DUBOIS – Criminal justice. When someone hears that term, many times people will instantly have thoughts of the court system or a court case. While that is part of what criminal justice is, there is much more. At Penn State DuBois, we offer degree programs in criminal justice that prepare students for the many sectors that make up the criminal justice field as a whole.
What is criminal justice?
Criminal justice is the study of the adult and juvenile justice systems, including law enforcement, the courts and corrections. It is interdisciplinary and includes understanding the intersections of law, public policy and behavioral science to approach crime as a social problem and improve these systems for the good of society.
In the United States, there is no singular criminal justice system. Rather, there are many individual systems working together. How they work depends on the jurisdiction in charge, which might be a city, county, state, federal, tribal government or military installation. Laws, agencies and proceedings can vary among jurisdictions. Furthermore, criminal justice systems can operate at multiple levels, including state and federal.
For individuals who work in the criminal justice field, it can be a very rewarding experience.
“When you work in the criminal justice field, you get to do great things every day,” said David Bish, assistant teaching professor and criminal justice program coordinator. “You can protect the public; you are helping to protect those who are in need and helping to make your community a safer and better place.”
Criminal justice programs at Penn State DuBois
Penn State DuBois offers two baccalaureate degree programs in criminal justice, a Bachelor of Science degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree. Both options are excellent preparation for a career in criminal justice, graduate or professional study. The Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice provides a broadly based liberal arts background for the study of crime, justice and the criminal justice system, while the Bachelor of Science degree offers an opportunity for fields not traditionally considered part of the liberal arts.
Students receiving a baccalaureate degree in criminal justice will understand each of the three main components of the criminal justice system and their interrelationships, be able to evaluate critically both current and future crime control policy proposals and criminal justice research, and understand the complexity of the crime phenomenon and its relationship to individual, social and cultural factors. Studies in this program include law enforcement, courts and corrections, individually and as components of a system, plus work in theories of crime causation and crime control policy.
Those studying criminal justice at Penn State DuBois will see many benefits. First, being part of the Penn State system, DuBois offers students the same resources that are available at all Penn State campuses and each student has full access to these resources.
Second, students receive more one-on-one attention from faculty than they would receive at a larger setting. The smaller class sizes at Penn State DuBois allow faculty members to get to know their students, learn what their strengths and weaknesses are, learn what their goals are and help them achieve those goals. “I am familiar with every criminal justice student at Penn State DuBois,” Bish said. “I know what their goals are, I know what their wants are, and I work with those students every day to make sure they are achieving those goals.”
Last, but certainly not least, all of the criminal justice faculty members at Penn State DuBois have worked in the field. Faculty members have their own unique professional experiences, including as a police officer, parole and probation agent, investigative agent and attorney. Each member uses their experiences to help prepare students for their careers after they graduate.
“Our criminal justice faculty members are top-notch professionals,” said Jungwoo Ryoo, chancellor and chief academic officer. “Their work history in the field is impressive, and I am confident that students get the best education they can receive because they learn from those who worked in the trenches and have real-life experiences. The faculty members are also active in research and disseminating knowledge in their professional societies. They often work with their students in their research pursuits as co-authors in publications.”
“We are giving you a great, quality education at a personal level,” said Selena Price, lecturer in criminal justice. “We get to know our students and students get to know us. And that’s what makes Penn State DuBois a great campus.”
Career outlooks in criminal justice
In the world today, we are facing some of the most serious challenges that our society has ever faced, including how to effectively deal with crime in an ever-changing and adapting world. What this means is that the students who are studying criminal justice today will be those working on the front lines tomorrow as protectors and policy makers. What this also means is that this career leads down a path with great growth potential.
“This is a field that is growing,” Bish said. “We are seeing more and more jobs, so this is a great field to get into.”
In fact, over the last 10 years, the criminal justice field has seen large amounts of increases in careers in many areas, including homeland security, law enforcement, and other protective services.
Penn State DuBois graduates can also explore other career options as well, such as police and sheriff officers, detectives, criminal investigators and much more. Graduates can explore numerous options on the federal or state levels, as well as court-related careers and correctional careers. Ultimately, criminal justice graduates from Penn State DuBois have the ability to make their own career path to fit what they are most interested in.
Brandon Orsich graduated from Penn State DuBois in 2021 and has since gone on to be a blended case manager for mental health in the DuBois area. He credits his education to helping him have the right skills and background to do his job effectively. “The degree really helped me get into this field,” Orsich said. “The program is great because of the professors who help you learn professionally and personally. You can go to them at any time outside of class to get personal help and their professional experiences also really helped.”
Starting your journey at Penn State DuBois
Penn State DuBois always looks forward to hearing from prospective students who want to learn more and get started on their educational journey. One of the best places to start that journey is to visit the campus! On March 23, Penn State DuBois will be hosting a visitation day for the criminal justice program. Beginning at 10 a.m., prospective students and their families are welcome to visit campus to meet with admissions counselors and faculty members for the engineering program. Tours of the campus will be offered and a complimentary lunch will also be available. Registration is required to attend the upcoming visitation day.
To learn more about all the criminal justice offerings at Penn State DuBois, and to get registered for the upcoming visitation day, visit the program website here