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Criminal Justice Admissions FAQ

Many general questions can be answered by studying the admissions and financial aid web pages. 

However, members of the Criminal Justice faculty have been frequently asked the same specific questions at visitation days and in office conferences. Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

I have a physical disability, a drug experimentation history, or an arrest.  Can I still major in Criminal Justice?
Yes, you can. Whether or not you should is another matter. Because they understand the criminal process, Criminal Justice faculty members are sometimes sought out by students in legal scrapes. We always hope the question poser is not one of our majors. While the decision to stay within the major is solely the student's, such an event can be opportunity-killing and should at least be cause for consideration of seeking another major. 

Virtually all Criminal Justice graduates who seek public agency employment are subjected to rigorous background investigations, sometimes including polygraph examinations. Agencies vary considerably in their tolerance for past misdeeds. Although substance abuse is never a plus, a little high school experimentation with marijuana is sometimes tolerated. For some agencies, two speeding tickets are disqualifying on the theory that they indicate a general disrespect for the law. Generally, the longer the applicant has maintained a drug-free, arrest-free lifestyle, the better. 

Physical agility standards, visual acuity, color perception, and weight/height ratios are quite variable and still, despite federal legislation protecting the disabled, not wholly rational. Most agencies demand that vision be correctable to 20/20. Standards for vision before correction are quite variable. Be prepared to face preferences for older applicants and veteran's credits-great if you are older or a veteran, a surmountable problem if you are not. Many agencies refuse to hire applicants older than their mid-thirties. For some agencies, any LASIK or other refractive surgery may be disqualifying; others mandate a waiting period to make sure that vision after surgery has stabilized.

I'm a junior in high school.  What courses should I take to make my life easier as a Kutztown Criminal Justice major?

 Take writing courses or courses that make you write. Whether you are a probation officer or an FBI agent, you must be able to write well. You will have much writing in your Criminal Justice courses at Kutztown. If you know how to write correctly and quickly, you'll be ahead of the game. A common theme that comes up every time we conduct our graduate surveys is that students often resented the writing load while they were here; however, once their careers were started, they wished that we had made them do even more writing.

At community college I heard that I'll probably have to take five semesters at Kutztown to finish my bachelor's.  Is that true?
This is sometimes true. But it doesn't have to be so. If you achieve an associate's degree from a Pennsylvania community college with which Kutztown has an "articulation agreement," every passed course transfers. BUT: be aware that all courses do not necessarily transfer as courses which meet our graduation requirements. While beginning your community college studies you need to carefully study articulation agreements and the degree requirements of both your community college and Kutztown. Much of this information is now on the Internet, but you should work with your community college counselor as you carefully select courses to maximize transferability. Be particularly cautious about taking courses that are listed as transferring as CRJ880. Consult the KU Department of Criminal Justice for the latest practices.

One of the major barriers to four-semester graduation has been Kutztown's "50% rule." Half (or more) of your major has had to be taken at Kutztown. With Criminal Justice requiring 42 credits, you must take seven 3-credit Criminal Justice courses at KU. If more than seven Criminal Justice courses have been taken elsewhere, the excess may not count toward KU graduation. 

Many community colleges have criminal justice degree requirements that require between eight and ten criminal justice courses. This poses a problem. One solution is to leave community college prior to achieving the degree and then to transfer credits back from Kutztown for the courses needed to complete the associate's degree. 

In general, take as many of the general education course requirements as possible at the community college and as many as possible of the Criminal Justice major requirements at Kutztown.

Finally, be aware that the transfer credit situation is changing rapidly in Pennsylvania as this is written (2/2011) and that you need to check frequently for changes in both University policies and general State System of Higher Education policies that may make it easier to fully use community college courses toward a B.S. degree.

I want to be an FBI agent.  Can Kutztown's Criminal Justice Program help me get in?
Actually, after an undergraduate criminal justice education, the FBI is not one of the common career paths. We are aware of only a few of our past students who are working for the Bureau. "The Profiler," "Millennium," Thomas Harris' "Silence of the Lambs," and books by profiler John Douglas and others have glamorized the FBI. According to a speech by John Douglas at Kutztown, there are only about 25-30 profilers working at any given time. You'd have a better chance of becoming an NBA superstar. For information on the current qualifications needed for becoming a Special Agent, go to the FBI employment page.

Don't be discouraged. There are at least 50 other kinds of federal investigators and for most of the non-FBI agencies a degree in criminal justice coupled with a minor in some relevant area (e.g. accounting, computer science, chemistry, or the foreign language of the ethnic group that is giving the agency the greatest trouble at the time of your graduation) makes more sense. Get out your crystal ball and predict whom the terrorists of a few years from now will be! Despite the intention of most entering freshmen to seek careers in law enforcement, our graduate surveys suggest that about one-third of our graduates are working in law enforcement, one-third in corrections-primarily community corrections-and one-third are working in non-justice system jobs. Approximately 20% have entered law school or graduate school within five years of graduation. Whether you seek employment or graduate education, Kutztown's Career Development Center will assist you.

Do Criminal Justice graduates go to law school?  To grad school?  How do they do?
Out of 50 to 70 graduates per year, usually one to three immediately enter law school. However, by five years after graduation, approximately 20 percent of Criminal Justice graduates have either obtained, or are working on graduate degrees.
Past students have obtained doctoral degrees in counseling, sociology and psychology, as well as master's degrees in forensics, criminal justice, education, social work, human resource management, and public administration.
Faculty members are extremely supportive of qualified students going on for advanced studies and graduates tell us that they have found themselves better prepared for graduate work than the majority of their peers who graduated from other colleges.

What are current Criminal Justice majors saying about Kutztown? Click here to find out.