What Is Criminal Justice Administration?

Criminal justice administration is a common degree program subject that addresses various topics in the criminal justice system. Here we define the field, as well as discuss the degree programs in criminal justice administration. Schools offering Criminal Justice degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Criminal Justice Administration Definition

Criminal justice administration focuses on the leadership and operations of the various aspects of the criminal justice system, such as the courts and law enforcement, which work together to help prevent and punish crime. Degree programs in criminal justice administration or criminal justice management tend to emphasize the leadership and administrative skills necessary to work executive positions within the criminal justice system. Graduates of these degree programs may pursue careers in law enforcement, corrections, the court systems, and other related agencies.

Degree Programs in Criminal Justice Administration

While there are several free, online courses in criminal justice available, there are also many different on-campus or online degree programs available in the field. Since the need for criminal justice is everywhere, these degree programs are fairly common. For example, students in Texas can pursue criminal justice degree programs in Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso, just to name a few. Below we explore these degree programs in more detail.


At the associate's level, students can most commonly pursue an Associate in Science (AS) or Associate of Arts (AA) in Criminal Justice Administration. These programs typically take 2 years to complete and are available in online formats. Students in these degree programs may take courses in topics like:

  • Criminal law
  • Intro to law enforcement
  • Corrections
  • Criminal investigation


Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice Administration degree programs are the most common, but Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees in the field are available. These programs can also be found online and usually require around 120 credits. Some of these programs may begin to let students specialize in different concentrations, such as corrections, law enforcement, and security, and/or may include an internship experience. At the bachelor's level, students may study topics in:

  • Criminal procedure
  • Constitutional law
  • Judicial process
  • Advanced law enforcement


Master's programs in criminal justice administration are available as Master of Science (MS) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees. Some of these are available online, and these degree programs may require around 33 to 36 credits, which could include a capstone course. These degree programs usually begin to incorporate topics in public administration in addition to those focused on criminal justice. Some course topics may include:

  • Research methods
  • Ethics
  • Criminology
  • Global terrorism


At the doctoral level, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs tend to not have titles specifically in criminal justice administration, but may be available in fields like criminal justice or justice administration with a focus on criminal justice. These programs may be available in hybrid formats and typically require a dissertation. Students may take courses in subjects like:

  • Crime prevention
  • Criminal justice planning
  • Criminal justice theory
  • Analysis of crime data

Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Jobs

As discussed, degree programs in criminal justice administration and criminal justice are available at the undergraduate and graduate level, but those wishing to advance to leadership positions in the field usually need at least a bachelor's degree in the field. In the table below, we explore some of the possible careers for those with a bachelor's in criminal justice and their salaries.

Job TitleAnnual Median Salary (2018)*
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists$53,020
Police and Detectives$63,380
Correctional Officers and Bailiffs$44,400
Private Detectives and Investigators$50,090
Paralegals and Legal Assistants$50,940

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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