Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice


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.

The Program at a Glance

School: School of Public Affairs Campus: CU Denver Classroom: Online and on campus classes Recommended completion time: 4 Years Credits required for completion: 39 Maximum transfer credits: 15 Minimum education level: High school graduation or GED Application deadline: Fall: July 31; Spring: December 31; Summer: May 31

The Details

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

Learning Objectives

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