Criminal Justice Degree for Aspiring Lawyers

If you’re dedicated to making a true difference in your community, then a career as an attorney may be your ideal choice. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 10 percent job growth by 2020, and with an average annual salary of $113,000, this is a very lucrative career opportunity. However, with its prestige in payment and its influence in the community, it requires a substantial amount of schooling. In order to become a lawyer, students must progress to graduate level studies. However, the undergraduate degree earned plays a substantial role in determining what graduate programs an aspiring lawyer may gain entry to.

Although there’s no specific undergraduate degree for those wishing to become an attorney, the majority of students choose criminal justice or a similar degree program track. This major is popular as it delves into the inner workings of the criminal justice system while providing students with the necessary level of education to excel in a graduate law degree.

Criminal Justice Degree and Pre-Law

The primary goal for an aspiring attorney is to gain pre-law education. These topics provide an entry-level, or foundational, education that’s essential for law students. While pre-law is not a major, the coursework within a criminal justice degree program will prepare students for this challenging, yet rewarding, career option.

Because pre-law is not an “official” undergraduate degree program, it’s essential that students enroll in a criminal justice degree program. However, not just any criminal justice degree program will do. It’s essential that the program you enroll in places emphasis on select courses. If you’re interested in becoming a criminal lawyer, the following courses must be included throughout an undergraduate program:

  • Economics – This course provides students a non-technical introduction to the basic-level theories and concepts regarding economics in the United States. Regardless of the type of law you wish to practice, this coursework prepares students for advanced-level economics studies, which are typically required in a graduate law degree.
  • Ethics – An ethics course is designed to answer fundamental questions regarding “right” and “wrong” within society and within the criminal justice system. As a law student, ethics will be the primary topic of many courses. Therefore, it’s essential that an aspiring law student master this entry-level coursework.
  • Political Science – Regardless of the type of law you wish to practice, you’ll be dealing directly within the political system. Therefore, it’s essential that all students obtain knowledge regarding political science. This course typically emphasizes theory application and reasoning within the realm of social sciences and how these modes of thinking apply to the political landscape.
  • Criminology – In the most fundamental sense, criminology is the study of the of crimes. Throughout the course, students will learn about the various aspects of crimes, criminals, victims and theories relating to criminal behavior. For aspiring criminal lawyers, this is an essential course. Students can expect to undergo several levels of criminology coursework within their undergraduate and graduate degree programs.