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A Natural Progression

Civilian careers in criminal justice are a perfect fit for some servicemembers, who are looking to continue serving in their post-military lives.

When you hear “criminal justice,” your mind automatically thinks “police officer.” And while uniformed police are a large and crucial component of the criminal justice system, there are numerous other roles to play. Finding a place in the criminal justice system often appeals to prior military personnel because there can be a lot of carry-over from one career to the next. Find out how these schools are preparing military students for a career in criminal justice.

Dr. Chuck Russo

Program Director

Criminal Justice

American Military University

Since our founding in 1991 by a Marine Corps Officer, American Military University has been on a mission to educate those who serve. The Criminal Justice program at AMU provides several degree and certificate offerings for servicemembers seeking advancement in their careers as well as in transitioning to a civilian profession. Many are drawn to the field for its similar sense of comradery, brotherhood and mission, and feel it makes the separation from the military easier. Today, our program is focused on not just meeting, but exceeding, the needs of servicemembers seeking to broaden their knowledge and pursue their educational goals.

Our undergraduate programs each provide foundational skills required of industry professionals. The BA caters to those currently in the field, or can help prepare individuals for a new career as a criminologist, agent, or investigator in federal, state or local law enforcement, judicial, and other organizations. The BS is suited for those seeking careers in complex criminal justice occupations within public safety organizations, while our MA program serves those individuals seeking leadership positions in the field. Multiple certificate programs also enable servicemembers to gain specialized knowledge in specific content areas. More than 65,000 of our students have a military or military-affiliated background, and a significant percentage have historically selected the Criminal Justice program as their preferred field of study.

AMU’s BA program is also available via our new Momentum competency-based program, a faster, more personalized way to complete a bachelor’s degree which enables students to build upon knowledge and skills they have learned in their career. Utilizing Momentum, students focus on learning at their own pace, working with faculty mentors and subject matter experts to demonstrate mastery of competencies without having to wait for a new term to begin. To participate in the program, servicemembers should have an AS/AA degree, experience in the subject area, be seeking a personalized plan of study and be self-motivated.

More information can be found at

Dr. Michael Verro

Senior Program Director

Criminal Justice and Homeland Security/Emergency Management

Excelsior College

The opportunity for military personnel to use training which has been approved as college-level credit toward a degree program has helped make higher education a reality for countless servicemembers and veterans. But did you know that veterans who go on to careers in criminal justice are also well-positioned to get a jump start on their degree? Excelsior College applied for and was awarded a $2 million federal grant to assess law enforcement and corrections training for college credit. The goals of the grant were threefold:

• Enhance the ability of law enforcement and corrections professionals to obtain college degrees

• Establish a process/program to evaluate criminal justice training academies and agencies across the country for academic credit

• Provide each evaluated training academy and agency with a report that includes a degree plan for students

Because of that grant, Excelsior College created the Criminal Justice Training Assessment (CJTA) program, which assesses—based upon the American Council on Education training standards—a variety of law enforcement and corrections training programs. Excelsior has assessed more than 50 training academies for police and corrections officers in more than 30 states. In total, more than 2,000 individual credit recommendations have been made for programs deemed college-level equivalents based on academic rigor, learning outcomes, assessments, classroom hours, and other factors. While this credit is transferrable toward an Associate in Science in Criminal Justice or a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Excelsior, it is also portable. More information on the Criminal Justice Training Assessment and how to use your credit recommendations can be found at

Recently, the Center for Educational Measurement at Excelsior College and Cengage, an education and technology company, launched a brand new personalized, portable, and mobile educational product for people interested in pursuing a degree in criminal justice. Designed by a team of experts in military education, adult learning and criminal justice, the CourXam (pronounced korzam) allows students to learn when they want and how they want—on their laptop, their tablet, and even their phone. CourXams include all the learning materials used in college courses, but are designed for independent, adult learners who don’t have the time or the inclination to attend regular classes. The first five CourXams are in criminal justice, and can be used toward earning a degree in criminal justice at Excelsior College. To learn more about CourXams, visit

For many active military and veterans, higher education is an essential step toward the transition back into civilian life. Whether by personal choice or necessity to earn a living, many choose to enter the

workforce, often in the fields of law enforcement, homeland security, or emergency management upon discharge from the service. It is important that these individuals are also provided a pathway to use their training and expertise toward an advanced degree, should they choose to return to school.

Jeffrey P. Rush, D.P.A.


Division of Criminal Justice

Troy University

Troy University was established in 1887 in Troy, Alabama. In the 1950s Troy University (formally Troy State University), expanded its degree offerings through the Military Extension program, starting first at Fort Rucker and Maxwell Air Force Bases. In the 1970s, Florida and Georgia opened sites on various military bases (Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, Pensacola NAS, Whiting Field NS, Tyndall AFB, Ft. Benning and Ft. Gordon, to name just a few).

The Criminal Justice program at Troy University has grown to offer face-to-face and online courses. The program is staffed with full time faculty who bring their experience and academic background to their jobs. They can translate theory into practice and practice into theory. TROY faculty pride themselves in providing quality education, as well as personalized advising for our students. Student care is a top priority and assisting those making the transition into a degree program and into the civilian work environment.

The undergraduate Criminal Justice program consists of a 36-hour major, including core courses. Military personnel can transfer military experience for course credits, giving them an advantage. There are also concentrations that a student may select and combine with various minors in other degree programs. The criminal justice degree focuses on Constitutional and Criminal Law, Criminology, Corrections, and Law Enforcement. Elective courses can help a student focus in the areas of Homeland Security, Juvenile Justice, Fire/Science Emergency Management, Digital Forensics or can be tailored to a student’s interests.

The graduate program has a 36-hour thesis and 30-hour non-thesis option and includes a concentration in Security Studies.

A degree in Criminal Justice is a natural bridge to civilian culture and an extension of military experience. Military training is excellent preparation for a job in the criminal justice profession. Because the military defends the rights of the United States, civilian first responders defend the rights of the individuals. Learning military procedures provides a foundation for criminal procedures and is a natural fit.

Many current and former members of the military have found criminal justice to be a rewarding career choice and a solid extension to their military service. Others have found the transition to civilian life in criminal justice a natural transition, as well as productive and fulfilling.

Because Troy University has a long history of partnering with the military, veterans and those who are active duty, we understand the needs of military personnel who are wanting to further their education and plan for their future. TROY’s rich history in partnering with our armed forces spans over 60 years, at home and abroad, and TROY remains committed to our military personnel who want to further their educational excellence. We at TROY are here to work with you and help make your future educational goals a reality. Learn more at

Jonathan E. Cella


Protective Services Department

Central Texas College

Central Texas College offers two Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees in Protective Services, including one in Criminal Justice and in Corrections. Additionally, we offer a Certificate of Completions in Criminal Justice, Corrections Specialization and Fire Protection. Classes are taught in the traditional face-to-face setting not only at our central campus in Killeen, Texas, but at many of our sites on military installations as well as online.

Locally, we also offer a full-time Police Academy and an Extended Basic Peace Officer Academy in our local area. Students learn from instructors who have worked or are working in the field of law enforcement.

Our online classes start monthly, and are offered in several formats that provide military students the kind of flexibility they need. At our central campus, we have a variety of veteran resources including a Vet Success Center on campus, a chapter of the Student Veteran Association and a dedicated advocate for our wounded warriors. At CTC we know and understand military students and strive to give them the best educational opportunity possible.

Our programs are unique in that we have students and instructors all over the world and online. This allows us to maintain curriculum and quality consistency while serving many active duty military personnel and allowing them to complete their degree despite moves and deployments. We are also well known for our criminal justice instruction, and have agreement with many four-year institutions that facilitate credit transfer.

Our instruction in Criminal Justice is grounded in theory but supplemented by the real-life experience of our instructors and by hands-on instruction whenever appropriate. This is never more obvious than in our course, Criminal Investigation, in which students perform a mock crime scene investigation. They must protect the crime scene, take notes, makes sketches and take photographs as well as interview witnesses and write an investigative report and defend it in mock court.

Criminal Justice is an attractive option for servicemembers transitioning from the military. Many of our active duty and veteran students are military police who will also receive some evaluated credit for their military training and experience.

Depending on the program, students can fill varied roles in the criminal justice system (police, courts, and corrections) and be well-prepared. Even when a college degree is not a requirement for employment those students that have a college degree will be better prepared, have more opportunity for advancement, and, in many cases, receive higher pay than others in the same job. Our criminal justice degrees provide the student with the foundation and basics of the job before they are even hired.

With the police academy, the career prospects are high for those who obtain their peace officer license. Certified officers with their TCOLE (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement) peace officer license are needed all over the state of Texas. At least one time a week during the academy we have an agency recruiting team come by to actively recruit our non-sponsored students. Currently our placement rate upon graduation is 91 percent. Learn more at Thanks to Barbara A. Merlo, Director of Marketing & Outreach; Patrick J. Boone, Director, Police Academy and Law Enforcement Training, Central Texas College; and Terry M. Cramer, Area Manager-Mediterranean & UK Region, Central Texas College Europe, for their contributions to this information.

Patrick Bradley

Program Chair

Business and Management Department

University of Maryland University College

“Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods? Where's the streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds? Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need. I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. He's gotta be strong and he's gotta be fast and he's gotta be fresh from the fight.”

These are the opening lyrics to the Bonnie Tyler’s hit song of the 70s, “I Need a Hero.” Add feminine pronouns and this anthem could be applied to nearly any recruitment announcement for a criminal justice position in America today.

Criminal justice career positions abound across the country, from federal investigative agencies to police departments and sheriffs’ offices. We need heroes in our courtrooms as attorneys and counselors and advocates. Corrections need heroes to ensure that offenders return to the community prepared and willing to contribute to its wellbeing. In addition to the federal and local government criminal justice positions, there are counterpart career positions in business and industry for criminal justice professional; loss prevention agents, private security investigators, cyber and physical security specialists, to name a few.

Where will these heroes come from? The U.S. military forces. There is an undeniable symmetry between the personal traits and attributes that characterize our military servicemen and women and the qualities of effective criminal justice professionals. Common among these are a “call to service,” commitment to the welfare of others, attention to duty, and adherence to lawful direction. Military

veterans are recruited and their applications are appreciated by criminal justice employers who know these men and women have already demonstrated they have what it takes.

As it happens, qualifications for the entrance (a.k.a. uniformed) level for both governmental and private criminal justice agencies do not always include a requirement for a four-year college degree. However, for the career-minded servicemen and women, the operative level of criminal justice service is not the goal. Those who aspire to supervisory or administrative positions will soon find themselves facing a college degree requirement. For supervisors and managers, criminal justice employers look for the knowledge and skills attributed to the four-year college diploma. Many federal investigative services require a bachelor’s degree for entrance level. Clearly, early preparation for this advancement is important.

How can we help? The University of Maryland University College (UMUC) undergraduate degree in criminal justice will introduce and reinforce the knowledge and skills employers identify as essential; critical thinking, communications skills, technology literacy, ethics, etc. These classes build upon the foundations already present in our active military and military veterans. The Masters of Science on Management program with a Criminal Justice specialization at UMUC is the next step for the military serviceman or woman seeking leadership positions in criminal justice. Focused on mastery of competencies such as problem solving, decision-making, and direct application of essential administrative skills, this credential testified to the academic and practical achievements of the UMUC degree recipient. Learn more at

Additional Info

  • Issue: 12
  • Volume: 3
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