Wherever your passion lies, the Criminal Justice major will equip you to make a difference. 

Major Roadmap

Explore your options — classes, internships, research and study abroad. Using the Criminal Justice Major Guide, find what interests you, discover what you love, and create a major experience that jumpstarts your future. 

Protect the innocent. Maintain public order. Identify crime trends and risk factors in the community. Intervene in the lives of young people who’ve made a mistake, and help them get back on track. Assist people who’ve served their time in re-entering society and becoming productive citizens.

This is a field that engages both the head and the heart: You’ll need to know the law and be able to process information and make smart decisions, but you’ll also need people skills, empathy, and a desire to contribute to something greater than yourself.

By studying Criminal Justice, you’ll learn to identify patterns of criminal behavior and understand the different facets of the criminal justice system. You’ll study the processes for rehabilitation and treatment for those who’ve committed crimes, and learn about the law and judicial philosophy.

Learn from professors with experience in the field and from guest speakers including Austin attorneys, law enforcement officers and counselors. Your community-based internship will give you the real-world experience you need for a career in a field that’s vital to society.

What do our graduates do?

Criminal Justice majors go on to a variety of careers and graduate schools from St. Edward’s. Here’s a sample.

  • Officers in the Austin and Dallas Police Department
  • Investigator for the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office
  • Intelligence analyst for the U.S. Department of Justice
  • Investigator for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
  • Law students at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston Law Center

54 Alumni Who Inspire

St. Edward’s University counts more than 25,000 alumni around the globe. Some are making their mark in the job they started right after graduation. Others have excelled in multiple careers. Read about how they’re all building on the education they received at St. Edward’s.  

The Classroom and Beyond

Your Criminal Justice classes will introduce you to real-world settings through field trips, observation, volunteer work and hands-on projects. You can apply the knowledge you gain through this experience in an internship. Student organizations dedicated to criminal justice give you a forum to learn about careers and meet students with similar interests. 

Experiential Education

In Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice, you’ll interview someone who works in the field to get a professional perspective on criminal justice careers.

In Criminology, you’ll examine the 19th-century case of the Austin serial killer known as the Midnight Assassin, using modern crime data information and patterns. In studying the case, which was never solved, you’ll learn about the culture and values of the community that influenced the investigation. You’ll work in teams in a structure that mimics that of professional criminal justice investigations.

In Principles and Practices of Science and Law, and in Mock Trial, you’ll visit one of the Travis County District Courts that handles criminal cases. Your professor will introduce you to the attorneys and judge, who will explain more about the process. A criminal attorney will also visit your class to discuss the profession.

In Mock Trial, you’ll learn about the jury trial system by staging a trial for a fictional case. Each student in your class will act as both a lawyer and a witness. You’ll learn how to present opening statements and closing arguments, direct and cross-examinations of witnesses, and introduction of evidentiary exhibits. The class will introduce you to legal reasoning and argument in the context of trial advocacy. 

In Victimology, you’ll complete the Texas Victim Assistance Training, a statewide educational program that trains new victim advocates in the basics of service delivery. Then, you’ll have the option to complete an additional 30 hours of more specialized credits in victim service training. Or, you can volunteer 20 hours with an organization that provides service and education for crime victims. Students have worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Austin Police Department Victim Services, and the SAFE Alliance. In these settings, you’ll see real-world applications of what you’ve learned in class. This training background also can make you a more attractive candidate for future jobs and internships. 

Student Organizations

The St. Edward’s Criminal Justice Club is a chapter of the American Criminal Justice Association, Lambda Alpha Epsilon. The club meets twice a month to hear guest speakers, go on field trips, offer community service, and complete training together.

Alpha Phi Sigma is the national criminal justice honor society.

Phi Alpha Delta, the pre-law organization, meets weekly to listen to guest speakers, learn about the law school admission process, participate in mentorship programs, do service work and learn about internships. The club also has a mock trial team that competes in events hosted by the American Mock Trial Association and Phi Alpha Delta. The team has traveled to Washington, D.C., to compete.

SEU To You

This timely course, taught by Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Lisa Holleran, will explore questions with students about the criminal justice system, such as: Why do some people commit crimes while others do not? What are the relevant factors in a person's life that contribute to crime? What do police officers actually do on the job? How come only 6% of cases go to trial? What happens to the rest? Who helps victims?