If you've ever looked through the criminology courses in a college catalog, you may have come across classes in comparative criminal justice. Comparative justice is the subset of criminology that examines how concepts of law and punishment vary from country to country. A typical curriculum might focus on human rights, war crimes, terrorism, international trafficking and global law enforcement. If you're interested in earning a criminology degree but aren't sure how you might use it, studying comparative criminal justice could be beneficial.
Studying comparative criminal justice can open the doorway to a career in international law enforcement. Having knowledge of such issues as terrorism or trafficking can make you a credible applicant for such government agencies as the CIA, the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Interpol and even the United Nations. You could find yourself working as an operations controller, an intelligence analyst, a counterterrorism expert, or even as a special agent.
Domestic Law Enforcement
A background in comparative criminal justice can also help kick-start a career in domestic law enforcement. Even in a metropolitan police department, an understanding of international issues can be put to good use. Foreign crimes sometimes take place on American soil. As a result, many local law enforcement agencies now conduct their own counterterrorism and contingency planning. As a professional with a background in comparative criminal justice, you could play a major role in these initiatives.
Other Career Options
If you don't wish to work in law enforcement, you can still go to graduate school and work as a criminology professor. Some law schools combine comparative criminal justice with traditional legal studies, enabling you to specialize in international law. These programs produce students who can broker international contracts, assist in overseas investing and even advise in foreign lawsuits. Another alternative is to work as a researcher in a justice-related policy institute, also known as a think tank.
Travel and Considerations
Even in your undergraduate years, you may be able to attend conferences and enroll in research programs overseas. Your professional life might also take you around the globe, especially if you work for a major government agency or international firm. One drawback, however, is that as a professional, you may not be able to choose where you go or the kind of assignment you have. But if you've got a sense of adventure and want to work abroad, earning a degree in comparative criminal justice could help get you there.
- Kaplan University: Bachelor of Science in International and Comparative Criminal Justice
- University of Texas at San Antonio: Comparative Criminal Justice in Spain
- University of Oxford: Think Tanks
- Washington University Law School: Transnational Program
- Hoover Institution: Policing Terrorism
- Journal of European Criminology: Comparative Criminal Justice: Beyond Ethnocentrism and Relativism
- Federal Bureau of Investigations: Careers
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