1. Theory. Students who complete the major in criminal justice should understand and be able to articulate, both orally and in writing, the core theoretical concepts that form the foundation of analysis and research in criminology and criminal justice today. Core concepts are derived from explanations of crime from a variety of perspectives, including biogenic, psychological, and sociological approaches. Students should be familiar with the myriad theories of crime that are informed by these perspectives, including: classical, control, critical, ecology, labeling, learning, strain, and trait-based approaches. Theoretical literacy should extend to multicultural and international understanding.
  2. Institutions. Students who complete the major in criminal justice should understand the special role of three types of institutions: Police, Courts, and Corrections. In addition, students should know how institutional forms vary across jurisdictions and how these institutions interact with and influence each other.
  3. Research Methods. Students who complete the criminal justice major should be familiar with the tools, techniques, and data sources necessary for empirical analysis and methodological literacy, with an applied focus on crime, public safety, and justice-related contexts. Students should understand the various ways that evidence, the scientific method, and social science paradigms shape how we describe and explain CJ-related phenomena, and how theories and policies are developed, tested, and critiqued. They should be able to analyze data using computer applications and should be familiar with basic statistical principles, techniques, and quantitative literacy. They should be able to read and assess research from a wide range of sources, including general interest, academic, and government publications.
  4. Social Justice and Diversity. Students who complete the major in criminal justice should understand how the various axes of power and inequality affect how the criminal justice system functions and is experienced. Students should understand how diverse experiences inform theories and concepts in criminal justice and how criminal justice institutions operate differently along dimensions of race, class, gender, and other identities, across varied communities within the United States and in various parts of the world.


Upon completion of the major, students should be able to apply their understanding of core concepts and research  tools to analyze real world problems, and evaluate alternative policy proposals on a range of criminal justice issues, from micro-level analyses relevant to particular cases, to management concerns, to macro-level analyses of legislative and other broad-scale policies. Such analyses should be sensitive to questions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Students should be equipped with the methodological skills to critically examine how public and private interests and structures may (re)produce asymmetries of power and inequality along various axes such as race/ethnicity, gender, class, citizenship, and geography. Attaining this goal will require that students apply their theoretical, methodological, and analytic skills to criminal justice structures, policies, and dilemmas both in the U.S. and comparative contexts.


Qualified majors should have an opportunity, through such avenues as advanced coursework, internships, and faculty interactions, to conduct independent research on matters of central relevance to the field of criminal justice and adversely affected communities. Topics that center historically marginalized groups are welcome, along with research projects that might yield meaningful findings for historically subjugated or minoritized communities.