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  • November/2016

What to Know if You're Considering Studying Criminal Justice

by Jared Newnam
November 16, 2016

Keeping our communities and our country safe is a key focus of everyone in criminal justice. Of course, what that looks like in practice depends on the career you pursue and whether it’s in law enforcement, correction, politics, or law. Across the board, however, a few things hold true for those exploring a bachelor’s or master’s degree in criminal justice.

Education and Experience Can Help You Stand Out

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), numerous careers in criminal justice may see 4% job growth in the coming years. This includes, Detectives and Criminal Investigators and Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists. Others, like Private Detectives and Investigators, Bailiffs, and Police Patrol Officers, will experience an average growth rate around 5% to 8%.

As with any job and depending on location, applicants may face competition for desirable positions. (Median annual salary for criminal justice roles mentioned above ranges from $41,000 to over $77,000.) The BLS especially anticipates strong competition for Private Detective and Investigator roles.

In competitive job situations, a candidate with a criminal justice degree and work experience may be most likely to catch the eye of a potential employer. For example, for Police and Detective positions, the BLS says that “applicants with a bachelor's degree and law enforcement or military experience, especially investigative experience, as well as those who speak more than one language, should have the best job opportunities.” For Probation Officer and Corrections positions, as well as employment within federal agencies, a bachelor’s degree is often required.

Technology is Increasingly Important across Professions

If you’ve been researching or studying criminal justice online, you likely know that technology has a drastic impact on the field.

On one side, there’s an array of valuable technologies. These take many forms, including connected database systems, automated license plate readers, and handheld biometric scanners used to identify suspects. In some locations, criminal justice workers currently carry tablets and smartphones that make it easier to access and distribute information. Such tools will only improve in the years to come.

Criminal justice professions under increasing scrutiny are also turning to technology like social media to build trust and demonstrate transparency in their communities. Although privacy concerns are still being debated, GPS systems and body cameras are also being introduced to support both safety and accountability in criminal justice professions.

Meanwhile, others apply technology for harm, with the The Department of Justice describing cyber crime as "one of the greatest threats facing our country" and Business Insider reporting that “the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks are at an all-time high.” When it comes to jobs, cyber crime is driving employment trends, with the BLS noting that “Internet scams, as well as other types of financial and insurance fraud, create demand for investigative services.” Such crimes are expected to continue at local, national and even global levels.

What to Look for in Criminal Justice Programs

While we’ve already noted that a criminal justice degree can help when applying for jobs, it’s also essential that students select the right program.

Your criminal justice degree program level (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.) will determine program length and curriculum, but all criminal justice degrees should share some foundational elements. First, anyone considering criminal justice courses or comparing criminal justice curriculums should look for programs that explore the importance of technology in this field. Equally valuable are criminal justice courses that address ethics and topics related to race, class, and gender. Finally, soft skills like leadership, problem-solving, communication, and conflict resolution should also be taught throughout a criminal justice curriculum.

Whether you prefer studying criminal justice online or on-campus, South University offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice that can prepare you for working in today’s changing field. Explore our criminal justice programs online or contact us today to learn more.

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Quick Tips for Transferring College Credit to a New School

by Jared Newnam
November 10, 2016

Quick Tips for Transferring College Credit to a New School

When it comes to college, not everyone finds the right fit the first time. Maybe your degree program no longer excites you or your current school isn’t as supportive or flexible as you’d hoped. Perhaps you took a break from college, and you’ve decided to finish what you started. Whatever the case, transferring college credits to a new school is sometimes the best choice for completing your degree.

The following tips can help you create a plan for transferring your credits and finishing your degree.

  1. Set aside time to research programs and contact your target schools.
    Once you pick what type of program you want, you’ll need to see what schools offer the program near you on campus or online. If you’re switching schools but want to stay in a similar program, be aware that program names may differ slightly across institutions. You’ll need to dig into the program details or ask an admissions representative to ensure you understand the program outcomes.

    While you’ll likely find programmatic information online, everyone’s academic history is unique, so you’ll need to speak to the admissions team about your eligibility for transferring credits. Your easiest and fastest option will be talking on the phone or in-person to avoid a long, complex email chain. Make sure to come prepared for these conversations by gathering documentation, including transcripts, to make sure you can prove you’ve completed courses or training.

  2. Ask schools about their transfer policies.
    Transfer of credit policies and procedures will vary by school and often involve minimum grade requirements. Schools typically require that courses you transfer for credit have similar descriptions and outcomes to the courses they offer. In addition, some schools may be able to take your diploma, certificate or associates degree and apply those credits towards a bachelor’s or even master’s level degree program.

    Sometimes two schools may have an articulation agreement--a document that describes what courses students may transfer from one school to the other in specific programs. While an articulation agreement between two schools can make transferring credit easier, you’ll still want to review the document carefully and contact a school representative for specific questions. Most community colleges will have articulation agreements in place with traditional, 4-year institutions.

  3. Don’t overlook non-traditional sources of transfer credit.
    Having prior college experience isn’t the only way to earn transfer credit. If you’ve been in the military, you may qualify for military experience transfer credit, as most military training courses have been evaluated for academic credit by the American Council on Education (ACE).

    Other non-traditional sources include exams that assess whether what you’ve learned from the military or other professional experiences may be deemed equivalent to college credit. These exams include the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) exams.

    Let the schools you’re considering know if you have military experience or are researching the CLEP or DSST exams, so that they can advise you on how to move forward.

  4. Transfer credit policies should not be the only factors driving your decisions.
    It’s easy to get caught up in the focus on transferring credit, but picking a school should be a fully thought out decision. Treat the process the same as if you were looking for a new school from scratch. Be sure to ask about accreditation, financial aid, academic support resources, faculty credentialing and access, alumni success, career services, class scheduling and anything else that might be important to you in a new school. Was there something you didn’t like about your last school? If so, avoid running into that same problem again.

  5. Considering transferring to South University? Let’s arrange a time to talk.
    If you’re thinking about transferring colleges, consider South University. Backed by a tradition of over 100 years, South University allows you to earn your degree online or on campus, with classes led by qualified and supportive faculty who are always ready to lend a hand. We are driven to help you succeed, so our transfer of credit policies are designed to make the most of the effort you’ve already put into your education. Request information online to learn more today.

Transfer credit is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. South University offers no guarantee that credit earned at another institution will be accepted into a program of study offered by South University.

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