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Criminal Justice: What to Expect

The University of South Carolina offers an exciting and distinctive major in Criminal Justice. The program promotes state-of-the-art research and instruction in subject areas that are crucial to the effective and orderly working of modern society. You will learn theories of and responses to social deviance, law and the legal system, administration theory and evaluation, law enforcement, juvenile justice systems and procedures, crime prevention models, and more! You will also be able to attend numerous conferences and lectures at the University to broaden your professional perspectives. The department also sponsors tours of various Criminal Justice agencies and invites agency personnel to visit the department throughout the year. As a Criminal Justice major, you will also have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on internship experience that will add to your educational experiences at the University. You can gain additional experience by participating in the Campus Patrol Office program, which offers students who qualify an opportunity to gain hands-on experience as an employee of the USC Division of Law Enforcement and Safety. The major also offers a Pre-Law suggested track for those interested in pursuing a Law degree after graduation.
The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Criminal Justice:

  • The American Criminal Justice System
  • Research Methods in Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Sociology of Crime
  • Policing
  • Corrections Criminal Courts
  • Criminal Law
  • Juvenile Delinquency

Some additional unique and interesting courses offered by the major include:
  • Hate Crimes
  • Street Gangs: Structure, Activity, and Response
  • Criminal Justice Intelligence
  • Women and Crime
  • Criminal Justice Internship

A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. You may also choose to intern, volunteer, or conduct research abroad. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. As a Criminal Justice major, you may be interested in joining The Criminal Justice Association and Alpha Phi Sigma, which is the Criminal Justice Honor Society. The Criminal Justice Association is a national organization that offers job opportunities for students. You can earn scholastic honors and competitive awards in addition to traveling to national and regional conferences. Getting involved in an organization that interests you can help you network, meet new friends, and develop leadership skills. You can also seek out volunteer opportunities that relate to your major. You can find additional student organizations on campus that interests you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. Many graduates choose to pursue a Masters or Ph.D. degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Law school is also a popular choice among graduates as the undergraduate program also offers a Pre-Law track.
Distinguished Faculty can help enhance your overall academic experience while at the University. Theresa Clement, J.D., has a law firm in Columbia, S.C. and uses her own experiences practicing law to teach courses on criminal law, courts, procedures, and juvenile delinquency. Dr. John Burrow is a former attorney who teachers classes on criminal law, race and crime, law and Criminal Justice policy, and law and society. Both of these outstanding faculty members draw off of their own professional experience adding a unique perspective to the courses they teach.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding entering freshmen or current students. Each year, Criminal Justice majors can compete for scholarships including the J.P. Strom Non-Resident Scholar Award, the J.P. Strom Undergraduate Scholarship, and the Meredith Thompson Scholarship, to name a few. The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers additional scholarships each year.
Associated Learning Communities are an integral part of the university experience, providing you with the opportunity to live in an environment that promotes diversity, embraces excellence, encourages insightful faculty-student interaction and works to develop a strong sense of community. These academically themed communities also emphasize active service-learning experiences, study-abroad opportunities and undergraduate research. Students in the Law, Justice and Politics Community will have the opportunity to work with lawyers, government officials and other leaders in the fields of law, justice and politics to host programs, discussions, job shadowing, and mentoring. Students will also benefit from enrollment in designated sections of University 101 classes, planned social activities, and lecture series and panel discussions on current public policy and legal issues.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands-on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Criminal Justice majors at the University have had a wide range of exciting and unique internship opportunities. One student even had the unique opportunity to work for the Sheriff’s Department and intern with Dateline NBC’s To Catch a Predator with Chris Hansen.

Career Opportunities

Criminal Justice majors have a wide variety of career opportunities. The Criminal Justice Association at the University of South Carolina sponsors a career fair each year, where federal, state, and local Criminal Justice agencies are in attendance. Graduates often pursue careers in law enforcement, victim’s advocate services, the FBI, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the prison system, security, evidence data collection, and crime scene investigation. Criminal Justice majors also seek employment as caseworkers, teachers, and criminal investigators.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

Alumni Spotlight

A degree in Criminal Justice from the University of South Carolina landed Marvin Sapp, a 2009 graduate, an exciting career as a support clerk for the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. On any given day, he may spend up to five hours in court where he assists prosecutors and takes notes, especially during jury selection. Additional duties include preparing and organizing trial notebooks for each defendant. Marvin said that he was challenged during his courses at USC and developed skills, which helped prepare him for his career. “Dr. Burrow challenged me constantly,” he said. “I took about five of his classes because I loved how he would challenge me. He was real interactive and helped me look outside of the box.” Marvin encourages students to seek out internship opportunities, network with faculty members, and attend job fairs each year. “I think it is important that students get an internship, because I realized that you don’t learn everything you need to know in the classroom,” he said. “It is a lot different when you’re working in a hands-on environment outside of the classroom. Faculty members are also a great resources as they know about a wide variety of opportunities related to the field, including conferences and job fairs.”

About the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice

The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Criminal Justice. The department provides a distinctive education for undergraduate students by promoting state-of-the-art research and instruction in subject areas that are crucial to the effective and orderly working of modern society. The department also offers a Masters and Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Points of Pride

  • Doctoral Candidate, Rhys Hester, received Honorable Mention in the Young Scholars Paper Competition at the University at Albany for his work “Symposium on Crime and Justice: The Past and Future of Empirical Sentencing Research.”
  • The Campus Patrol Office program offers undergraduate and graduate students who qualify an opportunity to gain hands-on experience as an employee of the University of South Carolina Division of Law Enforcement and Safety, our nationally accredited police force.

Additional Resources.
Criminology and Criminal Justice Website
College of Arts and Sciences Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin