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3 Degrees that Prepare You to Teach Criminal Justice

Updated on September 9, 2013
Criminal justice professors take real-life experiences along with their education to ensure students receive quality education.
Criminal justice professors take real-life experiences along with their education to ensure students receive quality education.

Teaching is a rewarding and important career. While there isn't a plethora of ways to go about obtaining a job as a teacher, instructors do have options. If you want to teach criminal justice, there are a few degrees that can prepare you for the work to come. In most cases, becoming a criminal justice professor requires a combination of education and experience in the field. Read on for information about three degrees that, in tandem with experience, can prepare you to become a professor of criminal justice.

Master of Education

As logic would dictate, a master's degree in education provides an excellent foundation for becoming a teacher. A master's degree requires four years of undergraduate school followed by a two-year graduate program. It would be advisable to earn your bachelor's degree in criminal justice and your master's in education. Other related undergraduates degree that would nicely compliment a master's in education for criminal justice professors would be political science or law.

If you have already earned a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field, you can combine your master's of education with experience in the field of criminal justice. This would include military experience, law enforcement experience or corrections experience. Typically, candidates with less education or experience can begin their teaching career at community or junior colleges or as adjunct faculty members for larger schools.

Some professors of criminal justice may decide to take a part-time teaching position after they retire from the field. These teachers have years and years of criminal justice experience from which to draw. Occasionally, colleges may overlook a lack of formal education when an individual is particularly decorated or accomplished in his or her area of expertise.

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

As mentioned above, a bachelor degree in criminal justice can provide an excellent compliment to a master's in education degree. However, you can also pursue a career teaching criminal justice with a bachelor degree. Possible teaching careers in criminal justice with a bachelor's degree include police academy instructor, law enforcement trainer, junior professor and teaching assistant.

Again, more education or experience in the field is beneficial in landing the job you want. However, hard-working and motivated candidates can find employment in the education sector with a bachelor's degree. Without an advanced education, hopefuls may find themselves taking more entry-level jobs and working their way up to the position they desire.

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice also lays important groundwork for the next degree on our list.

Terminal Criminal Justice Degree

A terminal degree is the highest type of degree that can be held in a given discipline. In most cases, a terminal degree refers to a Ph.D, sometimes called a doctorate or doctoral degree. Some colleges design their master's degree in criminal justice to be a terminal degree, while others offer Ph.D. programs.

With a terminal level of education, candidates can begin working in education at the college level without much experience in the field. A Ph.D. can take between 10 to 12 years to earn. Once steeped in this level of academia and expertise, it becomes much easier to land a position as a full-time professor of criminal justice. However, the investment made, both financially and in terms of time, may outweigh the benefits. It is possible to work your way into the position you desire with a shorter degree. While you may not earn as much right out of college, you will have income and will not be accruing any more student loan debt.

While this provides a rough outline of how to become a criminal justice professor, requirements vary by state and individual school. Your college's academic advisor should be well-versed in the requirements needed for a variety of different careers. If you're interested in a career as a professor of criminal justice, meeting with an academic advisor is a great place start. It also helps to research colleges and universities at which you would like to work. Check out current job postings, so you can see what your potential employers will expect from you in regards to education and experience.

However you decide to proceed, keep in mind that learning is a life-long endeavor. Continuing studies and on-the-job training will be a part of any career you choose. Especially in education, where best practices, national standards for curriculum and even the delivery method of lecture and learning materials are prone to change. With the advent of the Internet, higher education is changing and will continue to change for years to come.


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