Criminal Justice

The criminal justice major is designed to educate students to be critical thinkers, ethical problem solvers, and effective communicators. The program offers a comprehensive study of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, criminal law and the judiciary, and corrections. Moreover, students will understand how these complex and interrelated systems relate to society, overall.

Students graduating from the program pursue diverse paths. For example, students have advanced to graduate and law schools. Other graduates have pursued careers in law enforcement, judicial administration, corrections, juvenile justice, and private security. Regardless of a student’s orientation to the study of criminal justice, the program provides a unique blend of required and elective courses taught by experienced faculty. Students will be provided with a balanced and broad program of study, rooted in the liberal arts and social sciences. In addition, the curriculum offers opportunities for learning about practical applications in criminal justice, particularly through field trips and internships.

Criminal justice majors are also encouraged to supplement their education with studies in others areas. The major is structured to facilitate the ability to pursue a double-major or minor, which allows students to extend their knowledge as well as provide flexibility with future career options. Students have pursued additional studies in a variety of areas such as business, psychology, political science, and social work, for instance. Students interested in forensic work may want to consider a double-major or minor in biology or chemistry (which now includes a forensic science track). Courses in computer science or accounting may be particularly relevant for students interested in careers investigating white-collar crime. The pre-law minor is also available for students interested in pursuing a law degree after graduation.

The criminal justice major consists of 10 required and 3 elective courses, which provide students with a comprehensive understanding of criminal justice. All majors, including transfers, must complete CJ 299 Criminal Justice Information, Communication and Ethics (with a grade of C- or higher) as a prerequisite for 300 and 400 criminal justice courses.

Upon graduating, criminal justice majors should be able, for example, to: Demonstrate knowledge of the scientific approach; communicate effectively in both the oral and written form; and critically analyze ethical dilemmas and make principled choices in the field of criminal justice.

Career Opportunities

Law enforcement, legal and judicial administration, corrections, juvenile justice, private security. See the Graduate section of this Catalog for more information on Graduate programs offered at Mount Mercy.


CJ 101Introduction To Criminal Justice3
CJ 154Criminal Justice Theory3
CJ 203Policing3
CJ 244Corrections3
CJ 297Criminal Law3
CJ 299Criminal Justice Information, Communication and Ethics3
CJ 302Criminal Justice Research Methods3
CJ 305White Collar Crime3
CJ 365Diversity and the Criminal Justice System3
CJ 410Senior Seminar3
Select three of the following: *9
Juvenile Justice
Criminal Investigation
Crime & Punishment in England 1550-1875
Trial Evidence
Criminal Procedure
Drugs and Crime
Sex Offenders
Special Topics in Criminal Justice
Victims of Crime
Women and Crime
Media and Crime
Law and Literature
Recent American History
20th Century American History of Race and Gender
Politics and Public Policy
State and Local Government
Politics Public Administration
Total Hours39

Academic Requirements

Transfer students must take a minimum of 15 semester hours in their criminal justice major or minor at Mount Mercy. A grade of C- or better is required for each course in the major and minor. A student may enroll in and complete a maximum of 6 semester hours for CJ 428 Internship, although only 3 semester hours may be counted toward the major. Majors should follow a sequence of completion in order:

CJ 101Introduction To Criminal Justice3
CJ 299Criminal Justice Information, Communication and Ethics3
CJ 302Criminal Justice Research Methods3
CJ 410Senior Seminar3

In addition, criminal justice majors and minors must complete CJ 101 Introduction To Criminal Justice before enrolling in other criminal justice courses.

Criminal Justice Minor

CJ 101Introduction To Criminal Justice3
CJ 203Policing3
CJ 244Corrections3
CJ 297Criminal Law3
CJ 299Criminal Justice Information, Communication and Ethics3
One additional course from the criminal justice major curriculum 3
Total Hours18

Note: Students must meet semester hour requirements and course prerequisites

The following is the typical sequence of courses required for the major*: 

Portal Course3Domain3CO 1013
Writing Competency4 CJ 1543
MA 132 or 1353 Domain3
CJ 1013 Domain3
Domain3 Elective3
 16 3 15
CJ 2973CJ 2033CJ 2443
CJ 2993 Criminal Justice Elective3
Domain14 Domain2 
Domain3 Domain3
Elective3 Elective3
 16 3 12
CJ 3023Elective3CJ 3053
CJ 3653 CJ 4283
Domain3 Elective3
Elective3 Elective3
 15 3 12
CJ 4103Criminal Justice Elective3Elective3
ME 4501 Elective3
Elective3 Elective3
Elective3 Elective3
 13 3 12
Total Hours: 123

Note: Elective courses could be used for a second major, a minor, a course of interest, internship or study abroad experience. 


The course offerings, requirements, and policies of Mount Mercy University are under continual examination and revision. This Catalog presents the offerings, requirements, and policies in effect at the time of publication and in no way guarantees that the offerings, requirements, and policies will not change.

This plan of study represents a typical sequence of courses required for this major. It may not be applicable to every student. Students should contact a department faculty member to be sure of appropriate course sequence.


CJ 101 Introduction To Criminal Justice: 3 semester hours

This course is a review of the delivery of criminal justice services in the United States. Particular attention will be devoted to a modeling of the criminal process, the control of discretion within the various sub-processes, and the role of criminal justice in a democratic social order that emphasizes public accountability and the rule of law.

CJ 154 Criminal Justice Theory: 3 semester hours

This course is the study of the causes of crime in society, along with the implications for the United States criminal justice system. Students will evaluate research in the field, like biological developments related to DNA, and studies correlating social factors and crime. The underlying theoretical assumptions of criminal justice policies and organizations will also be analyzed.

CJ 203 Policing: 3 semester hours

This course includes an examination of the role of police in a free society. The course also reviews current research on policing, the concept of the rule of law, police behavior and subcultures, the historical evolution of the police, police selection and training, and the management and administration of police.

CJ 228 Juvenile Justice: 3 semester hours

This course includes an examination of juvenile delinquency and the juvenile justice process. The study includes an analysis of the evolution of parens patriae, and case law of the juvenile process from taking into custody through disposition.

CJ 244 Corrections: 3 semester hours

This course is the study of the history, philosophy, and practice of corrections. This course will include an analysis of corrections history and philosophy along with an examination of jails, prisons, probation, intermediate sanctions, and parole. The course will also cover legal developments in corrections, correctional trends, management and treatment of correctional populations, and problems facing correctional systems.

CJ 246 Criminal Investigation: 3 semester hours

This course includes a survey of the theory of scientific crime detection, investigation, interrogation, case presentation, and problems in criminal investigation. The content will include coverage of recent developments in forensic investigation such as DNA fingerprinting.

CJ 297 Criminal Law: 3 semester hours

This course introduces criminal law in the United States. The course examines the purposes and historical development of criminal law, and includes a discussion of the Constitutional limits on what behaviors can be criminalized. Students study the legal elements that must be proven to convict an individual. The course also considers parties to a crime, like accomplices and accessories, attempted crimes, and defenses to a crime (e.g., self-defense, insanity). Students will use the "case method," requiring them to critically analyze real-life legal cases.

CJ 299 Criminal Justice Information, Communication and Ethics: 3 semester hours

This course provides an opportunity for students to improve and apply reasoning skills in a criminal justice context, establishing a foundation for upper-level coursework. The course requires students to refine their communication and information research skills. Students will become adept at finding, evaluating, and properly citing research materials for the field of criminal justice. Special attention will also be given to ethical issues in criminal justice. For criminal justice majors, CJ 299 is a prerequisite for all 300- and 400-level criminal justice courses. All majors, including transfer students must receive a grade of at least C- in this course before taking criminal justice courses at the 300 level or above. Prerequisite: Grade of at least C- in core curriculum writing course.

CJ 302 Criminal Justice Research Methods: 3 semester hours

This course is an exploration of research in the field of criminal justice. Specifically, the course includes learning about research design, validity and reliability, data collection, secondary data analysis, levels of measurement, and hypothesis testing. Students will also learn how to analyze data and interpret statistical output. Prerequisites: CJ 299. A course in basic statistics is also suggested, but not required.

CJ 305 White Collar Crime: 3 semester hours

This course is a general survey reviewing both the nature and scope of white-collar crime. This course will explore crimes upon which society has placed little focus, yet at the same time have significant physical, fiscal, and social costs. Special emphasis is placed on the complexities of corporate crime and its effects on society. Prerequisite CJ 299.

CJ 340 Crime & Punishment in England 1550-1875: 3 semester hours

The course explores crime, policing, and punishment in England, 1550-1875. Major topics include the use of public shame, professionalization of police, obstacles to prosecution, and the evolving use of prisons. Changes in penal culture are studied in relation to England's transformation from a rural kingdom into an urbanized and industrial center. Cross-listed with HI 340.

CJ 350 Trial Evidence: 3 semester hours

This course is a study of the law governing the presentation of evidence at trial. Focus will be upon the various types of evidence, questions of competency, relevancy, and materiality, with special emphasis on the hearsay rule and its exceptions. The content will include the role of evidence in striking a theoretical balance between the defendant and the state in the pre-trial and trial adversary process. Prerequisites: CJ 297, CJ 299 and suggest CJ 355.

CJ 355 Criminal Procedure: 3 semester hours

This course is an examination of constitutional criminal procedure related to police stops, arrest, search and seizure, and interrogations. Emphasis is placed upon the role of criminal procedure in controlling police discretion in a democratic society. The fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments to the Bill of Rights are explored in-depth. Miranda warnings and the exclusionary rule are also studied. Prerequisite: CJ 299, suggest CJ 297.

CJ 365 Diversity and the Criminal Justice System: 3 semester hours

This course explores relationships between society and the criminal justice system. Particular attention is given to both past and contemporary relationships between the criminal justice system and historically marginalized groups. Issues of dissent and divergent perspectives on the role of the criminal justice system will also be examined. Prerequisite: CJ 299.

CJ 372 Drugs and Crime: 3 semester hours

This is a course which focuses on the relationship between legal and illegal drugs and crime. This includes an examination of different perspectives on drug use and an examination of the historical characterization of legal and illegal drugs. Students will also examine how illegal drugs, legal and illegal drug use and crime are correlated. The extent of drug use, including types of drugs and patterns of drug use within the constructs of criminal offending will also be covered in the course. Students will also learn about the enforcement of drugs and the control of drug users including correctional programs offered within the criminal justice system, specifically for drug offenders and drug users. Prerequisite: CJ 299.

CJ 380 Sex Offenders: 3 semester hours

This course is a seminar on the contemporary topic of sex offenders. We will explore what constitutes a sex offense, examine different types of sex offenders, and study how society responds to these acts, victims, and offenders. Prerequisite: CJ 299.

CJ 390 Special Topics in Criminal Justice: 3 semester hours

This course provides the opportunity for a study of a significant topic, problem, or issue in criminal justice. This course may be repeated once for credit when content varies. Prerequisite: CJ 299.

CJ 410 Senior Seminar: 3 semester hours

This course is a study of select and highly contemporary criminal justice issues. The course format allows students to draw upon and integrate knowledge gained from previous courses and apply it in an area of individual, intensive research. The content will vary. Prerequisites: CJ 154, CJ 299, CJ 302.

CJ 420 Victims of Crime: 3 semester hours

This course focuses on the study of crime victims including the types, extent, patterns, and consequences of victimization. This will include an introduction to victimology and the victim right's movement. Students will learn about the role(s) of the victim in the criminal justice process and policies and programs designed to address the needs of crime victims. This will include a focus on local victim service agencies. Special attention will be paid to "special classes" of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and hate crimes. Prerequisite: CJ 299.

CJ 422 Women and Crime: 3 semester hours

This course is the study of women as criminal offenders, victims of crime, and workers in the criminal justice system. The course content will include an examination of female offending patterns and explanations for those offending patterns, along with an examination of the treatment of female offenders and female crime victims by the criminal justice system. The course will also focus on women as criminal justice professionals working in law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. Prerequisite: CJ 299.

CJ 426 Media and Crime: 3 semester hours

This course will focus on the interrelationships among media, crime, and the criminal justice system. Particular attention will be given to the construction of crime in the news and entertainment media, and how those constructions affect citizens' perception of the crime and the criminal justice system. Policy and legal implications of these perceptions will also be considered. Prerequisite: CJ 299.

CJ 428 Internship: 3 semester hours

This is an academically oriented practical experience gained through supervised work assignments with various governmental and private criminal justice-related agencies. The student will have the opportunity to contrast theory and practice. The internship is open to criminal justice majors of junior or senior status and with the consent of the internship coordinator. A student may enroll in and complete a maximum of six (6) semester hours for CJ 428 although only three (3) semester hours may be counted toward the major. The application deadlines are February 15 for summer internships, April 15 for fall internships, and September 15 for spring internships. Prerequisites: CJ 299, junior or senior in good standing, approved application, and consent of the internship coordinator. (1-6 semester hours).

CJ 445 Independent Study: 3 semester hours

Independent study courses are specially designed by the student and the instructor. This allows criminal justice majors to pursue research and/or study of a specific area of interest in criminal justice. Prerequisite: CJ 299 and instructor permission.