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  • A good college major?

    I'm 25 years old and finally going back to college in the Fall and am wondering what would be the best major for me for a career in Law Enforcement. I'd like to choose a major that would best support my plan to move on to a federal agency when the timing is right. I've thought about Criminal Justice, of course, but I've been thinking that it might be a bit wiser to choose something that would be more of a specialty, such as Telecommunications, Computer Science, etc. The thing is, I'd really like to get into the investigation or intelligence side of LE. Does anyone have thoughts or opinions?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Think about Psychology, Behavioral Science, Public Administration, Management, Business Administration, and Applied Studies.

    The last four will help if you are looking for a promotion down the line.
    Brutality is when we hit back.
    -Unknown Officer

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    • #3
      Thanks for your replies guys.

      Ya know it really sounds like the Business or Management degrees might be the safest and most sound decisions. But then again, Psychology or Behavioral Science would be something maybe a bit more useful in a specialized role, such as investigator.
      I thought about the computer-related degree and that really sounds good but with a tech-type degree, I've only found those degrees to be used for creating tech, not using it. Please correct me if I'm wrong on that!

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      • #4
        I was a Federal Agent for 27 years, we had folks with degrees ranging from art appreciation to animal husbandry. Knowing how to think logically was what mattered - the guy with the Animal Husbandry degree made a huge case on smuggled bull semen, though. Turns out, it's worth more than heroin.

        Edited to add: Zooology, we did have someone with a degree in Zooology. Helped out on brid smuggling cases!

        I would suggest courses in accounting, Finance, Spanish, Psyc., and the like. These days you may want to study Arabic or Farsi instead of Spanish.

        My degree was in Industrial Management. It did help me in a very complex investigation into imported steel, knowing where to look to prove if two lots of steel were the same. I added about $2Mil to the Treasury with that one fact.
        Last edited by Sleuth; 02-17-2004, 03:45 PM.
        "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
        John Stuart Mill

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        • #5
          I'm in school right now with a major in Business Management and a Minor in Law Enforcement. Even with a minor in LE I still get to take some great classes LE related. Not only do I have to take them for my minor but I also take them for my electives. Add all those up and your taking close to what an LE major student takes.

          Quite a bit of my family are police officers from all around the country and we have a bunch of family friends that are cops as well. All the people who majored in LE tell me not to do it. They tell me that Business or Computer Science is what they would have done if they could do it over again. It really, really sucks taking business classes, seeing that I absolutely hate them, but if you can get through 4 more years of school after doing so much, than you will be better off.....so I hear. Otherwise, just get a degree in anything. Something is better than nothing I suppose. Good luck!

          Mike

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          • #6
            Everyone always says to stay away from majoring in CJ, so what I did (am doing) is getting my bachelor's in one thing and then getting an associates in CJ. Its really not that many extra credits to pick up the extra degree (like 40 or something) and it looks good to have two degrees. I have finished my CJ degree, right now I'm in the academy and let me tell you it has helped me out a LOT in many ways. I don't have to study as much and I already knew 3 of my academy instructors b/c I had them as professors.

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            • #7
              If you want to go into a federal agency, narrow your list of choices down and major in something that those agencies have a use for.

              For example, if you want to go into the IRS-CID, you're going to need to have lots of accounting experience. The FBI also likes accounting. As someone else said, foreign languages are a great major. Just about EVERY federal agency is looking for people with foreign language backgrounds.

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              • #8
                Well, now I'm thinking what might be a good major for me would be Psychology and a minor in a Foreign Language, such as Arabic. It just makes me nervous majoring in Foreign Language because of the "putting all of my eggs in one basket" factor. If something happens to me down the line, hindering my ability to perform my job, I'd preferthe option to practice something like Psychology. If the Foreign Language minor isn't available, I'd still definitely try to get at least 2 foreign languages under my belt, such as Arabic and Spanish. Thanks for all this great input, officers!

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                • #9
                  You can't 'practice' psychology with an undergraduate degree. You'll need at the very least a Master's, and preferably a Ph.D before you can get most clinical psychology jobs.

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                  • #10
                    I dont think a department would really care what you got your degree in as much as they would what your grades were. Take something that you are interested in and will do in. myself, Im interested in CJ and I think its something that I'll do well in so I'll probly take CJ as a major and minor in public admin or bussiness.

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                    • #11
                      Something that you may want to consider is how interested you are in another field. It's true that a cj degree isn't going to be a huge advantage for many agencies but it's also very hard to perform well in an area that you don't have interest in. If I were anything but a cj major I probably would have flunked out of school by now. Just something you may want to keep in mind.

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                      • #12
                        Not a college major, but I started my Masters in CJ and abruptly stopped. Switching over to a Masters in Public Administration.

                        I would definetly look at a business/public administration degree. Those type of degrees can be applied in the real world. Truthfully, my sociology degree has done diddly squat in police work. It even had an emphasis in criminal justice. 4 years of college work, and I learned more about police work in 3 months of academy than all that work in college. You will get your fill of CJ, it is just a matter of time.

                        Trust me, coming from a kid who was overly-excited and enthusiastic about CJ in college. I was so blind-sided by only going into that major, and now wish I studied something else and minored in CJ.

                        K9

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                        • #13
                          Like a number of other people who have responded here I also have a BS in Admin of Justice and wish I had worked on something else. I will say that taking classes in AJ was a benefit though, it made getting through college much easier. Taking classes in something that interests you makes all the difference. For people looking to get into LE the classes are actually enjoyable because mainly they're taught by retired LEO's and taken by others looking to go into LE.

                          As for what's the best degree to get, yea accounting and languages would be good for federal, but you have to consider what would still benefit you if LE didn't work out. You never know what could happen, and you should have something to fall back on. In that case language and accounting wouldn't be my first choice.

                          Just something else to think about.

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