AIU Blog

The AIU blog shares ideas, information and tips aimed at helping you get ahead personally and professionally, with topics ranging from online learning success to career development.

Why Do I Need to Take General Education Courses in a Criminal Justice Program?

Image: Why Do I Need to Take General Education Courses in a Criminal Justice Program?

Criminal justice courses include all kinds of interesting topics - criminology, law enforcement, constitutional law and criminal investigations, just to name a few. Cases, news articles and real-life are intertwined into classes. It’s exciting!

It’s no wonder, then, that many students don’t look forward to the more-standard general education courses that crop up in their schedules. “I’m a criminal justice student. Why do I have to take general education courses?” is a common refrain. I’d like to share with you some of the connections to help you see how gen eds and your core criminal justice courses all come together to better prepare you for future career opportunities.

Why Math?

Criminal justice professionals constantly use math. For those interested in being law enforcement officers, understanding math is critical. A few examples of where math is used include in the estimation of distance during accidents, weight of drugs and trajectory of ballistics. Without an understanding of math, an officer’s job would be more difficult.

Another example of the importance of math within criminal justice is statistics. Statistics are an important aspect of criminal justice. An example of this is the crime rate or crime trends of an area. That data is collected, analyzed and reported via statistics. The different statistical “tools” are also significant for those interested in the collection and analysis of forensic evidence.

When you consider the importance of math in criminal justice, you can see how math courses provide a basis for the daily work in the field.

RELATED: What Can You Do With a Criminal Justice Degree?

Why English?

Most documents criminal justice professionals write have the potential to become legal documents. Some serve as the basis for an arrest. Having a basic understanding of grammar, sentence structure and punctuation (to name just a few important areas to master) is significant to criminal justice. This is true because criminal justice professionals testify in court. Imagine a prosecutor attempting to use a misspelled and grammatically incorrect report in an attempt to undermine your credibility. Learning the basics and practicing writing are important. English classes provide the avenue for this practice.

Why Science?

Have you wondered how intertwined science and criminal justice have become? Forensic science is based upon the connection of criminal justice with natural science. These basics assist students in understanding DNA and the biology behind crime. It is important to have this background when solving crimes. It can help uncover the why behind crime.

In the criminal justice field, science can assist in determining what is fact versus what is opinion. In criminal justice, science equals evidence. This evidence can impact whether suspects are convicted and whether victims get justice.

Why Speech?

Speaking is an essential aspect of the criminal justice professional’s day. Most jobs within criminal justice are in the public realm. How an individual speaks can influence the public’s perception of an agency. In the field, there is no chance to “practice” a speech. Many times, answers are needed and questions have to be asked.

Another reason speech is important is the potential for testifying in court. When you speak, you will not only be representing yourself, you will be representing your agency.

Making the Connection

For all of the skill sets covered above, the connection between general education courses and the criminal justice field exists in the different skills necessary to interact with the public, talk with and assist victims, interview witnesses or clients, interrogate suspects, testify in court, and deal with offenders. Without practicing and developing these skills, your credibility can be hampered. As you go through every general education course, instead of asking, “Why am I here?” instead, ask yourself this question: “What can I learn from this course to enhance the skills I need to better prepare for my future?”