Special agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation assist both state and federal agencies with crime scene analysis, predator analysis, bank robberies and terrorist tracking. Agents for the FBI must have specialized training and pass physical tests of endurance. In addition, the agents must have a four-year college degree. Picking a good criminal justice school is an important step towards the special agent's badge.
Areas of Priority
FBI agents must have a four-year degree from a college or university. Some fields are considered high priority and people with degrees in these areas are able to leapfrog over others in line for training. The FBI needs qualified graduates in accounting and finance for the white collar crime division, and computer science and information technology, to track terrorists, for example. The FBI also has a priority need for language translators, especially for Middle Eastern languages. Engineering, law, physics, chemistry and biology are other high priority areas.
Criminal Justice Degrees
Many FBI agents have a criminal justice degree. Criminal justice majors study the laws and procedures of the criminal justice system, including crime investigation, police procedures of interrogation and arrest of suspects, victim's rights after a crime has been committed, the rights of the accused at trial and courtroom procedures in a criminal case. Students may also take courses in the history of law enforcement, psychology, sociology and law to specialize in a particular area of criminal justice. Depending on the university, students may choose to specialize in homeland security, juvenile justice, federal or state regulations, according to the North Carolina Central University.
Criminal Justice Schools
According to "U.S. News and World Report," many good criminal justice programs are offered in major universities. The University of Maryland has both a graduate and an undergraduate program in criminal justice, with internship opportunities in courtrooms, crime laboratories and police departments. The State University of New York-Albany offers both undergraduate and graduate programs and also has an honors program in criminal justice, which allows more research and writing in the criminal justice field. The University of Cincinnati has a paralegal studies program within the criminal justice department, as well as a required senior internship in criminal justice.
In addition to the top three criminal justice programs at large universities, there are several smaller schools with highly-ranked criminal justice programs, according to "U.S. News and World Report." Sam Houston State University in Texas offers an online criminal justice degree as well as degrees on campus. The University of Texas at Dallas has a research institute dedicated to criminology, while Indiana University of Pennsylvania has two criminology tracks: one for students interested in a career in criminal justice and one for students who plan to go on to law school.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Special Agent Qualification Requirements
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Special Agent Frequently Asked Questions
- North Carolina Central University: Criminal Justice
- University of Maryland Criminal Justice: Internship Program
- State University of New York Albany: Honors Program in Criminal Justice
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Criminology
- University of Texas in Dallas: Criminology B.A.
- Sam Houston State University: Criminal Justice Program
- U.S. News and World Report: Best Criminology Programs
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