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Criminal Law Majors

Criminal law isn't typically studied at the undergraduate level, but criminal justice majors are common. Learn about the coursework involved in a criminal justice bachelor's program, as well as the careers this degree program would prepare you for. Explore opportunities for graduate-level education.

What Will I Learn as a Criminal Justice Major?

While no criminal law major exists, you can earn your Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Criminal Justice as an undergraduate student. You can also earn this degree online. During this B.S. program, you'll learn about due process, criminology and police operations. You'll also learn about corrections, criminal investigations, juvenile law and drug offenses. Undergraduate programs are designed to provide a foundation of knowledge for students who are looking to enter careers in law and the courts, as well as police and corrections.

As a criminal justice major, you'll also develop some of the skills required for a career as a lawyer or law enforcement officer. For example, coursework will develop your abilities in written communications and critical thinking. You'll develop leadership and organizational skills, as well.

Common Course TopicsCriminology, due process, drug offenses, criminal investigations, corrections
Career OptionsPolice officer, patrol officer, corrections officer, federal agent
Graduate DegreesMaster's degree, Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% growth (for lawyers)*
Median Salary (2018)$120,910 (for lawyers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Can I Use My Degree?

If you pursue a criminal justice major through an undergraduate program, you'll be prepared for roles in law enforcement, such as police officer or corrections officer. However, you'll need to complete police academy training in the state you plan to work in before joining a local or state police force.

Law enforcement positions with federal agencies require at least a four-year degree, and you'll need to complete training at a federal academy. If you plan on working as a patrol officer or a field agent, you'll also need to complete firearms training and obtain a permit to carry firearms.

How Can I Continue My Education?

Criminal justice majors looking for supervisory positions can earn their master's degree. In a Master of Science (M.S.) program, you'll learn about the supervisory duties of sheriffs, police chiefs, homeland security specialists and police administrators. These programs also explore professional communications, criminal behavior, corrections and terrorism.

If you're looking to become a criminal lawyer, you can earn your Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree and pursue a career as a defense attorney or prosecutor. In a J.D. degree program, you'll learn about the advanced aspects of criminal law, such as legal research, appellate practice, rules of evidence and due process. You'll also learn about constitutional law and its application to criminal cases.