Crime doesn’t pay but fighting it certainly does. Qualified criminal justice and forensic science graduates are more in the demand than ever. However, not just any school will do. It is important to consider a variety of factors when examining different undergraduate programs in criminal justice and forensic science. To help you make the right choice for you, we have highlighted some of most important factors you should consider:
There are many reasons to pick a school to study criminal justice or forensic science but academics by their very nature should top the list. When it comes to academics, two factors are crucial
- Programs of Study - it goes without saying that even if you have always dreamt of a particular school, you will want to make sure that they have the type of program that will enable you to secure the kind of law enforcement career you want. Especially as an international student, you may want to confirm that their programs are not only recognized within the US, but also internationally! If you want to study cybersecurity, for example, it pays to know who is teaching the class, what type of experience and expertise they have, as well as what connections they have in the field.
- Academic Focus - if you are particularly dedicated to one subject within the field, be sure to check if your potential school specializes in that discipline. For example, if you want to study Forensic Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice has a Bachelor’s of Science, Master of Science, and even a certificate program. Other schools may not even offer this as a major or minor at all! By selecting a school that concentrates so intensely in your area of interest, you can maximize your efforts!
A school's environment comprises of many things. How you decide on the following factors can impact the kind of college experience you have. Here are a few factors you will want to consider:
- Proximity – as an international student, you may want to study in a city that has a major airport or is close to friends or relatives. Alternatively, this may not matter to you at all, since Skype, Whatsapp, Facetime and other forms of social media can make you feel connected!
- Location – while you might be just fine anywhere in the US, be sure to think about where you will be the happiest and get the most out of your studies. Do you want a school near to where you can get an internship/externship? Do you want a city experience or do you prefer something a bit more relaxed? Keep in mind that the cost difference can be dramatic between a big city and smaller town, but so, too, can be the educational opportunities.
- Campus Life - do you dream of dorm life or is a commuter school more your style? Make sure you pick a school that offers exactly the level of student life you want.
When it comes to choosing your school, demographic factors are largely split into two camps:
- Student Body - this is a set of statistics that discuss the diversity of the students at a school and covers things like male/female ratio, racial percentages, and international student populations. Ignore this at your peril, as you may arrive at a school whose diversity does not reflect your own. This may be a good thing, though, as it will give you a chance to immerse yourself into the culture. Alternatively, you might want to look to see how big the international student population is, and what time of services they have to make the transition easier.
- Student-Faculty Ratio - this is calculated by taking the number of students and dividing that by the number teaching staff at the school. The higher this ratio is, the less personalized attention you are likely to receive - and a positive relationship with your professors can be the first step toward a rewarding career in forensic science
Before you decide on a school, find out if the career center has built relationships with both local and national employers in criminal justice or forensic science. These relationships are crucial to obtain internships, but also can help you land a job after graduation. The more connections a school has to potential employers, the easier your job hunt will be.
In the end, remember that as overwhelming as this all may seem, you have the power. Deciding on an undergraduate program may appear difficult but remember, no one is better suited to weight these options than you are!