Criminal Justice


Built on our strong liberal arts foundation, Rockhurst University’s Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice major introduces students to the complexity of our nation’s criminal justice system.

Program Overview

As a criminal justice major, you’ll explore causes and prevention of criminal behavior, as well as gain expertise on the meaning and application of the legal process, law enforcement, court management, and correctional treatment.

We aim to be one of the best colleges for criminal justice degrees in Kansas City, and we do so by fostering a humanistic understanding of the study of crime and the criminal justice system. Our criminal justice program emphasizes critical thinking, application and analysis, and is structured to prepare students for graduate programs in criminal justice and related social science fields, as well as preparation for law school or direct entry into one of many fulfilling criminal justice jobs. Graduates go on to find success in criminal justice careers as competent, effective and compassionate leaders.

In addition to the criminal justice major, RU also offers a minor.

What is Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice is a growing field that spans everything from law enforcement to the court system to the justice administration. With a need for increased security across the globe, criminal justice degree graduates are in high demand. Criminal justice jobs are a good fit for those looking for a rewarding career while also giving back to their communities.

Learning Outcomes

Criminal justice degree program graduates will be able to:

Identify the three primary components of the criminal justice system. 
Develop critical thinking skills.
Describe empirically supported correlates of criminal behavior.
Compare rationales for punishment.
Compare criminological theories. 

Midwest Innocence Project

Rockhurst University partners with the Midwest Innocence Project (MIP) to allow Rockhurst criminal justice students to participate in actual criminal case reviews. Students are assigned a criminal case to examine, looking for issues of innocence concerning an incarcerated person. These students are responsible for reviewing the case file, including investigative reports, witness statements, laboratory findings, trial transcripts, and appellate decisions.

Instances have occurred in which a convicted individual has been exonerated due to the discovery the individual is innocent, and each individual claiming his or her innocence must file an application for innocence with the MIP. The semester-long project culminates in the production of a paper and an oral presentation to the MIP board describing issues of innocence identified by the students and recommendations which MIP will use to determine whether they will further pursue an attempt to exonerate the individual.

The criminal justice curriculum centers on fundamental aspects of the criminal justice system, including the review of the elements of a crime, the necessary and appropriate procedures utilized by law enforcement officials and court personnel, and the appropriate adjudication of the offense. The academic coursework focuses on textbooks and historical Supreme Court cases to identify and reinforce relevant topics.

Application Options

Please choose the option that best fits you:

Class of 2022 and beyond?

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Academic Excellence

With some of the best academics in Kansas City and beyond, we provide an experience that values students and changes lives, reflected through our expert faculty and the success our graduates enjoy.

89 % of full-time faculty hold the highest degree in their field

97 % career and grad school placement rates

23 % higher salary than U.S. median

Alexis Medina poses for a picture in Arrupe Hall.

After coming to campus, I’ve loved the school. It provided me with so many different opportunities. The staff and faculty are very encouraging. If I wouldn’t have gone here, I don’t know if I’d be where I am now as a senior at Rockhurst.

– Alexis Medina | Sports Management ‘19

Why Study at Rockhurst?

Located in the cultural heart of Kansas City, RU’s beautiful 55-acre campus is where more than 3,000 students call home.

Consistently ranked as one of the top regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report.

More than 97% of students receive financial assistance and scholarship opportunities.

With an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio, students receive the personal attention and support they need to grow in knowledge and in character.