Criminal Justice

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The Criminal Justice program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers a Bachelor of Arts degree and a minor in Criminal Justice. 

Your adventure begins with your academic advisor. Please contact cjsocadvising@iastate.edu for more information.

Students in this major will learn about the components of the juvenile and criminal justice systems, become acquainted with the issues affecting these systems, apply theoretical concepts to real-world phenomena, interface with criminal justice and social service providers, and plan an academic and/or applied career in criminal justice.

Graduates of this program will:

  • Understand theories of crime, victimization, and criminal justice (i.e., theories about social bonds, learning, social control, conflict, labeling, rehabilitation, alternatives to incarceration).
  • Think critically about crime, victimization, and criminal justice (i.e., be able to apply, critique, compare, and integrate knowledge in the area).
  • Understand how race/ethnicity, gender, wealth, and power are related to crime, victimization, and criminal justice.
  • Understand and be able to use basic social science research methods, as well as those most relevant to the study of crime, victimization, and criminal justice.
  • Be familiar with career paths in the criminal justice system, and make career choices that best fit their career interests.
  • Make appropriate decisions, think creatively and be able to express themselves in written and oral communication to supervisors and clients.

University Requirements:

International Perspectives3
US Diversity3
Total Credits6

Communication Proficiency: Majors must complete both ENGL 150 Critical Thinking and Communication and ENGL 250 Written, Oral, Visual, and Electronic Composition. (According to the university-wide Communication Proficiency Grade Requirement, students must demonstrate their communication proficiency by earning a grade of C or better in ENGL 250.) In addition, majors must also take an advanced course in ENGL 302 Business Communication  or  ENGL 309 Proposal and Report Writing or ENGL 314 Technical Communication with a grade of C or better.

ENGL 150Critical Thinking and Communication3
ENGL 250Written, Oral, Visual, and Electronic Composition3
LIB 160Information Literacy1
ENGL 302Business Communication3
or ENGL 309 Proposal and Report Writing
or ENGL 314 Technical Communication
Total Credits10

World Languages and Cultures:

3 years of High School
SPAN 097Accelerated Spanish Review0
2 semesters at the college level8
Total Credits8

General Education Coursework:

Students must select from a variety of LAS approved general education courses in each area listed below. A full list of approved courses can be found at https://las.iastate.edu/students/academics/general-education/.

Arts and Humanities12
Math3
Natural Sciences8
Social Sciences9
Total Credits32

 A program of study that meets the needs and interests of the student and departmental requirements will be developed in consultation with the major advisor. Students must  maintain a GPA of 2.0 or higher in their core courses. Program of study will include:

SOC 115Orientation to Sociology1
C J 240Introduction to the U.S. Criminal Justice System3
C J 241Youth and Crime3
C J 242Criminology3
C J 340Deviant and Criminal Behavior3
C J 402White-Collar Crime3
or C J 403 Criminal Offenders
or C J 406 Gender and Crime
C J 460Criminal and Juvenile Justice Practicum3
Select one of the following courses3
American Judicial Process
Philosophy of Law
Liberty and Law in America
Criminal Justice Policies
Psychology and Law
Select 5 of the following courses15
American Judicial Process
Philosophy of Law
Race, Ethnicity, and the US Criminal Justice System
Liberty and Law in America
Police and Society
Punishment, Corrections, and Society
C J 354X
Prevention of Crime and Deliquency
C J 360X
Latinas and Victimization
White-Collar Crime
Criminal Justice Policies
Drugs and Crime
Gender and Crime
Capital Punishment
C J 451X
Contemporary Issues in Policing
C J 470X
Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice
Topical Studies in Criminal and Juvenile Justice
Forensic Anthropology
Psychology and Law
Total Credits37

 Criminal Justice, B.A.

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
SOC 115 or C J 120X1C J 121X1
C J 2403C J 2413
ENGL 1503ENGL 2503
LIB 1601Arts and Humanities Choice3
Social Science Choice3Social Science Choice3
Arts and Humanities Choice3Natural Science Choice3
 14 16
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
C J 3403C J 2423
World Languages/Elective3-4World Languages/Elective3-4
Arts and Humanities Choice3Math Choice3
Natural Science Choice3International Perspectives3
Elective3Elective3
 15-16 15-16
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
C J 402, 403, or 4063Criminal Justice Special Topics3
Criminal Justice Special Topics3Criminal Justice Special Topics3
ENGL 302, 309, or 3143Arts and Humanities Choice3
Social Science Choice3Natural Science Choice2
Elective3Elective3
 15 14
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
C J 320, 332, 339, or PSYCH 3833C J 4603
Criminal Justice Special Topics3Criminal Justice Special Topics3
U.S. Diversity3Elective3
Elective3Elective3
Elective3Elective3
 15 15
Total Credits: 119-121

LAS majors require a minimum of 120 credits, including a minimum of 45 credits at the 300/400 level.

Special Topics choices: C J/POL S 320; C J/PHIL 332, 339; C J 335, 351, 352, 354, 360, 402, 404, 405, 406, 410, 451, 470, 484*; and PSYCH 383.
*May take up to 9 credits of C J 484 special topics.

Note: This is an example four-year plan. Your actual semester schedules may vary.

The Criminal Justice minor offers an opportunity for students to learn about the components of the criminal and juvenile justice systems, to become acquainted with the issues and problems affecting these systems, to apply theoretical concepts to real world problems, and to plan a career in the criminal justice field.

Students who declare a minor in Criminal Justice are required to complete 18 total credits.  Students may do up to nine credits of SOC 460 but only three of those credits may be applied to the minor.  Nine credits must be at the 300 or 400 level.  The minor must include at least 9 credits that are not used to meet any other department, college, or university requirement. Students must have a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in courses for the minor. 

C J 240Introduction to the U.S. Criminal Justice System3
C J 460Criminal and Juvenile Justice Practicum3
Four additional C J courses12
Total Credits18

Expand all courses

Courses

Courses primarily for undergraduates:

(Cross-listed with ENT). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.


Study of fundamental forensic science techniques and procedures covering types of physical, chemical, and biological evidence and how this information is used in the legal system. Assessment of crime scenes and various forensic specialties will be introduced.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.


Provides systematic overview of law, police organization and behavior, prosecution and defense, sentencing, the judiciary, community corrections, penology, and capital punishment. The course demonstrates the role of discretion in all of these agencies as well as the sociological influences of age, race, gender, and social class on criminal justice system processes.

(Cross-listed with SOC). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.


An examination of delinquency that focuses on the relationship between youth as victims and as offenders, social and etiological features of delinquency, the role of the criminal justice system, delinquents' rights, and traditional and alternative ways of dealing with juvenile crime.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: C J 240
The nature of crime and criminology; the concept of crime; statistics and theories of criminality; major forms of crime; official responses to crime and control of crime.

(Cross-listed with POL S). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: POL S 215
An overview of the American judicial process. Emphasis on specific topics such as application of constitutional rights to the states (particularly the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments), mechanics of judicial opinions, constitutional philosophies of Supreme Court Justices, decisions of first impression, and the value and scope of precedent.

(Cross-listed with PHIL). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.

Prereq: 3 credits in philosophy
Extent of our obligation to obey the law; what constitutes just punishment; how much of the immoral should be made illegal? Relation of these questions to major theories of law and the state. Discussion of such concepts as coercion, equality, and responsibility.

(Cross-listed with AF AM). Cr. 3.

Prereq: C J 240 or AF AM 201
Empirical and theoretical readings on the intersection of race, ethnicity, crime, and the criminal justice system in contemporary society. Topics include, but are not limited to racial and ethnic relations in society, media, violence, policing, and disparity and discrimination in crime and punishment. Criminological theories of racial and ethnic antagonism.
Meets U.S. Diversity Requirement

(Cross-listed with PHIL, POL S). (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S., offered irregularly.

Prereq: Sophomore status
Competing conceptions of liberty in American political thought. Debates about how liberty should be protected by the law, in fields such as health care, drugs, property, speech, religion, and sex.
Meets U.S. Diversity Requirement

(Cross-listed with SOC). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.SS.

Prereq: SOC 134 or C J 240
Theory and research on the etiology of types of social deviance; issues relating to crime, antisocial behavior and social policies designed to control deviant behavior.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.

Prereq: C J 241, SOC 241 or C J 240
Introduction and overview of law enforcement in the United States. Theory and research on police history, function, and organization; constitutional issues of policing; and critical topics, such as community policing, officer discretion and decision-making, corruption, use of force, and racial profiling. The course illustrates the interconnections between communities, police organizations, citizens, and criminal offenders.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.

Prereq: C J 241, SOC 241 or C J 240
Introduction and overview of corrections in the United States. Theory and research on probation, parole, intermediate sanctions, prison, inmate society, inmate behavior and misconduct, capital punishment, recidivism, correctional treatment, rehabilitation, and offender reintegration into society.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: C J 241, SOC 241 or C J 240
Introduction and overview of white-collar crime as a form of deviance. Theory and research on occupational, corporate, and organizational offending; prevalence, costs, and consequences of white-collar crime; predictors and correlates of white-collar crime; and political, business, and public policy responses to white-collar crime.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.

Prereq: C J 240 or C J 241
Introduction and overview of criminal offenders. Theory and research on epidemiology, offender typologies, etiology of violence, recidivism, societal costs, correctional supervision, treatment, and prevention of serious antisocial behavior.

Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: C J 240
Development, implementation and evaluation of criminal justice policies affecting major areas of the criminal justice system. History, development and operation of the criminal justice system, including policing, courts/sentencing, corrections, crime prevention, and offender rehabilitation.

Cr. 3. Alt. F., offered irregularly.S.

Prereq: C J 240
Analysis of the drug problem, including issues arising from the use and abuse of legal and illegal drugs and their relation to crime and the criminal justice system. Examination of issues related to effective prevention and treatment, crime, and the debates over the most effective policies for the control or prevention of drug abuse.

Cr. 3.

Prereq: C J 240
Overview of the relationship between gender and crime. Examination of gender and gender roles definitions; how gender impacts criminal behavior in terms of offending, victimization, criminal justice processing, and working in the criminal justice system; and theories used to understand the gender gap in offending.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: C J 240
History, philosophy, demographics, administration, and punishment rationales of capital punishment in the United States from its founding to the present. Methods of execution and trends in public opinion about the death penalty. Examination of correlates of capital offending and criminological characteristics of persons who are sentenced to death.

(Cross-listed with SOC). Cr. 3-12. Repeatable, maximum of 12 credits. F.S.SS.

Prereq: Junior or senior classification; permission of criminal justice coordinator; major or minor in criminal justice or sociology
Study of the criminal and juvenile justice systems and social control processes. Supervised placement in a police department, prosecutor's office, court, probation and parole department, penitentiary, juvenile correctional institution, community-based rehabilitation program, or related agency. Assessed service learning component. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only. No more than a total of 9 credits of 460 can be counted toward graduation. No credits in Soc 460 may be used to satisfy minimum sociology requirements for sociology majors.

(3-0) Cr. 3. Repeatable, maximum of 9 credits.

Prereq: 6 credits in C J and permission from instructor
Thematic or topical issues and studies dealing with the sociology of police, judiciary, institutional and community-based corrections, gender/ethnicity and crime/delinquency, criminal and delinquent gangs, and crime and delinquency prevention.