What Can You Do With a Master's in Criminal Justice?

A detective looking at files

If you have an undergraduate degree in a justice studies field, you may be interested in furthering your education and earning a master’s degree. By earning a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Legal Studies, you can gain a competitive edge as you enter the workforce.

Many Criminal Justice Career Paths

With a master’s degree in criminal justice, you will be able to choose from many career paths and can pursue opportunities in the areas of law enforcement and government as well as certain management jobs. Having a master’s degree may also qualify you to advance to higher positions and increase your chances to earn higher pay.

Cybersecurity Investigator

A cybersecurity or computer crimes investigator can observe various crimes that involve hacking or other damage to computers’ file systems. These investigators can also recover certain data from computers that are involved in criminal prosecutions. The following are some tasks that a cybersecurity investigator performs:

  • Collecting evidence

  • Collecting computer and network information

  • Combating cyberattacks and correcting damage to computers

  • Recovering important data

Forensic Examiner

Forensic examiners provide biological evidence for law enforcement investigations. They also offer analytical observations, insights and opinions during criminal investigations. The following are some tasks that a forensic examiner may complete:

  • Taking videos and photographs of crime scenes

  • Observing and identifying evidence from crime scenes

  • Taking notes about crime information

  • Gathering evidence

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors create certain frameworks to reduce the dangers and vulnerabilities their communities face and thereby help their communities prevent and cope with major disasters. Emergency management directors reach out to the community and public safety officials to ensure that they have well equipped emergency response plans. The following are some responsibilities of emergency management directors: 

  • Communicating with emergency services
  • Coordinating disaster crisis responses
  • Responding to emergencies

  • Working alongside police, military and fire services

  • Writing safety development plans or reports  

What You'll Learn While Earning a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice

By earning a master’s degree in criminal justice, you can better understand important subjects, such as constitutional issues and rights under the law, including due process, the freedoms of speech and religion and equal protection. This expertise can not only benefit you personally but also enable you to foster healthy communities and preserve a sense of safety and security, which is so important in today’s world. All in all, pursuing a criminal justice degree can prepare you to fill an important role in society.

Prepare for Law School

If you desire to go to law school, enrolling in a criminal justice program, can put you on the right track. In your master’s coursework, you will learn essential information to succeed as a law school applicant. The knowledge you gain about legal issues in your master's in criminal justice degree program will give you insight to the type of coursework you will see in law school.

Becoming a Criminal Justice Professional

If you wish to pursue a career as a criminal justice professional, certain educational requirements will help ensure that you are properly trained and prepared. Your specific educational path depends on the type of criminal justice career you intend to pursue. At a minimum, you should obtain a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field to get your foot in the door. If you are already working in the field and want to improve in your position, or if you are looking to further your education, pursuing a master's degree in criminal justice may be the next step.

Success in any field takes effort and planning. In addition to pursuing your master's in criminal justice degree, here are some tips to give you an advantage in your career:

  • Research and find various types of jobs: While searching for jobs, you should ask yourself some questions, such as the following: “Would you prefer to work in the field or in an office?” “Are you interested in lab work or investigations?” “What part of criminal justice are you most passionate about?”
  • Create a detailed career plan: To establish a plan, you’ll need to identify the various requirements of each career field. You will also need to determine how long it will take you to complete your degree. Be open to adjusting your plan as you research and learn more.

  • Set personal goals for yourself: Setting specific goals will keep you motivated, organized, and prepared to stick to your personal timeline.
  • Start networking with people in the career field: Meeting and talking with people in the criminal justice field will give you a better glimpse into the profession.

  • Find a mentor in criminal justice: A mentor can help you revise your resume and prepare for interviews. They can also connect you with future employers, offer advice and answer any questions you have.
  • Build a professional resume: Your resume is an important gateway to presenting yourself professionally to future employers. You must develop your resume based on the type of job you are seeking.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.