The Department of Criminal Justice evaluates, researches, and serves the justice professions through the interdisciplinary and comparative study of crime and criminal behavior, as well as the policies and systems designed to control criminality. The Department promotes life-long learning among students who develop into justice professionals prepared to ethically lead public and private efforts that make communities safer and that promote the equitable application of the law across all boundaries, both perceived and real. Our curricular offerings provide both a substantive and practical knowledge base that links multidisciplinary social-scientific theories and methods with effective and responsible public policy and the ethical practice of the justice professions within a free, multicultural, constitutional democracy.
The Department offers interdisciplinary and comparative educational opportunities for students at the certificate, minor, baccalaureate, and master's levels. These curricula rigorously prepare students for entry into the justice professions and/or for admission to graduate programs in criminal justice, criminology, law, and other related fields. Additionally, these curricula are designed to achieve the following goals:
Subject Mastery – Through the in-depth exploration of social scientific and legal research, the Department's students shall learn about the causes of crime; the tools and methods used to study, prevent, and control crime; the institutions, principles, and actors involved in the apprehension, prosecution, punishment, and reintegration of offenders; and the legal and political framework under which the justice system and its primary actors operate.
Cogent and Persuasive Communication – In addition to fostering the development of substantive and practical knowledge, the major in criminal justice should hone students' effective speaking and writing skills, thereby helping them communicate more cogently and persuasively.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving – Graduates should be able to raise relevant and critical questions concerning crime and its control and be prepared to meaningfully address such issues from a variety of perspectives. In doing so, students should demonstrate their comprehension of relevant criminological theories and justice structures as well as their ability to practically apply such knowledge to contemporary justice issues, particularly as they relate to the dynamics of inequality in social relations.
Effective Evaluation – Graduates should be able to read, understand, analyze, and synthesize relevant information, including qualitative and quantitative social scientific data and substantive and procedural legal doctrines relevant to criminal justice, and evaluate the public policy implications of such information.
Professionalism and Ethics – Graduates must understand the ethical implications of the work of justice professionals and be prepared to act with honesty and integrity as leaders who become agents of positive change in the justice system.
Program-Level Learning Objectives
The degree programs offered by the Department of Criminal Justice are designed to empower students as critical thinkers, ethical actors, and competent communicators concerning matters of crime and justice at the local, state, national, and international levels, to include, at degree-appropriate levels, the abilities to:
- assess the philosophy, theories, policies, practices, processes, and reforms of the major institutions of social control;
- explain the inter-dependent operations of the major components of the criminal justice system (i.e., police, courts, correctional agencies) and the political, legal, ethical, and socioeconomic environments in which they operate, as well as the implications of these relationships for victims, offenders, justice professionals, and society;
- analyze the major historical and contemporary issues facing the criminal justice system, including events, information, programs, policies, and concepts that affect the operation of criminal justice agencies and actors, as well as issues affecting contemporary urban society and respect for racial, ethnic, cultural, and gender diversity;
- evaluate the nature, extent, causation, and prevention of crime, including the ability to apply and critique the major theories relevant to those causes;
- apply the skills and methods in criminal justice research, including the acquisition, analysis, interpretation, dissemination, and policy implications of both quantitative and qualitative data, and, where appropriate, various skills and methods for conducting basic forensic investigations or crime analysis;
- apply the philosophy, theories, and principles of substantive, procedural, and evidentiary criminal law that regulate and guide the criminal justice system and its primary actors; and
- communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, and demonstrate basic knowledge of information technology as applied to criminal justice research and practice.