Is Criminal Justice a Stepping Stone to Law School?


If you’re interested in studying criminal justice as an undergraduate, it can open a wide range of career paths, especially in law enforcement. But perhaps you picture yourself as a lawyer. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is a great foundation for a Juris Doctor degree.  

Decide if Criminal Law is of Interest

If justice and equality are important issues to you, a criminal justice degree is extremely helpful if you are interested in public service, such as in criminal law or immigration law.  You’ll be taking courses in subject areas including criminal justice and criminal and constitutional law that will give you a good overview and help you decide if you would like to continue in legal studies.  

Interest in Law

When you study criminal justice as an undergrad, it shows you have a real interest in the law and law enforcement. During your studies, if you get an internship in the criminal justice system, not only will you gain hands-on, real-world experience, you may be able to use this experience to get recommendations from those you worked with or for your personal statement for your law school application.

Relevant Coursework

When studying for a degree in criminal justice, you will be focusing in your courses on a number of legal topics: law enforcement, the legal system, courts, and corrections. You will also take broader courses to provide you with necessary skills such as research, writing and analysis, all of which are useful for law school and a law career.

Other Legal Occupations

If you pursue a criminal justice degree but decide not to attend law school, there are many other careers in law open to you that don’t require a law degree.  For example, you might consider a career as an arbitrator or mediator who facilitates dialogue between disputing parties to resolve conflicts outside the court system. Another relevant option is a court reporter that creates transcriptions at trial, during depositions or other legal proceedings. Paralegal or a legal assistant are other legal job options that don’t require a law degree. They perform a variety of tasks to support lawyers such as conducting legal research, drafting documents, and maintaining files.



Studying criminal justice can give you a strong foundation for law, but if you want to become a lawyer, you will need to attend law school, take the bar exam, and be licensed by a state bar association. You don’t need to study a specific college major to get into law school. What’s more important is that you have good grades, strong reasoning, writing and communications skills for the law school entry test, the LSAT’s, and acceptance from a school. So, study what you like. If criminal justice is of interest to you, Norwalk Community College offers an associate degree that will give you a good idea if this is the right path for you. This associate degree focuses on three areas: criminal justice system, law enforcement, and courts and corrections. To find out more, visit our Criminal Justice Department page or contact us today.