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Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

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How do you envision yourself supporting your community? If it’s defending others, upholding the law and civil liberties, and protecting the defenseless, Saginaw Valley State University’s Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree lets your ambitions come to fruition. A comprehensive liberal arts– and practical skills–based curriculum is designed to transform the next generation of police officers, agents, paralegals, and security and corrections professionals with a nuanced, compassionate perspective balancing a holistic understanding of the criminal justice system, contributing social and behavioral patterns, and crime control policy with a focus on social justice. 

SVSU prides ourselves on empowering and shepherding tomorrow’s criminal justice workforce. Each year, we graduate an engaged, selfless, and persevering group ready to fight on behalf of those in need, make the world a more welcoming environment for all individuals, and strive for the collective betterment of society. Reflecting our drive, this bachelor’s in criminal justice stands out as one of SVSU’s most in-demand majors not just for the spectrum of career paths awaiting you but also the in-depth, broad look at the field that equips you with transferable, real-life law enforcement experiences that can be applied in roles at local, state, and federal levels and addresses issues within Michigan to the global community at large. At the same time, the blend of real-world teachings and social science helps current practicing officers enhance their understanding of criminal justice and build upon their existing practical skills.  

Through a format integrating meaningful service with traditional instruction, you’ll have the competencies and knowledge to immediately enter the workforce after graduation or specialize your education further in a master’s program, all while building strong lifelong professional connections along the way.  

For more information, contact Department Chair Melissa Garmo at

Cardinal Points

  • The program has a cooperative agreement with the Delta College and Mott Community College Police Academies that permits our students to earn 12 Academy credits toward the SVSU degree. Students can earn 6 credits if they attended another MCOLES certified Police Academy

  • Class sizes range from 20 to 35 students, allowing for meaningful faculty-student interaction.

  • The Criminal Justice program is one of the largest on-campus with over 300 students enrolled in the major.

Enrolled in the BA in Criminal Justice program, you’ll start your journey with an education based in the behavioral and social sciences that prepares you for a range of challenging career paths with an introduction to the structure, processes, and goals of the criminal justice system. At the same time, the major’s contents, along with SVSU’s overall structure, emphasizes personal growth and the field’s intersectionality through the liberal arts.

Considering the program’s goals:

  • you’ll be immersed in criminal justice’s diverse and far-reaching applications through a curriculum covering policy and treatment, the court system, corrections, juvenile justice, human relations, research methods, evidence and evaluations, criminology, conflict resolution, social justice, and current trends in the field;
  • electives help deepen your knowledge of corrections, criminal courts, criminology, juvenile justice, policing, security, and social justice, and you’ll be recommended to select a suggested concentration plan of study;
  • you’re encouraged to reflect on criminal justice topics and nurture your critical-thinking abilities to face a range of challenges on the job;
  • you’ll develop greater insight into the patterns and causes of crime, contemporary issues within the criminal justice field, the importance of security management, influencing policy related to stemming criminal activity, and the political, economic, and cultural factors contributing to criminal behaviors; and
  • smaller class sizes allow you to connect with your instructors, who can recommend hands-on learning opportunities to expand real-world applications of your skills.

As a counterpoint to in-classroom learning, this bachelor’s in criminal justice program opens up multiple channels for experiential learning:

  • Cooperative agreement with the Delta College Police Academy: During your senior year, attend training through Delta College for additional law enforcement exposure and apply 12 Academy credits toward your SVSU degree. Learn more about this course of study.
  • Fieldwork placements: Discover your career path directly in an employment setting. You’ll complete 120 hours in an assigned public or private organization over the duration of two semesters while working with professionals who will turn into key contacts to forward your aspirations. Learn more about these assignments.
  • Criminal justice groups: Alpha Phi Sigma and the Criminal Justice Society both present chances for fostering your leadership skills, developing professional-level accomplishments, and creating beneficial connections that will serve your career.

The BA in Criminal Justice requires 39 total credits, including core courses (21 credits) and electives (18 credits). These contribute to a minimum of 124 credits all students need to earn to complete their degree at SVSU, including the Basic Skills component, General Education requirements, and second major or minor.

Highlighted Courses

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Key Electives

Click here to see a listing of programs




Your Plan for a Successful College Experience

The Cardinal Plan is a unique outline created by faculty for your program at SVSU and serves as a guide for student success.

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Complementary Minors/Majors

Our Students After Graduation...


State of Michigan
Beacon Health Options (ValueOptions)
Child Protective Services
Healthsource Saginaw
University of Michigan

Career Opportunities

Law Enforcement Officer (local, state or federal)
Military OneSource State Consultant
Child Protective Specialist
Mental Health Worker
Public Safety Officer

The BA in Criminal Justice degree provides a pathway to an entry-level career at a private or public agency or to advance your studies in a graduate program. The knowledge you acquire sets the stage for positions in the field’s administrative side, evidence collection, community and policy influence, criminal justice theory, probation and parole, corrections, assessing juvenile delinquency, law enforcement, or public administration.

  • Employment of police and detectives is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029. (US Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Applicants with a bachelor's degree and law enforcement or military experience, especially in investigation, as well as those who speak more than one language, should have the strongest, most versatile job opportunities. (US Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • The 2018 median annual pay for police officers and detectives was $63,380/year or $30.47/hour. (US Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Our alumni develop careers in a wide variety of fields, including social services, private security, law, and corrections (including probation and parole), as well as working in youth-centered organizations.

Cardinal Successes

These stories offer insight into how SVSU students have turned their education into successful opportunities yielding real-world success.

Sloan Klaski Criminal Justice Alumn

Read more…

Terrence Moore Criminal Justice Alum

Read more…

Fully integrated into social networks, SVSU Connect is a valuable networking space dedicated to the community of SVSU students, faculty and alumni which cultivates a culture of helping and giving back. In addition to connecting with each other, students at all points along their journey can reach out to alumni mentors for guidance and insight into making the most of their SVSU experience and successfully transitioning into life after graduation.