Criminal Justice Programs in Georgia

According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, Georgia had a slightly higher crime rate of 496.1 in 2008 than the national average of 467.2. To combat this crime, state and local government manages multiple departments and units for law enforcement and corrections. It is with these departments and units that many graduates of criminal justice programs in Georgia begin their careers. Examples of state departments who hire criminal justice graduates include the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Department of Corrections, the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.

Other than crime rate, there are additional reasons why criminal justice is an important program of study in the state. Georgia ranks ninth in population among all fifty states and is home to several major metropolitan areas, so a strong police force is needed to keep the Peach State peachy and peaceful. Understanding this need, the University System of Georgia continues to encourage interested students to pursue careers in law enforcement and corrections by offering a variety of degree and non-degree training programs. In 2011, the state system of higher education awarded 1,223 undergraduate and graduate criminal justice degrees.

Criminal Justice Schools in Georgia

Georgia State University: Georgia State University is one of the nation’s leading urban research universities. The school’s Department of Criminal Justice is part of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Students can earn their bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in criminal justice and participate in internships to earn experience in the field. In terms of total number of degrees awarded, more students graduated from Georgia State University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice than at any other public college or university in the state that same year.

Kennesaw State University: Kennesaw State University is the third largest university in Georgia and was ranked as the 27th best regional university in the South by U.S. News & World Report in 2013. The school’s Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice offers both a bachelor’s and master’s program in criminal justice as well as minor programs for criminal justice and criminology. All undergraduate students are required to complete an internship before graduation. With multiple local police departments across the state and many state and federal agencies to choose from, most students find it very easy to find internship placement.

Valdosta State University: Valdosta State University has been ranked one of the top military-friendly schools by G.I. Jobs magazine for several years. The school established an Adult and Military Program in 2010 to help improve graduation rates for adult learners, members of the military, and veterans. Students who study criminal justice at Valdosta State may earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degree in the field. There is also an online option for distance learners.

University of West Georgia: The University of West Georgia is home to the state’s only Honors College. The school also operates the Advanced Academy of Georgia, a program that allows gifted high school students to earn high school and college credit while living on campus. University of West Georgia’s Department of Criminology is housed within the College of Social Sciences. The department awards a B.S. and a M.A. in criminology. The school also operates an online bachelor’s degree program in criminology.

Criminal Justice Career Statistics in Georgia

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 26,945 full-time state and local police protection employees in Georgia in March 2007. The Bureau of Labor predicts that the employment rate for police and detective jobs will grow by only 7% from 2010 to 2020. Although this rate is slower than average, it does not indicate a decline in the need for law enforcement in the United States. The employment rate for correctional treatment specialists and probation officers is expected to grow at a rate of 18% from 2010 to 2020. This increase reflects the ever growing prison population across the country and in Georgia.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, correctional officers and jailers in Georgia earn an annual mean wage of $30,390. Detectives and criminal investigators in the state earn an annual mean wage of $56,600, and police and sheriff’s patrol officers earn an annual mean wage of $39,760. These numbers are averages and can vary depending on location, agency, experience, and rank. Although these are the most common positions for criminal justice graduates, there are several more career options within the field. Other popular career choices for criminal justice graduates include fish and game wardens, federal and state park rangers, private investigators and security guards, and more.