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

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

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.  

Degree Requirements and Student Support Services

Major Requirements: The BA in Criminal Justice requires 21 hours of criminal justice major courses, which include a combination of foundation courses about the criminal justice system, corrections, and law enforcement. In addition, 21 hours are taken to add an area of emphasis from Administration of Justice, Pre-Law or Law Enforcement.

Electives: Students complete 12 hours of elective courses in any area of study they choose. These courses do not have to relate to the major.

General Education Requirements: The degree requires 54 hours of general education courses that students complete over four years in addition to their major courses and electives.

View and download the full degree plan for the major (PDF).

A few examples of courses students in this major take:    

  • American Court System – The history, structure, law and mechanics of criminal prosecution and adjudication in the United States.
  • Death Investigations – Review of the role of officers and detectives/investigators in various types of death investigations.  This includes, but is not limited to, drownings, homicides, suicides, and accident fatalities.
  • Mock Trial – Explores effective advocacy, appropriate professional conduct, and trial preparation.  Students have the opportunity to participate in direct and cross examination of witnesses, opening statements, closing arguments, and the introduction of evidentiary exhibits.

Student Support Services

Along with personal attention and mentorship from their professors, our students have access to offices and programs outside of the classroom that support their success.
We encourage students to take advantage of these resources that help them thrive and excel:                 

  • Academic counseling and advising
  • Supplemental instruction and tutoring
  • Career preparation and advising 
  • Writing Center consultation
  • Health and wellness counseling
  • Student disability support

Criminal Justice Faculty

The Criminal Justice faculty come from a wide variety of criminal justice-based disciplines.  We are dedicated to providing the best student experience possible through classroom innovation and engaged-learning styles.  Faculty also ensure a personal advising experience which allows individual students to share their dreams and aspirations for their future within the criminal justice discipline.

"The field of criminal justice requires that students use their brains and their hearts to work through complicated problems.  In the classroom, students use their intellect and empathy, as well as actual criminal justice data, to identify, diagnose and respond to real-world challenges."

Warren Anderesen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

"Teaching is my passion and St. Edward’s allows the opportunity to engage with students on many different levels. Criminal Justice is an important field in our society, and is ever changing. Criminal Justice students at SEU have the opportunity to gain foundational knowledge of the system, interact with criminal justice professionals on campus and off, and study the latest research trends. My research focuses primarily death penalty issues concentrating on future dangerousness, race, and ethics; as well as, juror decision-making, moral foundations and crime, veterans’ treatment court, and incarcerated mothers."

- Lisa Holleran, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

Michelle Richter, PhD

Michelle Richter, Ph.D.,  Associate Professor of Criminal Justice

Dr. Richter has obtained a diverse background in areas of psychology, anthropology, forensic science and criminology allowing her to place issues of theory and practice into larger contexts. Dr. Richter stresses field experience as equally important as learning in the classroom so it is not uncommon to have community projects or guest speakers visiting each semester. In addition, Dr. Richter is active at the local and state level in areas of policing and victim services. She currently serves on the Austin Police Department TECLEOSE Advisory Board and the Texas Victim Services Association.

Outside the Classroom

Students have the opportunity to participate in regional conferences and pursue internships. This helps students build knowledge and skills in preparation for careers within the field. Students are introduced to more than academic content through an ongoing array of guest speakers. Guest speakers teach students about aspects of professionalism and prepare them for post-graduation career experiences.

Internships

Students are encouraged to enroll in an internship course in order to complete internships with local police, jails, courts, probation or parole agencies. Previous internship sites have included:

  • Texas Department of Public Safety, Counter Intelligence Unit
  • Austin Police Department
  • U.S. Marshals Service
  • U.S. District Court, probation and pre-trial services
  • Federal convict re-entry programs
  • U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • Texas Attorney General, areas include: child support enforcement, cyber crimes, money laundering, Interpol liaison
  • Travis County State Jail
  • Gardner-Betts Juvenile Justice Center

Research

Students may engage in self-directed research by enrolling in a credit course and working closely one-on-one with a faculty mentor.

Scholarship

Each year, a Criminal Justice major is awarded the Randall Vetter Memorial Scholarship. This award recognizes a current student who excels in scholarship, community service, and civic leadership. 

The scholarship honors Randall Vetter '94, a DPS trooper who was killed in the line of duty during a traffic stop near San Marcos. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Criminal Justice from St. Edward's University in May 1994. During his days as a St. Edward's University student, Vetter served as both vice-president and president of the university's chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice academic society. He was described as the "quintessential poster-boy for what professional law enforcement in our democratic society should stand for at the dawn of the new millennium," by Dr. David M Horton, who taught Vetter at St. Edward's University.

About the Minor

Students who are interested in doing work related to the criminal justice system can expand their knowledge and experience by getting a minor in Criminal Justice. A minor in Criminal Justice is particularly helpful for students who are interested in pursuing criminal investigations and enforcement.

Required Courses for a Minor in Criminal Justice, General (18 hours):

  • Administration of Justice
  • Constitutional Criminal Procedure
  • 6 hours of upper-division Criminal Justice coursework
  • 6 hours of the following: Criminal Law I, American Court System, American Law Enforcement, Criminal Evidence and Proof

Required Courses for a Minor in Criminal Justice, Pre-Law (18 hours):

  • Administration of Justice
  • Criminal Law I
  • American Court System
  • Constitutional Criminal Procedure
  • Law of Evidence and Proof
  • Criminal Law II or Prosecution and Adjudication

Are you a current student? Contact your advisor for next steps on declaring your major or minor.