In Chicago, one of the largest cities in the Midwest, criminal justice is a very important field. From police officers to federal agents, a criminal justice degree from a Chicago school can prepare you for a variety of jobs in this field.
Chicago can have many career possibilities for you when you put the work in to earn a degree. The Chicago Police Department has 25 branches, one for each district in Chicago. These branches are staffed by patrol officers, investigators, and detectives.
There are many educational opportunities for you as a prospective criminal justice student. Take a look at our list of featured schools and contact them to learn more about what degrees they offer, and program start dates.
One of the benefits of studying in a large city like Chicago is the great public transit system. The Chicago Transit Authority offers bus and train transit. They even have an unlimited ride pass if you plan on traveling to and from class a lot.
Criminal Justice Education in Chicago
Chicago offers many unique educational opportunities to students, both in public schools and private schools. There are three-degree levels you can follow if you do not yet have a college degree; to earn a master's degree, you need a bachelor's degree.
A certificate is the shortest program; it generally takes one year or less. An associate degree requires two years of full-time study, and a bachelor's degree requires four years of full-time study. While an associate degree and bachelor's degree programs typically require many different general education courses, certificate courses typically just include criminal justice courses.
As a Chicago student, you can expect to take courses in many different criminal justice fields. Your courses will tackle subjects like police procedures, corrections, criminology, and identity theft. In an associate degree or bachelor's degree program, you may have space to take electives. If you want to work in a certain criminal justice field, you can take electives that can help you get into that field.
Earning a master's degree in criminal justice is very different from earning any other type of degree. Since graduate schools expect you to already have a strong knowledge in general education subjects, you focus on one specific field that you really delve into.
Tuition and financial aid vary from school to school. Tuition at Loyola University, one of the most well-known schools in Chicago, is $20,860 per semester. Financial aid is available at each criminal justice school. When you attend an accredited school, you may be able to get federal financial aid. There are also private scholarship opportunities to consider.
Joining local professional organizations is a great way to get involved in the community before you even start your career. Consider the Chicago Police Lieutenants Association, the Illinois Correctional Association, or the Illinois Paralegal Association.
Career Outlook for Criminal Justice Graduates in Chicago
After earning your criminal justice degree, it's time to put your knowledge to work and start your career. There are many different directions you can take your career.
If you have an associate degree, you may be able to start a career as a police officer, correctional officer, or security guard. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Correctional officers in Chicago earn an average salary of $56,070 per year while security guards earn an average of $32,090 per year. The pay scale for police officers is slightly different.
When you start as a probationary police officer with the Chicago Police Department, the starting salary is roughly $48,078 per year. As you move through each step, you can make up to $99,414 per year.
One of the benefits of working in a metropolitan area is the high demand for criminal justice professionals. The BLS reports that the Chicago area has the third-highest police officer employment level in the country, with 5.8 positions per thousand jobs. In addition to a strong job outlook, public employees can typically look forward to regular raises and a good benefits package.