New majors are not added to Northwestern’s curriculum very often. Proposals need to be written, and classes have to be created. Then, professors vote to approve the finished product. This process finished last spring when the criminal justice career concentration was upgraded to a major.
The idea for this major came from professors Scott Monsma and Chris Hausmann in the sociology department.
NW has had a criminal justice career concentration for more than 30 years, but with more and more schools having actual criminal justice majors, students pursuing criminal justice were no longer enrolling at NW.
“We had good courses for criminal justice, but they just were not attractive to prospective students,” Monsma said. “With the actual major, the classes will be more attractive to students, and we project enrollment will grow at a steady pace.”
With the new major, three new courses will be added to the catalog: Criminology, Restorative Justice and Policing and Law. These new classes, along with the other criminal justice classes, will be taught by a variety of professors and adjuncts who have knowledge in the field.
“These classes are essential for anyone looking to go into the criminal justice field, but students in other majors, such as social work or other helping professions, might find classes that fit with their intended career goals,” Monsma said.
The goals of the NW criminal justice major are to teach students that criminal justice is not just about punishing the criminals but also about restoring them.
Various criminal justice career paths include joining the police force, working for the department of corrections, becoming a probation or parole officer, working in the juvenile system and even going to law school. Students might also choose to work with the Iowa State Patrol, at Boystown or Girlstown or in correctional facilities.
“I’m excited about the criminal justice major,” Collin Ten Haken said. “My goal after I graduate is to become a police officer, hopefully having a K-9 unit someday or even being a sergeant. I did job-shadowing during high school at our police department and became greatly interested. So far I have been on two day rides and three night patrols with officers, and they have been a blast.”
Currently, the criminal justice program has more than 10 students in it, with a few students actually majoring in criminal justice. Monsma predicted that they will have five to six majors enroll in the fall.
There are alumni of NW’s criminal justice career concentration working in the Orange City police department, on the Iowa State Patrol and in various sheriff’s offices. With a major in criminal justice, students will have even more options for job placement and advancement.