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The field of criminal justice as an academic area of study is a relatively recent development in higher education. In fact, the concept of “criminal justice” emerged only in the late 1960s with the publication of the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice (1967). In the early 1970s, RIT established a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in response to the growing demand for criminal justice education. Thus, given the nascent field of criminal justice education, the RIT program is relatively well-established and mature.

There are many approaches to criminal justice education in the United States, ranging from very practitioner-oriented programs designed to train students for a job in law enforcement to liberal arts-based programs designed to educate students about issues of crime and society within a framework emphasizing theory and research. Others focus on producing criminal justice managers with coursework revolving around public administration and organizational theory. Still others emphasize legal and normative approaches to the study of crime and justice.

The Department of Criminal Justice is firmly grounded in the educational model of criminal justice which emphasizes the social scientific study of crime and criminal justice. Exposure to theory and research are the foundations of such an approach. Our students not only consume what theory and research tells us about crime and justice, they are also encouraged to be active participants in the process by which knowledge is created and disseminated. A variety of opportunities exist for our students to engage in active research projects and to present the results of that research.

Program learning goals include:

1. Acquiring  historical and contemporary perspectives on the nature and extent of crime and policies related to crime and justice, with emphasis on implications for policy, race, class and gender both domestically and  globally.  

2. Developing  foundational knowledge of history, philosophy, theory, processes and reform of police agencies, courts, corrections, and criminal justice policies.

3. Developing  practical skills to research, integrate and apply analytic skills and knowledge to specific criminal justice issues.

4. Developing  an understanding of and the ability to apply criminological theories in explaining the social, legal, and political processes by which behaviors are criminalized and the responses that arise to address such behaviors.

5. Identifying ethical issues surrounding crime and crime policies.