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Criminal Justice Certificate Curriculum

With a general overview of criminal justice as a discipline—and the opportunity to choose from a variety of electives—students graduate with a strong understanding of all the facets of the justice system and an idea of the path they want their career to take. From private security and criminal investigation to corrections and ethics in criminal justice, courses are designed to set a precedent for further education and a rewarding career.

Required course

J01 - Introduction to Criminal Justice  

Introduction to Criminal Justice examines the past, present, and future of the American criminal justice system. Topics discussed include how laws are created, the history and types of law enforcement, the structure of the court system, and the changing philosophies of the American correctional system. You'll also examine the role of legal precedent, the death penalty, prison life, and the juvenile justice system.

By the end of this course, you'll be able to do the following:

  • Describe the purpose, components, and methods of the criminal justice system.
  • Describe the purpose, sources, types, and enforcement of laws.
  • Describe the methods of and challenges associated with enforcing the law.
  • Describe the role of the courts and the adjudication process in the US criminal justice system.
  • Explain the role and methods of corrections in the United States.
  • Describe the juvenile justice system.
  • Describe how drug abuse and drug crimes are handled in the criminal justice system.
  • Identify issues and emerging trends in criminal justice.

Credit Hours: 3

Course electives

J02 - Criminal Law  

This course examines criminal law in the US. It offers an overview of the criminal court system. The course provides a foundation in criminal offenses, as well as defenses that are available to those accused of committing criminal acts. Terrorism and crimes involving multiple offenders are also highlights of this course. Throughout, early common law is compared to modern law.

By the end of this course, you'll be able to do the following:

  • Explain the elements needed to execute a crime, including mens rea, actus rea, and concurrence.
  • Outline the elements of various degrees of murder and manslaughter.
  • Identify the property invasion crimes of burglary, trespass, vandalism, and criminal mischief.
  • Discuss the differences between common law multiple offenders and modern-day accomplice statutes.
  • Summarize vice crimes and drug offenses.
  • Distinguish among treason, sedition, espionage, sabotage, criminal syndicalism, and other offenses against the state.
  • Distinguish among several types of defenses, including perfect and imperfect defenses.

Credit Hours: 3

J03 - Criminal Procedure  

This course provides an overview of the procedures used to lawfully investigate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals suspected of and accused of violating criminal laws.

By the end of this course, you'll be able to do the following:

  • Examine the constitutional basis for criminal procedure.
  • Explore remedies for violations of the Constitution, including the Exclusionary Rule.
  • Analyze searches and seizures within the context of the Fourth Amendment.
  • Compare arrest warrants and search warrants.
  • Evaluate the issues involved in warrantless searches and seizures, including the situations in which warrantless arrests may be made.
  • Compare and contrast "stop" and "frisk."
  • Summarize the varieties of regulatory and special needs searches.
  • Examine the constitutionality of interrogations, confessions, and identifications.
  • Construct the pretrial process once a person has been arrested and the roles of the prosecutors, grand juries, and defense attorneys.
  • Evaluate plea bargaining and guilty pleas and the Constitutional protections for the defendant at trial and beyond.

Credit Hours: 3

J04 - Policing  

This course provides a study of policing, including focused discussions that explain why police organizations differ from other organizations. Emphasis is given to policing in the modern world of technology and terrorism. Police subculture, their discretion and misconduct, US Supreme Court cases that address Constitutional rights, and internal and external measures of accountability are also highlights of this course.

By the end of this course, you'll be able to do the following:

  • Summarize the role of police in the criminal justice system.
  • Explain how law enforcement agencies differ from other organizations.
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of police discretion.
  • Identify various types of police missions.
  • Analyze the influences of the Fourth Amendment on searches and seizures.
  • Explain the different types of external accountability measures put in place to check police misconduct.
  • Define several typologies proposed by scholars to account for police deviance.
  • Identify the various levels of force police officers use.

Credit Hours: 3

J05 - Corrections  

This course is designed to introduce you to the correctional system in the United States. To this end, you'll explore the American correctional context, correctional practices, and a number of correctional issues and perspectives.

By the end of this course, you'll be able to do the following:

  • Point out the importance of corrections, the associated laws, and the types of issues.
  • Categorize the types of correction programs, reforms, and the issues in them.
  • Differentiate between the various correctional programs, treatment methods, and the changes made with time.
  • Analyze the corrections used on different convicts and the factors that determine these corrections.
  • Apply the philosophy and knowledge of corrections to initiating the process of reentry.
  • Demonstrate a high level of inquiry, analytical, and problem-solving skills.
  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal skills.
  • Demonstrate effective quantitative skills.
  • Demonstrate computer and information literacy.

Credit Hours: 3

J06 - Ethics in Criminal Justice  

How ethical are people when no one is looking? This course will sharpen your awareness of ethical behavior as it applies to criminal justice. You'll engage in focused discussions of Aristotle, Kant, John Stuart Mill, and other renowned philosophers. Each lesson provides you with the opportunity to work through ethical dilemmas. Then, you'll examine retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation, the four primary theories of punishment. You'll also be exposed to US Supreme Court cases that address Constitutional rights, police misconduct, and the future of ethics.

By the end of this course, you'll be able to do the following:

  • Distinguish between morals, values, and ethics.
  • Explain the moral virtues concepts espoused by Aristotle.
  • Explain why lying is never permissible in formalism ethics.
  • Contrast utilitarian ethics with the views of Aristotle and Kant.
  • Identify the principles of classical, positivism, structural, and ethical theories of crime causation.
  • Evaluate the ethical dilemmas posed by plea bargaining and sentencing decisions.
  • Discuss ethical issues that arise in correctional facilities.
  • Analyze foreseeable ethical dilemmas that can arise with technological advances.

Credit Hours: 3

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Program Description

The Criminal Justice program is designed to prepare you for a career in criminal justice or further study in the field by establishing a foundation of essential knowledge while allowing ample opportunity for exploration and specialization through electives.

Program Objectives

After completing the Criminal Justice program, you’ll be able to do the following:

  1. Discuss the past, present, and future of the American criminal justice system.
  2. Explain the role of the courts and the adjudication process in the US criminal justice system.
  3. Describe the methods of and challenges associated with enforcing the law.
  4. Differentiate among types of corrections programs, treatment methods, and re-entry issues.
  5. Discuss how philosophies of criminal justice and corrections have changed over time.
  6. Explain how drug addiction, domestic violence, and sexual assault are handled in the criminal justice system.
  7. Identify the skills needed to be an exemplary criminal investigator.

Improve your career prospects in criminal justice

With practical skills and a foundation of knowledge on the criminal justice system, you’ll have everything you need to pursue further education or start learning on the job. With exclusive access to our Career Tools, you’ll get support for resume writing and interview tips. Additional professional development resources, such as how to use technology and social media in your job search are also available through The Ashworth College Central Network.

Uncover career growth

The Undergraduate Certificate in Criminal Justice is more than just a semester toward the next degree level, it's your launch pad for career growth. Make every lesson count by taking advantage of the career services provided by the Ashworth College Central Network. From the moment you enroll, you gain access to a complete toolkit of resume and letter templates so you can pitch your new job skills before your coursework is done. After you graduate, feel free to revisit your account any time. Learn more on the Career Services page.

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