What can I do with a degree in Criminal Justice?

Criminal Justice

The study of Criminal Justice provides expertise relevant to careers in areas such as law enforcement, corrections, offender rehabilitation, working with young offenders, criminal law, security and border control. Criminal Justice looks at the criminal justice process and the treatment of offenders, and also of victims.

Ths multi-disciplinary field of study draws together: 

  • Policing
  • Developmental and abnormal psychology
  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Sentencing and the treatment of convicted offenders

Graduates will understand the various theories of the causes of crime and the research that underpins those theories. They will understand the law and institutions governing the criminal justice process, and be able to interpret and analyse legislation, policies and reforms.

Through their degree, Criminal Justice graduates develop valuable abilities that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:

  • Applying a sense of justice and basic principles of fairness
  • Problem solving and decision making adaptable to different contexts
  • Understanding the core principles of Aotearoa New Zealand criminal law
  • Understanding the causes and correlations of crime
  • Understanding the principles of criminal justice and corrections
  • Oral and written communication
  • Presentation ability
  • Interpretive and analytical thinking
  • Indigenous and cross-cultural awareness
  • Research and computing

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this degree, through internships and fieldtrips. These experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge, and employability.

A degree in Criminal Justice will prepare you for careers in all aspects of criminal justice, in particular, roles within organisations such as:

  • New Zealand Police – employs over 12,000 people. Criminal Justice graduates can work in intelligence, policy analysis, communications, crime prevention or as a constable.
  • Ministry of Justice – employs over 3,000 people delivering justice services. Criminal Justice graduates can work in everything from operational services to coronial services.
  • Department of Corrections – a diverse mix of frontline and office roles across prisons and community corrections facilities to protect the public and reduce reoffending.

Your degree is also likely to be applicable to:

  • Criminal justice policy
  • Restorative justice
  • Courts and legal services
  • Offender rehabilitation
  • Security and border control.

Criminal Justice graduates are able to find a range of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Customs officer

  • Inspects imported and exported goods
  • Searches ships and aircraft for prohibited cargo
  • Assesses security risks and ensures adherence to domestic and international laws

Prison corrections officer

  • Contains prisoners safely and securely
  • Carries out daily activities eg, escorting prisoners to work
  • Motivates prisoners to make positive changes

Community corrections officer

  • Provides pre-sentencing assessments and assesses parole suitability
  • Monitors those on parole or under supervision
  • Provides access to services and programmes

Police officer

  • Attends and investigates crimes, disturbances or accidents
  • Responds to emergencies and keeps the peace
  • Gathers and documents evidence
  • Educates the public on security issues

Police communicator, emergency call handler

  • Captures vital information about an event
  • Coordinates and monitors emergency response
  • Communicates calmly with all units

Coronial case manager

  • Keeps the family of a person who has died informed
  • Provides case management and administrative support to the coroners

Policy analyst / advisor

  • Identifies and investigates issues and opportunities eg, in society, law or governance
  • Interprets and consults on existing policies
  • Prepares reports and recommends changes

Client services advisor

  • Provides information or advice to people
  • Starts the next steps in the process

Immigration officer / manager

  • Examines documentation, such as passports
  • Approves or rejects entry into a country
  • Arranges removal of immigration lawbreakers

Advocate

  • Advises and represents individuals or groups
  • Examines and drafts contracts
  • Provides relevant information to clients

Youth justice manager

  • Leads community-based youth justice teams
  • Partners with whānau, iwi, police, youth workers, schools etc to solve youth offending
  • Leads positive change in offenders and services

Court registry officer

  • Serves court attendees and processes files
  • Takes court and schedules proceedings
  • Supports judicial personnel in managing cases

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up
  • Offers their services as a freelancer/consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep upto-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Criminal Justice subject page