Criminal Justice

Program Format

Online and evenings
(West Des Moines Campus)
8-week courses

Program Information

128 credit hours
Faculty Profiles

18-19 Tuition Rate

$375/ credit hour

When Can I Start?

6 start times/year
Fall, Spring or Summer Semester



Find out more

The Criminal Justice Major and Minor

The Criminal Justice major at Simpson College is concerned with the application of knowledge derived primarily from the social sciences. The major consists of required core courses, elective options selected by the student in consultation with their advisor, and the capstone course of Standards of Professional Behavior.

Students gain exposure to the components of the criminal justice system, the value of research and analysis, and the theoretical explanations for crime and criminal behavior. The program also has an overall focus on both the importance of issues of diversity and ethical decision-making in the criminal justice system.

In 2013, Simpson criminal justice undergraduates scored in the 99th percentile on the Educational Testing Service’s Major Field Test, relative to 102 comparison institutions from across the United States. The results reaffirm the strength of Simpson’s program in content delivery and student mastery of discipline-specific subject matter.

Students completing the Criminal Justice major will be able to:

  • Apply criminological theories to concrete situations;
  • Analyze and interpret social science data;
  • Formulate ethical responses to professional situations; and
  • Critique how issues of power and inequalities in the U.S. impact criminal justice outcomes.

The Criminal Justice major is 44 credits (11 courses), while the Criminal Justice minor is 20 credits (5 courses).

Required Major Courses (44 credits)

ECON 135: Applied Statistics 4cr.

Fundamentals of descriptive and inferential statistics studied through business applications. Topics include central tendency and variability, frequency distributions, elementary probability theory, binomial, normal, and t-distributions, sampling theory, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, regression analysis. Prerequisite: One of: MATH-105/105T,Math-130/130T, Math ACT of 22 or higher, or Math SAT of 530 or higher. Students majoring in a Social Science should take SOC/PSYC-210 rather than this course. Credit will not be given for both SOC-210 or PSYC-215 and ECON-135. Offered every semester. (QUANT)

CJ 220: Criminal Justice Systems 4cr.

Examines and compares the philosophies and operations of the three principal branches of the criminal justice system: police, courts, and corrections. Of particular concern will be the handling of conflict resulting from misunderstanding and confusion regarding the nature and intent of our criminal justice systems functioning in dealing with certain types of problems. American and British comparisons in dealing with selected issue areas will be analyzed. Offered every fall.

SOC 321: Methods of Social Research I 4cr.

Contemporary methods are employed in assembling, analyzing, and interpreting social data. Data base management and statistical software packages are used to evaluate research findings. Individual research assignments and class projects introduce the student to techniques for dealing with specific types of theoretical and social research problems. Prerequisites: SOC 210 AND one of the following: SOC 320 or CJ 342 or CJ 343. Offered every semester. (INFOLIT)

CJ 346: Field Experience in Criminal Justice 4cr.

Placement in a court, planning agency, or other criminal justice agency for a minimum of 120 hours of supervised fieldwork. Open to majors with junior or senior standing. Offered every semester. (WRITCOM)

SCJ 352: Standards for Professional Behavior 4cr.

Ethical concerns in human services professions will be examined. Dilemmas involving confidentiality and privacy, conflicts of interest, deception, coercion and control, and human subjects review will be explored within the broader context of the concepts of justice, fairness and respect. In addition to theoretical constructs of ethical issues that arise in social science disciplines, various written codes of conduct (such as National Association of Workers, American Corrections Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, American Bar Association and American Psychological Association) will be explored. Prerequisite: senior standing required. Offered every semester. (ETHICS, WRITCOM)

Take one of the following 4cr.

  • CJ 335: Inequality & Justice - This course will introduce students to criminological thought on the intersection between crime and multiple social constructs such as race/ethnicity, gender, class, and sexual orientation. The course will consider how these areas impact people's interactions with the criminal justice system as offenders, victims, and workers, as well as how issues of inequality are related to crime and criminal behavior. Offered alternate years. (DIVRSTY) OR
  • SCJ 340: Race and Ethnic Relations- This course explores the dynamics and results of inter-group relations. Prejudice and discrimination are examined in both historical and international perspective. Among the concrete topics discussed are affirmative action, multiculturalism, institutional discrimination, and the interrelationship of sex, class, and ethnicity. Offered every semester. (DIVRSTY)

Take one of the following 4cr.

  • CJ 342: Juvenile Delinquency - The extent and cause of criminal behavior of children, adolescents, and young adults. Development and operation of juvenile courts and theories and methods of juvenile treatment and rehabilitation are examined. (CIVIC, CRITTHNK) OR
  • CJ 343: Criminology - The extent and cause of adult criminal behavior, adjudication procedures, penal theories and practices, rehabilitation programs, and crime prevention.

Criminal Justice Electives 16cr.

At least 8 credits must be 300 level. One course may be from a related area outside of the department with departmental approval.

I have been to other colleges and Simpson has been SUCH a great experience. Being able to take classes at night makes it possible to still work full time and still get a degree.. advisors are so knowledgeable and also care personally about everyone that they deal with.

I chose the Criminal Justice Major because I wanted to be able to use my life experiences and skills to help other people. I find sociology and the psychology of people fascinating and Criminal Justice was a way to use my interest in those things in to practice every day.

Samantha Williams '16, Criminal Justice Major