School of Criminology and Justice Studies

Criminal Justice Major

The University of Massachusetts Lowell offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. While our program seeks to provide students with a comprehensive knowledge of the criminal justice system, we are also committed to ensuring that students receive the benefits of a well-rounded liberal arts education. We not only familiarize students with the correlations of crime and the workings of the criminal justice system, but we also teach students how to apply this knowledge to related social problems and changing situations. This includes the development of critical thinking, communication skills and the ability to conceptualize ideas.

We provide students with multiple courses to represent these substantive areas. Our degree requirements  and core curriculum focus specifically on the areas below:

  • Criminal justice and juvenile justice processes (law, crime and administration of justice)
  • Criminology (the causes of crime and typologies)
  • Law enforcement (police organization, discretion, subculture, and legal constraints)
  • Law adjudication (criminal law, prosecution, defense, and court procedures and decision-making)
  • Corrections (incarceration, community-based corrections and treatment of offenders)
  • Prevention of crime (social, community, situational interventions and public policy)
  • Research and evaluation (principles of social science research and policy evaluation)
  • Technology and crime analysis (crime mapping, data analysis and criminal justice information systems)
Through our curriculum, the program emphasizes the mastery of seven (7) skill areas to promote the education and employability of our students. These are:

  • Writing skills: In undergraduate courses that the 300-level and above, writing skills are emphasized through course papers, essay examinations and other writing projects. Faculty spend large amounts of time grading and critiquing student writing and believe that the development of this skill is essential for employability and future success both within and outside of the criminal justice field.
  • Oratory skills: In both lower- and upper-level undergraduate classes, we also emphasize the development of verbal communication skills. These are encouraged through general and focused class discussions, class presentations of semester papers, and the use of in-class debates.
  • Research/Evaluation Methods skills: Due to the increasing emphasis on the ability to write grants, design demonstration and research projects and evaluate the success of program outcomes both within and outside of the criminal justice field, we offer students training in the art of research design. The undergraduate program requires that students take a research methods course that emphasizes logic, critical thinking, and the practical demands of planning and executing a research project. Many of our students over the years have assisted research faculty in several phases of actual research work including data collection, survey design, data coding and entry, and the preparation of human subjects’ protection materials.
  • Information and Technology skills: The majority of our students take our Information and Technology sequence to fulfill their skills requirement. We believe that it is important that students become conversant with the variety of tools that are now utilized by criminal justice professionals, policy makers, and researchers worldwide. Students need to develop the capability to approach technological change with confidence and skill if they are to be competitive in the job market and keep pace with the constantly changing criminal justice environment. Students choosing the technology sequence are qualified for a variety of jobs, often civilian positions in law enforcement agencies in the area, such as crime analysis and/or research and planning.
  • Quantitative Analysis skills: We increasingly encourage our students to gain familiarity with basic statistical concepts and data analysis skills. In addition to the problem-solving skills that can be developed through such courses, statistical knowledge and application is becoming a necessary skill for employment in many criminal justice organizations.
  • General Knowledge of Criminal Justice Administration: The chief objective behind our school’s core requirements is to familiarize students with the workings of key components of the criminal justice system. One of the most valuable experiences for our undergraduates with little or no criminal justice experience has been an internship or practicum.
  • Specific Concentrations in Criminal Justice Topic Areas: Our school is committed to providing a better understanding of social problems and policy. In an effort to provide a focus on one of the many key areas of the criminal justice system, we offer six optional degree concentrations within the Criminal Justice Major:
Like other academic fields, our school does not offer courses nor award credit for vocational training courses designed for specific job preparation or advanced job training. Such courses are characterized by training for specific job skills rather than education involving conceptual learning.  Instead, we use either a three (3) or six (6) credit Internship/Field Studies course for upper-level students as a mechanism for students to assess their interest and apply their classroom knowledge in an area of criminal justice.

In addition, students majoring in criminal justice will fulfill a professional skills requirement. This consists of either attaining intermediate proficiency in a foreign language, or completing four courses in information and technology. In the event that student chooses a foreign language skill, the school recommends Arabic or Spanish. In addition, a strength of our school is its emphasis on students developing applied skills in areas such as statistics and data analysis.

Degree Requirements

The Criminal Justice major consists of at least thirty-six (36) credits in criminal justice courses (not to exceed 60 credits in criminal justice courses), of which at least five (5) courses must be at the 300-level or above.  In accordance with University policies, students MUST have a minimum of 120 credits for graduation. Students majoring in Criminal Justice must maintain at least a 2.200 grade point average (GPA) overall and at least a 2.500 GPA in their Criminal Justice courses. Transfer students will also have to meet residency requirements that have been established by the University. Information on residency requirements can be found here.

The following degree requirements  pertain to students who entered Fall 2012 and beyond.  Students who entered prior to Fall 2012 can view their degree requirements here.

Required Courses (19 credits)

59.101 First Year Experience Seminar*
44.101 The Criminal Justice System
44.141 Police Process
44.151 Introduction to Corrections
44.221 Criminology
44.234 Criminal Law
44.390 Criminal Justice Research Methods

*Note: 59.101 First Year Experience Seminar is only required for Freshman entering after Spring 2010. Transfer students are not required to complete this course.

**Note: 44.395 Statistics in Criminal Justice is required for a student’s acceptance into the 5-year BS/MA program. Students must receive a minimum grade of ‘B’ or better in this course and have a minimum overall GPA of 3.000.

Criminal Justice Electives (18 credits)

  • A minimum of six (6) additional criminal justice courses are required, at least three (3) of which need to be 300-level or above.
  • Students who choose to have a concentration  are obligated to complete the specific requirements for that particular minor. Completion of a minor results in eighteen (18) criminal justice credits.

Criminal Justice Professional Skills Requirement (12 credits)

Students majoring in Criminal Justice are required to meet proficiency standards in one of the following:

  • Intermediate Proficiency in a Modern Foreign Language 
    • Students should consult policies in the University Catalog under the heading of University Academic Policies: Language Requirement  for a list of avenues by which certification of language proficiency may be pursued.
  • Criminal Justice Information and Technology
    • Students must demonstrate proficiency by passing the following:
      • 44.203 Technology and the Criminal Justice System
      • 44.395 Statistics in Criminal Justice
      • 44.398 Criminal Justice Data Analysis
      • One of the following:
        44.397 Crime Mapping
        91.113 Exploring the Internet
Students are welcome to complete both options in the professional skills area. Students who are interested in this route should discuss the best course of action with their advisor.

Six (6) additional courses for the Criminal Justice/Social Sciences (CJ/SS) option or the selection of a second major or minor (18-36 credits).

Students are encouraged to consider including the completion of a second major or minor relevant to their interests and future goals. Selection of a second major or minor may require more than six (6) additional courses. At least two (2) out of the six (6) courses must be at the 300-level or above regardless of the option selected. Selection of a second major or minor is NOT required. For a list of undergraduate minors please go here and for a list of undergraduate majors please go here. Students who decide to declare a second major or minor must fill out a Declaration of Second Major/Minor Form  and then submit that paperwork to the department in which they are looking to add the major/minor.

Those students who choose not to do a second major or minor must do the CJ/SS option. The CJ/SS option requires the following courses:
  • Two (2) Criminal Justice OR social science courses.
    • Social science courses may be taken from the following departments:
      • 41.xxx Legal Studies
      • 46.xxx Political Science
      • 47.xxx Psychology
      • 48.xxx Sociology
      • 49.xxx Economics
    • These can be any level and can be any combination (i.e., 2 CJ courses, 2 SS courses, or 1 CJ and 1 SS course).
  • Two (2) 300-level or above social science courses.
  • Two (2) 300-level or above Criminal Justice courses.
Free Electives

Students must take electives outside of Criminal Justice totaling their remaining credit requirements (i.e., the number of credits remaining to reach the 120 credit requirement for graduation or residency).

Degree Concentrations

Students have the option of selecting one or more concentrations during their course of study. Selection of more than one concentration must be approved by the student’s advisor and will depend on that individual student’s planned course of study. Concentrations are NOT required and those students who do not wish to concentrate in a particular subject/field will complete a general concentration.


Students may choose from the following concentrations:

Students who do not wish to concentrate in a particular subject/field must complete a General Concentration. General Concentrations consist of the following requirements (18 credits):
  • Three (3) Criminal Justice Electives that can be any level.
  • Three (3) Criminal Justice Electives that need to be 300-level or above.

Criminal Justice majors may complete a concentration in the area of policing by completing coursework based on the following requirements (18 credits):
  • Required Courses (6 credits):
    • 44.347 Police Innovations
    • 44.373 Issues in Police Administration
  • Police Concentration Electives – Choose four (4) of the following courses and no more than three (3) can be lower-level) (12 credits):
    • 44.203 Technology and the Criminal Justice System
    • 44.233 Criminal Procedure
    • 44.248 Terrorism
    • 44.261 Juvenile Delinquency
    • 44.280 Criminal Justice Ethics
    • 44.327 Violence in America
    • 44.348 Advanced Seminar in Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism
    • 44.370 Criminal Justice Management
    • 44.385 Crime and Mental Illness
    • 44.397 Crime Mapping
    • 44.401 Substance Abuse and Crime
    • 44.422 Victimology
    • 44.495 Criminal Justice Field Studies (6 credits – counts as 2 electives)
    • 44.496 Criminal Justice Internship

*Note: Students admitted prior to Fall 2012 who have selected the Police Concentration are required to take 44.141 Police Process and only choose three (3) electives from the list provided above.

Corrections Concentration

Criminal Justice majors may complete a concentration in the area of corrections by completing coursework based on the following requirements (18 credits):

  • Required Courses (6 credits):
    • 44.350 Institutional Corrections
    • 44.351 Community-Based Corrections
  • Corrections Concentration Electives – Choose four (4) of the following courses (12 credits):
    • 44.203 Technology and the Criminal Justice System
    • 44.327 Violence in America
    • 44.370 Criminal Justice Management
    • 44.385 Crime and Mental Illness
    • 44.387 Criminal Mind and Behavior
    • 44.388 Forensic Psychopathology
    • 44.401 Substance Abuse and Crime

Violence Concentration

Criminal Justice majors may complete a concentration in the area of violence (cause, prevention and control) by completing coursework based on the following requirements (18 credits):

  • Required Course (3 credits):
    • 44.327 Violence in America
  • Violence Concentration Electives – Choose five (5) of the following courses (15 credits):
    • 44.248 Terrorism
    • 44.326/44.365 Hate Crimes
    • 44.341 International Perspectives on Crime and Crime Control
    • 44.342 Criminal Profiling
    • 44.343 Forensic Psychology
    • 44.360 Gender, Race, and Crime
    • 44.385 Crime and Mental Illness
    • 44.387 Criminal Mind and Behavior
    • 44.388 Forensic Psychopathology
    • 44.422 Victimology
    • 44.477 Intimate Partner Violence
    • 44.478 Child Maltreatment

Criminal Justice majors may complete a concentration in the area of information technology by completing coursework based on the following requirements (18 credits):
  • Required Course (3 credits):
    • 44.203 Technology and the Criminal Justice System
  • Information Technology Concentration Electives – Choose five (5) of the following courses (15 credits):
    • 44.237 Civil Liberties, Law and Politics
    • 44.280 Criminal Justice Ethics
    • 44.380 Selected Topics in Criminal Justice
    • 44.397 Crime Mapping
    • 44.398 Criminal Justice Data Analysis
    • 44.493 Issues in Technology and Security

Criminal Justice majors may complete a concentration in the area of homeland security by completing coursework based on the following requirements (18 credits):
  • Required Courses (9 credits):
    • 44.115 Introduction to Homeland Security
    • 44.213 Emergency Management
    • 44.248 Terrorism
  • Homeland Security Concentration Electives – Choose three (3) of the following courses (9 credits):
    • 44.312 Security Management
    • 44.340 Criminal Networks
    • 44.348 Advanced Seminar in Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism
    • 44.397 Crime Mapping
    • 44.493 Issues in Technology and Security