BS in Criminal Justice: Sample Curriculum

A female Cincinnati criminal justice student smiles and poses outside a building on campus.

Introduction to Criminal Justice

This is an introductory course which examines criminal justice in the United States. The course describes and examines the agencies responsible for the control and prevention of crime. While examining the formal crime control processes in the United States, the students will be introduced to how to examine those processes and their impact on victims, offenders and society. The course provides an overview of the criminal justice process including the police, courts and corrections.

Introduction to Criminology

This introductory-level course examines the measurement and nature of crime, the major theoretical explanations of criminal behavior and the policies used to reduce the crime problem.

Introduction to Courts

The class provides a dynamic analysis of the American courts beginning with an analysis of the evolution of American courts and an overview of court structure and practice. All levels of courts at all levels of government are assessed and described. The course includes an emphasis on issues in the criminal courts and on criminal court practices and decisions.

Service Learning in Criminal Justice

Service Learning (SL) is a specially designed learning experience in which students combine reflection with structured participation in community-based projects to achieve specified learning outcomes as part of the Criminal Justice Program. A student may register for one to three credit hours per term as a free or CJ elective. For one credit hour, the student would be required to complete 30 community contact hours; for two credit hours, the student would be required to complete 60 community contact hours; and 90 community contact hours would be required for three credit hours. By participating in academic community partnerships, students gain deeper and richer mastery of program content, enhance their sense of civic responsibility and ultimately develop a more integrated approach to understanding the relationship between criminological theory and practices within police, courts and correctional and community organizations.

Crime in Media and Popular Culture

This course examines the role of media and popular culture in shaping public perceptions of crime and the criminal justice system. Issues examined include: media representations of race, gender, class and crime; the influence of legal dramas on the justice system; and economic influences on media portrayals of crime. Special attention will be given to the ability of popular culture and the media to construct perceptions of moral panics, crime waves, fear of crime and policy agendas.

Criminal Justice in Film

The purpose of this course will be to analyze the images of crime and the criminal justice system in film. Specifically, students will examine how crime films portray crime and the criminal justice system (i.e., the police, the courts, the administration of criminal law and the correctional system). Furthermore, the fundamental role played by film in defining what constitutes deviance and criminality in American society will be discussed. As such, comparisons will be made with actual crime statistics.

Juvenile Justice System

Students will examine the U.S. juvenile justice system including the processing of the juvenile offender from the delinquent act through treatment. Students will examine the strategies of prevention and effective treatment and the manner in which the social scientist researches, analyses and evaluates such methods.

Corrections in America

Students will understand the history, current practices and future directions of corrections. The course will examine how criminal justice social scientists develop, examine and evaluate the impact and successes of the various treatment practices in our correctional system.

Criminal Punishment

The course introduces students to theories and philosophies of criminal punishment. This course examines the major theories of punishment and corrections, including retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, restorative justice and rehabilitation. The development of these theories historically and how they have been shaped by the prevailing social and ethical context are explored. Sentencing and punishment structures and practices are described and compared. The impact of punishment theories on criminal justice policy and practice is discussed.

Legal Issues in Corrections

The course examines the societal, institutional, ethical and moral reasoning for the laws and regulations in the corrections field. The course contains details of the most relevant law and recent court decisions regarding corrections. The course provides an understanding of both prisoners' rights and the rights and liabilities of correctional personnel.

Introduction to Criminal Investigations

This course is an introductory-level course designed to present the techniques, skills and limitations of the modern crime laboratory. Students will become familiar with the nature of physical evidence along with the limitations of technology. In addition, students will learn the most common items of physical evidence encountered at the crime scene, along with the general services of a crime lab and the processing and legal considerations concerning this physical evidence. Students will address the testimonial, documentary and real evidence as it relates to the Federal Rules of Evidence to assure its admissibility in court. Students will understand the importance of evidence procedures to CJ personnel.

Policing in America

This is an introductory course devoted to the examination of the police and law enforcement in the United States. The course describes and examines the number and variety of policing agencies, their development and evolution, and the operations of police and law enforcement organizations. The course examines the range of U.S. police agencies, with an emphasis on local police. The course also introduces the student to how the discipline of criminal justice examines those roles and operation and evaluates their impact on society.

American Violence

This course provides a survey of high-profile violence in America. Students will examine the history of violence, its impact on public policy, societal reaction in workplace and school environments, police response and its coverage in the American media. Students will identify how social scientists examine the impact of high-profile violence and fear of crime on society.

Kids Who Kill

This course will include an analysis of the history and demographics of homicidal children and adolescents; theories and debates about psychosocial, genetic and metaphysical causation; legal issues and debates about punishment; and the evolution of the homicidal youth character in literature, film and television. The course will include a variety of speakers including researchers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. Students will visit an incarceration facility for violent youth offenders.

Criminal Justice Research Methods

Students will learn the logic of social research methods, survey research, methods of evaluation research, sampling and the contrast between quantitative and qualitative research.

Politics of Criminal Justice

The course examines political influences on criminal justice practice and policies including "partisan politics" and politics more broadly understood as a process of social decision-making. The course examines the role of elective politics on criminal justice policy, the selection of criminal justice actors and how criminal justice topics are understood and communicated.

Ethics in Criminal Justice

The course examines the ethical considerations in law enforcement, the courts and corrections. We will explore in depth the ethical foundations of punishment and ethics for the criminal justice professional and practitioner.

Criminal Law

This course examines the development, interpretation and application of substantive criminal law. Using primarily the Ohio Revised Code, the course material will include homicide, assault, sex, arson, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, theft, drug and conspiracy-related offenses.

Race, Class, and Crime

The criminal justice system is charged with defining criminal conduct, the creation of laws, enforcement and punishment. This course addresses the issues of racism and classism as they are played out in the American criminal justice system. We will explore and discuss the various research presented on race, class and the criminal justice system.

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