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To major in Criminal Justice or too not major in it? Please help LEO'S


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  • To major in Criminal Justice or too not major in it? Please help LEO'S

    I am facing a tough decision ( to me it is ), I am in college and currently wrapping up my freshman year. Right now, I am majoring in criminal justice but after hearing officers tell me to major in something else so you have something to fall back on and now I am seriously thinking that. I have always wanted to be a police officer, was a police explorer and I am determined to become one.

    Long story short, my ultimate goal is to be a police officer then down the road be with a federal agency like DEA, US Marshals or something along those lines.

    Do you think I should major in Criminal Justice or something else? I have thought about majoring in education but I do not have any where near as much interest that I do in criminal justice/law enforcement. I practically have a minor right now in C.J. but I also do not want to jeopardize any future internships with a federal agency because I am not a C.J. major

    Also, I should tell you that I plan on attending a police academy to receive my OPOTA ( Ohio ) to become a police officer

    What would you do if you were in my shoes?

    Thank you and Stay safe
    Last edited by apdexplorer08; 04-25-2011, 11:23 PM.

  • #2
    I can't speak specifically for the Feds, but I know in local law enforcement, CJ isn't worth two beans when you apply to an agency. Not to say they will discount your degree, but it won't carry anymore weight than a degree in English, Biology, Math, ect. So it's a wash, good you have a degree, but it's not exactly getting you bonus points. Catch my drift.

    Unless you are really interested in CJ, I would say skip it. Instead, focus on things like computer science, foreign languages or accounting. Skills like that will make you more marketable to any agency, especially the feds


    • #3
      This has been discussed on O.com several times before...

      As Dingo stated... focus on a different major, something that you can specialize in if/when you make it to a federal law enforcement gig.

      Also, you'll want a degree in something other than criminal justice, that way you have something else to fall back on if a career in L.E. doesn't work out for you.
      Look sharp, act sharp, be sharp.


      • #4
        I'm a local LEO and my dad is a fed with lots of fed friends that I've talked to. With that being said, do something other than CJ. I majored in it and wish I hadn't. It made the academy a little easier because I had already had classes in criminal procedure, con law, and others like it. If I had it to do all over again, I would have done Poli Sci (since my school didn't have international relations) and minor in CJ.
        PS gives you a better understanding of how the world and government work and I personally like learning about that. Most departments just want you to have a degree and don't care what it is in. The feds prefer something that makes you less of a liability (also read 'less likely to do something stupid') and hopefully bring something cool to the table (having a JD, being a CPA, knowing another language, etc).
        If you want to look awesome on paper, learn another language like Arabic or even Spanish. If I had the mind for languages (God blessed me with being very smart in a lot of area's, unfortunately languages is not one of them), I would learn as many as I can and use it as often as possible.
        Originally posted by Ceridwen
        Just one would be stingy of me, I'd have to get two. For the children.


        • #5
          I have a CJ degree and if I had it to do again I would have picked another major just to be more marketable and as a fall back. Don't get me wrong I love my job and can't think of what I would do if I wasn't a cop. Unlike you, I found out my senior year that a CJ degree does not mean anything more to an agency than does any other degree. For me it was way to late to change my major. I cant speak for any federal agency but I would assume that a major in another field and minor in CJ would serve you well in moving into different positions within the agency. That's bout all the help I can give you. In the end, its your call. Good luck.

          P.S. You may want to speak to some advisor in the CJ program at your school, they would have some good insight on the concerns you brought up.


          • #6
            This is a hotly debated topic. Why don't you minor in CJ and major in soc or psych? That is, if you're interested in that sort of stuff. Many of my fellow officers went a business route. I was an accountant prior to LE and I will NOT get a degree in business...can't stand it. I wouldn't have made it through the classes w/o interest in what I was studying.

            In the end, it's your decision. I don't 100% disagree with others that say don't get a CJ degree because I see their point. If you can minor in it and major in something more versatile that you find interesting, that might be a compromise.

            I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.


            • #7
              Thank you all for your advice. This is something that I keep debating on majoring in education and minoring in C.J. but I keep changing my mind because my grades will probably show a good decline if I do not take CJ classes. Thank you for the help and hopefully I can figure everything out this week as far as my options


              • #8
                An Education degree could work well for you but only if you want it.
                Things to consider: Going into law enforcement you will use skills learned in Psychology, English, Poli-Sci, computers, etc.
                Keep in mind a bad scenario in your career: you get hurt on the job & have to once again figure out "what you want to do when you grow up". I've been there & my non-LEO degree helped. (I have an AA in CJ & a BSW - Social Work).
                BTW: As a police officer I was a very well paid social worker


                • #10
                  Major in English. Holy crap I have read some terrible reports.


                  • #11
                    I learned nothing in my criminal justice classes that I can honestly say makes me a better Border Patrol Agent. Everything I learned of value, I learned in the academy and from FTO's and senior Agents. I imagine it would be the same for Police officers.

                    In fact, I suppose I would have be a self-loathing Border Patrol Agent if I had actually taken seriously what was being taught in some of those classes.

                    Think about your long-term career options. Major in IT, a financial field, a foreign language, law....something that really sets you apart in case you ever want to go Federal at some point. Much easier to do with one of those degrees.
                    Last edited by Cyber_Saint; 04-29-2011, 09:29 PM.


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by Cyber_Saint View Post
                      I learned nothing in my criminal justice classes that I can honestly say makes me a better Border Patrol Agent. Everything I learned of value, I learned in the academy and from FTO's and senior Agents. I imagine it would be the same for Police officers.
                      I think a lot of how much we learn at college depends upon the quality of the instructor(s). My understanding of criminal law, rules of evidence, search and seizure, etc..., was far better than those of my academy classmates after graduation because of the preparation I had in college administration of justice courses. Later, that knowledge provided a better foundation for understanding legal concepts than the vast majority of my peers when I became an investigator and I had a much easier time filing cases, obtaining search warrants and dealing with various issues when the cases went to trial.

                      As a sergeant, I was able to provide better training to the officers I supervised and insured they could provide a better work product. Not only were they able to get more cases filed, we were also able to better avoid complaints and potential civil liability issues.

                      Unfortunately, today's economic situation is going to provide less funding for departments to spend on training. Officers, supervisors and police managers are either going to get the necessary training on their own (through colleges and universities) or find themselves without the tools needed for handling increasingly complex assignments.

                      What's really aggravating to me, is how it's becoming more and more common to hear "fiscal conservatives" trying to lower costs associated with law enforcement, by downplaying the importance of education. They suggest (without foundation) that it's not only unnecessary to recruit college educated applicants, but a waste of money to provide advanced training, educational incentives for those in the profession, or require police managers to have degrees. The argument: "If Bill Gates can be successful without a college degree, why do we have to pay for over-educated cops!"
                      "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."


                      • #13
                        I have a B.S. in Criminal Justice, a M.S. in Public Management, and currently pursuing a J.D. If I had to go through undergrad again I would probably still do Criminal Justice. Why? because I loved the classes and my grades reflected that. I think a lot of it has to do with several factors such as age, learning style, and what keeps you motivated/interested. If I tried to major in another subject such as accounting, I'm not sure if I would have finished my bachelors! I was young when pursuing the bachelor's degree 13 years ago and I needed a subject that kept me interested. Now that I'm older, I stay more motivated and focused on my goals, which is probably what is helping me deal with the Contract law final I have this coming Monday (Lord help...)! I know that I eventually want to practice criminal law, but having to study on other types of law still isn't so bad because I have the mindset and tolerance for it that I probably would not have had when I was 21/22.

                        There's no such thing as a "bad" or "worthless" degree. Obtaining a college education is a great achievement. With that said, the educational standards for many LE agencies are rising. Most Fed agencies have required a 4-yr degree for awhile, but you can tell that many local/state agencies are requiring some college, a 4-yr degree, or at least incentives to pursue further education. I'm always thinking "what can put me ahead of the curve?" Majoring in criminal justice has been discussed a ton here as cruiser has pointed out. I just don't believe it's a simple answer. If you're able to stay focused and motivated majoring in something else with CJ as a minor, than I might encourage that. If you think your GPA is going to be affected by moving into something else, then I would stick with it. I interviewed with USSS a couple of years ago and the only thing that was brought up about my bachelor's was a low GPA in the first couple of years of college (i.e. they didn't care about major). Some agencies like the FBI look for accounting, JD, and other specialty trades/degrees while others conducting operations outside the US look for a major in a foreign language.

                        On a last note, education isn't everything! Do things that will make you stand out to potential employers such as community service or volunteer work, specific technical training, etc.
                        Last edited by SgtScott31; 05-01-2011, 02:48 AM.
                        I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..


                        • #14
                          Originally posted by SgtScott31 View Post
                          I If I had to go through undergrad again I would probably still do Criminal Justice. Why? because I loved the classes and my grades reflected that. .
                          The real reason to get that CJ degree....!

                          Study something you enjoy, something that interests you. Your grades will show your interest & it will make getting the degree finished much more comfortable.
                          Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                          My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS


                          • #15
                            My degree is in CJ and I also went through the academy...once you finish your degree you can always do graduate studies as well...get your mba if you want. You have a lot of options man.


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