How To Pursue a Criminal Justice Degree in San Diego

Two professionals talking in front of an academic building.

Do you feel called toward justice, law enforcement, or crime prevention? Are you driven to heal, protect, and restore hope within your community? Do you find satisfaction in observing people and places and finding solutions to problems?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, embarking on a journey towards a criminal justice degree might just be your gateway to a fulfilling career.

In this article, we'll explore criminal justice degrees in San Diego, focusing on their curriculums, potential career paths, and why Point Loma Nazarene University's comprehensive program could be your match for success.

What is a Criminal Justice Degree?

A criminal justice degree is an academic program—typically offered at the undergraduate or graduate level—that encompasses the study of:

  • The legal system
  • Law enforcement practices
  • Corrections
  • Criminology
  • And more

Graduates of criminal justice programs are set up to pursue careers in law enforcement, legal professions, corrections, probation and parole, security, forensic science, or social services.

Some individuals may also use their criminal justice degree as a foundation for further education in fields, such as law or public policy. (Keep reading for more on career opportunities!)

An Integrated Approach: Restorative Justice

Unlike many criminal justice programs, Point Loma Nazarene University emphasizes restorative justice in its curriculum.

What is restorative justice? By definition, restorative justice seeks to view crime and responses to crime from a human perspective. The end goal is to repair and restore peace, safety, and accountability instead of simply upholding a system of laws.

At its core, restorative justice hopes to establish fairness and harmony within society. This framework of justice includes:

  • Delving into the root causes of crime within communities 
  • Exploring avenues for their resolution

As expected, this holistic approach can foster a more secure and cohesive community; one whose goal is to proactively prevent and manage future harm.


Who are you called to be?

Pursue your purpose at PLNU.


What Do Students Study in Criminal Justice Programs?

Students delve into criminal law, forensic science, sociology, and ethics to gain insight into the complexities of crime and justice. Moreover, in criminal justice programs, students will learn the intricacies of the justice system and how to advocate for policies that stress peace, safety, and rehabilitation.

From a bird's eye view, a criminal justice degree aims to provide knowledge in three areas:

  • Criminal justice system’s processes, institutions, and policies
  • The causes and consequences of crime
  • Strategies for prevention and control

Take it from Kevin Modesto, Ph.D. Chair of PLNU’s Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Family Sciences: “The criminal justice system provides a unique arena to ensure justice and facilitate restoration. At PLNU, we intend to train our students to see opportunities for transformation in every situation, becoming agents of hope in communities they serve.”

Criminal Justice Degree Courses

What might a course load look like for students? Depending on what year of studies you’re in, classes that a criminal justice major takes at PLNU may include:

  • Sociology
  • Criminology
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Constitutional Foundations of Criminal Justice
  • Social Psychology
  • And more

Why Study Criminal Justice in San Diego?

San Diego serves as an ideal location for pursuing a criminal justice degree. As one of the largest cities in California—boasting nearly 1.5 million individuals—the city offers a diverse range of post-graduate and internship opportunities within the criminal justice field.

From local law enforcement agencies to federal organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), San Diego provides a vibrant ecosystem for students to engage in internships, fieldwork, and networking opportunities.

Potential Careers in San Diego with a Criminal Justice Degree

As we’ve noted, the demand for professionals with a background in criminal justice continues to grow in San Diego. Graduates can explore various career paths, including:

Infographic listing Criminal Justice Careers in San Diego: Legal Professional, Corrections Officer, Law Enforcement Officer, Probation Officer, and Crime Analyst.

Law Enforcement Officer

Become a police officer, detective, or special agent within local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement officers uphold public safety and enforce laws to encourage community well-being.

Corrections Officer

Corrections officers engage in the management and rehabilitation of inmates within correctional facilities. Corrections officers play an important role in maintaining order and facilitating the reintegration of individuals into society post-incarceration.

Legal Professional

With a degree in criminal justice, you can explore the legal system as a paralegal, legal assistant, or court clerk. Legal professionals provide indispensable support to attorneys and judges by assisting in legal proceedings, research, and documentation to ensure the fair administration of justice.

Probation Officer

Probation officers serve as a key link between justice-involved individuals and community resources. By monitoring and guiding individuals on probation or parole, probation officers foster their successful reintegration into society through customized support and supervision.

Crime Analyst

For the data junkie, crime analysts harness the power of data and research to decipher crime patterns, trends, and hotspots. This information then influences crime prevention strategies and aids law enforcement agencies in effectively deploying resources and protecting communities.

Benefits of a Hybrid Degree Program

At PLNU, the hybrid nature of our criminal justice program allows you to learn when and where you want. Focused on community relations, restorative justice, and traditional criminal justice practices we blend online coursework with in-person instruction.

This allows students to balance their education with other commitments. With PLNU’s accelerated timelines and supportive faculty, individuals can earn their Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice in as few as 15 months.

Begin Pursuing Your Criminal Justice Degree in San Diego

As we’ve established, pursuing a criminal justice degree in San Diego offers a gateway to diverse career opportunities and a meaningful impact on the community. With PLNU's hybrid program, you can acquire the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in this ever-evolving field.

Take the first step towards your future in criminal justice and read on to learn why PLNU may be the best choice for you.

Apply Now

Request Info