Can I Change My Criminal Justice Program To Something Else?

One of my readers asked me a very good question: can I change my Criminal Justice program to something else? That reader specifically wanted to know that if he started a Criminal Justice degree program online that he would be able to switch his degree choice to something else, like: Business or Nursing. This question is often asked when people pick a degree path, but later decide to switch to a different program. Financial savings and precious time must be considered when proceeding with any changes. So, without any further delay, the answer is: that all depends.

For those taking their associate & bachelor level classes in a Criminal Justice online program you will be pleased to know that a change of the degree path is attainable. This depends on certain factors which may or may not be in your control. Not all schools may grant a change to your area of study. You must understand the following to proceed with any changes to your degree program:

  • Why is it that you are taking Criminal Justice in the first place?
  • If you switch, will this solve your dilemma?
    • Will you find the degree program that you can really feel like it will be rewarding to you?
    • Perhaps, you might want to postpone schooling altogether. Maybe switching is just a gut reaction and not a calculated move?
  • You have better chances of switching your path in the beginning of the program, rather than later.
    • Switching earlier may equal zero time & monetary loss. This is due to you taking non-core classes, such as: English, Math, Psychology, Arts, History, & etc, which you most likely will have to take in your other chosen degree path anyway.
    • Switching later may cost you some or a lot of time & money. This is because you have probably taken most of the non-core classes and even some or most core requirements.
  • Certain colleges & universities frown upon the shifting of a degree path. This is normal offline and online. They may be reluctant to grant you this change as they don’t want to have you risk your time & money, and their reputation.
    • Academic administrators know that if you switch late, or often, it can become costly
      • To you: time & money
      • To the university: if you don’t finish your degree they risk monetary loss. They also can’t provide a spot to the students that do want to complete their Criminal Justice degree.
      • To the loan companies: sudden changes in student’s behavior may be indicators of troubling repayment, or in extreme cases non-payment.
    • Educational institutions rely on positive feedback and statistics that provide rankings to the general public, potential students, academicians, businesses, venture capitalists, and other interested parties. Therefore, flip flopping is something they would want you to avoid, thus they can preserve their good name.
    • If your school is reluctant, make sure to state your intentions clearly. Speak with the person in the highest academic position, like: the dean of your program, the professor in charge of your program, or even with the president. This is only recommended to those that have a clear idea of what their intentions of switching are. These need to be backed up by practical reasons, documentation, and most importantly, sincerity.
  • Some universities and colleges may have a zero tolerance policy on switching. Thus, you will be out of luck if you try to. Find out if your school will allow you to change your degree track in the midst of your education. Do so before you apply to the program.
  • You need to make sure that the program you want to switch to is offered at your college or university. Simple, isn’t it? You need to know that all schools can’t offer every degree program online. It wouldn’t be feasible to have Med School entirely online. Right? Find the details out before you apply.
  • Changing your Criminal Justice program along with a new school is much harder, especially if you want to have all or most of your credits transferred.
    • Most private schools may accept a lot of your public college or university credits. However, it isn’t that easy to do it the other way. Public universities, for the most part, have stricter guidelines when it comes to credit acceptance from private institutions. So choose your move wisely and make sure to call your admissions rep in the new school and plead with him or her to accept as many credits as possible. You may be lucky enough to negotiate some credit transfers from a CJ program.
    • Often, you might have to start from scratch. That’s if you choose to move to a new school. Again, find all the details before you make the move.
  • Lots of things that you must understand and lots of options you have to weigh. But, in the end, just ask
    • For direction
    • For details
    • For honest counsel
    • For some sanity

If you are taking graduate Criminal Justice classes in order to complete your degree, in all probability, you won’t be able to switch your path as the courses are very concentrated on Criminal Justice; not humanities, not English, not math, not anything else. In the end, you are out of luck. You should either finish the program or quit promptly before you incur significant time and financial losses.

In all, if you feel that Criminal Justice is not your “cup of tea,” you should switch or postpone your education altogether. There is nothing wrong with that, but make sure that the decision you make is yours. That it is calculated and rational. That it will satisfy you, not others. And, that this move will cost you as little time and money as possible. Good luck!

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Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

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