Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

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Offered in both on-campus and online formats, the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice major in Criminal Justice offers a multidisciplinary understanding of crime and justice within the framework of broader social processes within our society. It looks at all major aspects of the justice system from an ecological systems approach rather than a specialization in one narrow content area. The curriculum provides a theoretical understanding of the discipline, combined with an understanding of the scientific method as it applies to criminal justice.

The Criminal Justice curriculum allows students to expand their education by learning to evaluate broader aspects of the criminal justice system and develop theoretical and analytical knowledge and skills.

UW Tacoma’s innovative Criminal Justice major emphasizes social justice, diversity, community partnerships, systems thinking and skill development. Students are sensitized to the human impact of crime, including differential impact across social identities and locations. A social justice lens is adopted, with a focus on harm reduction, rehabilitative and restorative approaches to crime and justice.

The online Criminal Justice major option is a degree completion sequenced cohort curriculum and follows the same major requirements as the on-campus Criminal Justice major. All 65 credits required for the major will be available online alongside other online UW courses to help fulfill degree requirements. World language courses are not available online.

The criminal justice curriculum is positioned to provide knowledge and skills to students who plan to seek employment with agencies that provide services for the children and families of the incarcerated as well as law enforcement and correctional settings. Rooted in a social work program with expertise in working with children, youth and families, this program will offer a unique focus on criminal justice from an ecological and social justice perspective allowing students to implement evidence-based models in a variety of criminal justice settings. Graduates of this major may decide to continue on for advanced degrees in disciplines such as social work, law or criminal justice.

Program Goals

  1. Gain an understanding of policies, agencies, and delivery of criminal justice systems and how to effect change to bring about social justice
  2. Use an interdisciplinary ecological systems approach to understanding crime and the consequences of crime
  3. Demonstrate ethical and professional use of self
  4. Demonstrate understanding of and appreciation for differences based on gender, age, ethnicity, religious creed, sexual orientation, class, and physical, mental, and developmental disabilities
  5. Understand and critically apply theoretical frameworks to individual and social behavior, the interactions among individuals and social systems and their relationships to crime and justice
  6. Gain an understanding of criminal justice as an applied science where there is an integration of theory, scientific method and practice application
  7. Understand the use of evidence based methods and policy for special populations within and affected by criminal justice systems
  8. Demonstrate the ability to think critically and communicate effectively

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Identify ways in which oppression, privilege, discrimination, and social and economic disadvantage contribute to inequalities and injustices within criminal justice systems
  • Demonstrate the capacity to design innovative approaches to dealing with social injustices and social harms within criminal justice systems
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the origins of criminal behavior, society's response to crime, and the consequences of crime to our society, utilizing multiple perspectives
  • Articulate ethical implications of decision making in a professional capacity
  • Demonstrate a professional demeanor (e.g. in behavior and communication)
  • Develop and demonstrate sufficient critical self-awareness to understand the influence of personal biases and values when interacting with diverse groups
  • Recognize and dialogue with others about the role of difference and the multiple intersections of oppression and privilege in shaping a person's identity and life experiences
  • Apply theoretical frameworks to understanding the causes and prevention of crime, the processes of criminalization, and crime enforcement
  • Understand qualitative and quantitative research methods to collect and analyze data
  • Articulate the link between research, theory, and practice
  • Understand the dynamics, causes, and treatment programs available for special populations
  • Demonstrate writing proficiency
  • Demonstrate oral communications skills


The Criminal Justice Academic Advisor can assist you with information on registration, course scheduling, graduation requirements and connect you to various campus resources. Students are encouraged to meet with their Academic Advisor at least once a quarter for course planning and to apply to graduate. If you have any questions regarding your records, registration, or need clarification on the Criminal Justice Major or University policies, requirements and/or procedures, please consult your advisor.

To make an appointment, visit


The Criminal Justice Internship course (T CRIM 498) is designed for students to engage in experiential learning through an internship. Students will apply academic knowledge to further develop professional competencies critical to a successful career within the criminal justice field. More information regarding prerequisites, available internship sites, frequently asked questions and required forms can be found at

Independent Study

Currently, there are two approved T CRIM Independent Study offerings. T CRIM 409 Advanced Readings in Criminal Justice variable credit 1-5 credits, max 15 credits and T CRIM 490 Research in Criminal Justice variable credit 1-3 credits, max 12 credits. Faculty will allow a total of 5 credits toward Criminal Justice Core Elective requirements.


The Criminal Justice major is a 65-credit program comprised of core courses (45 credits) in five content areas—administration of justice, corrections, criminological theory, law adjudication, and research and theoretical methods—plus core electives (20 credits) drawn from multiple disciplines. Through the core courses and electives, students will be able to augment their interest in specific aspects of criminal justice.

All courses are five credits unless otherwise noted.

Criminal Justice Major Core Courses (45 credits)

  • T CRIM 225 Diversity and Social Justice in Criminology (5)
  • T CRIM 361 Mental Health, Substance Use, and the Criminal Justice System (5)
  • T CRIM 362 Criminological Theory (5)
  • T CRIM 370 Police and Society (5)
  • T CRIM 371 Helping Skills in Criminal Justice (5)
  • T CRIM 372 Adult Corrections (5)
  • TSOCWF 390 Introduction to Social Welfare Research (5)
  • T CRIM 395 American Criminal Courts (5)
  • T CRIM 441 Senior Seminar: Professionalism and Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice (5)

Approved Criminal Justice Major Core Electives (20 credits)

For a complete list of approved core electives, visit

Degree Information

A Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice is earned upon the completion of at least 180 college quarter credits. These credits must include major core courses (45 credits), major core electives (20 credits), course work in certain basic skills, and the fulfillment of general education requirements. In the freshman and sophomore years, students should fulfill as many of the general education requirements as possible. Those requirements consist of language skills (English composition and world language), reasoning and writing skills, and areas of knowledge. The courses needed to meet the requirements for a degree will not always total the 180 credits needed to graduate. The additional credits needed to total 180 credits are called “general electives.” Students may choose from a variety of disciplines outside their major to fulfill general electives.

Completion of all general education requirements is not required for admission to the Criminal Justice major. However, students with deficiencies must meet with an academic advisor to discuss completion of these requirements prior to graduation.