For far too long, the American justice system was setup to cater almost exclusively to adult criminals who had a long series of crimes logged in their records files. That approach simply didn’t work for those under the age of 18, many of whom were treated to subpar juvenile detention experiences and haphazard trials that didn’t provide the kind of justice that younger offenders were entitled to. Luckily, the past few decades have changed al of that in a big way.
Today, juvenile justice has become its own field for research, development, and education. Degree programs prepare professionals to deal with younger offenders and those who might develop a pattern of committing crimes at a young age. It is a much better system for today’s children, and it’s one that has led to the creation of exciting, all-new degree programs. Five of these programs lead the pack, offering a superior educational experience and excellent job prospects.
1. The University of Southern Mississippi
It might seem like a strange choice, but the Bachelor’s of Arts in Juvenile Justice at the University of Southern Mississippi is one of the only full, four-year degree programs that focuses exclusively on juvenile justice. Many other programs take an approach that involves merging criminal justice with juvenile affairs. While that’s good, a dedicated program can produce better in-depth knowledge of juvenile concerns and better career prospects.
The University of Southern Mississippi is one of the leading educational institutions in the southern portion of the United States, and it’s one of the most recognizable names in criminal justice. Graduates will easily be prepared for a successful career with the B.A. offered at USM.
2. Liberty University
Located in central Virginia, Liberty University has long been a major asset for those pursuing an education in the legal or political fields. The institution’s juvenile justice program is no exception to this rule, with a well-rounded series of courses that will prepare students for a successful career in the field.
The degree offered through Liberty is actually a criminal justice degree with a focus on youth corrections. It’s one of the most unique programs in the field, and it actually gives students a more holistic view of the profession they’re about to enter. With a thorough understanding of criminal justice itself, and youth corrections specifically, graduates will be primed for success.
3. Kaplan University
Kaplan University’s Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice comes with a concentration in juvenile justice that can easily rival anything Liberty University has to offer. Kaplan has long been known as a leader in online legal education, and its criminal justice programs are among the best at online universities around the country. With a focus specifically on juvenile justice, students will gain real world viewpoints and experience from seasoned professors. They’ll master the art of dealing specifically with children, priming themselves for occupational success.
Kaplan, of course, specializes in affordable courses and always-on accessibility for assignments, assessments, and group projects. For professionals who are looking to change careers, this is the perfect way to obtain the education necessary to do so.
4. Prairie View A&M University
For graduate degree seekers, Prairie View A&M University is the perfect option for a juvenile justice education that goes in-depth and prepares graduates to manage juvenile programs or facilities. The university does not offer a four-year degree in juvenile justice, but does offer a Master’s of Science in the field. Because of its easy accessibility and low tuition rates, the program is one of the leading options for those serious about a career serving America’s troubled youth.
The program is conducted online, further enhancing its accessibility and convenience. Professors are experienced in the field and constitute some of the leading minds in juvenile justice, rehabilitation, and detention.
5. University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati offers a unique program to those interested in a career in juvenile justice. Students first enter a pre-criminal justice program, and then decide between continuing as a criminal justice student or changing to a juvenile justice concentration. If the latter option is chosen, students will proceed through courses that detail juvenile corrections and rehabilitation, as well as child psychology and how to help children who have become repeat offenders at a young age.
Great Degree Programs for an Emerging Field
As juvenile justice continues to grow and mature as a specialization, degree programs nationwide will only improve. The five programs mentioned here are, at the present time, the leading ones in the field. With experienced professors, careful research, and graduate programs, students can benefit from each of these schools’ unique approaches to juvenile corrections and justice.