KU launches new on-campus and online criminal justice programs to meet job market demand
OVERLAND PARK — Criminal justice is a large and growing career field encompassing jobs in law enforcement, corrections, policy analysis, court administration, law and intelligence. With the growing demand for skilled employees to fill roles in the Kansas City metro and nationally, KU’s School of Professional Studies is launching two new bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) This allows students to tailor the degree to meet their career goals.
The B.A. in Criminal Justice includes more courses in humanities, while the B.S. in Criminal Justice consists of more hands-on classes and lab work. Both criminal justice degrees require a nine-hour concentration in either Law Enforcement Leadership or Law and Society.
The Law Enforcement Leadership concentration includes courses in Racial Justice and the Criminal Justice System, Public Service Leadership and Principles of Social Problems. It is based on the fact that law enforcement officers often need additional education to advance their careers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than a half-million people employed as police officers and sheriffs nationwide with a median salary of $65,790 a year. While individuals may start their careers in law enforcement without a college degree, many departments require a degree once they become supervisors.
The Law and Society concentration examines how the law works in practice in public administration, courts, the nonprofit sector, policy, policing and the justice system, with courses like The Pursuit of Rights: Law, Democracy, and Power.
Stuart Day, dean of the KU Edwards Campus and School of Professional Studies, said this new program addresses a growing demand for employees with these skill sets across the Kansas City area.
“These new degrees provide students with a broad foundation in criminal justice,” Day said, “and flexibility to tailor their degree to prepare them for the careers that interest them the most.”
The Greater Kansas City area has a strong workforce presence in protective and legal professions. According to the Occupational Report for Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security, there are more than 32,000 jobs regionally in this sector and, recently, there were more than 400 active jobs postings that required a bachelor’s degree.
Students can complete the program on the Edwards Campus, but it is also possible to complete a KU bachelor’s degree in criminal justice entirely online. The degrees are designed for transfer students who already earned an associate degree or equivalent hours and have a strong interest in understanding how agencies and institutions function as part of the criminal justice system. These degree programs focus on different ideas of justice and understanding the impact the justice system has on the lives of individuals and communities.
The first bachelor’s in criminal justice classes will be offered in spring 2024.