Criminal justice professionals take the lead in investigating, preventing, and studying crime. A job in the criminal justice field allows individuals to protect their communities as part of local law enforcement or defend national security as a part of the FBI or air marshals. A criminal justice career could also allow you to become a forensic psychologist, cybersecurity specialist, victims advocate, corrections officer, or public defender. If you’re interested in any of these opportunities, you should consider pursuing a degree in criminal justice.
Due to the evolution of crime, particularly on the digital front, the demand for criminal justice professionals continues to grow. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that law enforcement and protective services occupations will increase by 3 percent by 2029 and could see more than 95,000 new positions. To become part of this growing force, you’ll need a criminal justice degree. While taking on the financial risk of seeking a degree may seem a bit daunting, studies show that earning a degree continues to be a good investment. Let’s take a look at the cost of a degree in criminal justice.
A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is suited for those who would like to be public servant professionals such as detectives, probation officers, or law enforcement officers. A bachelor’s degree prepares you to analyze the law and public policy, apprehend and rehabilitate offenders, and create programs to prevent crime. You might also focus on criminology and study the social and psychological aspects of deviancy.
The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that the average tuition is about $16,320 per year for a four-year degree. The cost is about $9,210 per year at public schools and upwards of $32,000 per year at private institutions. A bachelor’s degree tends to cost more per credit hour, however, you will usually have more career opportunities with a four-year degree. There are also online options and adult programs that come with a cheaper price tag but offer the same benefits as a traditional degree.
An associate’s degree is a shorter program that will get you through school quicker and on the job faster. Most associate programs are designed to be completed in two years and offer various classes focusing on the principles of the criminal justice field. An associate’s degree can get you an entry-level position and get your foot in the door of the criminal justice system.
An associate’s degree usually costs less per credit hour than a bachelor’s degree and will give you a foundation if you ever want to seek additional education. The average cost of an associate’s degree is around $3,500 per year at a community college and as much as $21,000 per year at a private school, according to the U.S. Department of Education. These degree programs are shorter and cheaper, however, you will not be able to jump into an advanced role.
In addition to your tuition, there are other costs to factor in when considering a criminal justice degree. Those that need assistance with things such as college essays, education counseling, and other parts of the college admissions process could seek advice from a consulting firm. College consulting prices will need to be factored into your cost for criminal justice education. You’ll also need to think about textbooks, technology fees, and other campus fees. Students might spend an additional $1,000 to $4,000 on expenses and fees. It’ll be important to think about additional costs when considering a criminal justice program.
Seeking a degree in criminal justice can open up new career opportunities within law enforcement agencies, forensics labs, and elsewhere in the justice system. Depending on the degree and coursework that you choose, a program could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. To help offset the cost, you could consider loans, scholarships, grants, and federal education funding. Whatever path you choose, your criminal justice career will be greatly benefited by a college degree.