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Criminal Justice (CJ)

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Evidence-based practices

Gain practical experience.

Mount Mercy University’s criminal justice major stands out for its strong reputation and long history as one of few schools in the Midwest to offer a four-year criminal justice program.

Mount Mercy’s accomplished faculty prepare future community leaders by blending classroom learning with practical experience through guest speakers, field trips, and internships. Students studying criminal justice will be ready for a career in corrections, criminal investigation, policing, or juvenile justice.


Practice for real-world situations.

Students are introduced to evidence-based practices and are prepared to take on employer demands for critical thinkers, effective communicators, and ethical decision makers—all of which are vital to being competitive in today’s marketplace.

What courses will I take?

Criminal Justice Major

CJ 101Introduction To Criminal Justice3
CJ 154Criminology3
CJ 203Policing3
CJ 244Corrections3
CJ 297Criminal Law3
CJ 299Criminal Justice Information, Communication and Ethics3
CJ 302Criminal Justice Research Methods3
CJ 305White Collar Crime3
CJ 365Diversity and the Criminal Justice System3
CJ 410Senior Seminar3
Choose Three of the Following: 9
CJ 228
Juvenile Justice
CJ/HI 242
Crime and Culture in America
CJ 246
Criminal Investigation
CJ 350
Trial Evidence
CJ 355
Criminal Procedure
CJ 380
Sex Offenders
CJ 390
Special Topics in Criminal Justice
CJ 426
Media and Crime
CJ 428
EN 314
Law and Literature
HI 245
Recent American History
HI 306
20th Century American History of Race and Gender
PO 326
Politics and Public Policy
PO 335
State and Local Government
Total Hours39

Academic Requirements

Transfer students must take a minimum of 15 semester hours in their criminal justice major or minor at Mount Mercy.  A student may enroll in and complete a maximum of 6 semester hours for CJ 428 Internship, although only 3 semester hours may be counted toward the major. Majors should follow a sequence of completion in order:

CJ 101Introduction To Criminal Justice3
CJ 299Criminal Justice Information, Communication and Ethics3
CJ 302Criminal Justice Research Methods3
CJ 410Senior Seminar3

In addition, criminal justice majors and minors must complete CJ 101 Introduction To Criminal Justice before enrolling in other criminal justice courses.

Criminal Justice Minor

CJ 101Introduction To Criminal Justice3
CJ 203Policing3
CJ 244Corrections3
CJ 297Criminal Law3
CJ 299Criminal Justice Information, Communication and Ethics3
Choose one additional course from the criminal justice major curriculum 3
Total Hours18

Note: Students must meet semester hour requirements and course prerequisites.

The following is the typical sequence of courses required for the major*: 

Portal Course3CJ 203 (or Domain)3CO 1013
Writing Competency4 CJ 1543
CJ 1013 Literature Domain3
Math Competency3 Domain3
Domain3 Domain3
 16 3 15
CJ 2973CJ 228 (or Domain)3CJ 2443
CJ 2993 CJ 2463
Natural World Domain4 Domain3
Philosophy Domain3 Elective3
Domain3 Elective3
 16 3 15
CJ 3023CJ 3503CJ 3053
Domain3 Elective3
CJ 4283 CJ 3553
Elective3 Elective3
 12 3 12
CJ 3653CJ 3803CJ 4103
Elective3 ME 4501
Elective3 Elective3
Elective3 Elective3
 12 3 13
Total Hours: 123

Note: Elective courses could be used for a second major, a minor, a course of interest, internship or study abroad experience. Three Criminal Justice major electives are required.

Note: See the Curriculum section for more information on Portal, Competency, Domain, and Capstone courses.


The course offerings, requirements, and policies of Mount Mercy University are under continual examination and revision. This Catalog presents the offerings, requirements, and policies in effect at the time of publication and in no way guarantees that the offerings, requirements, and policies will not change.

This plan of study represents a typical sequence of courses required for this major. It may not be applicable to every student. Students should contact a department faculty member to be sure of appropriate course sequence.


CJ 101 Introduction To Criminal Justice: 3 semester hours

This course is a review of the delivery of criminal justice services in the United States. Particular attention will be devoted to a modeling of the criminal process, the control of discretion within the various sub-processes, and the role of criminal justice in a democratic social order that emphasizes public accountability and the rule of law.

CJ 154 Criminology: 3 semester hours

This course is the study of the causes of crime in society, along with the implications for the United States criminal justice system. Students will evaluate research in the field, like biological developments related to DNA, and studies correlating social factors and crime. The underlying theoretical assumptions of criminal justice policies and organizations will also be analyzed.

CJ 203 Policing: 3 semester hours

This course includes an examination of the role of police in a free society. The course also reviews current research on policing, the concept of the rule of law, police behavior and subcultures, the historical evolution of the police, police selection and training, and the management and administration of police.

CJ 228 Juvenile Justice: 3 semester hours

This course includes an examination of juvenile delinquency and the juvenile justice process. The study includes an analysis of the evolution of parens patriae, and case law of the juvenile process from taking into custody through disposition.

CJ 242 Crime and Culture in America: 3 semester hours

This course explores the history of crime and the relationships between crime and culture in America. Major topics include the historical perspectives of crime and culture, cultural influences on crime and justice throughout history, and historical changes in the interpretation of crime.

CJ 244 Corrections: 3 semester hours

This course is the study of the history, philosophy, and practice of corrections. This course will include an analysis of corrections history and philosophy along with an examination of jails, prisons, probation, intermediate sanctions, and parole. The course will also cover legal developments in corrections, correctional trends, management and treatment of correctional populations, and problems facing correctional systems.

CJ 246 Criminal Investigation: 3 semester hours

This course includes a survey of the theory of scientific crime detection, investigation, interrogation, case presentation, and problems in criminal investigation. The content will include coverage of recent developments in forensic investigation such as DNA fingerprinting.

CJ 297 Criminal Law: 3 semester hours

This course introduces criminal law in the United States. The course examines the purposes and historical development of criminal law, and includes a discussion of the Constitutional limits on what behaviors can be criminalized. Students study the legal elements that must be proven to convict an individual. The course also considers parties to a crime, like accomplices and accessories, attempted crimes, and defenses to a crime (e.g., self-defense, insanity). Students will use the “case method,” requiring them to critically analyze real-life legal cases.

CJ 299 Criminal Justice Information, Communication and Ethics: 3 semester hours

This course provides an opportunity for students to improve and apply reasoning skills in a criminal justice context, establishing a foundation for upper-level coursework. The course requires students to refine their communication and information research skills. Students will become adept at finding, evaluating, and properly citing research materials for the field of criminal justice. Special attention will also be given to ethical issues in criminal justice. For criminal justice majors, CJ 299 is a prerequisite for all 300- and 400-level criminal justice courses. Prerequisite: Grade of at least C- in core curriculum writing course.

CJ 302 Criminal Justice Research Methods: 3 semester hours

This course is an exploration of research in the field of criminal justice. Specifically, the course includes learning about research design, validity and reliability, data collection, secondary data analysis, levels of measurement, and hypothesis testing. Students will also learn how to analyze data and interpret statistical output. Prerequisites: CJ 299. A course in basic statistics is also suggested, but not required.

CJ 305 White Collar Crime: 3 semester hours

This course is a general survey reviewing both the nature and scope of white-collar crime. This course will explore crimes upon which society has placed little focus, yet at the same time have significant physical, fiscal, and social costs. Special emphasis is placed on the complexities of corporate crime and its effects on society. Prerequisite CJ 299.

CJ 350 Trial Evidence: 3 semester hours

This course is a study of the law governing the presentation of evidence at trial. Focus will be upon the various types of evidence, questions of competency, relevancy, and materiality, with special emphasis on the hearsay rule and its exceptions. The content will include the role of evidence in striking a theoretical balance between the defendant and the state in the pre-trial and trial adversary process. Prerequisites: CJ 297, CJ 299 and suggest CJ 355.

CJ 355 Criminal Procedure: 3 semester hours

This course is an examination of constitutional criminal procedure related to police stops, arrest, search and seizure, and interrogations. Emphasis is placed upon the role of criminal procedure in controlling police discretion in a democratic society. The fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments to the Bill of Rights are explored in-depth. Miranda warnings and the exclusionary rule are also studied. Prerequisite: CJ 299, suggest CJ 297.

CJ 365 Diversity and the Criminal Justice System: 3 semester hours

This course explores relationships between society and the criminal justice system. Particular attention is given to both past and contemporary relationships between the criminal justice system and historically marginalized groups. Issues of dissent and divergent perspectives on the role of the criminal justice system will also be examined. Prerequisite: CJ 299.

CJ 380 Sex Offenders: 3 semester hours

This course is a seminar on the contemporary topic of sex offenders. We will explore what constitutes a sex offense, examine different types of sex offenders, and study how society responds to these acts, victims, and offenders. Prerequisite: CJ 299.

CJ 390 Special Topics in Criminal Justice: 3 semester hours

This course provides the opportunity for a study of a significant topic, problem, or issue in criminal justice. This course may be repeated once for credit when content varies. Prerequisite: CJ 299.

CJ 410 Senior Seminar: 3 semester hours

This course is a study of select and highly contemporary criminal justice issues. The course format allows students to draw upon and integrate knowledge gained from previous courses and apply it in an area of individual, intensive research. The content will vary. Prerequisites: CJ 154, CJ 299, CJ 302.

CJ 426 Media and Crime: 3 semester hours

This course will focus on the interrelationships among media, crime, and the criminal justice system. Particular attention will be given to the construction of crime in the news and entertainment media, and how those constructions affect citizens' perception of the crime and the criminal justice system. Policy and legal implications of these perceptions will also be considered. Prerequisite: CJ 299.

CJ 428 Internship: 3 semester hours

This is an academically oriented practical experience gained through supervised work assignments with various governmental and private criminal justice-related agencies. The student will have the opportunity to contrast theory and practice. The internship is open to criminal justice majors of junior or senior status and with the consent of the internship coordinator. A student may enroll in and complete a maximum of six (6) semester hours for CJ 428 although only three (3) semester hours may be counted toward the major. The application deadlines are February 15 for summer internships, April 15 for fall internships, and September 15 for spring internships. Prerequisites: CJ 299, junior or senior in good standing, approved application, and consent of the internship coordinator. (1-6 semester hours).

CJ 445 Independent Study: 3 semester hours

Independent study courses are specially designed by the student and the instructor. This allows criminal justice majors to pursue research and/or study of a specific area of interest in criminal justice. Prerequisite: CJ 299 and instructor permission.

The research methods I learned and the exposure I had to current issues and practices in my field assisted me in determining best practices for the police department to better serve the community.

Denise Brotherton '94, '20 MACJ

What are the next steps?

Mount Mercy offers competitive tuition and generous scholarships.

We also encourage all students to apply for federal, state, and other kinds of financial assistance.

Learn more about:

We make it easy by accepting applications year-round! No deadline, no fee, no pressure.

  1. Create your application
  2. Apply under standard admissions criteria or go "test optional"
  3. Request official transcripts from all institutions previously attended. Mail to:

* Mount Mercy University Admissions
  1330 Elmhurst Drive NE
  Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402

* If you are applying for an accelerated program, please mail to "Accelerated Programs"

For more detailed instructions on how to apply, see our Admissions page.

Careers in criminal justice

While many entry-level positions in policing do not require a 4-year degree, a college degree often makes an applicant more "marketable" and promotable. Participation in reserve and internship programs is also usually a plus.

The corrections field is one of the most rapidly growing segments of the criminal justice system.  Because the United States has more people incarcerated than any other country in the world, there are (and predictably will continue to be) a wealth of occupational opportunities in corrections.  Internships and volunteering are often excellent ways to break into this field.

A student who plans to attend law school is not required to have a specific undergraduate major.  Students going on to law school typically study a variety of subjects including, but not limited to, political science, criminal justice, philosophy, history, English, and economics.  Law schools look at a variety of criteria in admitting new law students. Some of the most important criteria are the undergraduate grade point average (GPA) and scores on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).  Criminal justice majors are urged to consider a double-major to prepare for law school admission.

As a relatively new discipline there are a small, but growing, number of graduate programs in criminal justice.  Many teaching and research careers are now available for those going on for the Master's degree, and especially the PhD degree.  Other criminal justice graduates have gone onto graduate studies in psychology, social work, criminology, and public policy.