Criminology & Criminal Justice

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Criminal Justice Department


The department of criminology and criminal justice is one of the largest departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college on campus. We regularly have over 200 undergraduate and about 35 graduate students enrolled in our program. Our program continues to be popular, attracting students from Western New York and Southern Ontario, across the U.S., and abroad.

Our programs, faculty, and alumni have excellent reputations across the discipline, among peer institutions and with criminal justice employers. We are proud of what our program offers our students.

Niagara University’s Catholic and Vincentian traditions influence how we approach criminology and criminal justice. They encourage us to respect the dignity of every person and all faith traditions and contribute to social well-being, especially the poor and oppressed, in local communities and in the larger world. So values are central to studying criminology and criminal justice.

We intend for the course of study to be part of a liberal arts education that emphasizes citizenship-building and civic virtue. This is particularly important for those who will become criminal justice professionals or policy makers. So the program emphasizes the importance of critically thinking about civil and human rights issues as they relate to criminal justice policy and practice.

Our program is neither a narrowly-conceived technical program nor is it separated from real-world criminal justice. Ours is a broad-based social science approach to teaching and learning criminology and criminal justice that will introduce you to its theory, research, and practice. Our intent is to prepare students for the changes they are likely to confront in the areas of technology, social diversity and legal responsibilities.

We design our curriculum mindful of the recommendations of accreditation bodies, such as the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Our curriculum includes core courses in criminology, law enforcement, adjudication and law, and corrections as well as research methodology and a wide range of topical courses. This means that we approach criminology and criminal justice in a well-rounded way, exposing our students to the theory and research of criminology and criminal justice while always keeping current with criminal justice practice and what's happening in the field.

Our goal is to help students understand criminology and criminal justice, develop their own intellectual skills and career interests, and develop into the kind of job-seekers whom employers desire. So even if alumni choose to work in a field other than criminal justice they can be successful.

Our full-time, tenured faculty members are all active scholars credentialed with doctoral degrees in criminology and criminal justice. When joining the department, we must each earn tenure by undergoing a lengthy tenure-track process that requires us to demonstrate teaching excellence, scholarship, and service to our university, academic discipline and the community.

Our department is not a doctoral degree-granting program. So we do not rely upon graduate students to teach undergraduate courses as many institutions do. Full-time, tenured faculty teach courses throughout our undergraduate program and our graduate program.

We are committed and accomplished college-level teachers. Departmental faculty have been recognized for our teaching excellence. Some of us have been awarded Niagara University’s Outstanding Teacher Award. Teaching here gives us the opportunity to get to know our students in our roles as teachers as well as academic advisors to our undergraduate majors and graduate students.

Our adjunct faculty members are all highly successful criminal justice professionals credentialed with at least a master’s degree. They teach courses that allow them to integrate their professional experiences with relevant research and scholarship pertaining to a number of interesting aspects of criminology and criminal justice.

Most of them are alumni of our programs, having studied criminology and criminal justice with us before embarking on their successful professional careers. That they have returned to teach, most of them for many years, shows how highly they regarded the experience they had when they were here as students. It also shows how committed they are to teaching and sharing their professional experiences with our new students. It also shows how highly we regard their ability to teach.

Our students choose to do many things during their studies to enhance their experience. Some students participate in student groups like the Criminal Justice Student Association (CJA) or the pre-law club. The CJA is student run and lets criminal justice students socialize around criminal justice-related activities that interest them.

Many students pursue minor courses of study. These may be in closely related disciplines such as forensics science, law and jurisprudence, or computer crime minors. Or they may just be in fields that students find interesting, such as sociology, or help them develop their skills, such as a studying a language, developing communication skills, or taking courses in computer science.

Some students find that they are interested in some aspect of criminology and criminal justice that they wish to study in more depth outside of their regular coursework. They may do independent studies with a faculty advisor or Honors students may do Honors theses as research into special topics.

We do not require students to do internships. But many choose to do so because they are a good way for students to get a better sense of what they would or would not like to do after graduation. Field experiences also build students’ resumes Sometimes they lead to employment.

Many students are interested in becoming police officers. These students are welcome to apply to the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy (NCLEA ) located right here at Niagara University. This allows students to complete the police academy while completing their baccalaureate degrees. This makes graduates more attractive to law enforcement agencies hiring police officers.

We regularly offer faculty-led study abroad excursions each spring immediately after the academic year ends. These foreign excursions are brief and focus on criminal justice themes and activities.

The department’s student retention and graduation rates are stellar. They are always among the highest of comparable programs and institutions across Western New York. This means that a very high percentage of students who enroll with us as either freshmen or transfer students will successfully graduate with their baccalaureate degrees.

Afterwards they go on to work in a wide variety of careers both within and outside of criminal justice. Many go on to law school or stay on for graduate school. Some of our more highly-qualified students apply for entry into our graduate program via our B.S./M.S. program during their junior year.

Prospective students interested in learning more about undergraduate program can also contact Admissions and visit our campus. Ask about arranging a meeting with me or one of the other CRJ professor at our offices where we can have more time to talk. Family members are also welcome. Prospective students may also want to sit in on one of our classes and meet some future classmates. Also ask about one of our on-campus open houses. We'll be there and you can meet faculty and students for more information as well.