Criminal Justice

The criminal justice major will prepare you for a future career in law enforcement and related professional fields. You’ll be trained to think critically about the criminal justice system and to understand and implement evidence based practices. You’ll also be encouraged to apply these skills toward the pursuit of restorative justice as you live out your calling.

The criminal justice major is designed to assist students in entering an area of expanding need for professionalization and better prepared personnel in law enforcement, the court system, and in diverse areas in the corrections system. This major is also good preparation for graduate school, providing a knowledge and understanding of theory, social organization, methods and techniques. An internship of one semester is part of the major in order to provide additional practical experience in the field.

Sociology and criminal justice department homepage

Major requirements

CRJ 202 - Social Problems
(4 credits) This course is about learning to critically think about society and various problems in society. This course will examine a number of social issues as we wrestle with how we can decide if an issue is a social problem, decide which social problems might be more significant than others, and evaluate potential solutions for social problems. We are going to wrestle with some challenging questions with the goal of helping us to think deeply about how we might seek justice on an individual level and within society. Cross-Referenced: Cross-referenced in sociology.
CRJ 218 - Deviance & Social Control
(4 credits) In this course, we are going to explore a number of questions about the boundaries of acceptability within societies. Instead of just taking such boundaries for granted, we will look at how the creation of normality and deviance is a process of social construction. We will examine how society can influence or constrain people to live within or outside of the socially constructed boundaries. As we explore this subject, we will be challenged to reexamine our own understanding of what is deviant and what is normal, to reflect on how definitions of deviance shape our identities and values, and to wrestle with how definitions of deviance and attempts at social control affect others.
CRJ 220 - The Criminal Justice System
(4 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course provides an introduction to the criminal justice system. The primary goal of this course is to develop a general understanding of the criminal justice system's response to crime in society. It is important to note the general theme of this course involves the delicate balance between community interests and individual rights that criminal justice decision making requires. This theme is explored by examining the criminal justice process in some detail, focusing on how the system is structured to respond to crime. This requires an understanding of the core elements of the criminal justice system: police, courts, and corrections.
CRJ 304CC - Ethnicity, Power and Identity
(4 credits) (NWCore option under Cross-Cultural Engagement) This course develops a sociological perspective on ethnicity, power, and identity. Socialists frequently seek to balance an emphasis on both the general patterns that we observe across social phenomena and the uniqueness of each specific case. The primary goal of this course is not simply learn the characteristics of specific historically marginalized populations. Instead, the course will seek to answer the question: What is the relationship between power, ethnicity, and identity? Our readings and discussions will shed light upon this question from different perspectives. Along the way, we will also draw upon learning materials that address the unique historical situations of specific groups as they endure and struggle against power imbalances (for example, the African American Civil Rights Movement). Cross-Referenced: Cross-Referenced in sociology.
CRJ 305 - Policing & Law Enforcement
(4 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course will provide an introduction to policing and law enforcement and will include a history of policing, police-community relations, police operational and administrative practices and an examination of important trends, issues, and limitations issues facing law enforcement today. The course will also examine police behaviors and attitudes, police culture, and how officers exercise discretion.
CRJ 307 - Corrections
(4 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course offers students the opportunity to learn the role of community-based corrections in the criminal justice system. The course will address all aspects of probation and parole supervision, the current prison systems, and evidence based practices in working within the criminal justice system. Critical thinking, reflective decision-making and collaboration will be emphasized.
CRJ 310 - Criminology
(4 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course is a survey of the field of criminology. It examines the nature, location, and impact of crime in the United States by exploring a broad range of issues related to criminology. Topics include the theoretical underpinnings of criminality, how we measure criminal acts, the development of criminal careers, the various typologies of offenders and victims, and a critical analysis of public policies concerning crime control in society.
CRJ 340 - Research Methods
(4 credits, alternate years, consult department) Evidence-based reasoning is central to professional leadership, public life, and everyday decision-making. This course trains students to design, analyze, and evaluate quantitative research. Students develop these skills by using survey and statistical software to carry out hands-on projects that matter to them and their community. Cross-Referenced: Cross-referenced in sociology.
CRJ 410 - Restorative Justice
(4 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course focuses on restorative conceptions of justice related to the criminal justice system. It places justice in the context of social health rather than only in relation to punishment or criminality. Prominent is the concept of restoring social rights and order threatened by harm to victims, society, and offender. A key goal of restorative justice is to repair harm and restore relationships broken by crime and other wrongdoings. It also recognizes the perspective of the survivors of various crimes and seeks to bring about healing through attempted reconciliation. Crucial conversations are core to the change process through both victim offender dialogue and motivational interviewing.
CRJ 417 - Internship
(4 credits may apply toward the major) Cross-Referenced: Cross-referenced in sociology
CRJ 450SR - Justice as a Skill and Commitment
(4 credits) This course is the senior capstone to a student's entire Northwestern education. The course challenges students to thoughtfully reflect on and integrate their education in their major and across the curriculum with their personal, intellectual, spiritual, and vocational life. In particular, the class will consider the challenge of determining what it means to pursue justice in one's life and vocation. Through reading, discussing, writing, oral presentations, and a capstone research project students will address the questions: Who have I become? To whom and I responsible? How will we live in the world? Cross-Referenced: Cross-referenced in sociology.

Cognate requirements

PSC 101SS - American Government
(4 credits) (NWCore option under Self and Society) (American politics) A broad survey of the major political and governmental institutions in the United States, this course examines how citizens attempt to influence their government and how the government responds. The course also develops the foundations for a biblical perspective on the role of government and the role of citizens.
PSC 225WI - Introduction to Law
(4 credits; alternate years, consult department) (Writing intensive) (American politics) This course briefly surveys the landscape of the American legal system. Most of the course, however, is devoted to examining significant constitutional issues, such as government powers, civil rights and civil liberties.

Total Credits Required: 52