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Criminal Justice & Corrections Major

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Criminal Justice & Corrections

7,748 Master's Degrees Annually
218 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#31 in Popularity (Master's)
$72,390 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Criminal Justice & Corrections Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many criminal justice and corrections graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 7,748
Graduate Certificate 836
Doctor’s Degree 218

What Criminal Justice & Corrections Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to criminal justice and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Criminal Justice Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in criminal justice should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Skills for Criminal Justice Majors

A major in criminal justice prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Criminal Justice Majors

A major in criminal justice will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Criminal Justice & Corrections Major?

People with a criminal justice degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Accountants 10.0% $70,500
Auditors 10.0% $70,500
Business Intelligence Analysts 9.3% $90,270
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 14.2% $46,270
Compliance Managers 8.0% $107,480
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Professors 12.1% $61,900
Document Management Specialists 9.3% $90,270
Emergency Management Directors 7.9% $74,420
Financial Examiners 9.7% $80,180
Forensic Science Technicians 16.9% $58,230
Information Security Analysts 28.5% $98,350
Information Technology Project Managers 9.3% $90,270
Investment Fund Managers 8.0% $107,480
Loss Prevention Managers 8.0% $107,480
Regulatory Affairs Managers 8.0% $107,480
Security Managers 8.0% $107,480

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice & Corrections?

7,748 Master's Degrees Annually
56% Percent Women
43% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
Criminal Justice and Corrections runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #31 out of all the graduate majors we track. In 2019, about 7,748 graduates completed their master’s degree in this field. The major attracts more women than men. About 56% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of criminal justice majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Criminal Justice Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 185
Black or African American 1,807
Hispanic or Latino 1,093
White 3,666
International Students 169
Other Races/Ethnicities 828

Geographic Diversity

Criminal Justice appeals to people across the globe. About 2.2% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • Canada
  • China
  • South Korea
  • United Arab Emirates

How Much Do Criminal Justice & Corrections Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a master’s degree in criminal justice have a median salary of $42,700 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $37,200 (25th percentile) and $48,500 (75th percentile).


It’s important to note that just because the people reporting these salaries have a degree in criminal justice, it does not mean that they are working in a job related to their degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $56,810 to $90,310 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to criminal justice. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Criminal Justice & Corrections Major  ( 56810 to 90310 )
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )

Some careers associated with criminal justice require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to criminal justice have obtained the following education levels.

Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 0.2%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 22.4%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 8.7%
Some College Courses 12.7%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 12.1%
Bachelor’s Degree 31.9%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 2.1%
Master’s Degree 8.8%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.5%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.3%
Doctoral Degree 0.6%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.1%

Online Criminal Justice & Corrections Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 2,011 schools offered some type of criminal justice and corrections program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 912 156
Certificate (1-2 years) 575 90
Certificate (2-4 Years) 7 0
Associate’s Degree 1,559 383
Bachelor’s Degree 124 57
Post-Baccalaureate 912 156
Master’s Degree 438 205
Post-Master’s 15 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 36 7
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 1 1
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Criminal Justice & Corrections Worth It?

The median salary for a criminal justice grad is $72,390 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 81% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $649,800 after 20 years!


You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to criminal justice.

Major Number of Grads
Fire Protection 13,656
Homeland Security 6,367
Other Homeland Security 1,995


More about our data sources and methodologies.

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