Selecting the Right Criminal Justice College near Washington District of Columbia
So you have decided to attain a criminal justice degree near Washington District of Columbia. But after you have chosen the kind of program you would like to work toward, just how do you go about choosing a school that will offer the proper training to help you realize your career goals? Naturally the college you select must provide the criminal justice degree and major that you are interested in. And you will no doubt start by searching for schools that are nearby your residence and comparing the cost for each college. But there are other points that you need to investigate before making your ultimate selection. For example, the accreditation and reputation of the college are important factors also. And if you are interested in attending classes in front of your computer instead of sitting in a classroom, then locating a reputable online training program will similarly be a part of your due diligence process. We will address these and other qualifications that you may want to utilize in your vetting process when picking the best 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 advantages of attending online schools.
Criminal Justice Degrees near Washington DC
Similar to most other professions, criminal justice degrees 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 Washington DC. There are four degree levels offered, beginning with the Associate Degree in criminal justice. Typically a two year degree, it offers an overview of such areas as corrections, law enforcement and the judicial court system. An increasing number of police departments are seeking applicants with at least an Associate Degree. The 4 year Bachelor’s Degree normally includes the same topics as the Associate Degree, just more extensively. The more comprehensive education makes available additional options for such positions as FBI agents, intelligence analysts or probation officers. Advancing to a Master’s Degree can involve an additional 2 years of classes after obtaining the Bachelor’s Degree. The Master’s Degree makes it possible for students to become experts in a particular facet of criminal justice. Along with the options afforded with the lower degrees, graduates may also become instructors, social caseworkers or court officers. And finally, for students interested in research or teaching at the college level, the PhD or Doctoral Degree is available as well. 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 attaining any one of the four degrees will depend on the course load carried by the student.
Available Criminal Justice Majors
There are many specialties to pick from when determining which major to pursue for your criminal justice degree. Perhaps CSI has always fascinated you after watching numerous episodes of the various crime scene investigation TV shows. Or quite possibly you have always dreamed of being a law enforcement officer, or even an FBI agent. No matter what your career objective, you need to pick a major and a degree in criminal justice that will ready and qualify you for that position. Enrolling in a program and a school that focuses on that area would obviously be the ideal decision toward that end. Perhaps you have not yet decided on a specialty or a career focus yet. In that case, it would be a good idea to explore all of the degree options offered from the numerous colleges and universities. Below is a partial list of criminal justice degree majors offered in the Washington DC 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, research the degree program you have an interest in along with the school. Just because a criminal justice school is accredited and has a good reputation as a whole does not indicate that all of its specialty programs are equally highly regarded. That’s why it is essential to choose a major first prior to picking a school to enroll in.
Criminal Justice Online Colleges
Some students might not have access to a criminal justice degree college in their area, or they may just want the independence of earning a degree online. In either case, they will discover that there are accredited options available online. There are numerous schools domiciled within the United States that provide online degree programs much like those offered on-campus. And for a number of Washington DC students, particularly those who continue working full or part-time while attending college, the convenience and accessibility of online colleges in many cases make them the sole option. And as an additional advantage, online colleges are frequently lower in cost than traditional alternatives. Tuition can be cheaper and costs for such things as commuting and study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure, as with any college you are looking at, that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (more on accreditation later). But if you are disciplined, and can learn in this type of unsupervised setting, then earning your degree online may be the best alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Criminal Justice Degree Programs
By now you have undoubtedly decided on a criminal justice major and degree program, including if you intend to obtain your degree online or by attending classes on campus. With those decisions made, it’s time to start searching for Washington DC area colleges and fine tuning your options. Because there are a large number of colleges to pick from, literally hundreds within the United States alone, it’s imperative to have a checklist of qualifying questions to ask when evaluating colleges. Certainly cost is an important factor and you will need to choose a college that is within your academic budget. And we have already addressed several others as well, such as location, accreditation and reputation. 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 Program Accredited? Many criminal justice colleges have obtained one or more accreditations from national or regional agencies. Among the most highly regarded is the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). Colleges and programs that have been accredited by the ACJS have gone through a rigorous screening of their teachers and course of instruction. It’s important to confirm that the degree program and school you enroll in are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization for several reasons. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it will also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many Washington DC employers prefer graduates of schools that are accredited with excellent reputations.
What is the Program’s Reputation? As mentioned previously, in conjunction with accreditation the reputation of the school you attend is significant as well. It’s especially crucial if you are entering the profession with no relevant prior employment history. With no previous experience, Washington DC employers will be weighing the quality of your education as a key factor when reviewing your resume. There are a number of college rating organizations where you can get school reviews and rankings, including U.S. News and World Report. They evaluate the quality of the core curriculum, the reputation of the instructors and other aspects contributing to the educational programs. Keep in mind that a college with an overall less than outstanding reputation may still be well regarded for a particular degree program that you may be interested in.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Find out what the graduation rates are for the Washington DC schools you are looking at. A low rate may be an indicator that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out, or that the instructors were not capable of teaching the curriculum. It’s also imperative that the colleges have job assistance programs with high placement rates. A job assistance program will help you obtain that first pivotal job after graduation that denotes the start of your career in criminal justice. A higher placement rate will not only help substantiate that the college has an excellent reputation within the industry, but that it additionally has a substantial network of contacts to assist students in obtaining jobs after graduation.
How Far Away are the Campuses Located? As we discussed at the beginning of this article, among the initial things you will probably 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 college you enroll in will have to be within driving distance of your Washington DC home. Of course attending classes online 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 college not in your state of residence, you may be charged a higher tuition than resident students, particularly for state universities and colleges. Community and junior colleges also often charge students higher fees if they reside outside of the state or school district.
How Large are the Classrooms? Unless you prefer to disappear in the crowd, going to smaller classes offers the option for more interaction with the teachers. Big classes provide little chance of getting one-on-one instruction if needed. One method to evaluate the interaction between faculty and students is to audit a couple of classes before making your ultimate decision. Speak with some of the students and find out what their experiences have been. Also, speak with the instructors and inquire what their teaching approaches are. You might also want to inquire as to what their experiences have been in the District of Columbia criminal justice field.
Are Classes Available as Needed? And last, it’s crucial to verify that the final college you select offers classes at times that are compatible with your hectic lifestyle. This is especially true if you choose to still work while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Washington DC, check that they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm it is an option also. And find out what the make-up protocol is in case you have to miss any classes because of illness or emergencies.
Enrolling in a Criminal Justice School near Washington DC?
If you are considering attending a criminal justice college near Washington DC, following is some interesting and useful background information about the Washington area where your school campus will be located.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. Washington is the principal city of the Washington metropolitan area, which has a population of 6,131,977. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, the city is an important world political capital. Washington is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million annual tourists.
The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District is therefore not a part of any state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. Named in honor of President George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District.
Washington had an estimated population of 693,972 as of July 2017[update], making it the 20th largest American city by population. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's daytime population to more than one million during the workweek. The Washington metropolitan area, of which the District is the principal city, has a population of over 6 million, the sixth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the country.
Pick the Best Criminal Justice School near Washington DC
Making certain that you pick the right criminal justice school near Washington DC is crucial to your obtaining the appropriate training to be successful in this exciting and growing profession. Employers respect which college 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 optimal criminal justice college based on your career objectives. As we have covered in this article, it’s imperative that the school and degree program you pick both have excellent reputations and are accredited. Also, confirm that the school has a job assistance program with a strong track record for placing its graduates. You originally came to this site due to an interest in Law Enforcement Schools. However, by utilizing our checklist of questions, you will be able to analyze and compare the criminal justice schools you are looking at in order to narrow down your options and make the right choice. And when you have made the best decision, you will receive the appropriate education so that you can begin your successful career in criminal justice.
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