In the state of Virginia, many people are choosing to go back to school or to go to school for the first time in order to pursue educations within the criminal justice field. The reasons for this are quite simple. Criminal justice is a vast field full of exciting career opportunities for people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Furthermore, criminal justice jobs are relatively easy to come by for those with the right qualifications, pay well above the average in most cases, and are fairly stable, even in these difficult economic times. If you’ve been considering working in criminal justice, there is absolutely no better time than the present to do so.

If you’re considering going back to school seriously, then you’re probably curious as to what the degree requirements are. The answer to that question is extremely wide and varied, since there are a number of different degrees people may receive in the criminal justice field.

If you’re not sure which degree or program is right for you, then you probably don’t know exactly what you want to do within the field. Determining that will strongly help you to determine what your educational path should be.

Generally speaking, however, there are four different degree levels that people can seek. The lowest level degree is an associate’s degree. Associate’s degrees are typically earned from community colleges, though they are sometimes earned from traditional colleges and universities.

Most commonly, they are completed in around two years time, though which online programs, it is often a much shorter time period. All that is needed to be accepted into an associate’s degree program is a high school diploma or its equivalent, and credits earned in most programs can be transferred to traditional undergraduate programs.

The next level degree is the bachelor’s degree, which is generally earned in around four years. These degrees are much more in depth than associate’s degrees, and again, require only a high school diploma or its equivalent, typically with fair to above average performance in high school.

Most schools also require that the student take the student aptitude test (SAT) for admittance. After the bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree can be earned, usually in around one to three years. In addition to the educational requirements, master’s degree programs usually require students to take the graduate record exam or GRE for admittance.

The highest level degree that can be obtained in the criminal justice or any other field is the doctorate or PhD. This degree varies in the length of time it takes to acquire, anywhere from three to seven years or longer. Students admitted to a PhD program have typically worked in the field for a long amount of time and already have their masters’ degrees.

Outside of traditional degree programs, students can also choose to complete certificate granting programs.

Such programs vary significantly in length from one program to another, but are generally not more than one year in duration. Certificates, while not a degree, show that the student has knowledge in a particular area. They are usually earned by those already working in the field who wish to increase their knowledge in a certain area or to have “proof” that they have completed coursework in a specific area of the field.

Any degree or certificate that you choose to earn, in addition to being right for your intended career path, should come from an accredited and fully legitimate college, university, or other training program.

If it does not, then you have basically just spent a lot of time, money, and energy on a very worthless and essentially useless piece of paper. Therefore, it is extremely important that you devote a lot of time to researching any school that you deign to attend.

There is no one right educational path that will get you to where you need to be. Instead, it’s simply about researching your chosen career and finding the path that is most likely to get you there. Once you’ve done that, all that is left is for you to work as hard as you possibly can and to earn your degree and start your career.