A police officer sitting with two children.

What Can I Do with a Master’s in Criminal Justice Degree?

A master’s degree in criminal justice (MCJ) will open doors to a wide variety of careers. Not only will the degree make you a quality job candidate, but it could also fast-track you to promotion.  

Criminal justice career woman standing outside of a courthouse.

What Other Law Enforcement Careers Can I Pursue with a Master's in Criminal Justice?

If you are not interested in a career in local- or state-level law enforcement, a master's degree in criminal justice helps you contend for sought-after positions within federal agencies. This could include but is not limited to careers in the following:  

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 
  • Department of Homeland Security 
  • Department of Justice 
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives 
  • Drug Enforcement Administration 

Careers in Community Corrections

Your master's of criminal justice degree can make you a competitive candidate for a career as a juvenile or adult probation or parole officer. Probation officers monitor individuals who have been sentenced to probation rather than prison. 

  • Probation officers frequently interact with offenders or adjudicated delinquents to make sure that individual is staying on the right path (i.e., staying out of trouble, staying in school or working, completing requirements of probation). Probation officers also monitor the individual’s progress while on probation.
  • Parole officers have similar roles and responsibilities as probation officers. However, their focus is on those who have been released from prison and are serving parole. They help to ensure the individual’s smooth re-integration into the community. 

What Are the Prospects for a Career in Community Corrections?

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that more than 4.3 million people were under community supervision (probation and parole) at the end of 2019, suggesting a significant need for probation or parole officers. 

The median pay for probation and parole officers is $55,690 annually according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.   

A Career as an Adjunct Professor 

You may be surprised by the number of MCJ graduates who find employment as adjunct professors! As universities require at least a master's degree to teach most courses, this degree opens many opportunities for graduates. Graduates are knowledgeable and passionate about specific criminal justice-related topics and welcome the opportunity to teach others.  

Teaching as an adjunct professor offers the flexibility that graduates need because they can teach evening or online courses. It is also an opportunity to earn extra income. Since so many of our graduates intend to become educators, Widener University now offers a capstone course as part of our master's in criminal justice program that allows graduate students to develop a course of their own. 

What Are the Prospects for a Career as an Adjunct Professor?

As college enrollment remains stable, so does the demand for instructors. While pay varies widely, employment of postsecondary teachers is projected to grow according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Other Career Options for MCJ Graduates

Correctional Officer

Correctional officers or detention officers (local or state institution) typically work in prisons, jails, reformatories, and penitentiaries. Their main duties are to oversee and control arrested individuals who have been convicted and incarcerated or are awaiting trial. 

Fraud Investigator

Fraud investigators are pivotal in helping victims of identity theft and cybercrimes like credit card fraud and intellectual property theft. 

Cybersecurity Specialist

The main role of a cybersecurity specialist is to secure software and network security systems. By monitoring, investigating, and implementing security systems, a cybersecurity specialist can protect against threats like phishing and malware.

Victim Advocate

Victim advocates (employed by court system, private, or non-profit agency) offer emotional support as well as resources and assistance to victims of crime.  

Court Officer

A court officer helps to enforce laws and regulations inside the courtroom. Court officers will make sure the entire courtroom is safe during the trial by escorting prisoners and intervening in any disruptions that may be or turn violent. 

Security Analyst for Court System

Security analysts help maintain secure data networks, examine areas for weaknesses, and find ways to improve security for court systems.   

Behavioral Specialist

When a crime occurs, a behavioral specialist steps in and gathers information on the crime scene and creates a psychological profile on potential suspects. These profiles help officers identify and apprehend suspects. 

Youth Correctional Counselor

Working primarily at juvenile detention centers, youth correctional counselors are vital in aiding delinquent youth who have been incarcerated. A youth correctional counselor’s main goal is to help juveniles change their behavior to avoid future arrests.  

Graduate students studying

What Skills Will I Develop Through my Criminal Justice Master's Program?

While pursuing a master's degree in criminal justice from Widener University you will have the opportunity to hone your communication skills. You will develop your writing skills by completing numerous papers during your graduate studies. Also, while completing the degree, students have plenty of opportunities to work on their oral communication skills through presentations.

Learn More About Widener's MCJ Program