The last three years have proven difficult for Americans’ sense of safety and security. As scandals of violence and bias have rocked many police departments, the nation’s skepticism toward law enforcement has increased—leading to great unrest and distrust in American institutions. Navigating these difficult cultural pressures requires dedicated, effective, and values-driven leaders and personnel at every level of our criminal justice and law enforcement systems. Read on to discover how ACU’s online B.S. in Criminal Justice produces the next generation of law enforcement personnel to bravely protect and serve their communities in an uncertain future.
Why a B.S. in Criminal Justice?
In the last few years, Americans’ sense of safety and perception of crime worsened considerably. In fact, a significant Gallup survey in 2021 discovered that 51% of Americans say there is more crime in their area than a year ago and 74% of U.S. adults believe national crime remains high. Both figures are at or near their peak levels for the past 25 years, and are at a high point in this long-term Gallup trend dating back to 1972.
However, the perception of crime is not the same as the actual statistics of crime. Research by the Pew Research Center demonstrated that, even as the public perceives crime rising, overall U.S. violent and property crime has nationally decreased since the 1990s. Why is there this gap?
Several important factors fuel this disconnect. Perhaps most significant, though, is that Americans’ confidence in law enforcement has dipped considerably in the past three years; in 2020, this number hit a historic low of 48% and, in 2021, American trust in police was at 51%.
Clearly, criminal justice in America needs help. If Americans can regain faith in law enforcement then both perceptions of crime and the strength of communities might improve. This is why, according to Dr. Brenda McAdoo—retired FBI Agent and director for ACU Online’s Criminal Justice program—the mission of criminal justice education is uniquely essential today:
“In order to regain the trust of our communities, law enforcement must find a way to create a change within their organizations. The next generation must still run towards danger but also learn how to communicate effectively, de-escalate emotions, and collaborate with all in their community. Education which focuses on instilling integrity and ethics alongside servant leadership is the cornerstone to creating a strong generation of public servants.”
ACU’s online B.S. in Criminal Justice is seeking to prepare students who boldly defend their communities and enrich society through an understanding of ethics and leadership in law enforcement. And that’s more important now than ever.
What Will Pursuing a B.S. in Criminal Justice Look Like?
The B.S. in Criminal Justice requires 120 credit hours of coursework, which can be completed in four years. This program is distinctive for two reasons. First, the faculty are all highly experienced law enforcement (both state and federal) or lawyers; the high caliber of these professors allows students access to those with practical experience. Second, our curriculum is notable for both the breadth of its focus and the way faith is intentionally woven throughout the classes.
For example, courses like Introduction to Criminal Justice establish a base of knowledge for students in the criminal justice system, deviance, crime, social control, law, justice, and constitutionalism, including the roles of the police, the courts, and corrections in the context of the American legal system. In Law Enforcement Leadership, students learn leadership theories in policing and analyze case studies of senior leaders in the field. Most importantly, in classes like Professionalism and Ethics in Criminal Justice, students learn how to apply professionalism and ethical assessments in situations for faith-based decision-making rooted in their Christian values.
Required courses in sociology and political science supplement and broaden students’ knowledge of everything from national government to terrorism to crime trends and theories of deliquent behavior. Additionally, this bachelor’s degree includes 22 hours of electives that allows customization based on students’ specific interests.
ACU Online also highly values real-world exposure and experience—thus, it offers the Criminal Justice Capstone as a major requirement for the B.S. in Criminal Justice. With our faculty’s strong connections to police departments, federal agencies and courts around the country, we are able to expose students to all types of job opportunities in the criminal justice system. As a result, the Criminal Justice Capstone sets students up to successfully transition from our vibrant, virtual educational environment into effectively impacting their community.
What Will I Do With a B.S. in Criminal Justice?
A B.S. in Criminal Justice equips students to pursue careers in a variety of fields. Here’s just a few:
- law enforcement,
- probation and parole services,
- witness assistance,
- emergency management,
- homeland security,
- case management, and
- social services.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts all of these industries will grow. Fishing and hunting workers like game wardens expect to see a faster than average 11% growth, with a median yearly pay of $50,560. Police and detectives will grow 7% between 2020 and 2030, with a median pay of $66,020 per year. And emergency directors estimate growth at 6% in the next 10 years, with a yearly $76,730 salary.
Further, beyond immediate post-graduation careers, this degree also builds a foundation for law school or a graduate program in criminal justice or public policy. Earning an undergraduate degree in criminal justice positions students to enter a growing field with ample opportunities to establish a solid, lifelong career. Interested in becoming the next generation of law enforcement personnel? Visit our website or call 855-219-7300 today to learn more!