Students in the criminal justice program will learn about the components of the juvenile and criminal justice systems, become acquainted with the issues affecting these systems, apply theoretical concepts to real-world phenomena, interface with criminal justice and social service providers, and plan an academic and/or applied career in criminal justice.

Criminal justice graduates will:

  • Understand theories of crime, victimization, and criminal justice (i.e., theories about social bonds, learning, social control, conflict, labeling, rehabilitation, alternatives to incarceration).
  • Think critically about crime, victimization, and criminal justice (i.e., be able to apply, critique, compare, and integrate knowledge in the area).
  • Understand how race/ethnicity, gender, wealth, and power are related to crime, victimization, and criminal justice.
  • Understand and be able to use basic social science research methods, as well as those most relevant to the study of crime, victimization, and criminal justice.
  • Be familiar with career paths in the criminal justice system, and make career choices that best fit their career interests.
  • Make appropriate decisions, think creatively, and be able to express themselves in written and oral communication to supervisors and clients.
Hayat Sumael

I have always been passionate about helping kids. I want to implement policies, advocate and fight for the little ones who we tend to overlook, but yet we still call them our future. I know that if children are our future, we need to actually care about them as politicians, attorneys and people.

Hayat Sumael, ’22 criminal justice studies, political science


Justice League
The Criminal Justice League Learning Community pizza social with faculty

Students at Iowa State University have the opportunity to tailor their experience to make sure they gain valuable skills for the future.

The Criminal Justice Club provides opportunities for students from all majors to learn more about what a career could look like with a criminal justice degree. The club invites professionals in the field so students can learn from and interact with them. Department events provide the opportunity to network with students and faculty so you can stay connected. The Criminal Justice League learning community is open to all first-year criminal justice undergraduate majors to help you learn about your major, crime and the societal and criminal justice response to it, on-campus resources and activities, and future careers.

A wide variety of student organizations and clubs are available for students to join—including academic, honor societies, political & activism, intramural sports and Greek life.

Gain leadership and service experience through the Student Activities Center, go to one of the many fun campus events like the Cyclone Carnival, or learn more about clubs and activities at the annual ClubFest to see the many ways you can get involved during your time at Iowa State.

Students from every background can apply for departmental scholarships once a year to help fund their education and better focus on what’s important – the experience.

Your future in the making

Where your future takes you is up to you. Graduates of our criminal justice program go directly into successful careers in law enforcement, activism, or business – just to name a few – or continue their education at the master’s and/or Ph.D. levels. Here are just some examples of the careers criminal justice majors pursue:

  • Law enforcement officer
  • Attorney
  • Policy analyst
  • Forensic scientist
  • Social worker
  • Intelligence analyst
  • Private investigator
  • Correctional officer
  • Behavioral specialist
  • Psychologist

Get to know the LAS career services team to help you explore the many career opportunities a degree in criminal justice can open for you.

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