Criminal Justice at Potomac State College

Criminal Justice

Program Overview:

We have options.  In fact, at WVU-Potomac State College we have more option in Criminal Justice than almost any other college.

Potomac State’s CJ offerings include a two-year associate of arts degree, a two-year associate of applied science degree, a four-year bachelor of applied science degree (the only program of this type in the state of West Virginia), and an accelerated online version of the four-year bachelor of applied science degree. We’re happy to work with you to determine which degree best fits your career goals.

Our CJ programs offer challenging curriculums allowing students to develop critical thinking and analysis, teamwork, leadership, problem solving, and both written and oral communications skills. Our smaller classes allow for enhanced learning and one-on-one interaction with professors. Graduates are prepared for the rigor of their professional careers. And often, graduates are encouraged to continue their education through graduate school.

Students pursuing WVU-Potomac State College’s Criminal Justice (CJ) degrees can expect to participate in interactive courses such as forensic investigation and self-defense techniques, in-class debates and oral arguments. Additionally, instruction outside the classroom includes tours of the U.S. Supreme Court, federal and state prisons, and local jails, among other applicable sites.

Criminal Justice students are encouraged to participate in the CJ Club, a student organization designed to promote academic success; provide service to the CJ programs, to the College, and to the community. Club members participate in educational field trips, attend professional speaker presentations and professional conferences.

The College’s successful CJ graduation rate coupled with the CJ curriculum prompted correctionalofficer.org to rank the program second in West Virginia.  (http://www.correctionalofficer.org/jobs-salary#correctional-careers).

Career Outlook for Criminal Justice:

Criminal Justice professionals are employed at local, state and federal levels. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are more than 16,000 people working in the criminal justice field in West Virginia, Of those 16,000 criminal justice professionals, 13,000 are employed as security guards, police officers, and correctional officers. However, you are by no means limited to those professions (https://www.bls.gov/ooh). There are many employment options within the criminal justice field. “With increased concern about crime prevention and public safety driving demand for skilled professionals, it is expected that job openings within the field of criminal justice will continue to grow for at least the next decade” (https://www.bls.gov/ooh). Some positions have established a minimum educational level to include a baccalaureate degree but often times you can begin with an associate's degree. http://www.criminaljusticeprograms.com/states/west-virginia/

The five most common professions within criminal justice are (Bureau of Labor Statistics):

  • Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers- 653,800 employed
  • Correctional Officers- 452,800 employed
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants- 277,000 employed
  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators- 115,200 employed
  • Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists- 90,300 employed

Possible professions:

  • Federal agencies such as Border Patrol; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the FBI; the DEA; or U.S. Marshals; 
  • Corrections as a correctional administrator, correctional counselor, or a correctional officer (state, federal, private);
  • Crime scene technician;
  • Criminal Investigator (police or prosecutor's office);
  • Natural Resources/Game & Fish Officer;
  • Probation & Parole Officer (adult and juvenile; state, county, federal);
  • Police Officer - city, county, or state police;
  • Victim’s Assistance Provider; or
  • Victim-Offender Specialist
  • Child and/or Adult Protective Services
  • Case Manager
  • Substance Abuse Counselor

Salary Potential:

According to O*Net (2012), $40,530 annual to $58,320 (https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3051.00 and https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3012.00).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual wages for Criminal Justice professions include:

  • Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists - $49,360. 
  • Correctional officers and bailiffs - $40,580.  
  • Police and Detectives – $60,270
  • Private Detectives and Investigators - $45,610
  • Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers - $24,680