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. Kathleen M. Contrino, 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

MAT 131Statistics for Social Sciences3
or PSY 201 Basic Statistics for Behavioral Sciences
SOC 110Introduction to Sociology3
Select one of the following3
Social Research Methods
Qualitative Research Methods
Research Methods in the Social Sciences
CRJ 227Criminal Justice I3
CRJ 228Criminal Justice II3
CRJ 250Criminal Law and Procedure
CRJ 325Restorative Justice and the Administration of Justice3
CRJ 382Criminal Justice Ethics3
CRJ 455Criminology
Criminal Justice Electives (select 3 from list below) 19
Total Credits30

Criminal Justice Electives

Students must take three Criminal Justice electives. Students may use any additional Criminal Justice (CRJ) course or any of the following courses 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
PSY 303Abnormal Psychology 13
PSY 360Psychology and Law 13
SOC 315Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for the Social Sciences3
SOC 340Sociology of the City3
SOC 355Deviant Behavior3

Optional Criminal Justice Tracks

Environmental Justice and Regulation

Students who double major in Environmental Studies (EVST) and Criminal Justice (CRJ) should follow this track when selecting their electives.

Students select 5 of the following:15
White Collar and Green Collar Crime
Nature, Culture and Interpretation
Global Environmental Problems
Animal Ethics
Leadership and Motivation
Environment and Society
Social Movements and Social Change
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for the Social Sciences
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Sociology of the City
Total Credits15

 Law Enforcement

Select 5 of the following:15
Drug Treatment Courts
Violence and the Family
Violent Crime in American
Gangs in American Society
Police and the Community
Juvenile Delinquency
Treatment of Offenders
White Collar and Green Collar Crime
Criminal Justice Internship
Transnational Crime After 9/11
Total Credits15

 Law and justice

Select 5 of the following:15
Language for Legal Professions
Drug Treatment Courts
Juvenile Delinquency
White Collar and Green Collar Crime
Criminal Justice Internship
The American Constitution
American Constitutional Law I
American Constitutional Law II
The Constitution, The War on Terror and Civil Liberties
Total Credits15

 Corrections: Including Probation, Social Work and Juvenile Court

Select 5 of the following:15
Forensic Anthropology
Special Topics in Criminal Justice
Drug Treatment Courts
Violence and the Family
Gangs in American Society
Juvenile Delinquency
Treatment of Offenders
Criminal Justice Internship
Total Credits15

Criminal Justice and Psychology Double Major

Students double majoring criminal justice and psychology 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 or PSY 201
CRJ 227CRJ 228
CRJ ElectiveCRJ 250
CRJ 382CRJ 325
Select one of the following:CRJ Elective
CRJ ElectiveCRJ 455

Learning Goals & Objectives

Student Learning Goal 1

Criminal Justice Majors will evaluate the administration of the criminal justice system within the context of ethics, global awareness, diversity and justice.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Describe the organization and administration of the criminal justice system;
  • Objective B: Identify issues in the criminal justice system as they relate to ethics, global awareness, diversity and justice.

Student Learning Goal 2

Criminal Justice majors will be able to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to become scholar-servant-leaders in the criminal justice community.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Evaluate and critique systems and policies in the criminal justice system terms of justice;
  • Objective B: Apply social science research and ethics to criminology and the administration of the criminal justice system.

Student Learning Goal 3

Criminal Justice majors will become information literate within the context of criminology and the administration of the criminal justice system.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Evaluate appropriate information within the context of criminology and the administration of the criminal justice system;
  • Objective B: Analyze how ethical principles and ethical codes of conduct apply to criminal justice professionals;
  • Objective C: Synthesize criminology and information with the administration of criminal justice systems. 


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 250 Criminal Law and Procedure 3 Credits

The substantive criminal law, including offenses against persons, property and public morality with emphasis on New York State Penal Law. Criminal responsibility and defenses. In addition key Supreme Court decisions on the criminal justice related constitutional amendments (4th, 5th, 6th and 8th amendments). Finally, Appeals and post-conviction relief will be discussed.

Prerequisite: CRJ 227 & CRJ 228.

Offered: every fall.

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 325 Restorative Justice and the Administration of Justice 3 Credits

Examination into issues of race, gender and social class in criminal justice policies and professional discretion. Restorative justice practices will be explored to mitigate the harm to society from discriminatory practices in the administration of justice.

Prerequisite: CRJ 227 and CRJ 228.

Offered: every 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 336 Drug Treatment Courts 3 Credits

Examination of drug prohibition and the administration of diversional treatment courts and other treatment of drug offenders.

Offered: occasionally.

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 350 Policy Issues in the Administration of Criminal Justice 3 Credits

Critical examination of a selected policy related to criminal justice phenomenon. Subject matter determined by the instructor.

Prerequisite: None.

Offered: every spring.

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 and Green Collar Crime 3 Credits

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

Offered: occasionally.

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 365 Criminalizing the Mentally Ill 3 Credits

This course examines the legal and policy issues regarding the practice of criminalization of persons with mental illness. Topics investigated include the history of criminalization of persons with mental illness, constitutional issues, law enforcement responses to persons with mental illness, mentally ill offenders in jails and prisons, civil commitment, mental health courts and community supervision strategies.

Offered: occasionally.

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: (part of the Global Citizenship Core Pathway), Ethics

Offered: fall.

CRJ 385 Death Penalty: Law and Policy 3 Credits

This course examines the major legal and policy issues relating to the practice of the death penalty in the United States. Topics investigated include the history of the death penalty in the United States, the constitutional limits on the types of crimes and criminals for which the death penalty is permitted, and contemporary controversies regarding the death penalty including potential innocence, special populations, methods of execution, race and gender biases.

Offered: occasionally.

CRJ 455 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. Students will be produce a policy analysis research paper that will explore criminal justice policies, criminal theory and justice theories.

Prerequisite: CRJ 227 and CRJ 228.

Offered: every fall & 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.