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  • Degree for law enforcement

    I am planning to join a police department in MD. I am 16 now. I plan to get a degree before i go apply, to increase my chances of getting hired, and also for promotions and such. Is criminal justice the best degree to have? I was looking at History, or a social science. Any advice? I want a degree that is multipurpose so i can have a back up plan in case something happens. Thanks Everyone

    P.S. University of Maryland
    The myth of the "high speed special agent" continues........

  • #2
    A CJ degree has it's positives and negatives. It isn't a bad degree; don't get me wrong, but its very specific. Nothing you can really do with it if you need to fall back to a different career. However, it does show law enforcement agencies that you have been interested in LE for a while and you're not just someone who is looking for a job. Also shows you have "somewhat" (I stress somewhat) of an understanding of what a police officer's role is and what you are about to get yourself into.

    University of Maryland has a Homeland Security degree that looks interesting. Again, specific, but it sounds pretty cool and will give you more options than a CJ degree will IMO. It even has specific concentrations. If I could do the whole college thing over I would have done that.

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    • #3
      A CJ degree or any degree regarding police work is IMHO stupid.

      Find a degree in something that is 100% not police work.

      Reason being...you do not need a degree in most places to do police work.

      If you are really interested you stand a good chance to get into law enforcement at 22-24 years of age.

      You'll retire at worst by the time your 50.

      You'll have a good 10-15 years to get another job doing something else with a degree.

      If that doesnt sound "right for you" the look at it as most places dont need a specific degree....so in other words ANY degree is better then not having one at all. I've never seen an application that requires and gives preference to a CJ degree in anything police related.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Name Taken View Post
        I've never seen an application that requires and gives preference to a CJ degree in anything police related.
        I have once. Bureau of Engraving & Printing Police preferred their applicants to have CJ degrees when I saw the announcement for an opening a year ago. Other than that you're right, as long as you do have a degree you will be competitive.

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        • #5
          As they say...you can have a degree in basket weaving to be a cop :P They just want to see that pretty piece of paper stating you've earned a degree.

          But it's good that at 16 your thinking about this and a backup degree. It's something I highly recommend... because oyu may get on the job and find it's not for you...or you may get hurt and can't do the job. Back up degree will then be very important. Also if you have the desire, patience and funding...go for 4 year degree. I regret stopping at 2...and its so hard (though certainly not impossible, just takes a lot of dedication and time management) to go back to school later.

          Wish ya luck with career and college prep.
          "Swallow your pride, don't let your lip react,
          You don't wanna see my hand where my hip be at"

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          • #6
            I would recommend against criminal justice. Choose something else that really interests you. I think history would be enjoyable. I was a political science major and do not regret it at all. You may choose a major and find another career path that you prefer to police work. I suggest a major that will help you develop your ability to write well. This will be invaluable in a law enforcement career.

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            • #7
              Emergency Management, Homeland Security and Disaster Management, Public Administration, Criminal Justice, all are good for prospective cops.

              As many depts, progress, they are starting to REQUIRE, a BA or BS. So getting a degree, or at least thinking about it is a good idea.

              I would recommend applying as soon as possible, and taking all entrance tests.

              I have found that having A degree, is more important than having one in CJ or LE.

              As you go higher in the Police Deptartment, many thik that having degrees in Business or Management is a good idea.

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              • #8
                get something in administration or management. a CJ degree wont matter in maryland, but admin might help you advance in rank and after retirement you might have an edge in another field.

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                • #9
                  I received my B.A. from Maryland in Government and Politics and minored in the Studies of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) - It is only a minor at this time but they do have a Grad program.

                  No department has judged me on my degree choice. They just liked the fact that I had one. My reason for choosing the path I did is because later in life I want to go Fed. When I inquired as to what degree I should get with a Special Agent friend of mind he told me that "criminal justice degrees are a dime a dozen" and told me to shoot for something like finance or government and politics. Something that is diverse.

                  And FYI, a CJ degree will not teach you how to become a cop or tactics used. The coursework is mainly research based with a lot of statistic and trend analysis. You will learn about overarching police strategies and such like broken windows and hot spots policing, but that's about it. Great knowledge....but its not academy type coursework.
                  "Against the machinations of your enemies you can take defense, but against the stupidity of fools, the very gods themselves fight in vain" ~ Johann C.F. Von Schiller


                  "Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck."
                  --Thomas Jefferson

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                  • #10
                    I will say that MD does have one of, if not THE, best Criminal Justice programs in the nation.... it is usually ranked in the top 10.
                    "Against the machinations of your enemies you can take defense, but against the stupidity of fools, the very gods themselves fight in vain" ~ Johann C.F. Von Schiller


                    "Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck."
                    --Thomas Jefferson

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