Criminal Justice Curriculum

Criminal Justice Career Guides

Criminal Justice Curriculum

This article will discuss what the typical student needs to know to achieve a criminal justice degree. Rather than go into specifics, as each school and program is unique, our objective is to give you a general overview of what you can expect to learn via home study.

The following is a sample of the criminal justice curriculum one would find to pursue a criminal justice degree.

Theories Of Criminal Behaviour  


This course examines the complex factors related to criminal behaviour. It focuses on understanding criminal and delinquent behavior from a multidisciplinary perspective (biological, psychological, social). The course emphasizes past and present theories. Besides, students will focus on the prevention, control, and treatment of criminal and delinquent behaviour.


Research Methods in Criminal Justice  

This course examines the effective methods of gathering, analysing, and reporting social data. It focuses on the purpose and logic of scientific inquiry and research techniques in criminal justice. The course emphasizes qualitative and quantitative research techniques, including data collection, experimental and non-experimental designs, measurement procedures, sampling methods, and research results interpretation.

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Courts And Legal Issues

This course identifies and examines issues relevant to the American court system. Focus is placed on jurisdiction, policies, and procedures of courts in the administration of criminal justice. Students are exposed to central principles of criminal law, which include the substantive elements of defining conduct for specific crimes and the various conditions for criminal liability. Additionally, the course introduces students to criminal issues and other democratic principles such as the accused’s constitutional rights in criminal proceedings.

Criminal Justice Systems and Processes  

This course examines the criminal justice system’s various components, including police, courts, corrections, and the juvenile justice system. The course focuses on the criminal justice system’s relationship to broad political, economic, and social issues. Students will be exposed to related agencies of the criminal justice system. 

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Ethics in the Criminal Justice System  

This course identifies and analyses the diverse ethical issues encountered in the criminal justice system. It provides an overview of historical trends related to corruption, an analysis of the causes of unethical practices, and a discussion of unprofessional conduct. Focus is placed on traditional ethical theories and their application to such topics as discretion, use of force, misconduct, authority and responsibility, civil obedience, privacy, and other relevant ethical issues. Students will explore plea bargaining, bail and detention, wiretapping, sentencing, prisoners’ rights, and parole. The course examines ethical practices that foster public trust in the criminal justice system.

Methods of Offender Treatment  

This course offers theories and techniques that may be employed within probation, parole, or prison boundaries. It explores their use in altering the attitudes, values, and behaviours of persons adjudicated guilty by the criminal justice system.

Juvenile Delinquency  

This course examines the nature and extent of delinquency. The focus is on competing explanatory models and theories. Besides, students will be exposed to the evaluation of prevention, control, and treatment programs.

Crisis Intervention  

Hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist bombings, airplane crashes, and increased violence in the workplace dramatize the need for law enforcement, other public service personnel, and clinicians to gain knowledge of crisis intervention. The purpose of this course is to provide the learner with a general understanding of crisis intervention strategies to enable the learner to experience the kinds of situations crisis workers may encounter.

Drugs, Alcohol, and Crime  

This course offers an examination of the history, pharmacology, health consequences, and crime-related aspects of mind-altering drugs. Emphasis is placed on the effects on criminal behaviour, the legal response to the problem, and the treatment and prevention of abuse.

Law Enforcement  

This course provides a comprehensive examination of the American law enforcement system at the federal, state, and local levels. Emphasis is on functions (law enforcement, order, maintenance, public service) and responsibilities. These include the preservation of constitutional rights and community relations. Additionally, students review the social, legal, economic, and political elements that affect law enforcement.

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Crime Prevention  

This course examines the theory, operation, and evaluation of crime prevention as a function of the criminal justice system. Students explore a variety of crime prevention techniques, including crime prevention through environmental design.

Constitutional Criminal Law

This course explores the basic concepts of criminal law. It involves the elements of criminal statutes, criminal responsibility, defences, and participants in the legal process. Additionally, students examine the historical basis of the American criminal law system.

Law and Social Control  

This course involves studying law and social structure, sociology of law, and formal control mechanisms. Students examine the philosophical, legal, and scientific modes of inquiry central to the study of law. 

Attention is given to fitting the appropriate method of investigation to social policy questions. The course explores the effectiveness of the law in developing social policy.

Legal Issues In Corrections  

This course provides an overview of the legal aspects of corrections. These include legal issues from conviction to release from incarceration. Specifically, the following points are examined: pre-sentence investigations, sentencing, probation and parole, imprisonment, and loss and restoration of civil rights. Emphasis is on the practical, legal problems confronting the probation and parole officer and the corrections administrator.

American Corrections  

This course offers a comprehensive examination of the U.S. correctional system. Particular focus is on punishment and rehabilitation theories, the historical antecedents of modern corrections, offender characteristics, sentencing, and community-based corrections. The course examines the operation and administration of correctional facilities, prison life, and contemporary debates concerning the role of corrections in society.

Human Behaviour  

This course examines the origins of human and deviant behavior from a multidisciplinary approach (biological, psychological, sociological, and criminological). The course addresses major theories and research, including case studies that illustrate deviant behavior, like drug abuse, suicide, mental illness, and sexual deviance.

Domestic Violence  

This course explores the theoretical issues, both past, and present, regarding domestic violence. Attention is given to the impact domestic violence has on the victim and society. The course also focuses on domestic violence’s legal aspects, including child abuse, and the critical factors associated with recognizing it. Students also examine current research relating to these issues.

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