Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice



    • Number of Credits
    • 121
    • Cost Per Credit
    • $ 250
    • Total Tuition*
    • $ 30,250
  • *(Before Transfer Credit)

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.

Bachelor of Criminal Justice

American Military University is part of American Public University System, an accredited university offering more than 180 degree and certificate programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. All courses are online, so students have the flexibility of taking classes any time or any place that fits their schedule. Our degree programs are designed to be challenging and relevant to working adults in both the public and private sectors and can help enhance their current career or prepare them for a career change.

Students come to our university from across the globe with varying educational backgrounds and diverse educational and career goals. Choose the category below that best describes you:

Our 5-step admissions process will allow you to apply for admission, complete your new student orientation, request a transfer credit evaluation, apply for Federal Student Aid, and register for classes. Get started today!

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Explore Concentrations

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

An examination of the American criminal justice system as an interdisciplinary social science involving aspects of criminology, sociology, law, and political science.This course will enable the student to grasp the complexity of the American Criminal Justice System. As we study the Administration of Criminal Justice, we will see how the several components work, their goals, organizations and how they may have different or competing philosophies.

Research Methods of Criminal Justice & Security
3 hours

This course will assess the criminal justice system including research theory, inquiry structure, and modes of observation, data interpretation, program evaluation, and policy analysis. The student will approach the study of research methods through reading assignments, assessing scenarios, research readings and/or questions regarding issues in research in Criminal Justice. The student will prepare a research survey regarding a topic 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, data collection techniques, and research works. Students shall be introduced to the American Psychological Association (APA) style of writing regarding basic research paper format. (This course is to be considered a prerequisite taken as one of the first three 300 level courses from the criminal justice and/or security curriculums).

3 hours

This course explains criminal behavior in relationship to various theories and analysis through historical explanations including classic theories and current developments of crime causation as they relate to criminal involvement. Society's response to criminal behavior is reviewed through the assessment of legal approaches and the aspects of the criminal justice system. Discussions of types of crime, terrorism, and recent laws affecting violent criminal acts are distinguished. Research affecting social policy and public crime concerns are examined including social problems and social responsibility perspectives.

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 has a concentration on the major functions and structure as well as processes that underline ethical issues and types associated 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. The 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 & legal research. It includes legal case excerpts to demonstrate the role of the profiler (investigator). This provides the student a solid understanding of the integral relationship between the profiling techniques and theories of criminal behavior and the court system. Further exploration and assessment is discussed beyond traditional investigative procedures with Current topics such as "inductive and deductive profiling", understanding modus operandi, and various other crime specific topics such as serial rape and sadistic behavior. Students will be able to explain how the science and art of profiling crime scenes, and subsequently offenders, from physical and psychological evidence as a key to the investigation of a violent serial crime e.g., sex crime etc., for which there is no known perpetrator. 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

Students will be taught the proper recognition, collection and preservation of physical evidence at the crime scene. This course is designed to make the student aware of the services of a crime laboratory and the proper utilization of these services. The course will concentrate on the significance of physical evidence and the examination of this evidence in the crime laboratory. It includes exploration into the different tests and techniques used in the field and within the laboratory regarding the study of potential evidence and its connection in solving a criminal case. This course provides a different concept from other investigative techniques as it is scientifically oriented. Students among several evidence assessments will learn to identify the process of chromatography and determine the usefulness of trace elements for the forensic comparison of various types of physical evidence. Additionally, students will relate the advantages of linking a microscope to a spectrophotometer from the forensic scientist's point of view including an ability to apply the proper techniques utilized in the collection of fiber evidence. It is recommended students take CMRJ306 prior to enrolling in this course. This course is extensively Internet-augmented.

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

A study in substantive criminal law emphasizing 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. The class will learn to distinguish between pornography and obscenity as well as aspects of offender rehabilitation. Proper collection and preservation of sexual battery kits is an important role law enforcement has in solving rape cases. A brief look at the appropriate items of physical evidence collected in a rape case and how the evidence is analyzed in the crime laboratory will also be addressed.

DNA in the Criminal Justice System
3 hours

This course will provide an in-depth overview of the concepts and theories associated with how DNA is used within the criminal justice system. The course will cover ethical use of DNA as criminal and civil evidence and discuss the policies of using DNA. The course will use several selected real criminal cases in America as case studies.

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 explore the theories and practices used by crime scene investigators to exam bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA). Topics explored will be the historical development of BPA, software used with BPA, the use of BPA as evidence, and real case studies of criminal cases in which BPA were utilized successful.

Firearms Forensics Investigation
3 hours

This course will explore the theories and practices used in Firearms Forensics identification and investigations. 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 course will explore the development and use of the Voice Stress Analysis (VSA) by law enforcement to detect deception. Students will be exposed to the historical development of VSA technology and the policies and law that govern its use by government and private users. VSA science and reliability will be explored by case studies involving the use of this forensic tool.

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

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 learning theory, the tools available in the online classroom and campus, and online research. Identification of personal learning style allows students to improve their study/learning techniques and prepares them to succeed in college level courses. Students will be introduced to formatting and citation styles. APUS policy and procedure is addressed. There is an emphasis on written communication to assist students in the transition to the online environment.

General Education
38 Hours

Final Program Requirement
4 Hours
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)
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