Criminal justice is the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, and sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts.  Criminal Justice is an interdisciplinary field of study. Included are the contributions and approaches of many of the social and behavioral sciences, as well as areas of study such as law and ethics, as they relate to the phenomenon of crime.

Description of the Field

Students will receive a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree. Students are required to obtain 120 credit hours for the undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree. A minor is NOT required, but is recommended in Psychology, Sociology, or Human Services Management & Leadership (HSML). To obtain a minor, 18 credit hours are required.

Possible Employers

  • Law Enforcement
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Social Work
  • Military
  • Law
  • Parole/Probation
  • Psychology
  • Federal Government
  • Postsecondary Education
  • Counseling
  • Security
  • Local and State Government
  • Private Investigation
  • Victim Services
  • Not-for-profit Organizations
  • Legal Research
  • Casework
  • Administration

Possible Job Titles

  • Attorney
  • Judge
  • Criminal Investigator
  • Special Agent
  • Mediator
  • Adjudicator
  • Hearing Officer
  • Police Officer
  • Police Detective
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Bailiff
  • Border Patrol Agent
  • Juvenile Court Counselor
  • Sheriff
  • Drug Enforcement Agent
  • FBI Agent
  • CIA Agent
  • Coroner
  • Warden
  • Criminologist
  • Pre-Trial Services Officer
  • US Marshall
  • Park Ranger
  • Environmental Conservation Officer
  • Mental Health Social Worker
  • Substance Abuse Social Worker
  • Vocation Education Teacher
  • Immigration/Customs Inspector
  • Forensic Science Technician

Success Strategies

  • Seek courses or training in topics such as victimology, social problems, diversity issues, or grieving.
  • Consider learning a second language.
  • Maintain a blemish-free driving and criminal record.
  • Gain firearms and self-defense training.
  • Consider a double major or minor in the social sciences such as psychology, anthropology, sociology, business, or political science.
  • Develop strong research, computer, and writing skills.
  • Maintain a high grade point average to gain admittance to law school.
  • Obtain related training or certifications such as CPR, first aid, or EMT.
  • Complete an internship in a crime laboratory to gain experience in the forensic application of science.
  • Consider earning a master's degree in Forensic Science or related discipline.
  • Most entry-level positions for criminal justice majors reside with law enforcement and social service organizations. Obtain a double major in criminal justice and a hard science (biology, chemistry, or biochemistry) if interested in a career in forensics.
  • Obtain experience through volunteer, practicum, or internship opportunities.
  • Depending upon one's career goals, earn a master's degree in disciplines such as criminal justice, forensic science, social work, counseling, or business to obtain positions involving therapy, higher levels of administration, forensics, or research.
  • Earn the doctorate degree for university teaching positions.
  • Conduct informational interviews with professionals in fields of interest to learn more about opportunities.
  • Earn a graduate degree for post-secondary teaching opportunities.
  • Get a teaching certificate for elementary or secondary education. Gain a dual certification for increased opportunities.

Online Resources

Social Services Careers-
CJ Career Info-
Criminal Justice Profiles-
Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (Employment and Links)-
Law Enforcement Recruiting Directory-
Official Directory of State Patrol & State Police-
American Bar Association Career Corner-
LawInfo Career Center-
U.S. Courts-
Federal Bureau of Prisons-

Professional Associations

International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training-
International Association of Crime Analysts-
American Bar Association-
National Bar Association-
Association of Corporate Counsel-
American Correctional Association-
American Academy of Forensic Sciences-
American Society of Criminology-
National Association of Hispanics in Criminal Justice-
National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice–

What students are saying

"At UNT Dallas, I’m no longer the quiet guy who gets good grades but sticks to himself. I’m involved on campus, and working toward a career in criminal justice."

Jonathan, Class of 2018

Read Jonathan's story »