How to Select the Right Criminal Justice College near Westfield Massachusetts
So you have decided to attain a criminal justice degree near Westfield Massachusetts. But once you have decided on the type of degree you would like to work toward, just how do you undertake choosing a college that will offer the proper training to help you realize your career objectives? Naturally the college you select must offer the criminal justice degree and major that you have an interest in. And you will undoubtedly begin by searching for schools that are near your home and comparing the cost for each college. But there are other considerations that you need to evaluate before making your ultimate choice. For example, the reputation and accreditation of the school are significant factors also. And if you are interested in attending classes in front of your computer instead of sitting in a classroom, then finding a quality online training program will similarly be a part of your due diligence process. We will deal with these and other criteria that you might wish to utilize in your vetting process when picking the right criminal justice college for you. But first, let’s take a look at the criminal justice majors and degrees offered along with the benefits of attending school online.
Criminal Justice Degree Programs near Westfield MA
Similar to many 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 increases, so increases the employment opportunities to choose from in Westfield MA. There are four degree levels available, starting with the Associate Degree in criminal justice. Typically a two year degree, it offers an overview of such areas as law enforcement, corrections and the judiciary system. An increasing number of police departments are seeking applicants with at least an Associate Degree. The four year Bachelor’s Degree usually addresses the same subjects as the Associate Degree, just more extensively. The more comprehensive education creates more opportunities for such occupations as FBI agents, probation officers or intelligence analysits. Advancing to a Master’s Degree can take an additional 2 years of classes in addition to earning 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 provided with the lower degrees, graduates can also become instructors, social caseworkers or court officers. And finally, for those interested in teaching at the college level or research, the Doctoral Degree or PhD is offered as well. Generally requiring anywhere from four to seven years to finish, it is a far more intense version of the Master’s program. Of course the time requirements for obtaining any one of the 4 degrees will depend on the credit load carried by the student.
Available 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 interested you after enjoying countless episodes of the various crime scene investigation shows. Or quite possibly 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 ready and qualify you for that position. Enrolling in a program and a school that focuses on that specialty would obviously be the best option toward that end. Maybe you have not yet decided 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 numerous universities and colleges. Following is a partial list of criminal justice degree majors offered in the Westfield MA area:
- Law enforcement
- Homeland security
- Forensic science
- Social Work
- Crime scene investigation
- Pre-law Studies
- Police science
Before enrolling in the program you have decided on, investigate the degree program you have an interest in along with the school. Just because a criminal justice college is accredited and has an outstanding reputation as a whole does not indicate that all of its specialty programs are equally highly regarded. That’s why it is very important to choose a major first prior to selecting a college to enroll in.
Criminal Justice Online Degree Programs
A number of students may not have access to a criminal justice degree college in their region, or they may just want the flexibility of earning an online degree. In either case, they will discover that there are accredited options available online. There many colleges located within the USA that provide online degree programs similar to those offered on-campus. And for many Westfield 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 only option. And as an added benefit, online schools are frequently lower in cost than on campus options. Tuition can be cheaper and expenditures for such things as study materials and commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure, as with any school you are looking at, that the program you select 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 earning your degree online might be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Criminal Justice Colleges
At this point you have no doubt decided on a criminal justice degree program and a major, 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 start searching for Westfield MA area colleges and narrowing down your options. Considering that there are so many colleges to select from, in fact hundreds within the USA alone, it’s imperative to have a list of qualifying questions to ask when analyzing schools. Clearly cost is a significant factor and you will need to pick a school that fits within your scholastic budget. And we have already discussed several others as well, including accreditation, reputation and location. To help you address those concerns and more, below is a list of questions you may want to ask the schools you are thinking about prior to making your ultimate selection.
Is the Criminal Justice School Accredited? A large number of criminal justice schools have earned one or more accreditations from regional or national agencies. Among the most respected is the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). Colleges and programs that have been accredited by the ACJS have undergone a rigorous screening of their teachers and course of instruction. It’s imperative to verify that the degree program and school you enroll in are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency for several reasons. In addition to helping confirm that you obtain a quality education, it will also help in qualifying for financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many Westfield MA employers prefer graduates of colleges that are accredited with good reputations.
What is the Program’s Reputation? As stated previously, along with accreditation the reputation of the college you choose is significant also. It’s particularly crucial if you are getting in the field with no relevant previous work history. Without any previous experience, Westfield MA employers will be considering the quality of your education as a key factor when reviewing your resume. There are a number of college rating organizations where you can obtain 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 elements contributing to the academic programs. Remember that a college with an overall less than outstanding reputation may still be well regarded for a specific degree program that you might have an interest in.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Ask what the graduation rates are for the Westfield MA schools you are considering. A low percentage may be an indication that students were unhappy with the program and quit, or that the instructors were not capable of teaching the curriculum. It’s also important that the schools have job assistance programs with high placement rates. A job assistance program will help you obtain that first crucial job after graduation that denotes the beginning of your career in criminal justice. A higher placement rate will not only help validate that the college has a good reputation within the industry, but that it also has a considerable network of employers to help students secure jobs upon graduation.
Where are the Campuses Located? As we touched on at the opening of this article, among the initial things you will probably consider when searching for criminal justice colleges is the location of the schools. Unless you have decided that you will relocate or possibly board on campus, the school you pick will need to be within commuting distance of your Westfield MA residence. Certainly attending classes online will eliminate the necessity for travel and make location a non-issue. One thing to keep in mind is that if you opt to attend a school outside of your resident state, you may be charged a higher tuition than resident students, particularly for state colleges and universities. Community colleges also usually charge students higher fees if they reside outside of the state or school district.
How Large are the Classes? Unless you like to disappear in the crowd, going to smaller classes offers the possibility for more interaction with the instructors. Bigger classes afford little chance of receiving one-on-one instruction if needed. One way to assess the interaction between faculty and students is to monitor a couple of classes prior to making your ultimate determination. Speak with several of the students and ask what their experiences have been. Also, talk to the instructors and ask them what their teaching approaches are. You may also want to ask what their experiences have been in the Massachusetts criminal justice profession.
Are Classes Available as Needed? And last, it’s critical to verify that the ultimate program you choose offers classes at times that will accommodate your busy schedule. This is especially true if you decide to still work while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Westfield MA, check that they are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend part-time, confirm it is an option as well. And find out what the make-up procedure is in case you need to miss any classes as a result of illness or emergencies.
Enrolling in a Criminal Justice School near Westfield MA?
If you are considering attending a criminal justice college near Westfield MA, following is some interesting and useful background information about the Westfield area where your school campus will be located.
Westfield is a city in Hampden County, in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, United States. Westfield was first settled in 1660. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 41,094 at the 2010 census.
The area was originally inhabited by the Pocomtuc tribe, and was called Woronoco (meaning "the winding land"). Trading houses were built in 1639–40 by settlers from the Connecticut Colony. Massachusetts asserted jurisdiction, and prevailed after a boundary survey. In 1647, Massachusetts made Woronoco part of Springfield. Land was incrementally purchased from the Native Americans and granted by the Springfield town meeting to English settlers, beginning in 1658. The area of Woronoco or "Streamfield" began to be permanently settled in the 1660s. In 1669, "Westfield" was incorporated as an independent town; in 1920, it would be re-incorporated as a city. The name Westfield would be named for being at the time the most westerly settlement. "Streamfield" was considered a name for the town for being settled in between two "streams" that flow downtown, the Westfield River and the Little River.
From its founding until 1725, Westfield was the westernmost settlement in the Massachusetts Colony, and portions of it fell within the Equivalent Lands. Town meetings were held in a church meeting house until 1839, when Town Hall was erected on Broad Street. This building also served as City Hall from 1920 to 1958. Due to its alluvial lands, the inhabitants of the Westfield area were entirely devoted to agricultural pursuits for about 150 years.
Choose the Best Criminal Justice Degree Program near Westfield MA
Making sure that you select the ideal criminal justice program near Westfield MA is crucial to your receiving the appropriate training to be successful in this growing and exciting profession. Employers respect which school you earned your criminal justice degree from, so it’s to your benefit to care also. Achieving the ultimate potential success in your criminal justice career starts with choosing the optimal criminal justice school predicated upon your career objectives. As we have discussed in this article, it’s important that the school and degree program you pick both have excellent reputations and are accredited. Additionally, make certain that the school has a job placement program with a high success rate for placing its students. You originally came to this site due to an interest in Is Criminal Justice A Major?. However, by going through our checklist of questions, you will be able to assess and compare the criminal justice schools you are looking at in order to narrow down your choices and make the right choice. And when you have made the correct decision, you will receive the appropriate training so that you can launch your successful career in criminal justice.
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