Criminal Justice

Our interactive approach to learning fosters an understanding of crime and the principles of social scientific research. You’ll assess how illegal behavior is defined, with special attention to how social inequalities of race, class, gender, sexuality, and age influences what is seen as crime and what is seen as justice—and how they intersect.

Throughout your studies, you’ll also develop concrete policy analysis and research skills built on a social justice framework. You’ll learn to produce research projects and other creative works that address pressing real-world social or criminological problems.

In select sections of Theories in Crime, students may visit Boston’s North End neighborhood to evaluate features of the built environment and how they contribute to community crime and safety.
In select sections of Theories in Crime, students may visit Boston’s North End neighborhood to evaluate features of the built environment and how they contribute to community crime and safety.

As a criminal justice studies major, you will:

  • Learn about the historical forces of entrenched racism and sexism that shape the criminal justice system and other contemporary American institutions
  • Critically assess crime and justice policies and practices from intersectional perspectives
  • Develop analytical research skills to describe and evaluate real-world social problems and solutions
  • Effectively convey ideas through oral and written communications, including policy memos, reflection essays, research papers, and op-eds
  • Cultivate cultural awareness and sensitivity skills when working with diverse communities

Experience is Everything

Program Options

The Major

Our curriculum emphasizes the intersectionality of criminal justice and social justice. You’ll gain a solid understanding of the American criminal justice system within its broader historical and institutional contexts, and consider how its procedures create or exacerbate inequalities based on characteristics such as race, class, and gender. Your courses will also explore the theories behind crime—what constitutes a crime and who gets to decide its definition—while giving you a strong foundation in social research methodologies and techniques.

We also offer a wide range of electives so you can dive deep into the topics that matter most to you. Topics include restorative justice, crime and mental health, violence, law and public policy, policing, global criminology, juvenile justice, and much more.
View the Criminal Justice Major Curriculum

The Minor

Learn about the criminal justice system and examine how our society defines, categorizes, and responds to crime. To complete this minor, you’ll take two required courses and three electives of your choice.
View the Criminal Justice Minor Curriculum

Customize Your Degree

Students are allowed to double major in criminal justice and sociology or major in one and minor in the other. Other popular majors and minors often paired with a criminal justice major include:

Criminal Justice Degree in Three

Earn your criminal justice degree a year ahead of schedule and start making a difference sooner. By taking classes during summer sessions, you’ll save on tuition and accelerate your career or graduate studies. You’ll also receive special advising to keep you on track to graduate within three years.

Please note: Students enrolled in this program remain eligible for any available financial aid programs (federal and institutional) and can receive their allotted institutional financial aid award throughout their three years here, including summers.
Learn more about the Criminal Justice Degree in Three

Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s

Save time and kickstart your career by completing your undergraduate degree and an MS in Crime & Justice Studies in just five years. You can apply to this dual-degree program in the spring semester of your junior year and take your first graduate course the following fall.
Learn more about the Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s 

“I’m interested in how our legal system interacts with everyday people—whether they’ve done right, wrong, or something in between. I want to help reform our criminal justice system with alternative approaches to the incarceration process that better suit the modern world. Any time that my Introduction to Criminal Justice class made real-world connections to our learning was especially invigorating. From having guest speakers to visiting the courthouse, these experiences brought our lessons to life and made a future in law seem even more exciting!”
Leah Wagner, Class of 2026 Criminal Justice Major

Beyond the Classroom

Three women talk at the Decarcerating Women Today event

Our department’s Center for Women’s Health & Human Rights strives to advance the health and human rights of women and girls everywhere through advocacy, education, research and leadership. We encourage you to get involved by attending events, volunteering, and making an impact through research and work on initiatives, including:

  • Our Bodies Ourselves Today, which continues the legacy of the iconic books by generating, curating and delivering trustworthy and inclusive evidence-based information to women, girls and gender-expansive people.
  • The Women and Incarceration Project, a group of Boston-based academics, attorneys and social workers who research and write about the costs and harms of incarcerating women.
  • The Women’s Writing Circle, to honor and support the diverse voices of all women.

Student presents research at conference

Don’t wait until after graduation to make a difference. Our students work side-by-side with faculty on innovative research, and with outside organizations on projects that have direct community impact. You’ll also have the chance to conduct independent research and present your findings at conferences. So get involved and help address complex challenges like:

CRJ staff (front row, from left) Associate Director Carl Steidel, Founder Carolyn Boyes-Watson, Director Susan Maze-Rothstein; (back row, from left) Instructor Dana Thorsen, School Implementation Manager Ashley-Rose Salomon, Instructor Delinda Passas. Photographs by Michael J. Clarke.

Restorative justice is a community-centered practice in which equitable communities are built, sustained and maintained and when things go wrong in communities victims, offenders, and stakeholders come together to address and repair harm.

The Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University fosters collaborative partnerships to support a growing social movement to build just and equitable communities and to institutionalize restorative approaches to problem-solving, harm and violations of legal and human rights. Since 1997, the Center has served as a regional, national and international thought leader in restorative justice policy and practice development.

As a student in our program, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from restorative justice practitioners in the classroom and through programming on campus and in the community.

Success after Suffolk

Here's a sampling of recent graduates’ current job titles and employers.

Family Support and Stabilization Coordinator
Bridges Homeward
Police Officer
City of Watertown, Massachusetts
Background Investigation Analyst
Claims Bureau USA
Background Record Check Specialist II
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Early Education and Care
Director of Security
Northeast Security, Inc.
Public Safety Officer
Boston Medical Center
Corrections Officer
Essex County Sherriff
Litigation Paralegal
Governo Law Firm LLC
Legal Assistant
Atwood and Cherny, PC
Lawson & Weitzen, LLP
Ananian & Rodibaugh, PC

Questions? Get in touch!

Portrait of Felicia Wiltz.

Felicia Wiltz

Associate Professor & Department Chair of Sociology & Criminal Justice

Email [email protected]

Send a Message