Criminal Justice BA

College of Community Studies and Public Affairs
Undergraduate major / Bachelor of Arts

About this program

The BA in criminal justice provides students with a broad understanding of crime and justice institutions and processes, from classic criminological perspectives on human behavior to contemporary issues and controversies in criminal law. Students undertake a thorough examination of the interrelationships, functions and operations of the different components of the criminal justice system. Students completing a criminal justice major are well-prepared for employment and advancement in a wide range of criminal justice careers.

Highlights of the criminal justice program at Metropolitan State University:

  • Faculty who are experienced criminal justice practitioners and researchers
  • Opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom through service learning classes and internships
  • Hands-on advisors who help students navigate course and career planning
  • Classes offered in multiple formats: online, on campus and hybrid
  • Leadership and networking opportunities for students through the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Club

Student outcomes

Criminal Justice BA graduates will be able to:

  • describe criminal justice institutions and processes
    • identify the functions and operations of:
      • law enforcement
      • the court
      • corrections
    • identify the interrelationships between the three primary components of the criminal justice system
  • apply knowledge of criminal behavior and the criminal justice system to criminal events
    • describe the tenets of major criminological theories
    • apply principles of criminal justice ethics to criminal incidents and/or citizen interactions with the criminal justice system
    • evaluate the role of diversity in criminal incidents and/or citizen interactions with the criminal justice system
    • provide potential solutions to common criminal justice problems 
    • understand the role of nonprofit organizations and community advocacy/action in criminal justice processes
  • analyze crime and criminal justice issues using theory and research
    • demonstrate the ability to provide clearly written explanations of crime and criminal justice issues
    • apply research methods to crime and criminal justice issues
    • demonstrate the ability to speak intelligently about crime and criminal justice
    • apply criminological principles to public policy issues related to crime and criminal justice
    • demonstrate critical thinking skills

Enrolling in this program

Program eligibility requirements

To be eligible for acceptance to the criminal justice major, students must submit a School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Undergraduate Program Declaration Form when the following is completed:

  • 30 credits GELS/MNTC writing requirements
  • Cumulative Metropolitan State GPA of 2.25
  • SLC Pre-major Advising Workshop (PAW)

All criminal justice pre-majors should work closely with an advisor from the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (SLC).

Current students: Declare your program

Once you’re admitted as an undergraduate student and have met any further requirements your chosen program may have, you may declare a major or declare an optional minor.

Future students: Apply now

Apply to Metropolitan State: Start the journey toward your Criminal Justice BA now. Learn about the steps to enroll or, if you have questions about what Metropolitan State can offer you, request information, visit campus or chat with an admissions counselor.

Get started on your Criminal Justice BA

Program requirements

  • All Metropolitan State students must complete at least 30 credits in residency at Metropolitan State.
  • All criminal justice students must complete 24 major credits (identified as containing a CJ or LAWE prefix) at Metropolitan State, which can be applied toward the 30 credit university residency requirement.

Course requirements

Prerequisites

Requirements (120 credits)

Core (45 credits)

CJS 201 is the prerequisite for most upper division required law enforcement and criminal justice classes. CJS 301, CJS 320, CJS 360, and CJS 375 are prerequisites for CJS 489 and CJS 490. Either CJS 489 or CJS 490 should be completed during the last semester.

CJS 101 Introduction to Criminal Justice

3 credits

As an introduction to the field of criminal justice, this course provides students with a brief but comprehensive overview of criminal justice institutions in American society. Students learn about the role of the criminal justice system in maintaining social order. The course also examines the duties and functions of criminal justice practitioners, including police officers, prosecutors, judges and correctional officials from the initial violation of the criminal law, to the punishment and release of convicted offenders.

Full course description for Introduction to Criminal Justice

CJS 201 Foundations in Criminal Justice

3 credits

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of academic research and professional development related to the discipline of criminal justice and law enforcement. Students learn to search, locate, retrieve, evaluate, and document research sources as well as prepare research papers using writing and citations styles expected in criminal justice and law enforcement courses. The course will also broaden students' understanding of the direct and indirect criminal justice professional opportunities and equip students with the tools to begin to pursue careers in the field.

Full course description for Foundations in Criminal Justice

CJS 210 Constitutional Law

3 credits

This course provides an overview and critical examination of constitutional law as it relates to criminal justice issues. A historical overview of the U.S. Constitution is covered along with how the Constitution works in the legal system including the role of the Supreme Court and constitutional interpretation. The first, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, and fourteenth amendments are emphasized. The course also examines how the Constitution protects the rights of those charged as well as the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Full course description for Constitutional Law

CJS 305 The Criminal Court System

4 credits

This course is designed to expand students understanding of the role of criminal court at the federal, state, and local levels. As the intermediate step between law enforcement and corrections, courts are often criticized for providing a revolving door through which chronic offenders enter and exit without justice being served. We will explore the power and limitations of the judicial branch of government with regard to its role in the criminal justice system, as well as learn about the roles of various court professionals and develop a detailed understanding of the court process.

Full course description for The Criminal Court System

CJS 320 Criminology and Public Policy

4 credits

This course focuses on theories, concepts, narratives, and myths of crime and delinquent behavior. Contemporary issues and controversies within the criminal justice field are explored in social, political, and economic context. Special emphasis is placed on the role of race, class, gender, and culture in relation to the etiology, prevention, control, and treatment of crime and delinquency. This course is committed to general theoretical debate, examination of the interrelation between criminological theory and research, and empirical analyses of policy and practice.

Full course description for Criminology and Public Policy

LAWE 330 Policing and Society

4 credits

This course provides an introduction to American policing and an overview of the critical issues which confront law enforcement officers and their agencies. Some of the issues which are examined include: the role of the police, management and policy development in law enforcement agencies; police selection, training and socialization; minorities and women in policing; psychological hazards and stress in policing; and police misconduct.

Full course description for Policing and Society

CJS 360 Diversity in Criminal Justice

4 credits

This course provides an in-depth examination of the opportunities and challenges of providing criminal justice services in a multicultural society. The course provides students with a knowledge of the diversity that exists in communities and criminal justice agencies. It provides both theoretical and practical information to respond effectively to diversity issues. Examples of community issues include conflict resolution, crime prevention, victimization and strategies to improve relationships with the community. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

Full course description for Diversity in Criminal Justice

CJS 375 Ethics and Professionalism in Criminal Justice

4 credits

Examines a range of moral dilemmas which criminal justice practitioners are likely to face in their duties. Using both moral theory and detailed case examples, students learn to apply moral principles and concepts to a given situation, recognize the relevance of moral principles and concepts, and apply their individual moral philosophy to resolving these situations in a satisfactory manner. This course meets corresponding learning objectives of the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training.

Full course description for Ethics and Professionalism in Criminal Justice

Choose one

CJS 350 Citizenship: Community Involvement

4 credits

The purpose of this course is to educate and encourage the development of globally competent citizens and leaders. The course is designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to be engaged, responsible, and effective members of a globally interdependent society. Most importantly, students will be asked to think deeply about their world (including its future, current issues, its impact on their local area, and our personal responsibility as global citizens). This course will have a service learning component.

Full course description for Citizenship: Community Involvement

CJS 354 Restorative Justice

4 credits

This course is designed to allow students to develop a working understanding and knowledge of Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice looks at the concept of justice through nontraditional and alternative viewpoints. Rather than focus on "what is the crime, who did the crime and what should the punishment be," Restorative Justice focuses on "who has been harmed, what was the harm and who is responsible to repair the harm." Students will examine Restorative Justice from historical, sociological, criminological and psychological perspectives. Throughout the course, a wide range of specific "restorative practices" will be studied, reviewed and analyzed. Some of the concepts the course will explore are trauma and healing, conflict transformation, issues related to juvenile justice, and alternative processes such as Victim-Offender Dialogue and the Circle Process.

Full course description for Restorative Justice

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CJS 489 Criminal Justice Capstone Internship

4 credits

With an emphasis on experiential learning, the capstone course allows students to combine an internship experience in a criminal justice setting with academic work to support career pathways, synthesize undergraduate experiences, and develop deeper understanding of criminal justice issues. During the semester, students must complete at least 160 hours of service at an internship field site. Note: With support from their academic advisors and ICES staff, students are responsible for securing their own internship opportunities and must do so one month prior to registering for CJS-489.

Full course description for Criminal Justice Capstone Internship

Directed electives (10 credits)

Criminal justice majors must select at least 10 directed elective credits (three courses minimum, 6 credits as LE/CJ, minimum 6 credits upper division) of criminal justice or law enforcement courses listed below. CJS 101 and CJS 201 are prerequisites for some CJS and LAWE directed elective courses. See course descriptions for more details. Students double majoring in law enforcement and criminal justice may not use required core law enforcement courses as directed electives. To earn a law enforcement and criminal justice double major, a minimum of 24 credits (residency requirements) is required for each discipline, LAWE and CJS, and must be completed at Metropolitan State University. Any student awarded an associate’s degree in a law enforcement major/program may not double major in law enforcement and criminal justice at Metropolitan State University. Program LAWE 104 is not accepted as a direct elective.

CJS 110 Careers in Criminal Justice

4 credits

This course introduces students to an array of career paths taken by criminal justice students throughout the public, private, and non-profits sectors. The course broadens students' understanding of the direct and indirect criminal justice professional opportunities through presentations by professionals in the field and research of possible career choices. This course also focuses on the selection process, including resume development and job interviewing.

Full course description for Careers in Criminal Justice

CJS 310 Introduction to Security Management

4 credits

This course explores the past, current and future trends in security management. The basic concepts, tools and practices that comprise security management are examined. Students learn how to identify and minimize risk in a private setting. They also learn the basics of physical security and access control as well as how to identify potential liability in the security field. In addition, this course examines various career opportunities in security management.

Full course description for Introduction to Security Management

CJS 318 Women and Crime

4 credits

This course will be comprised of material on three main topics: women as offenders, women as victims of gendered violence, and women working in the criminal justice system. Women's involvement in criminal activity has been ignored by traditional criminological theories/theorists. This course will examine the frequency and nature of women's involvement along with the more modern theories which we can use to understand these phenomena. Students will also learn about the issues surrounding gendered violence including stalking, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Finally, students will learn about the special issues surrounding women's work in the traditionally male-dominated fields of corrections and law enforcement.

Full course description for Women and Crime

CJS 325 Inside-Out: Prison Exchange Program

4 credits

The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program is an opportunity for a small group of students from Metropolitan State University and a group of residents who are in area correctional facilities to exchange ideas and perceptions about crime and justice, the criminal justice system, corrections and imprisonment. It is a chance for all participants to gain a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system through the marriage of theoretical knowledge and practical experience achieved by weekly meetings extended throughout the semester.

Full course description for Inside-Out: Prison Exchange Program

CJS 333 Gangs

4 credits

This course examines the nature and extent of gangs in America. It addresses the history of gangs, when they exist, when they are illusory, and public reactions to them. It considers variations among street gangs, and contrasts these with other extra-legal groups, including prison gangs and mafias. Attention is focused on individual-level correlates and risks associated with gang membership, group processes in gangs, and macro-level correlates of gangs and gang behaviors. The role of the community and criminal justice system in gang prevention, intervention, and suppression is also considered.

Full course description for Gangs

CJS 335 Homicide Studies

4 credits

This course offers a global perspective on homicide with cross-cultural and international comparisons. Students analyze trends in homicide offending and victimization and predictors of lethal violence. Special emphasis is given to the profiles and motivations of serial killers and mass murderers. Homicide clearance rates, investigative techniques that enhance the probability of offender identification, gun control, and the deterrent effect of capital punishment, among others, are topics examined in this course.

Full course description for Homicide Studies

CJS 340 Comparative Criminal Justice

4 credits

This course provides students with international perspectives on criminal justice. Through a comprehensive review of cross-national research data, students examine the features, successes and failures of various distinct criminal justice systems around the globe and use that information to evaluate the American criminal justice system. By exploring justice institutions in other parts of the world, students learn that criminal justice systems are shaped by the values, norms, customs or standards of behavior characteristic of the society in which they are found.

Full course description for Comparative Criminal Justice

CJS 344 Terrorism and Counterterrorism

4 credits

This course explores the emergence and manifestation of terror and terrorism from a range of historical, political, sociological and cultural perspectives. It further explores the interpretation of, and response to, contemporary manifestations of terror and terrorism. Emphasizing the diverse and contested nature of terror as both concept and practice, a number of case studies are highlighted in order to explore the complex connections between order, power, authority, security and terror. The organizational form and objectives of terrorist organizations, and the range of strategies available in response to the demands and challenges posed by terror in an era of globalization are also considered.

Full course description for Terrorism and Counterterrorism

CJS 345 Organization and Administration in Criminal Justice

4 credits

This course examines the operation of criminal justice organizations and provides students with a conceptual foundation to explore the workings of the criminal justice system. Emphasis is placed on understanding internal and external influences on the operations of criminal justice agencies including the people, practices and events that shape criminal justice administration.

Full course description for Organization and Administration in Criminal Justice

CJS 346 Victimology

4 credits

This course is designed to prepare criminal justice and law enforcement students to work with victims and to understand the complexity of victim issues. This course will look at victimization from a sociological, psychological, as well as, legal perspective. Students will be exposed to current research, ethical considerations in victim response, psychological phenomena common to crime victims, legal obligations for victim service providers, and resources available to victims.

Full course description for Victimology

CJS 350 Citizenship: Community Involvement

4 credits

The purpose of this course is to educate and encourage the development of globally competent citizens and leaders. The course is designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to be engaged, responsible, and effective members of a globally interdependent society. Most importantly, students will be asked to think deeply about their world (including its future, current issues, its impact on their local area, and our personal responsibility as global citizens). This course will have a service learning component.

Full course description for Citizenship: Community Involvement

CJS 354 Restorative Justice

4 credits

This course is designed to allow students to develop a working understanding and knowledge of Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice looks at the concept of justice through nontraditional and alternative viewpoints. Rather than focus on "what is the crime, who did the crime and what should the punishment be," Restorative Justice focuses on "who has been harmed, what was the harm and who is responsible to repair the harm." Students will examine Restorative Justice from historical, sociological, criminological and psychological perspectives. Throughout the course, a wide range of specific "restorative practices" will be studied, reviewed and analyzed. Some of the concepts the course will explore are trauma and healing, conflict transformation, issues related to juvenile justice, and alternative processes such as Victim-Offender Dialogue and the Circle Process.

Full course description for Restorative Justice

CJS 356 Violence in America

4 credits

Students will explore the nature and extent of the violence problem in the United States using a tripartite approach, which incorporates patterns, explanations, and interventions. The course will cover the history and epidemiology of violence; roots of violence, including biological, psychological, and sociological causes; specific types of violence; media portrayals of violence; the physical, emotional, social, economic, and political consequences of violence; and ways to control and prevent violence in our communities, including criminal justice and public health approaches.

Full course description for Violence in America

CJS 358 Community Building for Criminal Justice

4 credits

This class will examine the processes and dynamics necessary for criminal justice agencies and their personnel to play an active, direct role in identifying and organizing the community and fiscal resources necessary to build effective partnerships. Once formed, these partnerships will result in the development of a cooperative problem-solving community. Students will review case studies, visit a community meeting, evaluate current and historical social movements, and develop recommendations on issues they face in their communities. Modern theoretical application will provide the basis for the foundation of the necessity for these problem solving partnerships to emerge and grow. The students will study how the criminal justice system shapes and influences particular parts of the community including schools, business organizations, faith communities, social service agencies, and grassroots groups and how these organizations in turn shape the criminal justice system.

Full course description for Community Building for Criminal Justice

CJS 366 The U.S. Intelligence Community

4 credits

This course provides an overview of the U.S. Intelligence Community and examines how the community supports national security, foreign policy, and homeland security. Students examine the intelligence cycle and the structure, constraints, and oversight of the agencies that comprise the intelligence community. Specific attention is given to collection operations, analysis, and dissemination of finished intelligence products to consumers, with emphasis on how global intelligence is used to protect and police local communities. How intelligence products build a common operational picture for national security management at top levels of government and how intelligence analysis also supports Homeland Security by assisting federal, state, and local political leaders and law enforcement officials is explored. Students also discuss such topics as human intelligence operations, counterintelligence, UAV (drone) operations, interrogation and detention, and the moral, ethical, and legal…

Full course description for The U.S. Intelligence Community

CJS 367 Exploring Forensic Science

4 credits

This course will provide the student with a general overview and a better understanding of the wide range of disciplines found within the forensic sciences. Fundamental topics such as forensic anthropology, forensic entomology, forensic pathology, and forensic accounting will be discussed. In addition 'traditionally' recognized topics in forensic science such as DNA, Trace Evidence, Impression Evidence, Drugs, and Questioned Documents will be covered. The course instructor will utilize multi-media in a lecture format, utilizing case-studies, video supplements and expert guest speakers.

Full course description for Exploring Forensic Science

CJS 387 White Collar Crime

4 credits

This course presents an overview of white collar crime. Students explore theories of white collar crime and corporate criminal liability. The investigation, prosecution and sentencing of white-collar offenders are examined. "Crime in the suites" is compared to "crime in the streets." Issues related to diversity are explored.

Full course description for White Collar Crime

CJS 388 Crime Analysis

4 credits

This course is intended to develop the student's skills and knowledge in the field of crime analysis. Students will become familiar with the variety of tasks and issues encountered within the public and private sectors by a crime analyst. Students will also participate in group activities to build knowledge and skills associated with the different functions of a crime analyst.

Full course description for Crime Analysis

CJS 465 Criminal Justice Response to the Mentally Ill and Other Special Populations

4 credits

This course will focus on how to manage special populations in the criminal justice system. The types of special populations we will focus on will include the mentally ill, the physically ill and disabled, juveniles, the elderly, women, GLBT individuals, and immigrants. We will consider both offenders and victims within each of these special populations.

Full course description for Criminal Justice Response to the Mentally Ill and Other Special Populations

LAWE 280 Juvenile Justice

3 credits

This course presents a juvenile justice system overview, with emphasis on Minnesota Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure. The historical and philosophical development of the juvenile justice system is discussed, along with a comparative analysis of U.S. juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. Students learn about resources available to criminal justice practitioners and addresses the specific needs of juveniles in crisis.

Full course description for Juvenile Justice

LAWE 312 Emergency Management for Law Enforcement

4 credits

This course examines the fundamental principles and practices of emergency management including how it functions within the homeland security enterprise. Mass shootings, acts of terror, infrastructure collapse, and natural disasters all are examples of emergencies examined in this course. This course also explores the human and economic costs of emergencies and the intended and unintended consequences of intervention.

Full course description for Emergency Management for Law Enforcement

LAWE 431 Police Culture

4 credits

This course will explore the complex interactions between police culture and issues relating to integrity and ethics for the police. It will examine the underlying values of the police culture and how those affect police behavior. Loyalty, racism, and use of force issues will be examined.

Full course description for Police Culture