Crime drama television programs have captured the attention of millions of viewers in both the United States and abroad. Maybe that is why criminal justice programs are gaining popularity.
In the real world, it’s unlikely that you’ll solve a crime in just 60 minutes. However, if you have a desire to work in this field…the opportunities are endless.
Twenty years ago, when Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi started its criminal justice program, there were only 3 professors and about 30 students. Today it has 7 professors and more than 400 students.
"That means we are giving our students a core of criminal justice that they need to know. It is a little bit about why people do what they do, a little introduction to the system, how it works and doesn’t work. Then after that we can customize and our students can take courses in what they are really interested in," said assistant professor of criminal justice Dr. Wendi Pollock.
A criminal justice degree can both prepare you, and set you apart from the pack. The instructors in the criminal justice programs at the University have vast real-world expertise which ensures classroom experience isn’t just based on theory.
"Our requirements here are that we do about 40 percent of time in the classroom, and about 40 percent of our time in the field. So a lot of us are out researching the very stuff we are teaching in the classroom,"said Pollock.
"We get out there and interact with police, interact with criminals; we interact with people who are doing these jobs so when we come back to the classroom we can help our students solve these problems. We are solving the problems with the police department nationwide, "said Pollock.
Despite common misconceptions (due in part to the popularity of television series like ( "CSI" or "Law & Order"), careers in criminal justice involve much more than policing or crime scene investigations.
"In fact, we teach an entire class on crime in the media, and we focus on how the media portrays the players, criminals, crime events, and we compare all of that to the reality,"said Pollock.
And when it comes to finding a job within the criminal justice field, the door is wide open.
"It use to be you have to be a cop, you have to be an attorney or you are going to go work for a prison system. Now we got all kinds of things; we have victim advocates, we have people that cross over with psychology and work with offenders, people that work with victims, people that work with families of victims, there all kinds of programs out there, and people can work specifically with children, and civilian investigation type work nationwide. There are a thousand jobs now that are available that do all kinds of things,"said Pollock.
Criminal Justice is a diverse field so there is a wide array of possible career paths at the local, state, and federal levels or in the private sector. You may be interested in law enforcement, the courts/law or corrections.
Many of our graduates work with children/youth and the juvenile justice system.
Participating in the Applied Experience Program is a great way to find out if a particular career is right for you.
The following occupations are just some of the careers associated with a degree in Criminal Justice.
- Police Officer/Deputy Sheriff
- Forensic Specialist
- Crime Analyst
- Crime Scene Investigator
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Customs and Border Protection
- Coast Guard
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Secret Service
- Transportation Security Administration
- ATF Agent
- FBI Agent (or other position)
- DEA Agent
- U.S. Marshal
- Park or Forest Service Ranger (Federal)
- Game Warden or Park Ranger (State)
- Inspector (Federal or State agencies)
- Naval Criminal Investigative Service
- Trial Assistant
- Court Administrator
Probation Officer (Adult or Juvenile)
Parole Officer (Adult or Juvenile)
Substance Abuse Counselor
Counselor/Case Manager or other specialist in Prisons
Additional Career Opportunities
Criminal Justice Planner
Loss Prevention Specialist
Adult or Child Protective Service
Insurance claims or Fraud Investigator
To learn more about the criminal justice program at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, click here.