Criminal Justice B.A.

The Department of Criminal Justice is part of the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences. When pursuing the Criminal Justice major you work with a diverse group of faculty members trained in criminal justice and criminology, law, philosophy, sociology and psychology.

The Criminal Justice major provides you with a solid foundation in the discipline, exposing you to theories of crime and deviance, broad perspectives concerning the criminal justice system and historic, current, and alternative systems of social control. In advanced and elective courses, you have the opportunity to pursue particular areas that complement your career and research interests.

The Department of Criminal Justice also offers a minor and a certificate for students majoring in other subjects.

Coursework

Getting started

You may begin your studies in Criminal Justice by selecting from one of the introductory courses that serve to establish a broad foundation in the program. Two particularly good introductory courses are:

  • CJUS-P 100: Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • CJUS-P 200: Theories of Crime and Deviance

Your academic advisors will help you choose the best courses to suit your interests.

Tracks and concentrations

The Criminal Justice major has no official tracks or concentrations. This gives you the flexibility to study those topics within the field that best align with your academic and career interests.

While selecting courses for the major, you may wish to craft an unofficial concentration. Many possibilities for specialization exist. Some examples include:

  • Criminal Justice and the Law
  • Gender, Race and Crime
  • Criminal Justice and Psychology

Your academic advisors will help you choose the best courses to suit your interests.

Upper level coursework

The Criminal Justice major allows you to personalize your curriculum with 300 and 400 level courses relevant to your interests. Some examples of topics include:

  • White Collar Crime
  • Prosecution
  • Cyber Crime and Digital Evidence
  • Private Security
  • Adolescents and the Law

In upper level coursework, the general theories and research methods introduced in the foundational Criminal Justice courses are applied to particular topics. Consult with an academic advisor and faculty to discuss the best courses to suit your interests and goals.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Your major is a concentration representing about one quarter of your degree requirements. With the help of a criminal justice academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors or certificates.

Students pursuing the Criminal Justice major often complement their coursework with classes in Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, History, Computer Science, Informatics and foreign language study.

You can also explore other disciplines, choosing coursework in fields as diverse as American Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, International Studies, Journalism, Linguistics and much more.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing the Criminal Justice major, you work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class and to discuss topics that interest you about the readings or course content.

Research skills are important for both your academic and career pursuits. As your research interests develop, you might want to take an independent readings course or develop a research project under the guidance of a faculty member or committee. Talk with your academic advisor or your instructors about this opportunity.

If you are interested in teaching at the college or university level, then you should consider applying for a Criminal Justice Teaching Internship. This allows you to assist in an undergraduate course under the supervision of a faculty member.

Honors

Outstanding students are eligible for admission to the Criminal Justice honors program in their junior year. Once admitted, you participate in the CJUS-P 399 Honors Seminar. Students in the seminar complete exploratory reading in an area of interest, select and develop a research topic, and write a prospectus for an honors thesis.

Honors students write and present an undergraduate honors thesis under the guidance of a faculty sponsor. You may earn up to 6 credits while registered for the Senior Honors Thesis course, CJUS-P 499. If interested, you should consult the Criminal Justice Director of Undergraduate Studies.

High achieving students may also be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Incoming students who are directly admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences with Criminal Justice as their intended major may be eligible for a number of merit-based scholarships within the College.

Additionally, the College of Arts and Sciences holds an essay contest that students in selective Criminal Justice courses may want to enter. Talk with an academic advisor or your instructors about this possibility.

The following awards are available to seniors in the Department of Criminal Justice:

  • Bill Selke Heart of Justice
  • Distinguished Hoosier Award
  • Outstanding Senior Award
  • Writing Excellence Award

Internships

The Criminal Justice department offers three types of internships:

Field Experience in Criminal Justice allows you to apply content knowledge in a real-world setting. Our internship coordinator will pair you with local and state organizations, such as the following:

You also have the option of arranging your own internship with other organizations in Bloomington, the state, or the nation. With either option, you can earn 3-6 credits in the Criminal Justice major. 

A Research Internship offers you the opportunity to actively participate in a research project under the direction of a faculty member while earning 1-3 credit hours. This internship course may be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours.

The Teaching Internship gives you experience assisting in an undergraduate course in Criminal Justice while earning 1-3 credit hours. This internship course may be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours.

Foreign language study

If you are considering a career with the federal government, specifically with the FBI or CIA, we encourage you to think about studying a language deemed as critical by those agencies. Speak to your academic advisor about which languages best fit your interests and objectives.

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 70 languages.

Below is a sampling of the resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Many students pursuing the Criminal Justice major expand their knowledge and skills by studying abroad, whether for a summer, a semester, or a year. Most recently, students from the program have studied in India, Argentina, Australia, Italy, England and Spain.

Visit the IU Office of Overseas Study for more information about the many programs available and to discover the overseas study experiences that best align with your goals.

Student groups

The Criminal Justice Student Association is available to any IU student who has an interest in Criminal Justice issues. This student-run group meets about once a month for events such as tours, guest speakers, volunteering and community outreach, and social gatherings. Contact cjsa@indiana.edu for more information.

Alpha Phi Sigma is the nationally recognized honor society for students with a declared major or minor in criminal justice. To become a member, you must have completed one-third of your total hours required for graduation at Indiana University. Additionally, you must maintain a minimum of 3.2 overall GPA, and a 3.2 GPA in criminal justice courses. You must also rank in the top 35% of your class and have completed a minimum of four courses within the criminal justice curriculum.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement. The organizations below can help you connect with community members and contribute to your professional development.

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about additional local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Students in the field of criminal justice may be interested in affiliation with professional associations in a number of fields, including criminology, law, philosophy, sociology and psychology.

Use the Indiana University Library system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, nonprofit organizations.

Build your skills

Through the major

The Criminal Justice B.A. degree provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Depth of understanding of the nature of crime and the administration of justice through formal and informal systems of social control
  • Ability to identify and apply theoretical, legal and empirical approaches to the study of crime and criminal justice
  • Recognition of persistent and emerging problems in the criminal justice system and application of theory and research to suggest solutions
  • Skills for critical reading and thinking, team work, research and writing

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Together with your other coursework, your degree provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Create and edit written reports
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, then talk with your academic and career advisors about how you can develop in those areas while you are at IUB. You may wish to enroll in one of the many career courses offered by the Walter Center for Career Achievement to explore ways to prepare for opportunities.

Your criminal justice academic advisor and your career advisor can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with the Criminal Justice career advisor early in your undergraduate experience.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

You may want to consider taking specialized criminal justice internship courses to assist you in developing transferrable skills for your future career. There are currently three internship courses offered by the department:

  • CJUS-P 481: Field Experience in Criminal Justice
  • CJUS-P 496: Research Internship
  • CJUS-P 497: Teaching Internship

The job market

Your Criminal Justice B.A. degree is versatile and can lead you towards a large number of successful career paths. Some of the more common paths include: working in state and local law enforcement, the federal government, forensics, corrections, courtrooms, law firms, nonprofits, corporations and many other work sectors. Careers in this area are expanding and the outlook is bright.

Roughly half of Criminal Justice majors continue their education by pursuing a professional or graduate program. The other half goes directly into a career.

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: law enforcement, courts and corrections, psychology and counseling, social services and advocacy, private security and investigations, federal and state government, and military or civil service.  

Criminal justice majors can become lawyers, paralegals, court reporters, police officers, detectives, crime scene investigators, forensic analysts, federal agents, criminologists, probation and corrections officers, or social workers and advocates, among many other job options.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with faculty, the academic advisor, career advisor and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the criminal justice program.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field. 

A Criminal Justice major can prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a variety of fields, such as criminal justice, law, public affairs, social work and counseling.

With a graduate degree in criminal justice you can prepare for almost any job in the field, depending on your specialization. You could work in law enforcement (local, state or federal), consulting, correctional positions, forensic science, legal/court appointments or private security.

The majority of students with an advanced criminal justice degree go on to work in academia and research. This is due to the large-scale need for understanding, creating and improving current parameters within the justice system.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school or other professional programs. 

Examples of relevant programs at IU include:

Alumni connections

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni and Friends events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Department of Criminal Justice draws students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically share some of the following qualities:

  • Interest in causes of crime, criminals and how society responds to crime
  • Desire to help others
  • Fascination with the law and the legal system
  • Commitment to social justice and fairness
  • Awareness of how race, class and gender play a role in the criminal justice system

Learn more

Contact a Criminal Justice academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options.Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
ajbloomg@indiana.edu