Criminal Justice

NSU's criminal justice degree prepares you to make a positive impact on community safety through study of criminology, sociology, criminal law and data analysis.

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About The Program

Criminal Justice

Criminal justice - society’s system to address crime - is a multi-stage process running from investigation to arrest, trial and finally, punishment.  Active in this process are law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Northern's criminal justice program will help you achieve your personal and professional goals within the field.  Whether you want to be a state or federal law enforcement officer, a legal professional, a corrections officer, or a probation officer, our program provides the knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to excel.


Choose a Specialized Track

Northern's criminal justice degree was built with you in mind.  Since the criminal justice field offers so many unique career opportunities, we recognize that students will benefit from maximum flexibility in course choices.  At Northern, you can select one of three distinct academic tracks to best suit your career goals.  For example, if you'd like to attend law or graduate school, you might choose the law and policy track and add a legal studies minor. Or, to graduate and get right to work in public service, you'd choose the law enforcement and homeland security track or corrections and juvenile justice track.


Law and Policy Track

On this track, you'll choose from classes on public administration, courts and judicial politics, criminal law and procedure, constitutional law, international human rights and international law and organizations. You'll gain a thorough understanding of specialized areas of law; learn legal research and writing; and become familiar with the U.S. legal system, legal terminology and constitutional law and procedures.


Law Enforcement and Homeland Security Track

This track offers classes on U.S. homeland security, policing in a free society, crime scene investigation, criminalistics in the classroom and lab, criminal procedure and cybersecurity and counterterrorism. Students on this track analyze crime and justice and study American police, court and corrections systems and homeland security. 


Corrections and Juvenile Justice Track

Included in this track are classes on social work, victimology, prisons and penology, community corrections, juvenile delinquency, and child abuse and neglect. Classes present the U.S. human and social service systems and their role in criminal justice; the correctional and juvenile justice systems; programs for juvenile and adult offenders, victims, and their families; and ways to advocate for offenders, victims, and correctional, juvenile and social service system officials.





A criminal justice degree from Northern prepares you to succeed as a police or sheriff's officer, detective, criminal investigator, fish and wildlife officer, or transit or railroad police officer. Non-law enforcement positions include social worker, victim/witness coordinator, domestic violence advocate, sexual assault advocate, victim services specialist, parole or probation officer, corrections officer or corrections counselor.


For more information on careers in your major or help choosing a major, contact the NSU Career Center.


For criminal justice students seeking hands-on experience, Aberdeen is a convenient center of local, state, and federal law enforcement organizations, including the Aberdeen Police Department, Brown County Sheriff’s Office, South Dakota Highway Patrol, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As the county seat, Aberdeen also features the Brown County Courthouse with its Court Services office.  If you're a highly motivated criminal justice student,  you could land an internship with one of these organizations - and possibly receive academic credit while gaining real-world experience and making an impact.


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