges have obtained one or more accreditations from national or regional agencies. Among the most respected is the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). Colleges and programs that have been accredited by the ACJS have undergone a rigorous screening of their course of instruction and teachers. It’s imperative to make sure that the degree program and school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency for several reasons. In addition to helping assure that you get a top notch education, it will also aid in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many Decatur AL employers are looking for graduates of colleges that are accredited with good reputations.
What is the Reputation of the Program? As previously stated, in conjunction with accreditation the reputation of the school you choose is important also. It’s especially crucial if you are entering the profession with no relevant prior job history. Without any previous experience, Decatur AL employers will be weighing the quality of your education as a key factor when going over your resume. There are several college rating organizations where you can get school 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 variables contributing to the academic programs. Keep in mind that a school with an overall less than outstanding reputation may still be well regarded for a specific degree program that you might have an interest in.
What are the Job Placement Rates? Ask what the graduation rates are for the Decatur AL colleges you are looking at. A lower rate may be an indication that students were unhappy with the program and quit, or that the instructors were not up to the task of teaching the curriculum. It’s also important that the colleges have job assistance programs with higher placement rates. A job assistance program will help you get 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but that it also has a sizable network of contacts to help students secure jobs after graduation.
Where are the Campuses Located? As we discussed at the beginning of this article, one of the first 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 possibly live on campus, the college you pick will have to be within commuting distance of your Decatur AL residence. Naturally attending online classes will eliminate the need for travel and make location a non-issue. Something to keep 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. Junior and community colleges also often charge students higher fees if they reside outside of the state or school district.
How Large are the Classes? Unless you like to get lost in the crowd, going to small classes provides the option for more interaction with the teachers. Big classes afford little chance of getting personalized instruction if needed. One means to assess the interaction between faculty and students is to audit a few classes prior to making your ultimate decision. Speak with some of the students and find out what they have experienced. Also, talk to the instructors and inquire what their teaching approaches are. You may also want to ask what their experiences have been in the Alabama criminal justice profession.
Are Classes Compatible With Your Schedule? And last, it’s important to verify that the final school you pick offers classes at times that will accommodate your hectic lifestyle. This is especially true if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, check that they are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend part-time, confirm it is an option also. And find out what the make-up protocol is in case you need to miss any classes as a result of illness or emergencies.
Enrolling in a Criminal Justice School near Decatur AL?
If you are considering attending a criminal justice college near Decatur AL, following is some interesting and useful background information about the Decatur area where your school campus will be located.
Decatur is a city in Morgan and Limestone counties in the State of Alabama. The city, nicknamed "The River City", is located in Northern Alabama on the banks of Wheeler Lake, along the Tennessee River. It is the largest city and county seat of Morgan County. The population in 2010 was 55,683.
Decatur is also the core city of the two-county large Decatur, Alabama metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 153,374 in 2013. Combined with the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, the two create the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, of which Decatur is the second-largest city.
Like many southern cities in the early 19th century, Decatur's early success was based upon its location along a river. Railroad routes and boating traffic pushed the city to the front of North Alabama's economic atmosphere. The city rapidly grew into a large economic center within the Tennessee Valley and was a hub for travelers and cargo between Nashville and Mobile, as well as Chattanooga and New Orleans. Throughout the 20th century, the city experienced steady growth, but was eclipsed as the regional economic center by the fast-growing Huntsville during the space race. The city now finds its economy heavily based on manufacturing, cargo transit, and high-tech industries such as General Electric and United Launch Alliance.
Choose the Ideal Criminal Justice School near Decatur AL
Making sure that you select the ideal criminal justice school near Decatur AL is essential to your receiving the proper training to be successful in this exciting and growing field. Employers value which school you earned your criminal justice degree from, so it’s to your benefit to care also. Attaining the ultimate possible success in your criminal justice career starts with picking the best criminal justice college predicated upon your career objectives. As we have discussed in this article, it’s important that the college and degree program you pick both are accredited and have excellent reputations. Additionally, make sure that the college has a job placement program with a high success rate for placing its students. You originally came to this site due to an interest in Schools With Criminal Justice Majors. However, by going through our checklist of questions, you will have the ability to evaluate and compare the criminal justice schools you are considering so that you can narrow down your choices and make the best selection. And when you have made the right decision, you will receive the appropriate education so that you can start your successful career in criminal justice.
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