B.A. in Criminology & Justice Studies

Criminology is an exciting field with a long history within the discipline of sociology. Students majoring in criminology and justice studies (CJS) explore the historical and societal origins and roles of deviance and crime, its effects on society, as well as the systems established to control, investigate, deter, punish, treat, rehabilitate and respond to crime and deviance. The discipline examines the social implications of crime and deviance and their varying effects on diverse populations. Our courses explore the field of criminology from an interdisciplinary perspective while our curriculum affords students a variety of applied and service learning “hands on” experiences. This experiential learning is in support of the development of skills necessary to meet the demand for careers in criminal justice, law, government, public and nonprofit human services. We encourage students to work with their advisors to select electives that complement their career goals.

Criminology is the study of crimes, criminals, crime victims, theories explaining illegal and deviant behavior, the social reaction to crime and criminals, the effectiveness of anti-crime policies and the broader political terrain of social control. In studying crime and deviance, we use sociology to examine individual and group behaviors that violate social norms. These norms range from formally established rules or laws to widely held expectations or standards of conduct. These rules and expectations vary across groups, cultures, and societies.

Criminology also studies how laws and social expectations develop and change, how inappropriate and illegal behavior is controlled by formal and informal organizations, and how their violation is handled by government agencies such as welfare, child protection, police, courts, and corrections as well as by social institutions including family, religion, schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.

The addition of “Justice Studies” broadens the major to include broader questions of justice and how our society does or does not allow for equal access to justice, not just in the criminal justice system, but in all aspects of society.  Thus students should be prepared for occupations outside of the criminal justice system (although all systems intertwine) in settings that work on these issues overall.

Student Learning Outcomes University Learning Goals (KMERI*)
Critically examine problems and challenges in the criminal justice system and propose possible solutions to these problems. Engaged, Responsible
Analyze social categories such as class, gender, race, and ethnicity; and critically evaluate their social construction and how they impact social perceptions of crime and our responses to crime. Knowledgeable
Acquire an appreciation of global human rights and polices that engender them. Multi-literate, Engaged
Develop knowledge of and apply qualitative and quantitative research methods within and outside of the classroom. Multi-literate
Develop familiarity with major schools of thought and significant theorists in the fields of criminology and justice studies, and the contributions of sociology and other disciplines to the field. Knowledgeable, Inquisitive
Understand the reciprocal relationship between individuals and society and the ways in which social structure and culture shapes this relationship with respect to dealing with and defining crime and philosophies of justice. Knowledgeable, Inquisitive

*NOTE: KMERI refers to Otterbein's learning goals. It stands for KnowledgeableMulti-literateEngagedResponsible, and Inquisitive. To learn more about KMERI, visit our University Learning Goals page.

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