Make an impact at the local, state, or national level with your criminal justice degree.

Gain a broad understanding of criminal justice institutions, criminology, and contemporary issues related to the field—such as cybercrime, globalized crime, crime against the elderly, mental health, and crime and racism within the Criminal Justice System itself. You'll learn the basics, then specialize in your area(s) of interest through a variety of targeted electives. As a criminal justice major, you will study with expert faculty in small classes, with opportunities for one-on-one instruction geared toward your needs and goals. You’ll prepare to meet your career aspirations as you learn what you can do with a criminal justice degree through hands-on internship opportunities, both locally and in Washington, D.C. The program also prepares students to continue their education in a graduate program.

Program Highlights

  • On campus or online
  • Earn two degrees in less time with early entry graduate program options
  • Dynamic internship opportunities
  • Special topics courses in Homicide, Terrorism, Multinational Crime, and Law

Study the latest developments in criminal justice.

Get the skills and knowledge you need to influence the criminal justice system from within, or to advocate for change from the outside.

A respected criminal justice degree that will get you places.

  • Students take notes while sitting in a classroom.

    Personalize your coursework 

    Choose from over 15 electives each semester to tailor your education to match your interests and career plans. You’ll master new skills and knowledge in small classes (usually capped at 25 students) taught by full-time faculty who are passionate about sharing their research and professional experience with you. 

  • A student talks to two officers from the sheriff’s department at an event.

    Real-world experience 

    We have over 100 internship placements each semester at the federal, state, and local levels that offer real hands-on experience related to your specific career interests. You’ll have the opportunity to complete an internship for credit locally, in Washington, D.C., or through multiple study abroad options. 

  • A line of Westfield State University Alumni Criminal Justice Hall of Fame awards arranged on a table.

    Prep for success 

    Our graduates are in high demand. Westfield State University’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree is highly respected, both regionally and nationally, with over 50 years of excellence and 5,000 alumni working in criminal justice and other fields. We host the largest Criminal Justice Career Fair in New England on campus, recruitment events in our department, and regularly connect our students with job opportunities. 

Program Details

Program Mission

Though every school has a different answer to “What is a criminal justice degree?” our bachelor’s in criminal justice program’s clear mission is to provide students with the concepts, theories, and methods—rooted in the social sciences and legal inquiry—for a better understanding of the realities of crime, criminal justice institutions, and crime control/prevention. 

We also want our students to understand the problems and challenges confronting the criminal justice system such as systemic/institutional racism, globalization, rapid technological advancement, an aging population, mental health, loss of faith in government institutions, and many others.   

We want to provide our students with the practical skills such as written and oral communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and data analysis that will allow them to participate and make a difference in their communities, working in the criminal justice system or as advocates for change outside of the system.  

To support our multidisciplinary program, the Criminal Justice Department seeks to work closely and collaboratively with the other departments in our college: psychology, political science, sociology, and ethnic and gender studies, as well as other departments across campus. 

Program Vision

Provide criminal justice and criminology education for today’s globalized, multicultural, and technologically advanced world rooted in the liberal arts, interdisciplinary, social science, and legal traditions.

Learning Outcomes
  • Comprehend qualitative and quantitative social science and legal research, including basic introductory statistical concepts.  
  • Describe the constitutional concepts of due process, equal protection, and fundamental fairness in policing, courts, and corrections.  
  • Know the role of ethics and moral reasoning throughout the criminal justice system.  
  • Be aware of issues of diversity, including but not limited to gender, race, ethnic, cultural, and class issues, in the administration of criminal justice.  
  • Demonstrate writing, research, communication, and computer literacy skills sufficient to enter into criminal justice and allied professional fields, or alternatively to pursue graduate studies in such fields and disciplines.  
  • Employ critical reasoning skills to solve problems in selected areas of criminal justice. 
  • Learn to work collaboratively with faculty and other students. 
  • Compare and contrast traditional and contemporary theories of crime causation, and their implications for public policy.  
  • Describe the importance of the history, development, fundamental concepts, and current operation of our principal criminal justice institutions, their relationships to each other, and their relationships to the larger political and societal context.  
  • Develop an understanding of crucial challenges facing the criminal justice system such as globalization, rapidly advancing technology, mental health, an aging population, and loss of faith in government institutions. 

Earn two degrees in less time

The Criminal Justice Department offers a 4+1 Bachelor’s/Master’s program, allowing you to earn both your Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Criminal Justice in just five years. 

The University also offers a 3+3 Bachelor’s to Juris Doctorate program in conjunction with the UMass Law School at Dartmouth, allowing you to complete both your undergraduate and law degrees in just six years.

When I was at the ATF Academy, I did not struggle, I felt prepared because a lot of the same subject matter that I was given I already studied it here at Westfield. It wasn't new to me. 

-Carlos Canino, B.S. in Criminal Justice 

What can you do with a criminal justice degree?

Our graduates are in demand and find jobs in local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies as well as companies and non-profits outside of the criminal justice system. These positions include:

  • Law enforcement officer (local, state, federal)  
  • Corrections officer (local, state, federal)
  • Probation and parole officer
  • Victim’s advocate
  • Court administrator
  • Paralegal
  • Case worker
  • Community care agent
  • Advancement into a graduate program
  • Many more, both in and out of the criminal justice field
Criminal Justice student in library smiling with laptop

Ready to learn more?

Course Requirements

Program Description

The Criminal Justice major consists of 42 credits. All students must complete at least 21 credits of Criminal Justice coursework at Westfield State University. There are six required courses in the major (Major Core) that comprise 18 of the 42 required credits. All criminal justice majors must complete the Major Core courses with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.5, and no grade in any of the Major Core courses may be below a C-. Students must also take ENGL 0204 Compostion II: Rhetoric and Research. Students may repeat any of these courses in order to meet this requirement, in accordance with the University's

Major Core Courses
Note:

Students choose upper-level electives in the major to complete the remaining 21 credits. A student, who has not maintained the requisite 2.5 GPA for the six Major Core courses or had a grade below a C- in any one of the Major Core courses, will be required to correct this deficiency in order to enroll in upper level major electives.

Additional Graduation Requirements

All students must meet the University Graduation Requirements and complete a common core of studies, distributed among the different academic areas as detailed in the Common Core.

Get big school features with small school advantages.  

We offer high-quality academics, unique learning opportunities, and a gorgeous campus—and we have small classes, accessible faculty, and one-on-one support. 

You'll join fellow motivated students ready to make the most of the college experience through active participation. Become part of a caring and committed community that understands and embraces the bridge between academic study and civic responsibility.

  • 92%+

    of faculty hold doctorates 

  • Largest

    Criminal Justice, Government, and Non-Profit Career Fair in the Northeast held on campus

  • 84%

    of grads are employed in their field

Learn from industry experts

The Criminal Justice Department is made up of 12 full-time faculty who are dedicated to undergraduate teaching. You’ll learn from professors who have expertise in homeland security, religious extremism, law enforcement, corrections and rehabilitation, criminal law, juvenile justice, gangs, multinational crime, crime mapping, and more.

A professor instructs students from the front of a classroom.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Westfield State University accredited?

Westfield State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Do I have to submit SAT/ACT scores or an essay when I apply?

Westfield State University does not require an application essay, SAT and/or ACT scores, or letters of recommendation (except for special program admissions).     

All first-year applicants are reviewed for admission based on their high school record. First-year applicants must meet the minimum eligibility requirements established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) in order to qualify for admission to a state university.   

Learn more about the application process and admissions here.

How much does Westfield State University cost?

Westfield State University offers a comprehensive university experience at an affordable cost—with many options for financial aid. Visit our Cost and Aid page to learn more. 

Will I receive academic support?

We’re invested in your success. Whether you need a little help adjusting to college, study strategies, tutoring, or disability services, the team at the Academic Achievement Department is ready to help. Our mission is to provide you with the tools to explore academic opportunities as well as to plot strategies for continued growth. 

Learn more about our student support services here.

Request Information

We’re here to answer your questions and deliver the support you need along your academic journey. Please provide your contact information and area of interest, and we’ll be in touch shortly.

Name

Criminal Justice, B.S.