Criminal Justice

  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
    • Emphasis

    Get Involved

    A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

    • Alpha Kappa Delta: This is a society of scholars (undergrad, graduate and professional) who promote excellence in sociology, conduct research on social problems and involve themselves in other activities which attempt to improve the human condition.
    • Sociology Club: This student organization engages students in academic and social activities outside of the classroom.


    Institutional Scholarships

    Common Scholarships

    Western offers approximately 70 common scholarships for which a wide variety of students are eligible (e.g., locals, veterans, transfers). Apply for any number of these common scholarships using Western’s Common Scholarship Application, which is due April 1. For more information, visit

    Early Action Credit

    If a student is accepted to Western by Nov. 1 and qualifies for a merit scholarship, the student will receive an additional $500 for the first year. Use our Net Price Calculator to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

    Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

    Western Colorado University alumni can nominate prospective students for a $500 scholarship ($250 per semester) for first year only. Application deadline is typically June 1. For more information, visit

    Neighboring States Program

    Students with a permanent address from one of the seven contiguous neighboring states to Colorado who have demonstrated financial need are automatically considered for a special $1,000 per year grant, totaling $4,000 over four years.

    The Western Neighboring States program can be added to WUE, CP or merit scholarships. So, if you are a permanent resident of one of those seven states—and show financial need—you are eligible.

    For more information about the Neighboring States program, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Presidential Promise

    The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

    For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential promise, visit

    Tuition Discount Programs

    Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

    For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Western Merit Scholarship

    Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student's GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship. 

    For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit

    Faculty & Staff


    Matt Aronson, Ph.D. headshot
    Assistant Professor of Sociology
    Phone: 970.943.7126
    Office Location: Kelley Hall 220
    Jacqulyn Gabriel, Ph.D. headshot
    Assistant Professor of Sociology
    Phone: 970.943.2289
    Office Location: Kelley Hall 221
    Greg Haase, Ph.D. headshot
    Professor of Sociology, Department Chair of Behavioral & Social Sciences Department
    Phone: 970.943.2070
    Office Location: Kelley Hall 218
    Cindy Whitney, Ph.D. headshot
    Assistant Professor of Sociology
    Phone: 970.943.2059
    Office Location: Kelley Hall 213


    FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

     GEOG 340 - Introduction of Geographic Information Systems (3 credits)

    An introduction to the concepts and techniques of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Topics covered include fundamentals of mapping, data formats, data acquisition, and quantitative analysis of spatial data. The laboratory component emphasizes practical applications of GIS to contemporary problems including but not limited to watershed analysis, land-use planning, environmental assessment, and market analysis. Prerequisites: GEOG 222 or GEOL 105; college-level mathematics requirement with a minimum grade of "C-"; junior standing or instructor permission.

     POLS 301 - Constitutional Law II (3 credits)

    A continuation of POLS 300. An examination of the constitutional protections of individual liberties as defined by the Supreme Court. Students study the historical development of the Supreme Court's point of view in such areas as freedom of speech, subversion and disloyalty, religious freedom, church-state separation, and equal protection of the law. Prerequisite: POLS 180 recommended.

     PSY 200 - Statistics and Data Analysis (3 credits)

    An introduction to statistical procedures often encountered in the analysis of data from behavioral science research. Statistical methods covered include measures of central tendency and variability, correlation, regression, t-tests and analysis of variance. Prerequisites: PSY 100; MATH 113 or MATH 140 with a minimum grade of C-, or instructor permission.

     PSY 368 - Psychopathology (3 credits)

    A systematic study of the etiology, symptoms, assessment, and treatment of major forms of psychopathology. An interdisciplinary approach is employed as a basis for understanding mental disorders and mental illness. Prerequisites: PSY 100, PSY 258, or PSY 270.

     SOC 101 - Introduction to Sociology (3 credits)

    An introduction to the discipline of sociology with special emphasis on the unique perspective this science utilizes to examine the social world. Sociology is distinguished by its focus on understanding patterns of human behavior and emphasizing the social forces that shape and influence these patterns. Primary course focus is on culture, inequality, race and gender, and social institutions. This course serves as a 'gateway' course for all Sociology majors and minors, and must be passed with a minimum grade of 'C' to be used as a prerequisite. Prerequisite for all 200-, 300-, and 400-level Sociology courses.

     SOC 150 - Environmental Sociology (3 credits)

    The sociological perspective is utilized to examine a variety of issues addressing the human-environment interface. In particular, this course examines how social organization and culture both shape and are shaped by the natural environment. The course focuses on issues of sustainability, the rights of the natural world, and environmental justice.

     SOC 168 - Social Problems (3 credits)

    An introduction to the field of sociology through an analysis of social problems in the United States and in the world. Course focus is on topics such as drugs and alcohol abuse, crime and prisons, health and illness, hunger and poverty, resource depletion and pollution, and the effects of globalization.

     SOC 211 - Quantitative Research Methods (3 credits)

    An introduction for students of the social sciences to the fundamentals of quantitative research analysis. Students design and administer surveys, code data, and analyze results. Students become familiar with descriptive statistics (frequency distributions, measures of central tendency, and dispersion), inferential statistics (sampling theory, hypothesis testing, normal binomial distributions, confidence intervals, and types of error), as well as techniques for computing correlation. Prerequisites: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of C; and MATH 113 or MATH 140.

     SOC 225 - Self and Society (3 credits)

    An examination of how the discipline of sociology approaches "micro-level" phenomenon. Emphasis is on the formation of the self, the socialization process, and the importance of language to social interaction. Beginning with the premise that social reality is a social construction which has been created through our interactions with others, the implications of this premise for the version of reality each of us experiences is explored. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

     SOC 259 - Introduction to Criminal Justice (3 credits)

    An introduction to the history and contemporary issues of the criminal justice system (law enforcement, courts, and corrections) in the United States. Topics surveyed include the system's history, constitutional limitations, philosophical background, and the system's process. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

     SOC 285 - Criminology (3 credits)

    An introduction to the field of criminology with special emphasis on theories of crime, types of criminals, victimology, and the criminal justice system. Special topics examined include gangs, white collar crimes, property crimes, victimless crimes, and organized crime. Prerequisites: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of ÒCÓ and SOC 259 with a minimum grade of ÒCÓ.

     SOC 302 - Sociological Theory (3 credits)

    A formal introduction to classical sociological theories relevant to the discipline. Students learn about the history of the discipline, identify major sociological theorists and their theories, learn how these theories can be applied to various historical and contemporary social issues, and discover the relationship between theory, research, ideology and everyday life. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

     SOC 303 - Contemporary Sociological Theory (3 credits)

    A formal introduction to sociological theories developed since World War II. Students are able to identify and describe recent sociological theories and apply theory to contemporary social phenomena as well as their individual experiences. Students recognize the relationship between theory, ideology, and daily life. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

     SOC 310 - Qualitative Research Methods (3 credits)

    An examination of qualitative approaches to understanding social life. In particular, the course covers selecting a topic suitable for qualitative investigation, participant observation 220 Sociology and in depth interviewing techniques, the ethics and politics associated with doing qualitative research, writing up field notes, formulating topics, reviewing the literature around the topic, the analysis of field notes, and the writing of research reports. Prerequisite: ENG 102 with a grade of ÒC-Ó or above; SOC 101 with a minimum grade of ÒC.Ó

     SOC 320 - The Family (3 credits)

    An analysis of the family as a social group and institution. Students consider the ways in which the family is influenced by demographic changes and by the changes in other social institutions, such as the economy, education, the state and religion. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

     SOC 322 - Medical Sociology (3 credits)

    An examination of the United States Health Care System and comparison of various components of this system with that of others. The allopathic (Western) medical model is also examined. The course emphasizes the mortality and morbidity trends and patterns which exist in the U.S., the problems facing our health care system (high costs, unequal access), and alternative models of health and disease. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

     SOC 323 - Cultural Studies (3 credits)

    A foundation in the sociology of culture as well as extensive analysis of selected regional, national and/or global (sub) cultures and their environments. Issues covered include the social organization of culture, institutions and narratives, material and non-material culture, and cultural identity and the self. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

     SOC 340 - Social Movements (3 credits)

    An introduction to the study of social movements with two goals in mind. First, is to expose students to the beliefs, practices, and consequences of a number of important historical, and contemporary movements. Second, the course familiarizes students with the theoretical perspectives, conceptual issues, focal questions, and empirical research that animate the study of social movements. This includes such issues as movement emergence, movement participation, mobilization dynamics, movement strategies and tactics, and movement outcomes. Prerequisite: SOC 101 or ENVS 100 with a minimum grade of "C."

     SOC 349 - Law Enforcement (3 credits)

    An examination of issues affecting American law enforcement. Students are exposed to the historical underpinnings of the American policing experience, police operations and applications at the local, state, federal, and international levels, law enforcement subculture, police structure and organization, ethics, selection and training, and career opportunities. Prerequisite: SOC 259 with a minimum grade of "C."

     SOC 350 - Deviance (3 credits)

    Students examine various forms of nonconformity-criminal and otherwise. To do so, they study the major theoretical perspectives addressing deviance and its control. Students explore how ordinary rituals, agents of social control, and ideology interact to maintain the existing social order. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C".

     SOC 351 - Juvenile Delinquency (3 credits)

    Biological, psychological, and sociological factors in juvenile delinquency are examined, as are modern trends in prevention and treatment. The course also addresses the procedural and substantive aspects of the juvenile justice system. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

     SOC 355 - Drugs and Society (3 credits)

    An examination of trends and patterns in American drug use, drug classification schemes, the relationship between drugs and crime, and drug education and prevention strategies. The use of hallucinogenic plants in other cultures is also explored. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

     SOC 367 - Corrections (3 credits)

    An in-depth look at corrections in the United States. Topics include history of corrections, jails, prisons, community corrections, offenders and inmates, women in corrections, juvenile corrections, correctional officers and treatment professionals, and special inmate populations. Prerequisites: SOC 101, SOC 259 and SOC 285 all with a minimum grade of ÒC.Ó

     SOC 380 - Social Inequalities (3 credits)

    An examination of major theories and concepts associated with social inequality as well as the causes and consequence of social inequality. The historical and contemporary aspects of social inequality in the United States are explored. Forms of resistance to social inequality are also considered. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of ÒCÓ.

     SOC 399 - Internship (1 to 6 credits)

    Sociology internships provide Sociology majors of junior and senior status with opportunities to work on sites off campus in the areas of law enforcement and social services. The experience must meet standards set by the College and by the sociology faculty. Up to three hours of internship credit may be counted toward the major. Graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
    • Emphasis

    The Criminal Justice emphasis focuses on the three main institutions that make up the criminal justice system: crime, courts and corrections. Students critically examine the social constructions of social control and deviance, theories of crime and criminality, sentencing, punishment, alternate forms of punishment and rehabilitation.

    Industry professionals teach a selection of courses, including a law enforcement course taught by a local police detective and law courses taught by the chief district judge. Before graduating, students have the opportunity to complete an internship in an area of their choosing, such as probation, sheriff’s departments, police departments, domestic violence centers and other advocacy programs.

    The Program

    Criminal Justice students earn a Sociology major while delving into the inner workings of the Criminal Justice system for their emphasis. As students enter their core Criminal Justice courses, they tighten their focus on the elements of deviance, crime and corrections, examining each of these through a sociological lens. Some courses are taught by industry professionals, including a law enforcement course taught by a local police detective, and law courses taught by the chief district judge. Before graduating, students have the opportunity to complete an internship in an area of their choosing, such as: probation, sheriff’s departments, police departments, domestic violence centers and other advocacy programs.

    Careers & Opportunities

    Criminal Justice students are prepared to continue in graduate and professional training programs. Employment opportunities include:

    • Corrections Officer
    • Parole Officer
    • Case Manager
    • Pre-release Specialist
    • Correctional Treatment
    • Police Officer
    • Sheriff’s Deputy
    • Probation Officer
    • Community Corrections
    • Juvenile Services
    • Fire Departments
    • Human Services

    Learn More

    Reach out to Cindy Whitney, Ph.D. or Jacqulyn Gabriel, Ph.D. for more information.