CJ Undergraduate Curriculum
The Criminal Justice program places emphasis on academics, oral and written communication and research potential. The curriculum is largely concentrated in social and behavioral sciences with core courses in government, law, psychology, and sociology. Students take courses in other departments, as well as in criminal justice, giving them the ability to look at a problem from many viewpoints. This system exposes students to a wide diversity of faculty to explore different ideas and issues. Students are not asked to specialize in any specific sub-area of criminal justice. Rather, every student takes the same basic core course work. Students, however, may build in specializations by judicious selections of Core Elective courses and their internship site.
An intense internship requirement is one of the program's strengths. Contact is maintained with numerous agencies that accept interns on a regular basis. Internships may be arranged with law enforcement agencies, correctional institutions, probation/parole authorities, private security operations, prosecutors' and public defenders' offices, the local courts and some federal agencies. Feedback from both the agencies and the interns has consistently verified the value of "in-the-field" study to a well-rounded education.
Forensic Investigations Specialization
A new Forensic Investigations specialization began in the 2013 Fall Semester. This course of study is appropriate for students interested in pursuing investigative careers in the public, private, intelligence, and military sectors. Students in the Forensic Investigations specialty will take four dedicated courses in addition to the core Criminal Justice courses required for the Major. The new courses are:
CRJU 2300: Investigations - This is a survey course on the range of investigation techniques, with a particular focus on criminal investigation. Collection of physical evidence through crime scene searches; of testimonial evidence through interviews of eyewitnesses and interrogation of suspects; and of supplemental and predictive evidence through open-source data collection and surveillance are explored in the context of legal requirements and ethical issues.
CRJU 3100: Introduction to Forensic Science - A survey course into the range of techniques of scientific analysis conducted on physical evidence: physical properties, comparison matches, class and individual characteristics, toxicology, challenged document examination, explosives and arson investigation, and other topics are considered in light of scientific standards and processes, as well as evolving legal standards. The course presents “forensic science” in terms of the duties that field investigators must perform to ensure the validity of the evidence for courtroom presentation.
CRJU 3600: Digital Crime and Criminal Justice - An introduction to the rapidly-expanding role of digital media in crime. This course introduces a variety of topics, including cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking, scamming, spyware and malware, corporate espionage, hacking and system security, financial crimes and money-laundering, among others.
CRJU 4400: Law, Evidence, and Legal Issues in Forensic Science - This class provides an overview and examination of the legal aspects of physical evidence including rules of evidence, procedural rules, and the role of expert witnesses. The course also includes direct and cross-examination of students in a moot court setting.
In addition to the four core courses above, students will take two additional Specialization Elective courses from a number of offerings in the department and across the university curriculum. Forensic Accounting (taught in the Schmidthorst College of Business), Forensic Psychology (taught in the College of Arts & Sciences), and others are available. Six additional electives and a 12-hour Internship complete the requirements for the Forensic Investigations Specialization.
All Criminal Justice majors must complete an internship with an agency or organization whose responsibilities are related to the criminal justice system. Such organizations may be governmental, private businesses, or non-profit agencies. The internship is 400 hours (essentially 40 hours a week for 12 weeks) and counts as 12 credit hours towards a student’s graduation requirements. Students may complete an internship with an approved agency in any geographic location. Students choose the agency with which they intern depending upon their professional and intellectual interests as well as other considerations.
The purpose of the internship is to provide a real-world learning experience for students. In particular, the experience will allow students to see how things discussed in the classroom are applied in real-world settings. Interns are not simply volunteers who run errands or file paperwork, though these will likely be part of any internship experience. What an individual intern does will vary depending on the type of agency and the unique circumstances at the time. However, it is expected that interns will have numerous learning experiences such as interacting with a variety of agency and non-agency personnel and being involved in a range of activities associated with the agency’s official responsibilities.