Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

School of Public Affairs

Overview

Degree: BA

Clasroom Type: Online and on campus classes

The BA in Criminal Justice prepares you to advance in a career in criminology or criminal justice. Explore the complex nature of crime, criminal justice organizations, implications of public policies, capital punishment, victimology, race and crime, community corrections, and more.

Program Details

Interest Categories: Criminology & Law Public Administration & Policy

Campus: CU Denver


The School of Public Affairs’ Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice (BACJ) program is designed for students who are interested in studying the American criminal justice system. Coursework in the major includes the complex nature of crime causation; the history, framework, and operations of criminal justice organizations; the implications of public policies related to crime and justice; and special topics such as capital punishment, victimology, race and crime, and community corrections.

Students also receive rigorous training in research methods and statistics, allowing them to understand how to frame important questions and become critical consumers of information. Students may choose to concentrate their electives in Law Enforcement, Victims and Victim Studies, or may use electives to study other criminal justice-related topics.

As with all undergraduate degrees at CU Denver, BACJ students will also complete the requirements of the CU Denver core curriculum, ensuring that they have a well-rounded liberal arts education. The critical thinking skills provided by the degree are important to any future career path, but BACJ students are particularly well-prepared for careers in criminal justice organizations such as local, state, and federal law enforcement and criminal justice agencies and in nonprofit organizations working with people and communities affected by crime. Many graduates pursue advanced degrees in law, criminal justice, and related fields.

General requirements 

To earn a degree, students must satisfy all requirements in each of the areas below, in addition to their individual major program requirements.

Review CU Denver's Undergraduate Academic Policies.

Program requirements

  • The Bachelor's of Arts in Criminal Justice degree requires 39 credit hours of coursework.
  • A maximum of 15 transfer credit hours may be applied to the major. Transfer Criminal Justice credit hours above the 15 credit hours already applied to the major will count as general electives. CRJU courses taken from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs are not subject to this transfer credit limit for the major.
  • Students must complete a minimum of 45 upper-division credit hours, 21 of which must be Criminal Justice credit hours.
  • Students must receive a minimum C- grade in each undergraduate course applied to satisfy major or minor degree requirements and must maintain a 2.0 GPA overall in major or minor courses.

Required courses

Students must complete the  required courses below, for a total of 24 credit hours. All course descriptions can be found in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog.

  • CRJU 1000 - Criminology and Criminal Justice: An Overview (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 2041 - Criminological Theory (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 3100 - Research Methods (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 3150 - Statistics for Criminal Justice (3 credit hours) (Students must successfully pass CRJU 3100 Criminal Justice Research Methods with a C- or better before taking CRJU 3150 Statistics for Criminal Justice.)
  • CRJU 4042 - Corrections (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 4043 - Law Enforcement (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 4044 - Courts and Judicial Process (3 credit hours)

In addition, students must complete the following course:

  • SOCY 1001 - Understanding the Social World (3 credit hours) (This class also fulfills a Social Science requirement of the CU Denver core curriculum.)

Elective courses

  • In addition to the required courses, students must complete 15 credit hours of elective courses, nine of which must be Criminal Justice (CRJU) courses offered by the School of Public Affairs, and six of which may be taken from an approved list of other department courses. Elective courses must be approved by the program director. All course descriptions can be found in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog.

Criminal Justice elective courses

  • Any 3000- or 4000-level CRJU course not already required for the major may count as a Criminal Justice major elective.
  • CRJU 4939 - Internship (The internship course, CRJU 4939, is required as one of the electives for the major unless officially waived by the BACJ Program Director. Students whose internship is approved will take a 3-credit hour Criminal Justice elective in place of a 3-credit hour internship. See the School of Public Affairs Graduation Requirements for more information.)

Areas of Concentration

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice may elect to graduate with a concentration in Law Enforcement. The Law Enforcement concentration requires 12 credit hours of courses that will count toward the electives requirement for the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree.

Required Courses

Students must complete the required course below. All course descriptions can be found in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog.

  • CRJU 4540 – Evidence-Based Approaches in Law Enforcement (3 credit hours)

Elective Courses:

There are two elective categories, Topic Area and Professional Setting.The Topic Area electives allows the student to explore a different aspect of law enforcement. The Professional Skills elective allows the student to hone skills related to law enforcement.

Select two courses from the Topic Area list below:

  • CRJU 3310 - Contemporary Issues in Law Enforcement (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 3320 - Police-Community Relations (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 3520 - Juvenile Justice (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 3530 - Juvenile Delinquency (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 4410 - Criminal Law and Constitutional Procedures (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 4430 - Law and Society (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 4450 - Homeland Security (3 credit hours)
  • PSCI 4427 - Law, Politics and Justice (3 credit hours)
  • SOCY 4340 - Juvenile Delinquency (3 credit hours)
  • SOCY 4700 - Sociology of Law (3 credit hours)

Select one course from the Professional Skills list below:

  • ANTH 3550 - Forensic Anthropology (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 4310 - Leadership Roles in Criminal Justice (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 4331 - Crime Analysis and GIS
  • CSCI 1001 - Computer Forensics I (3 credit hours)
  • GEOG 4080 - Introduction to GIS (3 credit hours) (pre-req GEOG 2080)

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice may elect to graduate with a concentration in Victims and Victim Services. The Victims and Victim Services concentration requires 12 credit hours of courses that will count toward the elective requirement for the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree.

Required Courses:

Students must complete the two required courses below. All course descriptions can be found in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog.

  • CRJU 4170 – Victimology (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 3285 – Trauma in the Criminal Justice System (3 credit hours)

Elective Courses:

There are two elective categories, Violence Focus and ProfessionalSetting. The Violence Focus elective allows the student to learn about an area of violence in a more in-depth capacity. The Professional Setting electives allows the student to hone skills related to service delivery.

Students must complete one of the Violence Focus courses below:

  • CRJU 3250 - Violence in Society (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 3280 - Trauma Among Correctional Populations (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 4140 - Domestic Violence and Crime (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 4150 - Sex Offender and Offenses
  • ETST 2115 - Genocide in the 21st Century: Darfur and Beyond (3 credit hours)
  • HIST 4308 - Crime, Policing, and Justice in American History (3 credit hours)
  • PSCI 4807 - Political Violence (3 credit hours)
  • PSYC 3611 - Psychology of Women (3 credit hours)
  • SOCY 4460 - Hate Groups and Group Violence (3 credit hours)

Students must also complete one of the Professional Setting courses below:

  • HDFR 4003 - Leadership and Organizations (3 credit hours)
  • HDFR 4004 - Family and Comm. Prog. II Grant Writing/Fundraising (3 credit hours)
  • HDFR 4090 - Helping Profession Skills in HDFR (3 credit hours)
  • HDFR 4260 - Family Systems and Social Justice (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 3002 - Program Design, Evaluation, and Decision-Making
  • PUAD 3110 - Seminar in Nonprofit Management (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4009 - Human Service Organizations (3 credit hours)

Recommended Completion Time:4 Years

Max Transfer Credits:15

Max Credits Per Year:In most cases, students wishing to take more than 18 credit hours per semester (12 in the summer session) must have the overload approved by the dean.

Required Credits for Completion:39

Application​ deadlines


Fall: July 31; Spring: December 31; Summer: May 31

Learning Objectives

Students will become innovative thinkers and skilled professionals in the field of criminology and criminal justice by developing five main competencies.