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Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Overview
  • Careers
  • New Freshmen
  • New Transfer
  • Illinois State Students

The Criminal Justice Sciences major provides students with a system orientation to the field of criminal justice. Study in Criminal Justice involves the application of the principles and the related behavioral and social issues in the field.

Students build knowledge in the areas of policing, courts, and corrections from a social science perspective. Students develop a knowledge base for an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the kinds of problems and circumstances that often result in criminality.

Students gain necessary skills in the area of interviewing, program development, community organization, planning and research so they can function in a professional position in the field of criminal justice.

Your degree will prepare you for entry-level positions in the justice system, as well as graduate or law school.

Why Study Criminal Justice Sciences?

Criminal Justice encompasses all areas of our justice system, beginning with the detection of a crime through the arrest, trial, sentencing and subsequent treatment and release of the offender. Criminal Justice as a field holds many varied career and interest options.

Many occupations today require a college-educated individual who has strong communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, leadership, and ethical decision-making skills. A major in Criminal Justice Sciences can provide you such a background.

Related Majors

Related Skills

  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to use research strategies and provide good analysis
  • Critical thinker with strong quantitative and analytical skills
  • Good ethics and moral skills
  • Understanding societies crime patterns and reaction to crime
  • Computer literacy
  • Strong background inhumanities
  • Knowledge of the legal structure
  • Strong management skills
  • Non-discriminatory behavior

Being Successful in the Field

  • Entry-level positions for criminal justice majors reside in corrections, court services, policing, business, and education.
  • Be willing to start in an entry-level job in order to prepare for more advanced career opportunities.
  • Supplement program of study with courses in business, psychology, or sociology. Coursework related to the hard sciences (biology, chemistry, or biochemistry) is required for career opportunities in forensics.
  • Depending upon one's career goals, earn a master's degree in disciplines such as criminal justice, social work, psychology, or business to obtain positions involving therapy, higher levels of administration, or research. Earn the doctorate degree for university teaching positions.
  • Obtain experience through volunteer and internship opportunities.
  • Conduct informational interviews with professionals in fields of interest to learn more about opportunities.

Related Fields


  • Correctional Officer
  • Correctional Counselor
  • Juvenile Justice Intern
  • Correctional Caseworker
  • Parole Agent
  • Inmate Services


  • State and federal correction facilities
  • County jails
  • Private correctional facilities
  • Halfway houses and post-release programs
  • Reintegration programs
  • Juvenile detention centers
  • Juvenile group homes


  • Seek courses in topics such as victimology, social problems, mental health, or diversity issues.
  • Supplement curriculum with courses in psychology, sociology, or social work.
  • Gain experience working with a juvenile population in any capacity (i.e., sports teams, summer camp counselor, parks and recreation programs, and community/religious youth groups).
  • Learn to work well with people of diverse backgrounds.
  • Consider learning a second language.
  • Maintain a blemish-free driving and criminal record.
  • Maintain a healthy and physically fit lifestyle.
  • Maintain good credit.
  • Obtain a master’s degree in criminal justice.
  • Earn a master’s degree in social work or counseling for therapy positions.
  • Obtain a master’s in business (MBA) for upper-level positions in facilities management or administration.

Court Services

  • Attorney
  • Probation Officer
  • Investigator
  • Pre-trial Services Officer
  • Legal Research
  • Court Liaison
  • Paralegal
  • Victim/Witness Advocate


  • Local, state, and federal courts
  • County or federal probation departments/court services
  • Law firms
  • Corporate legal departments
  • Public interest law organizations


  • Consider a double major or minor in the social sciences such as psychology, anthropology, sociology, or political science.
  • Attend a community college or an undergraduate or post secondary college that offers court reporting or paralegal certification programs.
  • Obtain a law degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).
  • Learn to do legal research through LexisNexis and West law.
  • Develop strong research, computer, and writing skills. Maintain a high grade point average to gain admittance to law school. Participate in mock trial groups.


  • Police Officer
  • Deputy Sheriff
  • State Trooper
  • Conservation Police Officer
  • Secretary of State Police
  • U.S. Capitol Police
  • U.S. Supreme Court Police
  • Customs Agent
  • Internal Revenue Agent
  • Postal Service Investigator
  • Secret Service Police
  • Bailiff
  • Border Patrol Agent
  • FBI
  • Deputy U.S. Marshal
  • Drug Enforcement Agent
  • FBI Agent
  • Investigator
  • Security
  • Telecommunications
  • Crime Analyst


  • City/County Government Organizations including: Police departments, Correction facilities, County sheriff departments, Liquor Control Commission
  • State Government Organizations including: State troopers, Penitentiaries, Office of Inspector General
  • Federal Government Organizations including: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Postal Service, Federal Marshals, Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Parks Service, Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Colleges and universities


  • Obtain related training or certifications such as CPR, first aid, or EMT.
  • Complete a formal police academy program (will happen after you are hired by a department).
  • Maintain a healthy and physically fit lifestyle.
  • Volunteer to work in a police department or campus safety department.
  • Obtain a double major in criminal justice and a hard science (biology, chemistry, or biochemistry) if interested in a career in forensics.
  • Consider earning a master's degree in Public Administration or Emergency Management..
  • Become familiar with the government application process.
  • Learn a second language.
  • Gain 3+ years of professional experience to be eligible for most federal positions.


  • Private Security
  • Consulting
  • Investigating
  • Global Intelligence
  • Global Security
  • Policy Analyst
  • Private Investigation
  • Internet Security
  • Loss Prevention/Asset Protection


  • Insurance companies
  • Banks
  • Private security companies
  • Private investigation companies
  • Software companies
  • Hotels and resorts
  • Hospitals
  • Transportation services
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Manufacturers
  • Online companies
  • Other large corporations, such as ADM and Abbott Laboratories


  • Minor in business or computer science.
  • Maintain good physical fitness.
  • Develop exceptional written and oral communication skills.
  • Seek leadership opportunities and develop strong interpersonal skills.
  • Get PERC card (if interested in private investigations or private security).
  • Obtain first aid and CPR certification.
  • Gain military experience and training.
  • Earn a graduate degree in business or law for upper-level positions.


  • Teaching
  • Research


  • Colleges and universities
  • Community colleges
  • AmeriCorps
  • Teach for America
  • Adult education providers
  • Public and private high schools


  • Earn a graduate degree for post-secondary teaching opportunities.
  • Get a teaching certificate for elementary or secondary education.
  • Gain years of work experience in the field and a Master’s and teach at a community college.
  • Gain a dual certification for increased opportunities.
  • Serve as a tutor to other students.
  • Develop strong written and oral communication skills.
  • Assist a professor with research.
  • Take additional coursework related to research and statistics.

Career Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Megan Kayfish  110 Student Services Building  (309) 438-0735 

Internship Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Roxanne Castleman  435 Schroeder Hall  (309) 438-4686 

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for freshman students for the fall semester is September 1-November 15. Applying early is encouraged, as the University must limit enrollment due to space at the University and in specific majors/programs. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for fall transfer students is September 1-January 15. For the spring semester, the preferred filing period is from April 1-August 1. You are encouraged to apply early in the preferred filing period for best consideration for admission into competitive majors. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Minimum GPA


Middle 50% GPA

2.68 - 3.33

Required Courses


Recommended Courses

  • Introduction to criminal justice sciences (CJS 101)
  • Fundamentals of psychology (PSY 110) or Introduction to psychology (PSY 111)
  • Intermediate-level composition (ENG 145)
  • Introduction to sociology (SOC 106)

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Tracy Wehrle  Schroeder 436  (309) 438-3222 

Middle 50% GPA

2.68 - 3.33

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Application Period

Admission decisions are made twice a year.

  • Fall Application Filing Period: February 1 to the first Friday of the first week of fall classes. The Department will notify students of their admission decisions by email prior to September 1.
  • Spring Application Filing Period: September 1 to the first Friday of the first week of spring classes. The Department will notify students of their admission decisions by email prior to February 1.

Application Information

Current students can use the Apply to Your Program tool on

Major Requirements

Admission is competitive and the department may limit enrollment due to space limitations. The following courses must be completed with Cs:

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice Sciences (CJS 101)
  • Fundamentals of Psychology (110) or Introduction to Psychology (PSY 111)
  • Composition as Critical Inquiry (ENG 101)
  • Introduction to Sociology (SOC 106)

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Tracy Wehrle  Schroeder 436  (309) 438-3222 
2016-08-03T11:23:40.188-05:00 2016