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Criminal Justice Studies

Criminal Justice Studies (CJS) students think theoretically and critically about the criminal justice system as they build an interrelated foundation of knowledge and practical experience connected to interests in law, juvenile and adult corrections, law enforcement, and correctional counseling. The major has its basis in sociology, with additional courses in criminology and criminal justice. First Year students take a course in Deviance, which is supplemented with CJS and sociology electives. CJS electives include courses in Juvenile Delinquency and Justice, the Sociology of Law, Victimology, Criminal Courts, Corrections, and Policing. Guest speakers, field trips, films, and service learning provide exposure to the system itself. Sociology courses focus on income inequality, racial and ethnic relations, social work, family, or violence and nonviolence. An internship informed by previous coursework is required and usually completed in studentsí junior or senior years. Recent internships have been provided by police departments, probation offices, residential treatment facilities for at-risk youths, and child protection agencies.

Requirements for the Major

Criminal Justice Studies and Supporting Courses:

CJS 102 Deviance
CJS 590-594 Field Experience/Internship OR CJS 620-624 Independent Study
SOC 101 Principles of Sociology OR SOC 209 Minority-Majority Relations OR SOC 214 Social Class in America
SOC 350 Social Theory
SOC 601 Sociology Capstone I
SOC 602 Sociology Capstone II
SSC 251 Research Methods for Social Science
SSC 252 Data Analysis for Social Science

And two of the following Criminal Justice electives:

CJS 203 Victimology (2 s.h.)
CJS 204 Police (2 s.h.)
CJS 205 Criminal Courts (2 s.h.)
CJS 206 Corrections (2 s.h.)

And 12 semester hours from the following list:

CJS 200 Studies in Criminology and Criminal Justice
CJS 201 Juvenile Delinquency and Justice
CJS 203 Victimology (2 s.h.)
CJS 204 Police (2 s.h.)
CJS 205 Criminal Courts (2 s.h.)
CJS 206 Corrections (2 s.h.)
CJS 302 The Sociology of Law and Legal Systems
CJS 405 Critical Issues in Policing
Note: At least 8 hours must be a the 200-level or above; at least 4 hours must be at the 300-level or above.

And/or 1 of the following courses

SOC 204 Introduction to Social Work
SOC 209 Minority-Majority Relations
SOC 214 Social Class in America
SOC 241 Sociology of Violence and Nonviolence
SOC 306 Sociology of Family

Requirements for the Minor

Criminal Justice Studies and Supporting Courses:

CJS 102 Deviance
SOC 350 Social Theory
SSC 251 Research Methods for Social Science

And 12 additional semester hours:

Any Criminal Justice Studies course
SOC 101 Principles of Sociology OR SOC 209 Minority-Majority Relations OR SOC 214 Social Class in America

See Course Descriptions for a complete list of CJS courses.

Note: Sociology majors may not minor in Criminal Justice Studies.

Course Descriptions

Criminal Justice Studies Courses:

CJS 102 Deviance (4 SH). An exploration of norm-breaking behavior and its consequences. Traditional and contemporary theories of deviance will be examined, as will particular areas of deviant behavior. The change in definitions of what is regarded as deviant will be dealt with at length.

CJS 200 Studies in Criminology and Criminal Justice (4 SH). This course will deal with specific aspects of criminology and the criminal justice system not included in the regular curriculum. Topics will be announced prior to registration.

CJS 201 Juvenile Delinquency and Justice (4 SH). An exploration of juvenile misconduct and its legal consequences. Theories explaining juvenile delinquency from a variety of perspectives will be examined. The emergence and present state of the juvenile justice system will be covered as well. Offered Spring Semester.

CJS 202 Criminology (4 SH). This course covers the workings of the criminal justice system. Students will explore how we define and respond to crime, how the institutions of the criminal justice system (police forces, criminal courts and prisons) have developed and functioned, and the reasons criminal justice policies are adopted and the effects those policies have. Offered Fall Semester.

CJS 203 Victimology (2 SH). This course provides an introduction to the study of criminal victimization. We will investigate patterns of criminal victimization using empirical data, apply theoretical concepts to empirical patterns, analyze specific forms of victimization (e.g. intimate partner violence, child maltreatment, property victimization), consider the impact of crime on victims and society (e.g. fear of crime), the role of victims within the criminal justice system, specific remedies, and victim rights and services.

CJS 204 Police (2 SH). This course explores the history, development, current practices and future of the police at the local, state, federal and, at times, global level. Students will receive a basic introduction to the role of the police in a diverse and democratic society, with a focus on police discretion, types of policing and use of force. K. Robison.

CJS 205 Criminal Courts (2 SH). This course focuses on Americaís criminal courts. We will discuss the major players in the criminal justice systemódefense attorneys, prosecutors, and judgesóand the ways in which their behavior is influenced by their roles, their experiences on the job and the small group environment. We will also discuss controversial policies in the criminal justice field, paying particular attention to the motivation behind the adoption of such policies and the degree to which the effects of such policies have fulfilled or conflicted with those motivations.

CJS 206 Corrections (2 SH). This course explores the history, development, current practices and future of correctional systems at the local, state, federal and, at times, global level. This course takes a multi-disciplinary view of selected areas and issues relevant to correctional goals (general/specific deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, restitution, retribution and restorative justice) for offenders in secure confinement (jails and prisons) and community-based alternatives to jails and prisons (probation, parole, restitution, community service, intensive probation/parole, electronic monitoring, boot camps and community-corrections programs).

CJS 302 The Sociology of Law and Legal Systems (formerly listed as SOC 203) (4 SH). This course takes a broad perspective on such questions as the origins of law and the development of systems of dispute settlement. Special emphasis is placed on the relationship between law and social change, and law and social control in the areas of criminal and civil law. Prerequisite: SOC 101 or CJS 102. Offered Spring Semester.

CJS 405 Critical Issues in Policing (4 SH). This course offers an in-depth investigation of the evolution of law enforcement in the United States, leading into inquiry of a number of current, critical issues shaping policing locally, nationally and internationally. Critical issues examined include: the militarization of U.S. police forces, policing post-conflict cities, technological advances in policing, policing the drug trade in rural and urban America as well as abroad and the increased role of police forces in homeland security.

CJS 590-594 Field Experience/Internship (1-4 SH).

CJS 620-624 Independent Study (1-4 SH).

Supporting Courses:

SSC 251 Research Methods for Social Science (4 SH). An introduction to the nature and processes of social science inquiry. Particular attention is given to designing social science research projects, and to techniques for gathering, analyzing, and communicating data from both primary and secondary sources. The course is intended to increase the student’s ability to understand published studies and to enhance student research skills. Prerequisite: Two sociology criminal justice studies and/or political science courses.

SSC 252 Data Analysis for Social Science (4 SH). An introduction to methods of tabulating, analyzing, and interpreting empirical social science data; and to the use of computers in social science research. Emphasis is placed on assessing strengths, weaknesses, requirements, and applicability of the various statistical methods. Prerequisite: SSC 251 or some exposure to research methods and instructor permission.

SOC 101 Principles of Sociology (4 SH). In taking this course, students will become more aware of the effects of social forces on the individual. The course provides an introduction to the concepts and methods used in the systematic study of society. Topics include: social norms, social groups, social conflict, social inequality, social institutions, social change, and the sociological perspective.

SOC 204 Introduction to Social Work (4 SH). An exploration of the knowledge base, theories, and methods that social workers use. Several of the major fields of practice are examined including family and child welfare, health care, mental health, criminal justice, and gerontology.

SOC 209 Minority-Majority Relations (4 SH). This course will trace the history of race as a concept, examine how racial and ethnic relations changed over time in the U.S., analyze the causes and consequences of prejudice and discrimination, and consider how majority-minority relations shape life chances for various groups in the U.S. and throughout the world. Some of the topics we cover include: ethnic identity, popular culture, segregation, immigration, racial profiling, and interracial relationships.

SOC 214 Social Class in America (4 SH). An examination of the various forms and systems of social inequality in human societies, with attention to the mechanisms that perpetuate inequalities, ideologies that legitimate them, and possibilities for social mobility. Particular focus is on social class inequality in the contemporary United States and the social problems of poverty and homelessness.

SOC 241 Sociology of Violence and Nonviolence (4 SH). Violence, from a sociological perspective, is considered a social phenomenon that evolves in a socio-historical-political moment. This course will evaluate theory and research on violence and nonviolence from both a macro and micro sociological lens. Topics investigated will be interpersonal violence, violence against animals, hate crimes, school violence, bullying, terrorism, structural violence, and social movements that involve both violence and nonviolence. We will also investigate how race, social class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and ability shapes who is more likely to be a victim or perpetrator of violence.

SOC 306 Sociology of Family (4 SH). This course examines the function, structure, and variety of families. Topics include: the historical origins of contemporary American family life; patterns in family formation and dissolution, including dating, cohabitation, marriage, and divorce; sexuality and families; work-family (im)balance; and social problems, such as poverty and intimate violence. We will discuss and debate the implications of changing family life in the United States and abroad. Prerequisite: One lower-level sociology or criminal justice studies course or permission of instructor.

SOC 350 Social Theory (4 SH). A survey of dominant traditions in classical and contemporary social theory, as derived from their social context. This course is a preparation for more specialized study in sociology. Prerequisite: SOC 101 and one additional sociology or criminal justice studies course. Offered Fall Semester.

SOC 601 Sociology Capstone I (4 SH). The student will relate a substantive topic to the major theoretical and methodological schools in sociology. To be taken in spring of the junior year. Prerequisites: SOC 250 and SSC 251.

SOC 602 Sociology Capstone II (4 SH). The student will conduct a significant research project in the fall of the senior year. Prerequisites: SSC 252 and SOC 601.


Criminal Justice Studies and Sociology-Social Policy majors are required to complete an internship in their respective fields.
Some Sociology majors also choose to complete an internship.

More Internship information can be found by checking the Career Center link.

Here is a sampling of recent student internships:

Jennifer Duvall

Major: Sociology/Criminal Justice

Site: Lawrence County Adult Probation Office (APO)

When: January 2011- May 2011


  • read rules to the probationers
  • ran the house arrest window
  • filed paperwork
  • filled out DNA forms
  • various tasks for the PO’s (Probation Officers) and clerical staff.

Quote on experience: “I loved interning at the APO! I got a lot of hands on experience in the field that I someday hope to go into. Also, all the PO’s were awesome and I learned a lot from them.

B. Glavey

Major: Sociology

Site: Community Counseling Center, Hermitage PA (724)-981-7141

When: Summer 2010


  • Supervised teams of 4-8 consumers in the Welfare to Work Program
  • Created a Community Resources Report for other area social service agencies
  • Assessed consumers at Rosecrest House and State House Group Homes
  • Assisted with inspection of group homes in preparation for monitoring visit
  • Prepped consumer files for electronic scanning to help meet CCC’s Going Green Initiative
  • Created an accounts payable spreadsheet for the fiscal year
  • Created a spreadsheet listing consumers and their Support Placement Housing Units
  • Sat in on Anger Management, Budget Counseling, and Assertiveness classes
  • Received and directed calls and acted as a temporary secretary

Quote on experience: “While at CCC I gained much new experience in such areas as creating databases/spreadsheets, pre-employment skill building, and socialization skill building. I felt everything I was tasked with had a purpose. They challenged me, leading me to better understand where my strengths lie as well as the areas that needed improvement. I will never forget my time spent at CCC, nor those I worked for and with. Every single one of them made my internship the best that it could be. Looking back, the skills I learned at CCC have certainly stayed with me. I utilize them not only in the workplace, but in life as well.”

Katrina Falconer

Major: Sociology

Site: The Lawrence-Beaver Chapter Emergency Services of the American Red Cross located at 222 North Mercer Street, New Castle, Pa 16101

When: I started in the end of May 2011 and finished in the end of August (officially). However I am still a volunteer member of the chapter and a Disaster Action Team member, which I plan to be as long as I can.

Tasks: I was an all around assistant and team member. I learned the basic office protocols, including answering phones and responding to questions clients and customers asked, organizing and filing paperwork, handling and organizing/storing donations, assisting instructor's with class preparation, taking care of errands. I also learned how to be a disaster services client case worker. This included being able to respond to disasters, such as house fires, being able to fill out and file paperwork on behalf of clients so that their emergency needs could be met as soon as possible, and being able to work a large scale disaster such as an apartment fire, learning all the procedures for relocating clients and providing round the clock care for them at the temporary housing.

Quote on experience:

Serious quote:
"Hello, my name is Katie. I'm with the American Red Cross. How can I help you?" - this phrase was said very often and it is said in other forms by other people. However, when this is said to a person who's home was just destroyed, the light in their eyes changes from fear and panic to relief and hope. There is no other feeling like it, or like the feeling of seeing this reaction happen right in front of you because of one simple little phrase."

Fun quote:
Katie: "So when Jody asks why we are late you are going to say we had traffic problems. When we really drove north instead of south?"
Daniel: "Yes."
Katie: "And I am supposed to keep a straight face?"
Daniel: "Preferably."

During the Spring term of the junior year and Fall term of the senior year students outline their own research project and collect and analyze its associated data in two Capstone courses. Capstone is a challenging and empowering experience for students as they apply their learning Students have considerable freedom in designing their project. Final projects are shared in a poster session open to the larger campus and some students also have presented their research at Westminsterís Undergraduate Research and Arts Celebration, at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, at Kent State Universityís Undergraduate Sociology Symposium, the American Society of Criminology, and at regional sociology conferences.

Westminster College Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice Studies Presents our Criminal Justice Symposium April 9-10, 2015

Westminster College
McKelvey Campus Center
Witherspoon Rooms
319 S Market St
New Wilmington, PA 16172-0001

"Incarceration and Reentry"



Keynote Speakers

Our featured Keynote speakers are Amanda Alexander and Gary Tennis, Esq.

Amanda Alexander

Amanda Alexander who is a Soros Justice Fellow and Director of the University of Michigan Law School Prison & Family Justice Project. The Project serves families divided by incarceration and the foster care system using a combination of direct representation, know-your-rights education, targeted litigation, and advocacy. Amanda received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she founded the Women, Incarceration, and Family Law Project. During law school, she worked with The Bronx Defenders, conducted research for National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and worked on alternatives to stop-and-frisk policing as an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. A PhD candidate in international history at Columbia University, Amanda’s teaching and research interests include mass incarceration, criminal law, reproductive justice, family law, and prison teaching. Amanda is a sponsor of Michigan’s Inside-Out Prison Exchange Theory Group and an advisor to the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated. She lives in southwest Detroit.

Gary Tennis, Esquire

Gary Tennis, Esq. of Philadelphia was nominated by Gov. Tom Corbett to serve as secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs in January 2012.  Tennis is retired from his previous position as chief of the legislation unit in the Philadelphia's District Attorney's Office, where he represented the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association working with the General Assembly.  In addition to more than 25 years of legislative experience, Tennis served as executive director of the President's Commission on Model State Drug Laws in 1993.  He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Tulsa in 1975 and was a Rhodes Scholarship nominee.  He is also a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  Tennis's first order of business will be cot analyze the provision of drug and alcohol services, which are currently provided through several agencies including the state departments of health and public Welfare.  The goal is to ensure the highest and most effective care for Pennsylvania citizens struggling with addiction.


Additional Speakers

Morning Panel: Shelby Unger-Bacz (SCI-Cambridge Springs Reentry Program), Tricia Johnston (Georgia Department of Corrections Women's Programming), Gary Fillipone (Jails to Jobs Special Projects Liaison), Josh Lamancusa (District Attorney Lawrence County)

Afternoon Panel: Tiffany Wilfong (CSI Investigative Researcher), Jamie Jendrysik (Chief-Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole), Matt Monaly (Federal Investigative Services), Marilyn Plotts (Director of Highland House), Amy Landfair (Pennsylvania State Probation and Parole)

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What can you do with a Criminal Justice Studies degree?

Imagine yourself an investigator, detective, police officer, paralegal, counselor, or probation officer.

Quick Facts

Criminal Justice Studies

Degree Offered

Bachelor of Arts