Frequently Asked CJS Questions

Why should I major in Criminal Justice Studies at Bellarmine?

One hallmark of Criminal Justice Studies at Bellarmine, in comparison to other criminal justice departments, is its social justice orientation. Bellarmine is a liberal arts institution with guiding values that recognize the “intrinsic value and dignity of every individual” and an aim to “cultivate grounded citizens who contribute to and advocate for the public good." These institutional values align with the Criminal Justice Studies program’s focus and design. Interdisciplinary coursework in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and beyond provides students with a holistic understanding of the origins of criminal behavior and responses to it. This coursework also equips students to apply a critical lens to issues of crime, justice, and equity – that is, to rethink current approaches and imagine innovative solutions to challenges facing the contemporary criminal justice system.

Another unique aspect of Criminal Justice Studies at Bellarmine is our incredible internship program. We collaborate with law enforcement, courts, corrections, non-profits and social service agencies to provide our students with first-hand experience in the field. A faculty coordinator helps pair you with an agency that fits your interests for a full-semester experience.

What kind of courses will I take? What kind of faculty will I work with?

Students in the major begin with a course that introduces them broadly to the criminal justice system and its component parts (CJS 100). Next, we address historical and contemporary explanations for criminal and deviant behavior (CJS 220). Then come elective courses on specific aspects of the criminal justice system, like courts, corrections (CJS 331), or juvenile delinquency (SOC 306). In the third and fourth year, students complete an internship experience (CJS 444) and take a course on research methodology (SOC 410) that involves conducting a study of their own. The Criminal Justice Studies curriculum draws together courses from related disciplines, including sociology, psychology, anthropology, and beyond to provide students a well-rounded perspective on crime, justice, and equity. A major in Criminal Justice Studies requires 34 credit hours to complete and a minor requires 18 credit hours.

Faculty in the program are dynamic and bring a range of teaching, research, and practical experiences to the curriculum. Our faculty also create opportunities for students to work alongside them on research projects.

What can I do with a Criminal Justice Studies degree when I graduate?

Many of our students go straight into the workforce. This includes work with agencies like local, state, or federal law enforcement, private security, working in the court system, at a correctional institution or probation and parole office, or at non-profit or social service agencies. A substantial number of our students go on to graduate and professional programs. This includes graduate programs in Criminal Justice, Sociology, Social Work, and related disciplines as well as law school.

What additional degree majors and minors pair well with Criminal Justice Studies?

That depends on what you plan to do next. Be well-versed in the way race, class, and gender interact with the criminal justice system? Perhaps Sociology, African & African American Diaspora Studies (minor only), or Women’s & Gender Studies makes sense (minor only). Attend law school? Consider Political Science (Pre-Law) or Philosophy. Interested in examining crime scene evidence? Look at Biology or Chemistry. Want to understand why certain individuals engage in deviant behavior? Think about Psychology. Work with folks from different nations or cultures, including persons migrating or displaced? Check into Anthropology (minor only) or Refugee & Forced Migration Studies (minor only). Want to reimagine social responses to deviance? Try Peace Studies (minor only).

There are countless ways to ‘build out’ from a Criminal Justice Studies degree at Bellarmine, and faculty mentors eager to help channel your creativity and begin shaping your career path.