The Basics of Justice and Law Degrees
Students who want to explore aspects of the law and the justice system have a lot of majors to choose from. Whether you hope to work as a lawyer or a police officer, the field of justice and law provides options to suit many personality types.
A number of majors in the field of justice and law train students to work in a particular career.
If you are interested in police work, you can jump-start your career with a major in police science. This program covers every aspect of the job, from investigating crimes to building relationships in the community you’ll serve.
Corrections majors study prison life and consider ways to make prisons better. This includes looking at the day-to-day challenges of funding and running prisons, other correctional facilities and correctional programs.
Forensic scientists collect evidence at crime scenes and analyze that evidence in a lab, and they are becoming increasingly important to criminal investigations as science and technology advance. Some schools offer forensic science to undergraduates, but most recommend a major in one of the life or physical sciences followed by graduate work to prepare for this field.
You can even have a career in law with a two-year degree. Paralegal majors learn research and writing skills as well as the legal facts that make paralegals an invaluable part of any legal team.
Liberal Arts Approaches
Not all justice and law majors focus on a specific career.
Legal Studies and Criminal Justice
These are both wide-ranging majors that give students a chance to take courses in many subjects. While there's a great deal of overlap between them, they are distinct.
Legal studies mainly deals with the theories behind the law and the way legal issues affect society. Criminal justice programs may also look at theoretical questions about crime, the law and the justice system. But students in this major often take a more applied approach, for example, by examining how law enforcement agencies and the judicial system operate.
Criminology majors also study the justice system, but their main goal is to understand crime itself. They investigate the causes of crime and try to get inside the criminal mind.
The Road to Law School
If you want to become a lawyer, you’ll need to go to law school after earning a bachelor’s degree. Liberal arts majors like the ones above make good preparation for law school because they help you develop the thinking and communication skills you'll need. But any major that develops these types of skills can prepare you for law school.
You may have heard about prelaw programs. Most schools don’t offer a prelaw major. Prelaw is generally an academic advising program. As a prelaw student in one of these programs, you'll meet with an advisor who will help you with the following tasks:
- Choosing courses and a major
- Preparing for the LSAT, a law-school entrance exam
- Getting into law school
Whether you favor a career-oriented major or a liberal arts major, you have a lot to choose from when it comes to justice and law. Learn more about the majors below:
- Criminal Justice
- Forensic Science
- Law Enforcement Administration
- Legal Studies
- Paralegal Studies
- Police Science
- Prelaw Studies