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Criminal Justice & Corrections

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Criminal Justice & Corrections Major

95,585 yearly degrees
#5 in popularity
$72,000 median salary

Criminal justice and corrections is a major that typically falls into the Law Enforcement & Firefighting category.

There are 1,649 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in criminal justice, 1,348 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 448 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 36 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Criminal Justice Degree?

In 2017, roughly 58,700 criminal justice majors graduated with a bachelor’s degree, making it the 5th most popular major in the country. According to recent stats this major attracts about equal numbers of men and women. Roughly 50.4% of the graduates are women, and 49.6% are men.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of criminal justice majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 2.5%
  • Black or African American: 18.3%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 22.2%
  • White: 47.8%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 1.1%
  • Other Races: 8.1%
Criminal Justice & Corrections Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in criminal justice. About 1.1% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending criminal justice majors to the U.S. are Saudi Arabia, Canada and China.

What Will You Learn as a Criminal Justice & Corrections Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to criminal justice to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Criminal Justice Majors

A major in criminal justice should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for Criminal Justice & Corrections Majors

Skills for Criminal Justice Majors

When studying criminal justice, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

Important Skills for Criminal Justice & Corrections Majors

Abilities for Criminal Justice Majors

A major in criminal justice will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

Important Abilities for criminal justice Majors

What Can You Do With a Criminal Justice Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with criminal justice:

Careers Related to Criminal Justice & Corrections
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Fire Inspectors



Loss Prevention Managers



Immigration and Customs Inspectors



Fire Investigators



Compliance Managers



Regulatory Affairs Managers



Intelligence Analysts



Security Managers



Transit and Railroad Police



First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers



Criminal Justice & Corrections Major Salary

Criminal justice majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $57,000 to $90,000. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Criminal Justice Major  ( 57000 to 90000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Criminal Justice & Corrections Major Jobs

Some careers associated with criminal justice require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to criminal justice have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Criminal Justice & Corrections
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Criminal Justice & Corrections Programs

There are 1,348 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and corrections, with 418 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Online learners benefit from being able to watch lectures remotely and complete coursework on their schedule, but they also take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to dropout.

Is a Criminal Justice & Corrections Major Worth It?

The median salary for a criminal justice grad is $72,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 86% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $669,800 after 20 years!

criminal justice and corrections salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online

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