This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. We may add courses that expose our students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning. We may also add content to the general education program that focuses on racial literacy and a racial literacy graduation requirement, and may receive notification of additional program approvals after the launch. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

Nancy Ann Morris, Ph.D.
Associate professor and program chair

The major objective of this degree program is to prepare students for effective professional careers in criminal justice, forensic crime scene investigation, public service and other helping professions, and/or prepare them to pursue studies in law and other related graduate programs. Career opportunities are available in federal, state, local and private justice-related endeavors. These careers include law enforcement, crime scene investigation, juvenile justice, corrections and the courts.

This program also prepares students to enter law school or to pursue graduate studies in criminal justice or in several of the human services fields, usually related to justice. This program offers and encourages in-service justice employees and others to enhance their professional career development through higher education.

Students majoring in criminal justice receive a broad educational background, professionally oriented courses in their special area of interest and various skill courses designed to enhance their career opportunities. Through core courses and electives in the major, students have the opportunity to orient their course work to fit their educational objectives and career plans.

It is essential that students seek and follow the advice of an adviser in the progression of the core courses, the selection of criminal justice electives and in the identification of complementary courses in other disciplines that can benefit the student and assist in the accomplishment of career goals. Whether the student is interested in general criminal justice, policing, crime scene investigation, legal studies, juvenile justice or corrections, faculty and advisers can assist in identifying the appropriate curriculum.

The justice concentration is offered for those students who are interested in a broad theoretical and practical education in the field of criminal justice.

Student learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

  1. Students will be able to identify and understand the structure and job functions within police organizations, models of policing, constitutional rights associated with policing, police corruption and ethics, procedural justice and its impacts on police legitimacy, and use of force. Students will develop the ability to apply these principles to actual cases and solve problems.
  2. Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the types and sources of law, jurisdiction, structure and functions of state and federal courts, the impact of discretion, the dynamics of courthouse justice, the role of courtroom workgroup dynamics, and steps in criminal cases, including sentencing issues and post-conviction relief. Students will develop the ability to apply knowledge to actual cases and solve problems.
  3. Students will develop knowledge of the history and philosophies of punishment and the influence of the Enlightenment period on the development of the Positivist School, and identify the structure of jails and prisons, including the role of correctional officers and management, community corrections programs, probation and parole, preventive detention and bail systems, and basic inmates rights. Students will develop the ability to apply these principles to actual cases and solve problems.