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

    About The Program

    Format: Online or On Campus


    Northern's criminal justice major, offered on campus and online, provides wide-ranging foundational knowledge of the U.S. criminal justice system. In this program, you'll learn about criminal law and procedure, policing, the judicial system, the correctional system, and criminological theory.


    Our program offers answers to criminal justice questions, including:

    • What does it mean for an offender to get off on a technicality?
    • What's the difference between murder and manslaughter?
    • Why do people commit crimes?
    • How are victims served and supported in the criminal justice process?

    Northern's AA degree in criminal justice is available entirely online.


    Criminal justice majors also are eligible for priority admission to Northern's counseling master’s program!


    A criminal justice degree from Northern prepares you to succeed in law enforcement; various roles in municipal, state, and federal courthouses; probation; or correctional institutions. 


    You might pursue a career in the juvenile justice field as a juvenile detention officer, or work with court personnel monitoring juvenile probationers.


    You'll also be prepared to work in victim services or in an advocacy role with victims, or work with people with substance abuse problems.


    Other career options include pursuing a law degree or graduate-level education in criminal justice and related fields, such as clinical mental health counseling.


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


    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, which houses a 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.


    Arts and Sciences Internships

    Contact Information

    For more information about this degree, call 605-626-2267. Or, contact NSU Admissions at 605-626-2544 or admissions@northern.edu.

    Ph.D., Sociology, University of Michigan, 2016

    B.A., Sociology, Indiana University, 2010



    Dr. Christopher Near joined Northern State University in 2020 as an assistant professor. He taught previously at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


    Courses Taught

    CJUS 201 Introduction to Criminal Justice

    CJUS 203 Policing in a Free Society (online)

    CJUS 380 Research/Data Analysis in Criminal Justice

    CJUS 401 Law and Society (online)

    CJUS 433 Criminal Procedure (online)

    SOC 351 Criminology

    SOC 455 Juvenile Delinquency (online)


    Research Interests

    White-collar crime and corporate wrongdoing

    Family structure and children's behavior problems


    Recent Publications