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Criminal Justice

The Breakdown

Are you intrigued by unsolved murders? Do you judiciously study the penal code? Are you quick to debate the death penalty? Do you scrutinize the latest of episode of CSI: Miami to critique the accuracy of the plot lines? If you answered yes to any of these queries you might want to contemplate studying criminal justice.

An interdisciplinary major, criminal justice will allow you to explore multiple fields. Indeed, it offers a healthy balance among courses in psychology, sociology, economics, political science, history, biology and philosophy. More specifically, you will investigate crime and delinquency through the lens of both the law and natural sciences. Further, you’ll study the causation and prevention of crime, the legal processes through which crimes are prosecuted and the treatment and rehabilitation of criminals. You should also expect to do a good deal of reading and writing as this is a research intensive major.

Criminal justice requires both keen analytical and observational skills. Having an inquisitive nature is beneficial along with the ability to remain level-headed within stressful situations. Lastly, you will quickly discover that interpersonal skills are fundamental to success.

Nuts and Bolts

Criminal justice majors usually enroll in class such as Abnormal Psychology; Victimology; Police in Modern Society; Juvenile Justice; Constitutional Criminal Procedure; Legal Writing; Dispute Resolution; Research Methods in Criminal Justice; Outsiders, Outcasts and Social Deviants; Correctional Counseling Methods; Child Abuse and Neglect; and Judicial Process.

Decisions, Decisions…

Typically, criminal justice majors are interested in both the application of the law and the societal and biological triggers for criminal behavior. Therefore, they also might consider studying developmental psychology, sociology, anthropology, forensics, public policy, political science, pre-law, law enforcement administration, biochemistry, genetics, biology and social work.

What’s Next?

Criminal justice majors have a wide variety of interesting and rewarding career options. As you might have assumed, a number of criminal justice graduates pursue a career in law enforcement, whether with a local police department, state police department or larger government institutions such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Central Intelligence Agency or the Drug Enforcement Agency. Many graduates also seek employment opportunities within the court system, be it as a bailiff or parole officer. Still others enter the field of corrections. Certainly, the private sector beckons as well, with majors landing jobs in private security and private investigations. Forensics is another popular direction, with possible positions as crime lab analysts and field analysts. And, of course, a number of criminal justice majors apply to law school and go on to earn their JD.


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Don Munce