Justice and Security Programs In America
Areas of Study
The US Department of Labor predicts that over the next few years the number of jobs in security-related fields will grow faster than those in any other area, and these justice and security jobs increasingly require recognized post-secondary education. For example, to become a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) you need a bachelor's degree and must sit for an exam administered by the International Association of Emergency Managers. Some programs in the field of justice and security have been around for a long time, while others are relatively new: currently about 300 schools now offer homeland security programs.
Possible 4-year undergraduate degrees include the Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT), Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT), Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (BSCJ), Bachelor of Applied Studies (BAS) and even Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA in Homeland Security or Criminal Justice). This is a complex field made up of many interconnected areas. Therefore, there are a wide variety of specialization options within these degrees. For example, you can pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice Administration, Homeland Security, Public Safety, Emergency Management and Disaster Science, Corrections, Juvenile Justice Studies, Police Studies, Security Management, Crime Analysis, Forensic Studies, Forensic Nursing, Global Security and Intelligence Studies and more. The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (BSCJ) degree offers specializations in areas like crime scene investigation, forensic science and computer crime. The Bachelor of Arts (BA) allows you to pursue majors in homeland security, correctional studies, criminal justice, criminology, forensic psychology, fire and emergency services, justice studies, government and international criminal justice. Minors, honors, online degrees and combined Bachelor's and Master's programs are also available. There are many names to these programs and the departments, Colleges and Schools they may be offered in, so be sure to look around.
At the 2-year degree level (offered at both 4-year universities and colleges and community colleges), you also have a number of options. Associate's degrees in the field of justice and security include the Associate of Applied Science (AAS in Homeland Security Management, Hazardous Materials, Emergency Management, Fire Protection Technology, Emergency Preparedness Technology), Associate of Science (AS in Homeland Security, Emergency Management and Planning), Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice (AASCJ in Corrections, Law Enforcement, Private Security) and Associate of Arts (AA in Disaster Management, Homeland Security, and more).
Undergraduate diplomas and certificates, usually lasting between 12 weeks and 2 years, are also offered at universities and community or career colleges in fields like disaster management, emergency management, public security management, homeland defense, terrorism and national security, bio-security, information security, cyber security, intelligence studies, and public administration. Credits from many of these diploma and certificate programs can be transferred towards an associate's degree.
These are the credentials...but what is the content? What exactly can you expect to study in these programs? Homeland security and counter-terrorism degree programs typically include classes in constitutional law, criminal psychology, disaster management, hazardous materials, weapons of mass destruction, as well as domestic, global, biological, agriculture and cyber terrorism. Criminal justice degree programs provide a broader understanding of the criminal justice system and looks at law, law enforcement, corrections, courts, the role of technology in criminal justice and forensics. A second language requirement is often part of the curriculum for these two degree programs.
Emergency management/ response programs focus on the principles and practices for emergency management planning in the public and private sector. This includes emergency operations center functions and the technical aspects of co-ordinating fire, medical services, law enforcement and other agencies. Computer security programs are slightly different. They focus on how to secure networks from cyber attacks as well as recover data following a cyber attack. Courses may include crime scene investigation techniques, network surveillance software use, intrusion detection and response techniques, forensic evidence analysis, encryption, hard drive imaging, testifying, report writing, interview techniques, use of the EnCase and FTK (Forensic Toolkit) software, and more.
Most of these programs are taught using a combination of theory and practice, combining classroom instruction, lab work, case studies and, often, internship in the field. Many schools have strong partnerships and collaborative agreements with certain governmental and other public and private agencies, enabling you to make important career connections while you study.
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