Selecting the Right Criminal Justice College near Shelby Alabama
So you have made the decision to earn a criminal justice degree near Shelby Alabama. But after you have decided on the type of program you would like to work toward, just how do you tackle choosing a college that will offer the right training to help you achieve your career objectives? Naturally the institution you choose must offer the criminal justice major and degree that you are interested in. And you will undoubtedly begin by looking for colleges that are near your residence and comparing the tuition for each school. But there are other factors that you should investigate prior to making your final selection. For example, the accreditation and reputation of the college are important factors as well. And if you are interested in attending classes sitting at your computer as opposed to sitting in a classroom, then locating a quality online training program will similarly be a part of your due diligence process. We will discuss these and other qualifications that you may wish to utilize in your vetting process when picking the ideal criminal justice college for you. But first, let’s take a look at the criminal justice degrees and majors available along with the advantages of attending school online.
Criminal Justice Degree Programs near Shelby AL
As with many other professions, degrees in criminal justice are becoming more commonly needed for many careers in the field. And as the level of education and degree obtained advances, so increases the job opportunities available in Shelby AL. There are 4 degree levels available, beginning with the Associate Degree in criminal justice. Usually a two year degree, it offers an introduction to such specialties as corrections, law enforcement and the judiciary system. An increasing number of police departments are looking for candidates with at least an Associate Degree. The 4 year Bachelor’s Degree typically covers the same subjects as the Associate Degree, just more extensively. The more comprehensive education makes available more opportunities for such professions as FBI agents, intelligence analysts or probation officers. 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 enables students to become specialists in a particular aspect of criminal justice. Along with the options offered with the lesser degrees, graduates can also become instructors, social caseworkers or court officers. Finally, for individuals interested in research or teaching at the college level, the Doctoral Degree or PhD is offered as well. Typically requiring anywhere from 4 to 7 years to finish, it is a far more intense version of the Master’s program. Of course the time requirements for earning any of the 4 degrees will be dependent on the credit load carried by the student.
Criminal Justice Majors Offered
There are many specialties to select from when determining which major to elect for your criminal justice degree. Maybe CSI has always interested you after viewing countless episodes of the different crime scene investigation TV programs. Or perhaps you have always wanted to be a law enforcement officer, or even an FBI agent. No matter what your career objective, you need to choose a major and a degree in criminal justice that will ready and qualify you for that job. Choosing a program and a school that focuses on that area would naturally be the ideal decision toward that end. Perhaps you have not yet decided on a career focus or a specialty yet. In that scenario, it would be advisable to investigate all of the degree options available from the numerous colleges and universities. Below is a partial list of majors for criminal justice degrees offered in the Shelby AL area:
- Law enforcement
- Homeland security
- Forensic science
- Social Work
- Crime scene investigation
- Pre-law Studies
- Police science
Prior to enrolling in the program you have selected, research the degree program you are interested in along with the college. Just because a criminal justice school is accredited and has an excellent reputation in general does not mean that all of its specialty programs are similarly highly respected. That’s why it is essential to decide on a major first before choosing a school to enroll in.
Criminal Justice Schools Online
Many students may not have access to a criminal justice degree school in their area, or they might just prefer the independence of earning a degree online. Regardless of the reason, they will discover that there are accredited options available online. There many colleges located within the United States that offer degree programs online similar to the ones offered on-campus. And for many Shelby AL students, especially those who continue working full or part-time while attending college, the accessibility and convenience of online programs may make them the only option. And as an added advantage, online colleges are often lower in cost than on-campus alternatives. Tuition can be lower and expenses for such things as commuting and study materials may be eliminated or reduced as well. Just verify, as with any school you are looking at, that the program you enroll in is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (more on accreditation later). But if you are disciplined, and can learn in this type of unsupervised environment, then obtaining your degree online might be the best option for you.
What to Ask Criminal Justice Colleges
At this point you have undoubtedly come to a decision on a criminal justice major and degree program, as well as if you want to obtain your degree online or by going to classes on-campus. Having made those decisions, it’s time to begin looking for Shelby AL area colleges and narrowing down your options. Considering that there are numerous colleges to pick from, literally hundreds within the United States alone, it’s imperative to have a list of qualifying questions to ask when reviewing colleges. Obviously cost is a significant factor and you will need to select a college that is within your scholastic budget. And we have already discussed a few others also, such as accreditation, reputation and location. To help you focus on those issues and more, below is a list of questions you might want to ask the colleges you are looking at before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Criminal Justice School Accredited? Numerous criminal justice schools have earned one or more accreditations from national or regional 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 undergone an extensive assessment 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 organization for a number of reasons. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it will also aid in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not obtainable for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Shelby AL employers prefer graduates of schools that are accredited with excellent reputations.
What is the School’s Reputation? As stated previously, together with accreditation the reputation of the school you enroll in is significant as well. It’s particularly critical if you are getting in the profession with no relevant previous work history. With no previous experience, Shelby 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 college rankings and reviews, such as U.S. News and World Report. They consider the quality of the course of instruction, the reputation of the teachers and other elements contributing to the educational programs. Keep in mind that a school with an overall less than outstanding reputation could still be highly regarded for a particular degree program that you might be interested in.
What are the Job Placement Rates? Find out what the graduation rates are for the Shelby AL colleges you are considering. A low rate may be an indication that students were disappointed 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 colleges have job assistance programs with higher placement rates. A job placement program will help you obtain 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 substantiate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but that it additionally has a large network of contacts to help students in obtaining jobs upon graduation.
Where are the Schools Located? As we mentioned at the opening of this article, one of the initial things you will most likely look at when looking for criminal justice degree programs is the location of the schools. Unless you have determined that you will relocate or possibly live on campus, the school you pick will have to be within driving distance of your Shelby AL home. Of course attending online classes will eliminate the necessity for travel and make location a moot issue. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to attend a college outside of 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 school district or state.
How Big are the Classes? Unless you like to get lost in the crowd, attending small classes offers the opportunity for more interaction with the teachers. Larger classes allow for little chance of receiving personalized instruction if needed. One means to assess the interaction between students and faulty is to sit in on a couple of classes before making your final decision. Speak with some of the students and find out what they have experienced. Also, speak with the instructors and inquire what their teaching styles are. You might also want to inquire as to what their backgrounds have been in the Alabama criminal justice field.
Are Classes Available as Needed? Finally, it’s critical to verify that the ultimate program you select offers classes at times that will accommodate your active schedule. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending college. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Shelby AL, make sure they are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, confirm it is an option also. And find out what the make-up protocol is should you have to miss any classes as a result of emergencies or illness.
Enrolling in a Criminal Justice School near Shelby AL?
If you are considering attending a criminal justice college near Shelby AL, following is some interesting and useful background information about the Shelby area where your school campus will be located.
Shelby County, Alabama
Shelby County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 195,085. The county seat is Columbiana. The county is named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky from 1792 to 1796 and again from 1812 to 1816.
Shelby County was established on February 7, 1818, and it was named for the Revolutionary War hero and the first Governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby. Beginning in 1820, the first county seat was located at Shelbyville. This settlement, long defunct, was located within the modern city limits of Pelham. The first courthouse was built of logs. The seat was moved to Columbia, now Columbiana, in 1826. Initially housed in an old school building, a new brick courthouse building was completed in 1854. It is now known as the Old Shelby County Courthouse and houses the Shelby County Museum and Archives. The current limestone courthouse was built from 1905–06, at a cost of $300,000.
Shelby County was the home of an early inland waterway, the Coosa River, and it was also the location of a very early east-west railroad in Alabama that connected Atlanta, Georgia, with locations to its west. Shelby County was also crossed by an early north-south railroad, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, that connected Louisville, Nashville, Decatur, Birmingham, and Montgomery.
Choose the Right Criminal Justice College near Shelby AL
Making certain that you pick the right criminal justice college near Shelby AL is vital to your obtaining the appropriate training to be successful in this growing and exciting field. Employers value which school your criminal justice degree came from, so it’s in your best interest to care as well. Attaining the greatest potential success in your criminal justice career begins with picking the optimal criminal justice college predicated upon your career objectives. As we have covered in this article, it’s important that the college and degree program you choose both are accredited and have excellent reputations. Additionally, make sure that the college has a job assistance program with a high success rate for placing its graduates. You originally came to this site due to an interest in Best Criminal Justice Universities. However, by using our checklist of questions, you will be able to evaluate and compare the criminal justice schools you are considering so that you can narrow down your options and make the best selection. And when you have made the right decision, you will get the appropriate training so that you can begin your successful career in criminal justice.
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