Criminal Justice (BA)


Criminal justice is the study of criminal law, criminal procedure, and the enforcement of criminal law. It includes understanding the social context of criminal behavior and the way society upholds social control and sanctions those who violate the criminal law. The major is grounded in a liberal arts curriculum; it emphasizes not only how the criminal justice system has developed in its present form, but also how changes in the system affect other parts of society. The major prepares students for a broad spectrum of occupations, including law enforcement, corrections, and allied mental health. Finally, students who wish to pursue careers as lawyers can major in criminal justice and also take advantage of the college’s Pre-Law program. For a more detailed description of the program, faculty, facilities, academic and co-curricular opportunities please go to the Criminal Justice website.


Students must have a minimum grade of C in all required courses and maintain a 2.0 GPA in their major and a 2.0 overall average to graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice.


All students should have an advisor in the major and should contact the department directly to have an advisor assigned if they do not already have one.  Meetings with academic advisors are required prior to students receiving their PIN for course registration each semester. All majors should work closely with their advisor in discussing career expectations, choosing their major electives, developing their entire academic program and planning their co-curricular or supplemental academic experiences.

Students should consult with Dr. Patricia Erickson, Director of Criminal Justice, for current advisement information.

Double Majors

Students who wish to expand their educational opportunities may decide to declare a double major. The decision may be based on career goals or planned graduate studies. Before a student declares a double major, it is important to meet with the appropriate academic departments for advisement. Some double major combinations can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in some cases additional course work may be required. In order to declare a double major, the student must complete the appropriate double major request form and get the signature of each department chairperson and the appropriate associate dean.  Please note that students will receive only one degree, regardless of the number of majors they complete.

Many of the department’s majors combine criminal justice with a second major in another discipline, such as sociology, psychology, political science, history, modern languages or communication studies.

Minors in other dISCIPLINES

Minors provide students the opportunity to pursue additional interests but generally do not require as many courses as a major.  Minors generally range from five to eight required courses. The minors page provides a complete list of minors and provides links to each minor. Some majors and minors can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in some cases additional coursework may be required. Students must complete the appropriate minor request form.


An Ignatian Foundation

All undergraduate students must complete either the Canisius Core Curriculum or the All-College Honors Curriculum. Many schools refer to their college-wide undergraduate requirements as "general education" requirements. We believe that the core curriculum and the honors curriculum are more than a series of required classes, they provide the basis for a Jesuit education both with content and with required knowledge and skills attributes that are central to our mission.

Free Electives

Students may graduate with more but not less than 120 credit hours. Free electives are courses in addition to the Core Curriculum or Honors Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach the minimum of 120 credit hours required for graduation.

Major Requirements

Required Courses
MAT 131Statistics for Social Sciences3
SOC 110Introduction to Sociology3
SOC 342Social Research Methods3
or ANT 351 Qualitative Research Methods
CRJ 227Criminal Justice I3
CRJ 228Criminal Justice II3
CRJ 320Criminology3
CRJ 382Criminal Justice Ethics3
CRJ 449Criminal Law3
CRJ 450Criminal Procedure3
CRJ 461Criminal Justice Capstone1
Criminal Justice Electives
Select three of the following:9
Language for Legal Professions
Special Topics in Criminal Justice
Current Issues in Forensic Psychology
Violence and the Family
Violent Crime in American
Gangs in American Society
Police and the Community
Juvenile Delinquency
Treatment of Offenders
Alternatives to Incarceration
White Collar Crime
Women and Crime
Criminal Justice Internship
Independent Study
Total Credits37

The following courses offered by other departments or programs count as electives for the criminal justice major and minor:

ANT 310Codebreaking3
ANT 333Forensic Anthropology3
ISB 460Computer Forensics3
PSC 103The American Constitution3
PSC 320American Constitutional Law I3
PSC 321American Constitutional Law II3
PSC 345Transnational Crime After 9/113
PSC 420The Constitution, The War on Terror and Civil Liberties3

The following psychology courses will count as electives for dual psychology/criminal justice majors:

PSY 303Abnormal Psychology3
PSY 360Psychology and Law3

Dual psychology/criminal justice majors may satisfy the statistics and methods requirements with the following courses:

PSY 201Basic Statistics for Behavioral Sciences3
PSY 202Research Methods in Psychology3


Many internship opportunities upon approval are available to qualified juniors and seniors. As an urban center situated on the Niagara Frontier, Buffalo offers numerous internship experiences where students can explore careers and get valuable real life experience. A GPA of 3.0 of higher is required.

Foreign Language and Study Abroad

The department encourages criminal justice majors to study a foreign language of their choice and to participate in the college study abroad program.


Recommended Semester Schedule for Major Course Requirements

SOC 110MAT 131
CRJ 227CRJ 228
CRJ electiveCRJ elective
CRJ 382CRJ 320
SOC 342 or ANT 351CRJ elective
CRJ 449CRJ 450
 CRJ 461

Learning Goals & Objectives

Student Learning Goal 1

Criminal Justice majors will be able to demonstrate that they are able to think critically about crime and criminal justice.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Critically evaluate theories about crime and criminal behavior;
  • Objective B: Critically evaluate laws and court decisions about crime and criminal behavior.

Student Learning Goal 2

Criminal Justice majors will be able to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills necessary for careers in criminal justice.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Explain the organization and administration of the criminal justice system;
  • Objective B: Explain the role of the social science research in criminal justice.

Student Learning Goal 3

Criminal Justice majors will be able to demonstrate the importance of ethics in criminal justice.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Analyze how personal values may conflict with the ethical standards for criminal justice professionals;
  • Objective B: Analyze how ethical principles and ethical codes of conduct apply to criminal justice professionals.


Two minors are housed in Criminal Justice:  


CRJ 227 Criminal Justice I 3 Credits

Focuses on the nature and extent of crime, policing, and court system including constitutional rights and trial process.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences)

Offered: fall.

CRJ 228 Criminal Justice II 3 Credits

Examines sentencing, corrections, juvenile court, drug court, and global crime issues.

Offered: spring.

CRJ 280 Language for Legal Professions 3 Credits

Explores the use of language in the administration of law, including ways to read and brief cases and to read statutes.

Fulfills College Core: Justice, Oral Communication

Offered: spring.

CRJ 300 Special Topics in Criminal Justice 3 Credits

Critical examination of a selected topic in criminal justice. Subject matter determined by the instructor.

CRJ 320 Criminology 3 Credits

Classical and contemporary theories of criminal behavior and the role of theory in the criminal justice system. Explanations for why crime occurs, understanding of criminal behavior and its impact on society.

Prerequisites: CRJ 227 and CRJ 228.

Fulfills College Core: Advanced Writing-Intensive, Justice

Offered: fall and spring.

CRJ 330 Current Issues in Forensic Psychology 3 Credits

Application of the science of psychology to questions and issues relating to criminal law and the criminal justice system. Topics discussed include competency to stand trial, assessment of mental state for an insanity plea, and prediction of violence and assessment of risk.

Prerequisites: CRJ 227 and CRJ 228.

Offered: spring.

CRJ 337 Violence and the Family 3 Credits

How family dynamics can contain elements that give rise to violence, including 'battered women' and abused children.

Offered: fall & spring.

CRJ 344 Violent Crime in American 3 Credits

Examination into the theories that cause violent crime and behavior. Analysis into the factors attributed to violence - mental illness, racism, poverty, and interpersonal relationships.

CRJ 345 Gangs in American Society 3 Credits

Examines the theoretical causes for the growth of gangs; including youth and criminal gangs. Topics include the social theories, measurement, and solutions.

CRJ 351 Police and the Community 3 Credits

Critical examination of the operation of all levels of law enforcement in America. Topics include the selection process, training, ethics, and police accountability.

CRJ 354 Juvenile Delinquency 3 Credits

Legal processes in juvenile delinquency as well as understanding and analysis of current practices and historic and contemporary issues. Suggested programs for rehabilitation and prevention of delinquency.

CRJ 356 Treatment of Offenders 3 Credits

Correction theory, offender typologies, and nature and diagnosis of offenders and future trends in dealing with criminal offenders.

CRJ 357 Alternatives to Incarceration 3 Credits

Examines the most effective choices to safely punish or treat the offender in the community. Topics include use of intermediate sanctions, such as community service, as an alternative to incarceration.

CRJ 358 White Collar Crime 3 Credits

Crimes committed by 'respectable people' in positions of responsibility in private or public sector. Nature of these crimes, how regulatory bodies and legal systems treat these criminals and how they seek to avoid detection and prosecution.

CRJ 359 Women and Crime 3 Credits

Classical and contemporary accounts of the etiology of female crime, patterns of female criminal behavior, and the role and treatment of women in the criminal justice system.

CRJ 382 Criminal Justice Ethics 3 Credits

The personal, social and criminal justice contexts for understanding justice, crime and ethics. Skills necessary to deal effectively with ethical issues in criminal justice systems. Problems and case studies for active exploration of social issues.

Prerequisite: CRJ 227 and CRJ 228.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics

Offered: fall.

CRJ 449 Criminal Law 3 Credits

The substantive criminal law, including offences against persons, property and public morality with emphasis on New York State Penal Law. Criminal responsibility and defenses.

Prerequisite: CRJ 227 & CRJ 228.

Offered: fall.

CRJ 450 Criminal Procedure 3 Credits

Key Supreme Court decisions on search and seizure, arrest, interrogation and identification of criminal suspects. Sentencing and punishment, appeal and post-conviction relief.

Prerequisite: CRJ 227, CRJ 228, & CRJ 449.

Offered: spring.

CRJ 461 Criminal Justice Capstone 1 Credit

Integrating experience for majors; focus is on demonstrating proficiency in the discipline and preparation for post-graduate studies or employment. Required for class of 2017 and beyond.

Offered: spring.

CRJ 498 Criminal Justice Internship 3-15 Credits

Opportunity for selected students to participate in daily work of law enforcement agencies, courts, law firms, and social service agencies. Students must apply the semester before they take the internship.

Prerequisite: minimum GPA of 3.0, junior or senior status, & signature of major advisor.

Offered: fall & spring.

CRJ 499 Independent Study 3 Credits

Independent studies allow in-depth study of a specific topic and are most often reserved for seniors who cannot otherwise fulfill a graduation requirement. Independent studies require an application and approval by the associate dean.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor, department chair, & associate dean.

Offered: fall & spring.