Criminal Justice Studies

Prepare for a career in criminal justice with our Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Studies.

An interdisciplinary degree, the B.A. in Criminal Justice Studies offers a variety of courses that give the student a unique perspective on the criminal justice system and prepares them for leadership roles in this career area.

Why earn your Criminal Justice degree at Bellarmine?

In addition to applied and experiential classes that provide practical and “hands-on” knowledge, selected humanities courses in sociology, psychology, anthropology, and philosophy provide interpretations of issues involving crime and society that can only be found in a true liberal arts education. Faculty in the program have been selected because of their vast experience in the criminal justice field, from criminal profiling to police and correctional administration and law.

Community-Based Learning: Increasingly, classes in sociology, criminal justice studies, and anthropology are seeking to involve students in projects outside the classroom where they can engage the diverse communities that make up Louisville. These reciprocal relationships allow us to move beyond textbooks to learn about social, cultural, economic, and political issues, while making meaningful contributions to our city.

Program Highlights

The Criminal Justice Studies program emphasizes a social justice perspective on the understanding of crime and society. Coursework prepares students for careers and graduate work in the field of criminal justice by grounding their education in a broad liberal arts background. In addition to giving students research skills, theoretical insights, and practical experiences where these skills and insights can be applied, the program emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding crime. A required internship experience helps ground students in the real world of criminal and legal issues.

Criminal Justice students

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of the biological, psychological, and sociological origins of criminal behavior.
  2. Students will identify connections between theory and research in the construction of scientific knowledge.
  3. Students will demonstrate proficiency with fundamental data analysis.
  4. Students will be able to express sociological ideas, as they apply to criminal justice issues, clearly and coherently both in writing and in oral presentations.
  5. Students will demonstrate an ability to apply knowledge, skills and professional behavior in an internship experience.


An important component of the Criminal Justice Studies program is a requirement that all majors complete at least one internship. This semester-long experience allows students to step into their career area of interest and gain valuable professional knowledge and skills. Additionally, students make contacts useful for graduate school or employment in the criminal justice field. Some students have been hired by agencies with which they held an internship. Past placements have included law enforcement agencies, at both the local (e.g. LMPD, Coroner’s office) and federal level (e.g. FBI, Secret Service, ATF); with the offices of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges; with correctional agencies (e.g. prisons, halfway houses, probation and parole departments); and with various social service and non-profit agencies (e.g. restorative justice, family and youth counseling). A faculty coordinator helps students arrange placements, and monitors each internship.

Alumnus Story

Tucker Ciessau

“The Criminal Justice program at Bellarmine helped shape my life and career path to being a cybersecurity consultant. The amazing professors taught me everything I need to know about the industry, instilled an amazing work ethic in me, and helped me get my dream job at 24.”

Tucker Ciessau ’17
Cybersecurity Consultant, Revolutionary Security

Criminal Justice and Sociology research project on homelessness and substance use disorder

Bellarmine faculty Heather Pruss, Ph.D., and Chelsey Franz, Ph.D., and Bellarmine senior Katie Stamper discuss an innovative collaboration to document the stories of men experiencing homelessness and substance use disorder.

On-Campus Experiences

Criminal Justice, Sociology, & Anthropology (CJSA) Student Club: The purpose of CJSA is to provide a forum for students to provide networking opportunities and to better prepare themselves for a career in the Criminal Justice, Sociology and Anthropology fields. The club's goal is also to provide a space for interactions between students in these majors, and opportunities to learn about the fields in various environments. Past club events have included hosting trivia night at a local substance use disorder recovery center, writing empowering notes to youth with an incarcerated parent, and organizing a career roundtable with professionals in the field.

Faculty Profiles

Here is a quick snapshot of a few of our faculty members. Read profiles of all of our distinguished faculty.

Frank Hutchins, Ph.D.

Frank Hutchins, Ph.D.
Dr. Hutchins is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Bellarmine. He earned his BA from the University of Kentucky, his MA from the Patterson School of Diplomacy at UK, and his PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on cultural change amongst indigenous peoples in the Amazonian and Andean regions of Ecuador. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, and continues to do research and work there as director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Summer Field School in Ecuador for the Study of Language, Culture, & Community Health. At Bellarmine, he teaches Introduction to Cultural Anthropology; Introduction to Human Geography; Anthropology of Mind and Body; Anthropology of the Supernatural and Sacred; Anthropology and the Environment; and Theory and Methods in Anthropology. Dr. Hutchins also serves as coordinator of the IDC 301 courses. He is the co-editor, along with Dr. Patrick Wilson, of Editing Eden: A Reconsideration of Identity, Politics, and Place in Amazonia (University of Nebraska Press, 2010). He is a native of Bardstown, KY, and he and his wife, Christine, have one daughter, Anna.

Heather Pruss

Heather Pruss, Ph.D.
Heather Pruss earned her BA and PhD in Criminal Justice from Indiana University-Bloomington. She has taught courses on a wide variety of topics, including (Introduction to) Criminal Justice, Criminological Theory, Research Methods, Courts, Capital Punishment, and Law & Society. At Bellarmine University, she hopes to develop new courses focused on pertinent social/criminal justice issues, such as wrongful conviction or defending the accused. Broadly speaking, Heather’s research focuses on how oft-marginalized individuals experience the United States court system. She has done work on how capital jurors make life or death decisions, how indigent clients perceive their public defenders, and how family members and friends of homicide victims navigate case adjudication. Heather looks forward to engaging students and community members alike through her research agenda and has a strong interest in service learning and other experiential approaches to pedagogy.

Heather spends most of her spare time kayaking or hiking with her partner Jed and their two special-needs dogs. She grew up in Santa Claus, Indiana and is also an experienced florist.

Pam Cartor, Ph.D.

Pam Cartor, Ph.D.
Dr. Pam Cartor, Associate Professor in Psychology, completed her B.A. in Psychology at Stetson University, her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville), and her pre-doctoral internship at the Bingham Child Guidance Center in Louisville, Kentucky. She currently serves as Chair of the Psychology/Sociology/Criminal Justice Studies Department and she maintains a small clinical private practice.

She teaches the more clinically focused courses including Abnormal Psychology and Counseling & Psychotherapy. One of her favorite things about her job is working with students on career and graduate school preparation and she loves teaching the Professions in Psychology course and supervising internships.

Her research interests have included parenting behavior and conduct disorder in children, clergy child sexual abuse, personality factors and student performance, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. She is Past President of the Kentucky Psychological Association.

She is married to an I/O psychologist, Rick Cartor, and they have two kids who have grown up to be wonderful people.

Ainsley Lambert-Swain

Ainsley Lambert-Swain, Ph.D.
Originally from Louisville, Ainsley Lambert-Swain earned her B.A. in sociology from Morehead State University, followed by a M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Cincinnati. She joined the faculty at Bellarmine University as an Assistant Professor of Sociology in 2018. Ainsley teaches several sociology courses at Bellarmine, including: Introduction to Sociology, Social Inequality, Contemporary Social Problems, Race and Ethnicity, and the introductory course for the African and African American Diaspora Studies Minor. Her research interests include racial and ethnic inequality in the U.S., critical race theory, and racial identity processes, including how racial identities are negotiated in interaction. Her current research examines how partners in interracial relationships understand and navigate racial meanings across racially segregated spaces. At her previous institution and during her time here at Bellarmine, Ainsley has dedicated herself to creating an inclusive campus, serving on university committees and leading workshops on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is a member of the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems. When she is not teaching or doing research, Ainsley enjoys traveling to new places, trying new foods, and spending time with her family.


Bellarmine University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees.

Study Abroad

Bellarmine offers a wide variety of study abroad options around the globe. Learn what opportunities are available to you below.

Contact Information

Criminal Justice Department
Bellarmine University
2001 Newburg Road
Louisville, KY 40205

Request More Information