Choosing the Right Criminal Justice Degree Program near Clayton Alabama
So you have made the decision to attain a criminal justice degree near Clayton Alabama. But once you have decided on the kind of program you want to work toward, just how do you go about selecting a college that will provide the right training to help you realize your career goals? Of course the college you choose must offer the criminal justice major and degree that you have an interest in. And you will no doubt begin by looking for colleges that are nearby your residence and comparing the cost for each school. But there are other issues that you must examine prior to making your ultimate selection. For example, the reputation and accreditation of the school are significant factors as well. And if you are interested in attending classes in front of your computer as opposed to sitting in a classroom, then locating a quality online degree program will also be a part of your due diligence process. We will address these and other criteria that you may want to include in your vetting process when picking the right criminal justice college for you. But first, let’s talk a little bit about the criminal justice degrees and majors available as well as the benefits of attending online schools.
Criminal Justice Degree Programs near Clayton AL
As with many other professions, criminal justice degrees are becoming more frequently needed for a number of positions in the field. And as the level of education and degree earned increases, so increases the employment opportunities available in Clayton AL. There are four degree levels offered, starting with the Associate Degree in criminal justice. Generally a two year degree, it provides an introduction to such areas as corrections, law enforcement and the judiciary system. A growing number of police departments are looking for candidates with at least an Associate Degree. The 4 year Bachelor’s Degree usually addresses the same topics as the Associate Degree, just more in depth. The more expansive education makes available additional opportunities for such positions as FBI agents, intelligence analysts or probation officers. Progressing to a Master’s Degree can require an additional two years of classes after attaining the Bachelor’s Degree. The Master’s Degree enables students to become specialists in a specific aspect of criminal justice. Along with the options afforded with the lesser degrees, graduates can also become instructors, court officers or social caseworkers. And last, for students interested in research or teaching at the college level, the PhD or Doctoral Degree is offered as well. Generally taking anywhere from four to seven years to finish, it is a far more rigorous version of the Master’s program. Of course the time requirements for obtaining any of the 4 degrees will be dependent on the course load carried by the student.
Criminal Justice Majors
There are a number of specializations to choose from when considering which major to pursue for your criminal justice degree. Maybe CSI has always fascinated you after watching countless episodes of the assorted crime scene investigation shows. Or maybe you have always dreamed of being a law enforcement officer, or even an FBI agent. No matter what your career goal, you must choose a degree and a major in criminal justice that will prepare and qualify you for that job. Choosing a program and a school that specializes in that specialty would clearly be the best decision toward that end. Perhaps you have not yet made up your mind on a career focus or a specialty yet. In that case, it would be advisable to research all of the degree alternatives available from the various universities and colleges. Below is a partial list of majors for criminal justice degrees offered in the Clayton 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 decided on, research the degree program you are interested in along with the school. Just because 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 regarded. That’s why it is essential to decide on a major first prior to picking a college to enroll in.
Attending Criminal Justice Schools Online
A number of prospective students may not have access to a criminal justice degree school in their region, or they might just prefer the independence of earning an online degree. In either case, they will find that there are accredited online options available. There many colleges located within the USA that provide online degree programs similar to those offered on campus. And for a number of Clayton AL students, particularly those who continue to work part or full-time while attending college, the convenience and accessibility of online schools may make them the only option. And as an added advantage, online schools are often lower in cost than on campus options. Tuition may be cheaper and costs for such things as study materials and commuting may be eliminated or reduced as well. Just verify, just like for 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 disciplined, and can study in this type of unsupervised setting, then earning your degree online might be the right alternative for you.
Concerns to Ask Criminal Justice Degree Programs
At this point you have no doubt decided on a criminal justice major and degree program, including if you intend to earn your degree online or by going to classes on-campus. Having made those decisions, it’s time to start looking for Clayton AL area colleges and fine tuning your options. Since there are a large number of schools to choose from, in fact hundreds within the United States alone, it’s essential to have a list of qualifying questions to utilize when evaluating schools. Naturally cost is an important consideration and you will need to choose a program that fits within your academic budget. And we have already discussed a few others also, such as location, accreditation and reputation. To help you address those concerns and more, following is a list of questions you may wish to ask the schools you are examining prior to making your final decision.
Is the Criminal Justice Program Accredited? Numerous criminal justice colleges have acquired one or more accreditations from regional or national organizations. One of the most respected is the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). Colleges and programs that have been accredited by the ACJS have gone through an extensive screening of their course of instruction and teachers. It’s imperative to confirm that the program and school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency for a number of reasons. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it will also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Clayton AL employers are looking for graduates of schools that are accredited with good reputations.
What is the Reputation of the School? As mentioned previously, in conjunction with accreditation the reputation of the college you choose is significant also. It’s particularly critical if you are entering the profession with no relevant previous work history. Without any prior experience, Clayton AL employers will be evaluating 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 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 teachers and other factors contributing to the educational programs. Remember that a college with an overall less than excellent reputation could still be highly regarded for a specific degree program that you might be interested in.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Ask what the graduation rates are for the Clayton AL schools you are considering. A lower rate may be a sign 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 important that the schools have job placement programs with higher placement rates. A job placement program will help you get that first pivotal job after graduation that denotes the start of your career in criminal justice. A high placement rate will not only help confirm that the college has an excellent reputation within the industry, but that it additionally has a large network of employers to assist students obtain jobs upon graduation.
How Far Away are the Schools Located? As we discussed at the opening 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 board on campus, the school you select will have to be within driving distance of your Clayton AL residence. Certainly attending online classes will eliminate 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 college outside of your state of residence, you might be required to pay a higher tuition than resident students, especially for state colleges and universities. Community and junior colleges also tend to charge students higher fees if they reside outside of the school district or state.
How Large are the Classes? Unless you like to disappear in the crowd, going to small classes offers the option for more interaction with the instructors. Bigger classes afford little chance of receiving one-on-one instruction if needed. One means to assess the interaction between faculty and students is to monitor a couple of classes before making your ultimate determination. Talk to some of the students and find out what their experiences have been. Also, speak with the instructors and ask them what their teaching approaches are. You may also want to inquire as to what their backgrounds have been in the Alabama criminal justice field.
Are Classes Offered to Fit Your Schedule? Finally, it’s important to confirm that the ultimate college you choose offers classes at times that will accommodate your active lifestyle. This is particularly true if you choose to still work while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Clayton AL, make sure they are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend part-time, confirm it is an option also. And find out what the make-up procedure is should you have to miss any classes as a result of illness or emergencies.
Enrolling in a Criminal Justice School near Clayton AL?
If you are considering attending a criminal justice college near Clayton AL, following is some interesting and useful background information about the Clayton area where your school campus will be located.
Clayton has been the county seat since 1834, two years after the creation of Barbour County. Clayton is located geographically in the center of the county. The town was located at the headwaters of the Pea and Choctawhatchee rivers on the historic road from Hobdy's Bridge over the Pea River to Eufaula on the Chattahoochee River. By 1818, there were a few settlers in the area around Clayton, but settlement began in earnest around 1823. The town was named for Augustine S. Clayton, a Georgia jurist and congressman. Clayton became the county seat of Barbour County in 1833 and was laid out on a central courthouse square plan. The first Circuit Court was held in Clayton on September 23, 1833. The Clayton post office was established in September 1835 with John F. Keener as postmaster. Clayton, with a population of 200, was incorporated on December 21, 1841, by the Alabama Legislature. Its first mayor, after incorporation, was John Jackson.
Clayton has a rich heritage with four properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Clayton is also known for its Whiskey Bottle Tombstone, which was featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not!.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Clayton has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps. 
Enroll in the Ideal Criminal Justice College near Clayton AL
Making sure that you select the ideal criminal justice program near Clayton AL is essential to your receiving the appropriate training to be successful in this exciting and growing profession. Employers respect which college your criminal justice degree came from, so it’s in your best interest to care also. Attaining the ultimate possible success in your criminal justice career starts with choosing the ideal criminal justice school based on your career goals. As we have discussed in this article, it’s imperative that the school and degree program you choose both have excellent reputations and are accredited. Also, make certain that the college has a job assistance program with a strong track record for placing its students. You originally came to this site due to an interest in Law Enforcement Majors. However, by utilizing our checklist of questions, you will be able to analyze and compare the criminal justice colleges you are considering so that you can narrow down your options and make the right selection. And when you have made the correct decision, you will get the proper training so that you can begin your successful career in criminal justice.
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