How to Choose the Right Criminal Justice College near West Springfield Massachusetts
So you have decided to pursue a criminal justice degree near West Springfield Massachusetts. But after you have chosen the kind of degree you want to pursue, just how do you tackle picking a school that will offer the right training to help you realize your career objectives? Of course the institution you choose must provide the criminal justice major and degree that you have an interest in. And you will probably start by looking for schools that are close to your home and comparing the tuition for each college. But there are additional issues that you must evaluate prior to making your ultimate selection. For instance, the accreditation and reputation of the college 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 finding a reputable online training program will also be a part of your due diligence process. We will deal with these and other qualifications that you may wish to include in your vetting process when deciding on the best criminal justice college for you. But first, let’s take a look at the criminal justice majors and degrees available as well as the advantages of attending school online.
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered near West Springfield MA
Similar to many other professions, degrees in criminal justice are becoming more frequently required for many positions in the field. And as the level of education and degree earned advances, so increases the job opportunities available in West Springfield MA. There are 4 degree levels offered, beginning with the Associate Degree in criminal justice. Usually a 2 year degree, it provides an introduction to such specialties as law enforcement, corrections and the judiciary system. More and more police departments are seeking applicants with no less than an Associate Degree. The 4 year Bachelor’s Degree typically includes the same subjects as the Associate Degree, just more extensively. The more expansive 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 two years of classes in addition to attaining the Bachelor’s Degree. The Master’s Degree makes it possible for students to become experts in a specific facet of criminal justice. In addition to the options offered with the lower degrees, graduates can also become instructors, social caseworkers or court officers. Finally, for those with an interest in teaching at the college level or research, the Doctoral Degree or PhD is available also. Generally taking anywhere from 4 to 7 years to finish, it is a far more intense version of the Master’s program. Naturally the time requirements for attaining any of the 4 degrees will be dependent on the course load carried by the student.
Criminal Justice Majors Offered
There are many specializations to pick from when deciding which major to pursue for your criminal justice degree. Perhaps CSI has always interested you after enjoying numerous episodes of the various crime scene investigation shows. Or perhaps 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 degree and a major in criminal justice that will prepare and qualify you for that position. Enrolling in a program and a school that specializes in that area would obviously be the ideal decision toward that end. Maybe you have not yet made up your mind on a career focus or a specialty yet. In that case, it would be a good idea to research all of the degree options available from the numerous colleges and universities. Below is a partial list of criminal justice degree majors offered in the West Springfield MA area:
- Law enforcement
- Homeland security
- Forensic science
- Social Work
- Crime scene investigation
- Pre-law Studies
- Police science
Before enrolling in the school you have decided on, research the degree program you have an interest in as well as the school. Just because a criminal justice college is accredited and has an excellent reputation in general does not indicate that all of its specialty programs are equally highly respected. That’s why it is very important to choose a major first before picking a college to enroll in.
Criminal Justice Online Degree Programs
Some students may not have access to a criminal justice degree school in their vicinity, or they may just prefer the independence of earning an online degree. Regardless of the reason, they will discover that there are accredited options available online. There a large number of schools domiciled within the United States that offer degree programs online similar to the ones offered on-campus. And for a number of West Springfield MA students, especially those who continue working full or part-time while attending college, the convenience and accessibility of online schools may make them the sole option. And as an additional advantage, online schools are frequently lower in cost than on campus options. Tuition may be cheaper and expenditures for such things as commuting and study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just verify, as with any school you are considering, that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (more on accreditation later). But if you are dedicated, and can study in this kind of unsupervised environment, then earning your degree online might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Criminal Justice Degree Programs
At this point you have undoubtedly come to a decision on a criminal justice major and degree program, including if you intend to earn your degree online or by going to classes on campus. With those decisions made, it’s time to begin searching for West Springfield MA area colleges and fine tuning your options. Because there are so many colleges to select from, literally hundreds within the United States alone, it’s essential to have a list of qualifying questions to ask when reviewing schools. Clearly cost is a significant factor and you will need to select a college that fits within your scholastic budget. And we have already pointed out a few others also, including accreditation, reputation and location. To help you focus on those issues and more, following is a list of questions you might wish to ask the schools you are examining before making your ultimate decision.
Is the Criminal Justice College Accredited? Numerous criminal justice colleges have earned one or more accreditations from national or regional agencies. One of the most respected is the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). Schools and programs that have been accredited by the ACJS have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and course of instruction. It’s important to confirm that the program and college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency for several reasons. In addition to helping confirm that you get a top notch education, it will also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of West Springfield MA employers have a preference for graduates of schools that are accredited with excellent reputations.
What is the Program’s Reputation? As previously stated, in conjunction with accreditation the reputation of the college you select is significant as well. It’s particularly crucial if you are entering the profession with no relevant prior work history. With no previous experience, West Springfield MA employers will be weighing the quality of your education as a primary factor when going over your resume. There are a number of school rating organizations where you can find school rankings and reviews, such as U.S. News and World Report. They look at the quality of the course of instruction, the reputation of the teachers and other variables contributing to the academic programs. Keep in mind that a college with an overall less than excellent reputation could still be well regarded for a particular degree program that you might have an interest in.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Find out what the graduation rates are for the West Springfield MA colleges you are reviewing. A low rate might be an indication that students were disappointed 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 schools have job placement programs with high placement rates. A job placement program will help you get that first crucial job after graduation that marks the start of your career in criminal justice. A higher placement rate will not only help confirm that the college has an excellent reputation within the industry, but that it also has a substantial network of employers to assist students secure jobs upon graduation.
Where are the Schools Located? As we mentioned at the opening of this article, among the first things you will most likely consider when looking for criminal justice degree programs is the location of the schools. Unless you have determined that you will relocate or possibly board on campus, the college you choose will have to be within driving distance of your West Springfield MA home. Naturally attending online classes will eliminate the need for travel and make location a moot issue. Something to bear in mind is that if you opt to attend a college not in your state of residence, you may be required to pay a higher tuition than resident students, especially for state universities and colleges. Community colleges also often charge students higher fees if they reside outside of the school district or state.
How Large are the Classrooms? Unless you like to disappear in the crowd, going to small classes offers the possibility for more interaction with the teachers. Big classes provide little chance of receiving one-on-one instruction if needed. One way to assess the interaction between students and faulty is to monitor a couple of classes before making your final decision. Speak with several of the students and find out what their experiences have been. Also, speak with the instructors and ask them what their teaching styles are. You may also want to ask what their backgrounds have been in the Massachusetts criminal justice profession.
Are Classes Available as Needed? Finally, it’s crucial to make sure that the ultimate college you choose provides classes at times that are compatible with your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near West Springfield MA, 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 should you have to miss any classes as a result of emergencies or illness.
Enrolling in a Criminal Justice School near West Springfield MA?
If you are considering attending a criminal justice college near West Springfield MA, following is some interesting and useful background information about the West Springfield area where your school campus will be located.
West Springfield, Massachusetts
West Springfield is a city in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 28,391 at the 2010 census. The city is also known as "West Side", in reference to the fact that it is on the western side of the Connecticut River from Springfield, a fact which played a major part in the town's early history.
In paraphrase, from the official town history book... The area that became known as West Springfield was settled in 1635. The settlers fled to higher ground on the east side of the river and founded Springfield in the aftermath of the great hurricane of 1635. West Springfield was good farm land, so some families did stay on the west side.
Other than the trade in beaver skins, economic activity in early colonial Springfield consisted largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry, with barter being the preferred medium of exchange for neighbors' crops, and locally produced goods. Gristmills and saw mills were also present in the early settlement.
Enroll in the Right Criminal Justice School near West Springfield MA
Making sure that you pick the right criminal justice program near West Springfield MA is vital to your receiving the appropriate training to be successful in this growing and exciting profession. Employers care which school your criminal justice degree came from, so it’s in your best interest to care as well. Achieving the ultimate potential success in your criminal justice career starts with picking the ideal criminal justice school based on 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. Also, confirm 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 Top Universities For Criminal Justice. However, by going through our checklist of questions, you will be able to evaluate and compare the criminal justice colleges you are reviewing in order to narrow down your choices and make the best selection. And when you have made the best decision, you will get the proper education so that you can launch your successful career in criminal justice.
Check Out More Law Abiding Locations in Massachusetts