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Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice




Program Description

This program is for students seeking an in-depth scientific study of crime, criminal behavior, crime scene investigation theories, and the importance of scientific analysis as evidence presented in the criminal justice system. Forensic science is the application of scientific methods and analysis of scientific data to support the law. This program focuses on the study of scientific theories and analyzing these theories associated with crime scene investigation techniques. Students will study the theory of forensic science, including the nature and scope of the discipline, the application of forensic science to crime, police investigation and the adjudication process, and the legal and ethical issues associated with forensics. Students will also examine the importance of scientific analysis of physical evidence and its place in the judicial system. Students receive a solid foundation of course work that provides the content and analytical and communication skills required for working in complex criminal justice occupations.

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Program Objectives

In addition to the institutional and general education level learning objectives, the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensics also seeks the following specific learning outcomes of its graduates. With reference to each of the respective areas of criminal justice, graduates in this degree program will be able to:

  • Describe the functions of police, courts and corrections.
  • Identify the basic methodological approaches in gaining criminological knowledge.
  • Critically evaluate the various methodologies used to measure crime.
  • Explain the socio-political nature of defining certain acts as criminal behavior.
  • Describe and analyze the political and public administrative aspects of law enforcement organizations.
  • Analyze and compare major criminology theories and trends in criminal activity.
  • Conduct research associated with criminal justice and criminology theories.
  • Demonstrate ethical criminal justice research practices.
  • Outline theories and practices associated to crime control efforts.
  • Discuss theories and practice associated with crime scene investigation.
  • Evaluate different theories and techniques for recovering potential evidence.
  • Discuss theories of modern analytical chemistry as applied to forensic problems.
  • Describe the role of data analysis in testing criminological theories and assessing crime reduction efforts.
  • Display clear knowledge of ethical concerns when physical evidence is presented to the criminal justice system.
  • Describe and analyze advancements made in law enforcement forensics practices.

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The criminal justice degree program provides graduates with an in depth understanding of areas such as juvenile issues, causes of crime and criminal behavior, corrections and incarceration, investigative procedures/techniques, and forensics. Some professions pursued by graduates may include police officer, sheriff, deputy, ATF agent, compliance officer, corrections officer, court clerk, crime scene investigator, criminologist, customs agent, DEA agent, FBI agent, CIA agent, forensics, private investigator, security, probation officer, secret service, U.S. marshals, as well as many other occupations.

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Useful Skills within the Criminal Justice Field

Listening - Paying attention to what other people are saying, and taking time to understand the points being made.

Negotiating -
Bringing people together to discuss and resolve differences.

Reasoning -
Using logic to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

Social Perceptiveness -
Being aware of the reactions of others, and understanding why they react the way that they do.

Speaking -
Talking, giving speeches, or speaking in group settings to convey information, explain ideas, or give instructions.

Teaching -
Teaching others how to do something.

Persuasion -
Persuading, encouraging and motivating others to accept your ideas.

Decision Making -
Weighing out the options in a situation or a problem and logically choosing the best course of action.

Helping -
Actively looking for ways to help people.


Career Options

To identify what education or training is typical, use the O*Net hyperlinks below and click on “Job Zone.” In addition, seek out the advice of fellow students and alumni working in the industry, using our mentoring program on The Quad (for current students and alumni only) or by speaking with a career coach.

As with all majors, the education you receive serves as a foundation of knowledge that prepares you for what you may face in the professional world. The career field you chose may require additional education or experience.

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary
Fish and Game Wardens
Immigration and Customs Inspectors
Judicial Law Clerks
Law Teachers, Postsecondary
Parking Enforcement Workers
Police Detectives
Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
Police Patrol Officers

Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators, and Hearing Officers
Chief Executives
Court Clerks
Criminal Investigators and Special Agents
Environmental Compliance Inspectors
Fire Inspectors
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs
Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Career Spotlight: Probation Officer

The U.S. Department of Labor defines a Probation Officer as “someone who works with and monitors offenders to prevent them from committing new crimes.” 

Types of Probation Officers: 

Adult probation officers
Juvenile probation officers
Parole officers
Correctional treatment specialists 

Education and Other Requirements

While each state, county, or agency has different requirements, most require a bachelor’s degree, a minimum age requirement of 21, and the ability to pass various background and drug testing. 


Training for probation officers varies by agency, and is typically sponsored by the local, state, or federal government; many require candidates to pass a certification test. 

For more information on becoming a probation officer, check with your local and state correctional facilities.

Getting Started: Internships

Gaining real life experience is an ideal way to start a new career. The career services website has an extensive list of internships and fellowships. Browse through the internships organized by interest or by federal program. 

There are government-organized internship programs which provide students or recent graduates the opportunity to gain real-life experience. Many require students to maintain either a half-time or full-time student status. The best ways to identify potential opportunities such as these is to contact branch offices directly, to search, or to look at the agencies’ career portals. Keep in mind that these positions are not always posted online, so direct contact with the agency is key. 

The Pathways Program is a federal initiative that offers internship programs for current students as well as training and career development opportunities for recent graduates. Recent graduates must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans; due to their military service obligation, they will have up to six years to apply). The internship program for current students replaces the replaces the former Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)
PMF is designed to attract outstanding federal service members from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs. To be eligible, an individual must be a graduate student completing or expected to complete, during the current academic year, an advanced degree. Graduate students who have had their degree conferred in the preceding two years from the opening of the vacancy announcement are also eligible for PMF. 

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
WRP is coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to provide summer work experience and, in some cases, full-time employment to college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other federal agencies, each of which makes a commitment to provide summer jobs and a staff recruiter. Each year, recruiters interview about 1,500 students with disabilities at college and university campuses across the nation and develop a database listing the qualifications of each student.

Getting Hired: Government Agencies, Organizations, and Search Engines

There are several government agencies and organizations that seek candidates with degrees in criminal justice. The list below provides a few places one might find employment specific to this degree.

Federal Agency Examples
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Federal Marshals
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
National Parks Service
Postal Service
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

County Sheriff's Departments
Crime Labs
Law Offices
Local and State Police Departments
NYPD Employment Opportunities
State and Local Courts
Systems Application & Technologies, Inc. (SA-TECH)

While many of the major job search engines will have several positions to choose from, the list below are specific to the criminal justice field.

Search Engines:
cjcentral: Prentice Hall's Careers in Criminal Justice
Police Employment
Security Jobs Network


Keeping Current: Professional Organizations and Associations
Conferences and Expositions
Get Connected: Social Media and Publications

Criminal Justice Program – Facebook, LinkedIn
Public Safety Program – LinkedIn
Security & Intelligence – Twitter
In Public Safety – AMU sponsored blog

Quick Links

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Explore Concentrations

  • Forensics
Forensics Total Credits - 121 Hours
Core Requirements
34 Hours
Criminal Justice Administration
3 hours

The course will provide the student with an overview of the American criminal justice system as an interdisciplinary social science involving aspects of criminology, sociology, law, and political science. This course will also examine the complexity of the American Criminal Justice System through its administrative process.

Research Methods of Criminal Justice & Security
3 hours

This is an introductory criminal justice research methods course that will provide students with an understanding of the research process, allowing students to develop the skills, knowledge and strategies needed to read, interpret, and evaluate published research. The course will explore quantitative, qualitative, and combined research approaches. Students will prepare work requiring critical analysis of recent published research in the criminal justice field. Students will examine the importance of theory as it relates to criminal justice research and differentiate between major research approaches, designs, and data collection techniques in recently published research in the criminal justice field. Students shall be introduced to social science academic writing and documentation styles.

3 hours

This course examines criminal behavior in relationship to various criminological theories and analyses these theories through a historical context. These theories include classical theories and current theories of crime as they relate to criminal involvement. Additionally this course will analyze society's response to criminal behavior through the assessment of legal approaches and the various aspects of the criminal justice system. Additionally types of criminal behavior and the systems reaction to these crimes will be distinguished. Research affecting social policy and public crime concerns are examined including social problems and social responsibility perspectives as well.

Criminal Investigation
3 hours

This course is an analytical examination of crime detection and solution, including such topics as crime scene procedures, physical evidence, interviews, field notes and reporting, follow-up investigation, interrogation, and rules of evidence. Specific detail is given to investigations involving homicide, sex-related offenses, and crimes against children, robbery, larceny, vehicle thefts, computer crime, environmental crime, arson, and drug abuse. There is an in depth analysis of investigation methodologies addressing inductive and deductive reasoning to assess the decision making process to solve crimes.

Ethics in Criminal Justice
3 hours

This course concentrates on the major functions, structures and processes that underline ethical issues within the American Criminal Justice System. This course will explore the structure and nature of the various types of ethical debates within the American judicial system. There will be an assessment of the ethics in criminal justice, as it explores the issues of morality, virtue, honesty, and making ethical decisions in the United States criminal justice system. Assessments of various issues will be examined as they relate to decision making and ethics.

Criminal Profiling
3 hours

This course explores criminal behavior, its motivation, and the environmental influences and patterns of offending. Other topics examined are the approaches to profiling and how these investigative techniques are applied to helping solve crimes. This course will address aspects of behavior, taking into consideration the definition of criminal profiling as the inference of offender traits from physical and/or behavioral evidence. Evaluations will be made of the history, theories, and investigative techniques regarding profiling crime offenders, using a unique blend of both social science, as well as psychological and legal research. It includes legal case excerpts to demonstrate the role of the profiler (investigator). This provides the student a solid knowledge foundation of the integral relationship between the profiling techniques and theories of criminal behavior and the court system. It is recommended students take either CMRJ101 or CMRJ306 prior to enrolling in this course.

Crime Analysis
3 hours

This course will examine contemporary practices for analysis and measurement of crime including the use of geographical information systems (GIS) to map various aspects of crime. Modern crime analysis focuses on reducing crime and improving police efficiency by illustrating the impact of crime on the community and community impact on crime through the use of the SARA (scanning, analysis, response, & assessment) problem-solving model. Crime analysis facilitates informed decision making on criminal activity and prevention, thereby being instrumental in helping society learn the linkages between crime and other factors such as poverty or drug abuse. Additionally there is a review of the crime analysis function within the law enforcement organization and a demonstration of how to develop, implement, and operate a crime analysis unit.

3 hours

The purpose of this course is to educate students regarding the everyday operations of state and federal crime laboratories and the forensic services provided by these organizations. The course is scientifically oriented and will concentrate on the significance of forensic evidence and various testing procedures and instrumentation used to analyze biological, chemical, pattern, and trace items of evidence. Another focus will be the proper recognition, collection and preservation of physical evidence obtained from systematic searches of crime scenes.

Constitutional Law
3 hours

This course is an introduction to Constitutional Law, the Supreme Court, and other aspects of the legal system using the case analysis approach. Its concentration is on the study and analysis of United States Constitution. It emphasizes an in-depth study of the Bill of Rights, specifically those rights pertaining to Civil Liberties. Topics include: the historical events that led to the development of the Constitution; principles governing the operation of the Constitution and the role of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Judiciary; characteristics and powers of the three branches of government; development of due process and individual protections to include right to speech, freedom of religion, right to bear arms, right to vote, and right to counsel.

Criminal Law
3 hours

This course familiarizes the student with the basic law, procedures and rules that govern the criminal justice system in America. It is designed to produce students who can understand, appreciate and discuss the benefits and problems with the criminal justice system in America today. The students will become conversant with the Bill of Rights, basic criminal law terminology and procedures. The course emphasizes the principles of criminal liability and the acts, mental state, and attendant circumstances that are necessary ingredients in crimes against persons or property or in offenses involving theft, fraud, drugs, morality and decency, public peace, or public justice.

Introduction to Chemistry with Lab
4 hours

This course introduces students to the principles of basic chemistry, the terminology, methodology and worldview of chemistry, and the practical application to everyday living. Topics are both descriptive and mathematical and include acids and bases, atomic structure, chemical equations and reactions, chemical language and nomenclature, gases, molecular structure, solution chemistry, chemical mathematics, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. The chemistry lab is designed for students to learn how to make qualitative and quantitative observations about physical and chemical phenomena, to make calculations, and to test their own reasoning. Students will acquire skills in laboratory techniques and thought processes through interactive virtual laboratories designed to help reinforce and build upon the concepts presented in the lecture portion of the class.

Concentration Requirements
24 Hours
Rape and Sexual Violence
3 hours

This course will explore the sociological and psychological perspectives of sexual crimes as well as examine the legal and forensic aspects of rape. The impact rape has on its victims and society's reactions to sexual violence will be analyzed not only within the United States but around the world. Additionally the class will focus on aspects of causation and rehabilitation of rape crime as well as the proper collection, preservation and analysis of evidence in rape crimes.

DNA in the Criminal Justice System
3 hours

This course will provide an historical overview of the concepts and theories associated with forensic analysis of DNA for the purpose of criminal investigations. Ethical issues involved in the use of DNA as criminal and civil evidence will be discussed as well as the protocol and procedures used by state and federal crime laboratories. Students will examine several forensic criminal case studies to evaluate the pros and cons of using DNA analysis as a tool to solve crimes.

Fingerprint Analysis
3 hours

This course will explore the historical development of fingerprint analysis as well as discuss the future technologies being developed to enhance fingerprint evidence in the American criminal justice system. The class will use several case studies of real crimes in which fingerprint analysis made a major impact on these crimes and the system.

Bloodspatter Pattern Analysis
3 hours

This course will provide the student with a basic understanding Bloodstain Pattern Analysis and its use in criminal investigations. Students will learn how to identify bloodstains using the Bloodstain Classification Taxonomy and the importance of the scientific method in bloodstain pattern analysis. This course will discuss proper documentation and collection methods of bloodstains and the legal standards that support bloodstain evidence as well as courtroom presentation. Students will examine several bloodstain patterns from crime scenes and determine the type of stain and their relevance to the criminal case.

Firearms Forensics Investigation
3 hours

This course will explore the theories and practices used in Firearms Forensics identification and investigations. Students will learn about the different types of firearms, ammunition and the basic principles of ballistics. Topics explored will be the historical development and future of firearms forensics and how this science helps law enforcement officers identify weapons used to commit crimes. Students will conduct case studies on real criminal cases in which firearms forensics science played a major role in helping solve the crime.

Voice Stress Analysis
3 hours

This fundamental course will provide the student with a basic understanding of the concepts of a polygraph test, voice stress analysis and related instruments for the detection of deception. Topics will include the history of voice stress analysis as well as a review of criminal and civil cases that have had an impact on the detection of deception. The limitations of the science as a forensic discipline will be assessed. Recent developments in the science of detection will be explored as well as current legal challenges involving voice stress analysis.

The Pathology of Death Investigations
3 hours

This course will examine contemporary practices for investigating sudden, unexpected and violent death. Two major topics will be explored: the first focusing on the manner of death (the social circumstances under which the death occurs), the second focusing on the cause of death (the particular material actions which result in death).The following types of deaths will be considered: asphyxial, blunt and sharp force, firearms, natural causes, mass disaster, child abuse, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and suicide. Estimating the postmortem interval and identification of human remains will also be considered. It is recommended that students take CMRJ306 before enrolling in this course.

Pre Reqs: Criminal Investigation(CMRJ306)

Criminal Legal Process
3 hours

This is a procedural law course which includes an overview of the law of arrests, search, and seizure, the making of bail, adjudication, pre- and post-trial activities and the nature of plea bargaining. Substantial emphasis is given the constitutional protections afforded through the Bill of Rights. This course examines procedures used by American police, prosecutors, and courts to bring criminal cases to trial and explores some of the defendant’s rights at trial and on appeal. The course will consider the Common Law, constitutional, and statutory bases of procedural practices in American criminal law. The student will be exposed to a comprehensive overview of the processes involved in the use of criminal evidence including rules of evidence; arrests, searches, and seizures; interrogations, confessions, and non-testimonial evidence, impeachment and cross-examination of witnesses; opinion evidence; hearsay evidence; and articles and exhibits of evidence.

Institutional Requirements
3 Hours
Foundations of Online Learning
3 hours

This course is designed to provide a solid foundation for undergraduate study in the online environment. Students will be introduced to the tools and resources available in the online classroom and campus. Students will be introduced to online research, formatting, and citation styles. APUS policy and procedure is addressed. There is an emphasis on communication to assist students in the transition to the online environment.

General Education
38 Hours

Final Program Requirement
4 Hours
Senior Seminar course should be taken as last course in the program.
Forensic Law Enforcement Capstone
4 hours

This course is designed to be the final class taken in the B.S. in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensics program. The class will be a 16 week course during which students will be required to complete work which will demonstrate a mastery of their program. It is designed to be a meaningful culmination of their learning and to assess their level of mastery of the stated outcomes of their degree requirements. Topics covered during this senior seminar will allow students to review, analyze, and integrate the work the student has completed towards their degree. NOTE: All required, core, and major courses must be completed prior to enrollment in this course. SENIOR standing is required.

General Electives
18 Hours
Electives are typically courses available at your degree level that are not currently required as a part of your degree program/academic plan. Please visit the catalog to view a complete listing of courses.

Total Credits (121 Hours)
Program Completion Rates, Median Debt and More

View more details regarding our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information.


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