Is a Criminal Justice degree worthless?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by sideman, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    This might've been answered before but I'd like to get a fresh take on it. I've been arguing with someone on and I'd like to get some other viewpoints on it to help or even learn something new regarding my argument. Anyone? :banghead:
  2. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

  3. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    My criminal justice degree is certainly not worthless even though I no longer work in the field. It helped me to learn how to learn (if that makes sense) it helped me to understand how the law works (very handy in private business) it also taught me a lot of the soft skills I would use in my management career (going 10+ years) and project management career (going 5+ years) and finally allowed me to major in business administration and later management information systems all while qualifying me to sit for the PMP exam. I don't regret it for a second.
  4. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    Thanks to both of you. I understand both of your comments and appreciate them. BTW my argument is "for" a criminal justice degree to the OP's question in the city-data forum. Unfortunately there are some obstinate folks there that think it's useless for law enforcement and useless in general. Nevertheless, I'm currently studying CJ and have always been fascinated by criminal law and justice. As I'm somewhat older I will never be in LE, but I'm enjoying my studies so far and would consider a second career in court administraton or parole/probation officer.
  5. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    My CJ degrees have served me very well (25% raise in the form of education incentives).

    I belong to several message boards like this, but tailored for police officers, and once in awhile a cop on a department without an education incentive will try the old "CJ degrees are worthless" shtick, and they invariably don't have any degree at all.

    Go look at any job listings, and the great majority of jobs which require a four-year degree just require a four-year degree; it can be in Criminal Justice, Liberal Arts, or Ancient Babylonian Astrology. As John Bear once said, a college degree is a very valuable commodity, regardless of what the major is.
  6. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    Thanks Bruce. Great post. When I got the argument that cops think that a CJ degree is worthless for LE, I thought of what you said regarding those cops that don't have a degree. You, friendorfoe (aka Cajun) and Abner have always been inspirational posters to me besides of course, the incomparable John Bear.
  7. FJD

    FJD Member

    My undergrad degree is in CJ. It was great preparation for law school, and I find myself still using a lot of what I learned as an undergrad at work pretty frequently. So, I'm afraid your opponent's claim does not ring true with me: I feel my CJ degree was definitely worthwhile.
  8. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    I think what *some* of the "worthless" crowd are trying to say is that there will be a lot of duplication of learning for a police officer who earns a CJ degree after they've been on the job for awhile. There is some truth to that, which is why I successfully challenged a bunch of CJ courses at Quincy College through my training and experience.

    However, they didn't accept all my challenges, such as for Constitutional Law. The evaluator believed that I didn't have the necessary breadth to challenge that, since my training was strictly on criminal issues of Con Law, while the course covered other aspects in addition to that. I took the course and pretty much knew everything already anyway, since I'm a legal junkie who reads court decisions for fun, but what was the harm? I did learn *some* new things, and it was no heavy lifting for 16 weeks.

    If nothing else, I've trained some n00bs just out of the academy as an FTO who could have definitely used a Freshman College Composition course, as their report-writing "abilities" were a disaster.
  9. JBjunior

    JBjunior Active Member

    I think the "worthless" comments also come down to people that get the degree solely to be in law enforcement and then either can't find a job with it (pre-economic downturn) or realize they didn't need to have it to get the job in the first place.

    If "any" 4 year degree will do, there are options with more value out there, but if like sideman you actually enjoy the subject then it is just as good a pick as any.
  10. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    No ........
  11. perrymk

    perrymk Member

    I'll share now what I shared when this topic came up a while back. These are just my experiences, that is, conversations that actually took place. You can have whatever opinion you like.

    1. I took flying lessons one summer when I was in college (B&M in the late 80s). My flying instructor was also a student and aspiring to be an airline pilot. I asked him what he was studying. I was thinking management is always a good, languages might be helpful, even humanities to better appreciate the sites he would one day visit around the world. He told me he was studying CJ. He said that to get into airline flight school one needed a degree but it didn't matter what the degree was so people typically chose the easiest. That was either CJ or poly sci. (I'm not saying I agree with his assessment of rigor; I'm only relaying what he told me.)

    2. I am now employed as a crime lab analyst and occasionally teach a class to law enforcement officers. During a break I was discussing education with the LE training coordinator. She told me that a degree is the norm to apply for a position as detective in her agency and she's surprised people think a degree in CJ will impress anyone. She said the reason people study CJ is that it is easy. It doesn't impress anyone. She much preferred almost any other degree. Public admin, languages, English, computer science , etc.

    If it interests you then by all means study CJ. But if usefulness is a criteria my experience suggests one might want to spend their time studying something else.
  12. truckie270

    truckie270 New Member

    I am sorry, but is your "experience" on this issue based on hearing two anecdotal stories from a flight instructor in the late 80s and a LE Training coordinator?
  13. perrymk

    perrymk Member

    No, I have more experiences with CJ courses and degrees I could share, but I thought I made my point with one degree-fufills-check-box story and one law-enforcement-job story. I'm sure you have better and more relevant experiences and opinions to share and I look forward to reading them.

    For the OP, please notice I never called the degree worthless. I only suggest that in some cases one's efforts may be better spent pursuing a different degree. Your personal situation may be such that the CJ degree is a good route to take. Only you can decide that.
  14. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    In Massachusetts, all you need to be a police officer is a GED and a driver's license, although with everything else being equal, the candidate with the degree is probably going to get the job.

    If it wasn't for the education incentive I benefit from, I might have never gone back to college, and the incentive specifies the degrees have to be in CJ, Criminology, Police Science, or Law Enforcement. I can't say what I would have chosen if the degrees could be in anything, but probably still CJ. It just kind of makes sense to study the job you're going to be doing for a career.

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