Picking the Right Criminal Justice College near Opelika Alabama
So you have made the decision to pursue a criminal justice degree near Opelika Alabama. But once you have selected the kind of program you want to pursue, just how do you tackle picking a college that will provide the proper training to help you achieve your career objectives? Naturally the school you choose must offer the criminal justice major and degree that you are interested in. And you will no doubt begin by searching for schools that are close to your residence and comparing the cost for each school. But there are additional issues that you need to examine before making your final selection. For instance, the accreditation and reputation of the school are important 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 degree program will also be a part of your search process. We will discuss these and other qualifications that you may want to include in your vetting process when selecting 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 benefits of attending school online.
Criminal Justice Degrees near Opelika AL
Just like with many other professions, criminal justice degrees are becoming more frequently required for many careers in the field. And as the level of education and degree earned increases, so increases the employment opportunities to choose from in Opelika AL. There are four degree levels available, starting with the Associate Degree in criminal justice. Typically a two year degree, it provides an overview of such specialties as law enforcement, corrections and the judicial system. An increasing number of police departments are seeking candidates with no less than an Associate Degree. The 4 year Bachelor’s Degree usually covers the same topics as the Associate Degree, just more extensively. The more comprehensive education creates more options for such professions as FBI agents, probation officers or intelligence analysits. Progressing to a Master’s Degree can require an additional 2 years of classes in addition to earning the Bachelor’s Degree. The Master’s Degree enables students to become experts in a particular area of criminal justice. In addition to the opportunities offered with the lower degrees, graduates can also become instructors, court officers or social caseworkers. And last, for those with an interest in research or teaching at the college level, the Doctoral Degree or PhD is available also. Generally requiring anywhere from 4 to 7 years to complete, it is a far more rigorous version of the Master’s program. Naturally the time requirements for earning any of the four degrees will depend on the credit load carried by the student.
Criminal Justice Majors Offered
There are numerous specializations to choose from when deciding which major to elect for your criminal justice degree. Perhaps CSI has always fascinated you after watching numerous episodes of the assorted crime scene investigation TV shows. Or perhaps you have always wanted to be a police 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 prepare and qualify you for that job. Enrolling in a program and a school that focuses on that area would clearly be the best option toward that end. Maybe you have not yet made up your mind on a specialty or a career focus yet. In that situation, it would be advisable to explore all of the degree alternatives offered from the numerous universities and colleges. Following is a partial list of majors for criminal justice degrees offered in the Opelika 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 chosen, research the degree program you are interested in along with the college. Even if a criminal justice school is accredited and has a good reputation as a whole does not guarantee that all of its specialty programs are equally highly respected. That’s why it is extremely important to choose a major first before selecting a school to enroll in.
Attending Criminal Justice Online Schools
Many students may not have access to a criminal justice degree program in their vicinity, or they might just prefer the independence of earning a degree online. In either case, they will discover 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 a number of Opelika AL students, particularly those who continue to work part or full-time while attending college, the accessibility and convenience of online programs in many cases make them the sole option. And as an additional advantage, online schools are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition can be cheaper and costs for such things as commuting and study materials may be eliminated or reduced as well. Just make sure, as with any school you are considering, that the program you choose is accredited by an approved organization, such as the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (more on accreditation later). But if you are disciplined, and can study in this kind of independent environment, then earning your degree online may be the best alternative for you.
Concerns to Ask Criminal Justice Schools
By now you have no doubt decided on a criminal justice degree program and a major, 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 searching for Opelika AL area colleges and narrowing down your options. Since there are numerous schools to pick from, in fact hundreds within the USA alone, it’s essential to have a list of qualifying questions to ask when assessing schools. Obviously cost is a significant factor and you will need to choose a college that fits within your scholastic budget. And we have already pointed out a few others as well, including reputation, location and accreditation. To help you focus on those issues and more, below is a list of questions you might want to ask the colleges you are examining prior to making your ultimate decision.
Is the Criminal Justice Degree Program Accredited? Many criminal justice schools have received one or more accreditations from regional or national agencies. Among 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 a rigorous assessment of their course of instruction and teachers. It’s important to verify that the degree program and college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency for several reasons. Along with helping assure that you receive an excellent education, it will also aid in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Opelika AL employers are looking for graduates of colleges that are accredited with excellent reputations.
What is the Program’s Reputation? As mentioned previously, together with accreditation the reputation of the college you attend is important also. It’s especially crucial if you are entering the field with no relevant previous work history. Without any previous experience, Opelika 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 obtain school rankings and reviews, including U.S. News and World Report. They consider the quality of the core curriculum, the reputation of the teachers and other aspects contributing to the educational programs. Keep in mind that a college with an overall less than outstanding reputation might still be well respected for a specific degree program that you may have an interest in.
What are the Job Placement Rates? Ask what the graduation percentages are for the Opelika AL schools you are reviewing. A low percentage might be an indicator that students were disappointed with the program and quit, or that the instructors were not capable of teaching the course of study. It’s also imperative that the schools have job placement programs with high placement rates. A job assistance program will help you get that first crucial job after graduation that marks the beginning of your career in criminal justice. A high placement rate will not only help verify that the college has a good reputation within the industry, but that it also has a substantial network of employers to assist students secure positions 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 searching for criminal justice degree programs is the location of the schools. Unless you have determined that you will relocate or perhaps board on campus, the school you choose will have to be within driving distance of your Opelika AL residence. Naturally attending online classes will remove the necessity for travel and make location a non-issue. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to attend a school outside of your resident state, you might be required to pay a higher tuition than resident students, particularly for state colleges and universities. Community and junior colleges also usually charge students higher fees if their residence is outside of the school district or state.
How Big are the Classrooms? Unless you like to disappear in the crowd, going to small classes offers the option for more interaction with the instructors. Large classes provide little chance of getting individualized instruction if needed. One means to assess the interaction between students and faulty is to audit a few classes prior to making your ultimate determination. Talk to several of the students and ask what their experiences have been. Also, speak with the instructors and inquire what their teaching styles are. You may also want to ask what their experiences have been in the Alabama criminal justice field.
Are Class Times Offered to Fit Your Schedule? Finally, it’s critical to make sure that the final school you choose offers classes at times that are compatible with your active lifestyle. This is especially true if you decide to still work while attending school. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Opelika AL, check that they are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend part-time, verify it is an option as well. And find out what the make-up protocol is should you need to miss any classes due to emergencies or illness.
Enrolling in a Criminal Justice School near Opelika AL?
If you are considering attending a criminal justice college near Opelika AL, following is some interesting and useful background information about the Opelika area where your school campus will be located.
Opelika (pronounced /ˌoʊpəˈlaɪkə/ OH-pə-LY-kə) is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the U.S. state of Alabama. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of Opelika was 26,401, and in 2018 the estimated population was 30,555. The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 150,933, along with the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area, comprises the Greater Columbus combined statistical area, a region home to 501,649 residents.
The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebanon. After the removal of the native Creek (Muscogee) peoples by federal troops in 1836-37, the area became known as "Opelika." This word taken from the Muskogee language means "large swamp".
In 1848, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama, to Opelika, and in 1851, completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard. It rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery and West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia, in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.
Enroll in the Ideal Criminal Justice School near Opelika AL
Making certain that you pick the ideal criminal justice college near Opelika AL is crucial to your obtaining the appropriate 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. Achieving the greatest potential success in your criminal justice career starts with selecting the right criminal justice college predicated upon your career goals. As we have addressed in this article, it’s essential that the college and degree program you choose both are accredited and have excellent reputations. Also, verify that the school has a job assistance program with a high success rate for placing its students. You originally came to this site due to an interest in Masters In Criminal Justice. However, by going through our checklist of questions, you will be able to assess 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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