Academics & Majors

Criminal Justice

College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology
Offered as:
Graduate program


Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary field that includes material from a broad range of social sciences. Criminal justice students examine the causes, prevention, control, and treatment of crime and delinquency, focusing on law enforcement agencies, courts, correctional institutions, community corrections, and community justice programs.

Strengths of the program
  • The WSU Criminal Justice Program is consistently ranked among the best in the nation.
  • Learn from professors who regularly assist law and corrections organizations.
  • The program is partnered with the Washington State Institute for Community Oriented Policing.
  • Promote your research by using one of the finest criminal justice journal and book collections available at a university library.
  • Learn in a well-established program: WSU has the nation's second-oldest academic program in criminal justice, and the founding chapter of the Alpha Phi Sigma criminal justice honor society was created here.
Requirements and core courses
Bachelor of arts in criminal justice

Students who major in criminal justice must complete the 15-hour criminal justice core, 6 hours in research methods and quantitative analysis, 9 hours in criminal justice electives, 9 hours from specified political science courses, and 3 hours in specified College of Liberal Arts electives.

Certification requirements

  • Completion of Crm J 101 (Introduction to the Administration of Criminal Justice)
  • 24 completed semester credits
  • 2.0 minimum cumulative grade point average

Core required courses

  • Intro to the Administration of Criminal Justice
  • The Nature of Crime
  • Crime Control Policies
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice

Samples of additional electives

  • Realizing Justice in a Multicultural Society
  • Juvenile Justice and Corrections
  • Crime and Justice in the Movies
  • Violence Toward Women
  • Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
  • Law of Evidence and Criminal Procedure
  • Theories of Deviance
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • The Social Organization of Hate Crimes
  • Sociology of Race Relations

Note: See the WSU Catalog for degree requirements and talk with your academic advisor about planning and scheduling your courses. All students must meet requirements as outlined in the catalog in order to graduate.

Scholarships and financial aid
For criminal justice majors

The V.A. Leonard Scholarship is for full-time undergraduate majors in criminal justice, awarded on the basis of financial need and academic achievement.

The Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service has up to eight scholarships of $1,000 each available to junior and senior students who demonstrate strong academic excellence and an interest in pursuing a public service career.

All criminal justice majors may apply for University-level scholarships and for more than $50,000 in scholarships awarded by the College of Liberal Arts.

For all students

A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs. Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.

Students should complete the Washington State University general scholarship application and the FAFSA to ensure their eligibility for the widest range of scholarships and need-based financial aid.

For information or to apply for financial aid and scholarships from WSU, see the Scholarships and Finances section of the WSU website.

Suggested strengths, interests, and preparation
  • Interest in societal issues
  • Desire to understand and prevent crime


Careers in criminal justice

A criminal justice degree can lead to work in criminal justice and government agencies (federal, state, or local) or the private sector.

What you can do with a degree in criminal justice:

  • Local, state, federal law enforcement
  • Homeland security
  • Probation and parole
  • Private, corporate security
  • Customs and immigration
  • Crime analysis
  • Law
  • Business management

Skills you can market with a degree in criminal justice:

  • Knowledge of interpersonal and organizational behavior and misbehavior
  • Ability to critically analyze problems and develop and test methods to solve them
  • Research skills
  • Knowledge of statistics
  • Effective written and oral communication skills
  • Reading and listening comprehension
  • Cultural awareness and sensitivity
  • Ability to work solo or as a team member
  • Time management and organization