Criminal Justice (CJ)

Green River offers an excellent, innovative and current Criminal Justice program. The degree is broad, rigorous, and transferable. The program offers a two-year degree and two certificates, allowing students to specialize.

Green River offers a progressive and innovative Criminal Justice program. Students learn how to perform a wide range of investigations, enforcement, and technical work.

Areas of employment

The Criminal Justice program prepares students to do a variety of work depending upon their area of concentration and, in some cases, the level of additional education they obtain.

Criminal Justice professionals often find work with local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Employers of Criminal Justice graduates include police agencies, sheriff's departments, correctional facilities, forensic crime labs and juvenile detention facilities. Additional education or experience may be needed to work for some of the agencies listed above.

Graduates who concentrate in Corrections do such things as confine dangerous and aggressive individuals; prepare legal reports; enforce institutional, state, and federal rules and regulations; search persons; subdue violent inmates; testify in court; and in some extreme cases use deadly force.

The duties of people earning a certificate in Fingerprint Technology may involve use of laboratory equipment for evidence identification, fingerprinting, crime scene analysis, evidence analysis and a variety of functions related to the prosecution of criminal suspects.

Those concentrating in Law Enforcement conduct investigations; arrest suspects; search persons and places; gather evidence; subdue violent individuals; enforce local, state, and federal laws; testify in court; and in some extreme cases use deadly force.

When can new students enroll?

You may enroll in the Criminal Justice program prior to the beginning of any quarter.


Complete an application to Green River College, complete the COMPASS assessment, and attend a quarterly Criminal Justice/Forensic Technology advising session.

How long does the program take?

It depends on you. If you attend Green River full time, the degree requirements can be completed in about six quarters, and the certificate requirements can be completed in just two quarters depending upon when you start and when the classes are scheduled. If you attend part time, it will depend on how many credits you complete each quarter. Some evening classes are available; however, several classes required for the certificates and the degree are only offered during the day.

Special fees

Each Criminal Justice class includes a $25.00 fee to help defray costs of equipment and supplies.

What will contribute to success in the program?

A person working in the Criminal Justice field needs to have a genuine interest in working with and helping people of diverse backgrounds. Sound judgment, integrity, calm demeanor in crisis situations, and a keen ability to communicate effectively, are attributes that employers seek. Many of these positions require very limited or no prior drug use and a clean criminal record.

Special program notes

Criminal Justice is a broad discipline, encompassing the scientific study of crime, criminals, the criminal justice system, treatment of offenders, and theories of crime causation. The Criminal Justice program has an advisory board made up of chiefs of police, commanders, detectives, judges, police officers and forensic professionals.

Does the program transfer to four-year schools?

The Associate in Applied Science degree parallels our transferable Associate in Arts degree. Students who earn the AAS degree may apply to be awarded the AA degree. However, all transferability is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Careful planning with an advisor and coordination of courses with the college or university of your choice is advised.

Employment outlook

Career prospects in law enforcement, corrections, juvenile justice, probation and various forensic related fields have never been stronger. Exact job demand is unpredictable. Neither the college nor the Criminal Justice program makes any promises implied or expressed on job opportunities. However, due to recent political events, it would appear that the demand for trained law enforcement and security will increase over the next few years. In addition, if you have a prior felony or domestic violence conviction, job opportunities are very limited. Some positions require successful completion on a physical agility test and polygraph examination.

Advancement opportunities

Veteran law enforcement officers often find that they need a college degree for advancement within their agencies. Many are now enrolling at Green River to take advantage of the progressive programs offered here. The current trend in Criminal Justice is moving toward a two-year degree as the minimum educational requirement for initial hiring. Each department varies on its educational requirements.

Salary range

Criminal Justice professionals in the state of Washington enjoy one of the highest salary ranges in the nation.