College of Arts and Sciences
Graduate Programs in Criminal Justice

Course Descriptions

  • Criminal Justice Theory

    (3 Credits)

    Critical analysis and comprehensive overview of historical and contemporary practices, procedures, and problems in the processing of offenders through the juvenile, police, courts, and corrections agencies of the criminal justice system. Emphasis on the examination of interrelationships between the agencies. Special attention is focused on current and important issues in the various criminal justice agencies, research conducted in criminal justice, and the impact of policy on the criminal justice system.

    Advanced Criminological Theory

    (3 Credits)

    Examination of classic and contemporary theoretical explanations of crime from multiple criminological perspectives including classical, biological, psychological, and sociological theories. Analysis of crime patterns and crime correlates and substantive focus on the application of such theories to criminal justice agencies, community, and society.

    Law and Social Control

    (3 Credits)

    Study of theory and research on the nature of law and legal institutions. Investigation into the functions and effects of informal and formal social control mechanisms, the use of law to impact social change, the relation of law to ameliorate social conflict, and an empirical investigation into the effectiveness of law.

    Organizational Theory and Analysis in Criminal Justice

    (3 Credits)

    Application of organizational theory to micro and macro level interactions and structures in the criminal justice system. Focus on classical, neo and post-classical models of organization and how they impact the creation or subversion of roles, norms, procedures, and goals in police, courts, and corrections. Examination of the interaction of public and private institutional cultures on resource allocation. Social psychological analysis of workplace power differentials and institutional/ actor goal and procedure conflict and deviance.

    Criminal Justice Ethics and Decision Making

    (3 Credits)

    Exploration of ethical dilemmas faced by professionals in law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Examination of discretionary power in criminal justice agencies and different stages of the criminal justice process. Seminar discussion of/reflection on decision making and ethical scenarios in criminal justice contexts.

    Statistical Analysis

    (3 Credits)

    Objective of course is for students to develop statistical reasoning skills and to choose appropriate quantitative techniques for analyzing research questions in criminal justice.  Topics include the examination of the basic concepts and measures in statistical analysis, probability theory, statistical inference, and bivariate and multivariate analyses, correlational relationships, t-tests, ANOVA, and regression.

    Statistics Lab

    (1 Credit)

    Objective of course is for students to learn the techniques of performing quantitative analyses with SPSS and then apply these quantitative techniques to interpret current criminal justice research.

    Advanced Research Methods in Criminology and Criminal Justice

    (3 Credits)

    Current methods and techniques for conducting research in criminal justice including research design, sampling, survey research, field research, and program evaluation. Students will design and execute their own research projects on a topic of current need of exploration in the criminal justice field, analyze findings, and summarize their research project in a formal written paper.

    Theory and Research in Policing, Courts, Corrections

    (3 Credits)

    Review and seminar discussion of key research findings in policing, courts, and corrections. Students will be required to focus on/complete a project in a specific area in criminal justice.

    Criminal Justice Legislation and Policy

    (3 Credits)

    Examination of the institutional and societal influences on how policies are identified, prioritized and created; how and why policies become codified. Focus on the effect research has on policy creation and/or policy amendment. Special attention to/critical analysis of the impact of particular policies on the criminal justice system such as three strikes laws, amber alerts, mandatory domestic violence prosecution, felony voting legislation, minimum sentencing guidelines, sexually violent predator laws, determinate sentencing, etc.

    Qualitative Research Methods in Criminology and Criminal Justice

    (3 Credits)

    Logic and techniques of qualitative research design, methods, and techniques including content analysis, focus groups, case studies, interviewing, field work observation, participant observation, and ethnography in deviance, criminology, and criminal justice. Focus on ethical considerations, access challenges, data collection design and analysis, visual documentation and application of qualitative database technology.

    Race, Ethnicity and Justice

    (3 Credits)

    Examination of roles of race and ethnicity in crime and justice. Focus on the differing experiences of racial/ethnic groups as they come into contact with the various agencies of the criminal justice system, racial disparity and discrimination in the criminal justice system, and the impact of criminal justice policy and practice on racial/ethnic minorities. Discussion of contemporary issues in race, ethnicity, and justice such as racial profiling, the impact of felony voting laws on racial minorities, and the ways in which cultural stereotypes about race/ethnicity shape policies and practices at the different stages of the criminal justice process (police, courts, corrections). Students will critically evaluate crime policy to identify meaningful solutions to increase social justice.

    Investigative Criminology and Offender Profiling

    (3 Credits)

    This course explores the use of profiles in criminological theory and criminal justice practice with focus on profiling violent crimes.  Examination of the differences between the types of crimes and criminals, what criminal profiling is, who does it, and how is it done. It will expose profiling as a science, profession, art, or media myth, consider the ethical issues of profiles when they are used in police investigations and the prediction of dangerousness. The course is intended to provide students with a general understanding of the theory and purpose of criminal profiling and focused review of the scholarly literature on profiling. The course is not intended to teach students how to become “profilers,” but as an introduction to the theory and practice of profiling, the scientific literature on criminal profiling, and to engage students in critical discussion of the use of profiles in the criminal justice system.

    Typologies of Crime and Criminal Behavior

    (3 Credits)

    Examination of research on criminal behavior and crime types. Seminar discussion of the ways in which theories of criminal behavior and typology research has been applied in the criminal justice system in criminal investigation, adjudication process, correctional management and treatment, victim services, public safety, risk assessment, and prediction of dangerousness.

    Theories and Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation

    (3 Credits)

    Study, process, and theory of investigation and crime scene processing. Focus on (1) investigation: the rhetoric and reality, (2) the methodologies for analysis of case files and investigative follow-up activities, (3) methods of developing leads from physical and circumstantial evidence, (4) the processes used in interviewing witnesses and suspects, and (5) differences in specialty investigations, and (6) assessment of the application of crime scene processing techniques and the theoretical constructs of critical thinking of inductive (analysis) and deductive (synthesis) reasoning necessary to develop and understand those actions taken by the offender at the scene of a crime.

    Advanced Crime Assessment

    (3 Credits)

    Introduction to a multidisciplinary approach to crime assessment and profiling with attention to theoretical and practical contributions of forensic pathology, forensic dentistry, forensic anthropology, criminology, criminalistics, abnormal psychology, forensic psychiatry, and law. Focus on the art and science of profiling a case with an unknown offender using data sets necessary for statistical profiling, clinical information used by psychologists and psychiatrists, and various law enforcement models, such as that employed by the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit. Examination of the various methods of operation (modus operandi) of violent offenders with attention to theories, applications, and analysis of various crimes to identify and isolate a particular offender’s method of operation and signature or trademark.

    Contemporary Issues in Victimology

    (3 Credits)

    Victimology involves the scientific study of physical, emotional, and financial harm people suffer because of criminal activities and the role of the victim in the criminal justice system. This course examines research in victimology with attention to the impact of crime on victims, measuring crime through victimization, the social and psychological harm resulting from different types of crime, the victim-offender relationship, gender issues in understanding victimization and offender-victim dynamics, victim rights movement, public perception of victims and social reaction to victimization, the role of the victim in the criminal justice process, and crime prevention and personal safety.

    Violence and Victimization

    (3 Credits)

    Examination of theories and research on aggression, violence, and victimization with attention to the gender correlates and dynamics of violence and victimization. Seminar discussion of the ways in which conceptions of masculinity and femininity are imbedded in notions of violence and victimization and how gender constructs, law, language, policy, practice shape the nature of violence and victimization and its criminal justice response.

    Restorative/Community Justice

    (3 Credits)

    Review of theory and research in restorative and community justice. Focus on restorative justice initiatives that provide an alternative framework for dealing with crime in which victim needs are central, offenders are held accountable, and the government is a secondary player in the process of restoring victims, offenders, and communities to a state of wholeness. Discussion of the impact of restorative justice initiatives in the criminal justice system in the United States and around the world.

    Feminist Criminology

    (3 Credits)

    Examination of feminist theories and research in feminism and criminology. Historical and contemporary overview of the study of gender, victimology, and criminological theory, gender issues in criminal justice, and the application of feminist theory to the study of crime and the criminal justice system. Students will critically evaluate the role of gender in victimology and criminology, the value and effectiveness of conventional policies within the criminal justice system in the context of gender disparity, misogyny, and women’s oppression.

    Issues in Contemporary Law Enforcement

    (3 Credits)

    Seminar on current issues in contemporary law enforcement. Topics addressed in the course include: The politics of law enforcement, police brutality, the impact of administrative interventions on police discretion, and police strategies such as problem-oriented policing, “hot spot” patrols, paramilitary units, and the criminal investigative process. This is a combined undergraduate/graduate course. Graduate students are required to complete additional graduate-level requirements and may only take two undergraduate courses (6 credits).

    Punishment and Social Control

    (3 Credits)

    Exploration of the major social theories of punishment, historical and contemporary penological practices, and the death penalty and the modern execution process. Focus on society’s justification for punishment as a response to crime and the function and meaning of punishment in modern society. This is a combined undergraduate/graduate course. Graduate students are required to complete additional graduate-level requirements and may only take two undergraduate courses (6 credits).

    Crime Mapping

    (3 Credits)

    Students will learn foundational skills in spatial analysis and crime mapping. Introduction to the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map and analyze crime patterns. In addition to practical work with GIS the course will address underlying spatial theories of crime as well as available data sources for exploring relationships such as Census data and other sources of socioeconomic and criminal justice related data.

    Data and Intelligence Analysis in Criminal Justice

    (3 Credits)

    Students will be provided with a practical introduction to intelligence analysis as it relates to criminal justice. Topics include the history and functions of intelligence in law enforcement, the primary methods of intelligence gathering, analysis, and dissemination, and common law enforcement databases. Students will learn about the application of criminal intelligence methods to current problems faced by Federal, State, and Local law enforcement agencies.

    Terrorism and Homeland Security

    (3 Credits)

    An examination of the complex concepts and issues associated with global terrorism, U.S. homeland security, and the role of law enforcement; the events leading up to the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, and those events before and after that date leading to the developing concepts and principals commonly associated with homeland security. Topics include the historical overview of U.S. and international terrorism, international and domestic terrorism issues, a framework of how the U.S. government has chosen to deal with homeland security and terrorism, the nature of executive legal decision-making regarding homeland security issues, legal considerations, natural disasters and homeland security, and the costs of securing America.

    The Psychopath

    (3 Credits)

    Study of psychopathy and its relevance to crime, violence, and the criminal justice system. Exploration of the origin and dynamics of psychopathy with focus on forensic assessment, prediction of dangerousness, and how scientific and popular conceptions of psychopathy shape criminal justice policy and practice. Jointly offered as an undergraduate/graduate course. Maximum of 6 credits/two undergraduate-graduate courses permitted to fulfill MACJ elective requirements.

    ATF Practicum

    (1 Credit)

    This course is facilitated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives and provides students with an inside look at the roles and responsibilities of ATF special agents and the range of units within the agency. The course meets on two Fridays (all day).

    Forensics Practicum

    (1 Credit)

    This course exposes students to the interaction between the attorney and the expert witness. This is a practicum opportunity associated with the SU Law school Forensics course. Students work with/assist 3rd year law students enrolled in the SU Law school Forensics course to prepare, research, interview, depose, and engage in cross and direct examination of expert witnesses in civil and criminal cases.

    Trial Skills Practicum

    (1 Credit)

    This course engages students in a mock trial. This is a practicum opportunity associated with the SU Law Clinic. Students work with law students and faculty to prepare, play a role, and present in a mock trial.

    FBI Practicum

    (1 Credit)

    This course is facilitated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and provides students with an inside look at the roles and responsibilities of FBI special agents and the range of units within the agency. The course meets on two Fridays (all day).

    Forensic Anthropology

    (3 Credits)

    Overview of skeletal biology and its application to medico-legal death investigation. Study of the human skeleton including the individual bones, the major anatomical landmarks, and the range of human variation. Focus on the human skeleton in a medico-legal context including locating covert burials, processing outdoor scenes, determination of biological profile, trauma analysis, cause and manner of death, postmortem interval and methods of positive identification. The course is not designed to make students forensic anthropologists but rather to impart an overall understanding of the discipline and an appreciation for its contributions to forensic science. Jointly offered as an undergraduate/graduate course. Maximum of 6 credits/two undergraduate-graduate courses permitted to fulfill MACJ elective requirements.

    Crime Scene and Medicolegal Death Investigation

    (3 Credits)

    In-depth look into crime scene and medicolegal death investigation. The manners, mechanisms, causes of death, and post-mortem changes, and wound interpretation are explored. The students will learn how to apply postmortem conditions to criminal investigations to confirm or refute evidence of wrongful deaths. The course will emphasize crime scene search, recognition of physical evidence, techniques and methods for collection, preservation and transmission for laboratory analysis of evidence, and the courtroom presentation of investigators actions at the crime scene. A component of this course will involve development of/participation in a mock crime scene investigation. Jointly offered as an undergraduate/graduate course. Maximum of 6 credits/two undergraduate-graduate courses permitted to fulfill MACJ elective requirements.

    Criminal Justice Capstone Seminar

    (3 Credits)

    Seminar discussion of program course content areas including major research findings and classic readings in criminal justice. Opportunity for discussion, analysis, and reflection, and synthesis of program content areas and key readings in criminal justice required for the comprehensive examination. For those students preparing for a thesis, this course will put all the foundation course material into perspective and assist students in narrowing down a topic choice and provide them with the necessary structure to begin writing a thesis. The course will serve the needs of those students preparing for a comprehensive exam and students who are planning to write a thesis.

    Special Topics Seminar

    (1-3 Credits)

    Courses will be offered covering a range of special topics addressing specific issues or research in the criminal justice.

    DEA Practicum

    (1 Credit)

    This course is facilitated by the Drug Enforcement Agency and provides students with an inside look at the roles and responsibilities of DEA special agents and the range of units within the agency. The course meets on two Fridays (all day).

    U.S. Marshals Service Practicum

    (1 Credit)

    This course is facilitated by the U.S. Marshals Service and provides students with an inside look at the roles and responsibilities of U.S. Marshals special agents and the range of units within the agency. The course meets on two Fridays (all day).

    Internship

    (1-3 Credits)

    Field experience in a criminal justice agency. Students are required to complete 50 hours per credit which may include training. Internships must be approved by the agency supervisor and Internship Director. Requirements include 50 hours per credit, reflection log, agency and student self evaluation, and synthesis paper. CR/F grading mandatory.

    Independent Study

    (1-3 Credits)

    Directed reading or student-directed project involving some aspect of research, theory, or practice in criminal justice. Students interested in completing an independent study project must submit written proposal to the supervising faculty member. Independent study projects are approved by Department Chair on a case by case basis.

    Teaching Assistantship

    (1-3 Credits)

    Students may be considered for a teaching assistantship that involves assisting a faculty member with a specific course. To be considered for a teaching assistantship, the student must have completed the course at an exceptional level. The teaching assistantship, depending on the course, includes assistance with grading, one-one work with students, facilitating seminar discussions, and other course-related tasks. CR/F grading mandatory.

    Research Assistantship

    (1-3 Credits)

    Students may be considered for a research assistantship that involves working with faculty on a research project and/or conducting research in the community. To be considered for a research assistantship, the student must have completed CRJS 506-507-508. The research assistance may involve one or more research-related tasks including literature review, data collection, data entry, data analysis, report-writing, and presentation of findings at professional conferences. The research assistantship may be linked to the thesis option if the student is involved in extensive faculty-related research that requires preliminary work prior to/or beyond the thesis project. CR/F grading mandatory.

    Thesis

    (1-3 Credits)

    Students may register for the thesis after completing core MACJ courses. Students wishing to pursue this option must obtain approval from the Department chair by submitting a thesis proposal and identifying a thesis chair and committee. The thesis committee must include at least two criminal justice faculty members and one external member with expertise in an area relevant to the thesis topic. The proposal must include: (1) Importance of research to the field of criminal justice, (2) Literature Review, (3) Method. The thesis will involve conducting original research and/or theoretical analysis of a criminal justice issue that makes a unique contribution to the criminal justice literature. Students may register for 1-3 credits per quarter and must complete a total of 3 thesis credits.