Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

Students who choose the Criminal Justice major at SDSU study the development, functions, and structure of the criminal justice system and how this system attempts to control crime and delinquency in our society. In the course of study, students gain a more complete understanding of the complex nature of crime, contemporary issues faced by criminal and juvenile justice practitioners, and the effectiveness of the justice system’s efforts to prevent and control crime in American society. The Criminal Justice major will appeal to undergraduates interested in preparing for a career in policing, corrections, law, or a related field; practitioners who are currently employed in criminal or juvenile justice; and individuals who are generally interested in studying how public policies about crime and its control are created and implemented.

Lower-division preparation for major coursework for the Criminal Justice major includes courses in Sociology, Statistics, and American and California government and politics. Upper-division coursework includes classes in law and society, criminal behavior, systems of justice, and criminal justice policy and planning. Criminal justice electives are offered in the areas of correctional administration, court administration, juvenile justice and delinquency, and law enforcement.

Graduates are prepared for career positions in a variety of settings. At the local level, graduates can find employment in city police departments, loss prevention, county sheriff's departments, probation, city administration, and criminal justice planning agencies. At the state level, graduates may seek positions with the Highway Patrol, Attorney General's Office, California Youth Authority, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and related agencies. At the federal level, graduates can be employed in agencies such as the FBI, Border Patrol, Secret Service, ATF, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the CIA. The major also provides a good foundation for students interesting attending law school or pursuing other graduate school programs.

Contact Information



Beginning with the Fall 2018 semester, the 36 unit criminal justice curriculum consists of five core CJ required courses, two Public Administration (PA) elective courses, four CJ or Related elective courses and one Practicum course that are structured around four areas of study: (1) Law and Society, (2) Criminal Behavior, (3) Criminal Justice Systems, (4) Criminal Justice Policy and Planning. The core Criminal Justice courses, CJ 301, CJ 302, CJ 303 and CJ 540, all require CJ 300 as a prerequisite. Two upper-division courses in Public Administration ranging from PA 300 to PA 599 and four CJ or Related elective courses are required to complete the major. Finally, the program is completed with a Practicum course that emphasizes a practical experience either in the form of an internship, senior thesis, or other practicum experience. Students that are interested in exploring a particular area in greater depth are encouraged to take their electives from one of the following areas, Area I: Law in Society, Area II: Crime and Behavior and Area III: Criminal Justice Systems.

Prerequisites for the Criminal Justice major must be completed with a grade of “C” or higher

  • POLS 102 Introduction to American and California Government and Politics
  • SOC 101 Introductory Sociology: The Study of Society
  • SOC 102 Introduction to Social Problems
  • SOC 201 Elementary Social Statistics (or equivalent)

A grade point average of 2.00 or higher must be maintained in the Criminal Justice major courses.

  • CJ 300 Crime, Law and Justice
  • CJ 301 Law in Society
  • CJ 302 Crime and Behavior
  • CJ 303 Criminal Justice and Social Control
  • CJ 304 Race, Equity, and the Criminal Justice System
  • CJ 540 Applied Planning, Research and Program Evaluation in Criminal Justice

Select two Public Administration electives ranging from PA 300 to PA 599

Selected from the courses listed below. Please note that at least two out of the three electives selected must be CJ courses.

  • CJ 305 Professions, Practices and Ethics
  • CJ 310 Law Enforcement Admin
  • CJ 320 Admin of Criminal Law
  • CJ 330 Contemporary Correctional Admin
  • CJ 333 Judicial Admin
  • CJ 510 Contemporary Issues in Law Enforcement Admin
  • CJ 520 Prosecutorial Function
  • CJ 531 Probation and Parole
  • CJ 543 Community Resources in Criminal Justice
  • CJ 570 Organized Crime

Other courses from other specialized areas include:

  • PSY 340 Social Psychology
  • PSY 350 Abnormal Psychology
  • SOC 445 Sociology of Deviance
  • WMNST 370 Women, Law and Politics

Select from one of the following:

  • CJ 497 Investigation and Report
  • CJ 498 Internship in Criminal Justice
  • CJ 543 Community Resources in Criminal Justice (can be used as a CJ elective if not being used for the Practicum requirement)

Students must pass the Writing Proficiency Assessment (WPA) with a score of 10 or above, or complete one of the approved upper division writing courses with a grade of C (2.0) or better.

You can view more detailed information regarding the Criminal Justice major in the SDSU General Catalog. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study. The SDSU General Catalog contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the University. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation events.

SDSU General Catalog