School Philosophy

In 1969, the faculty of the School of Criminal Justice adopted a School Philosophy statement that opened with: “The prevention of crime, the protection of life and property, the preservation of peace, the safeguarding of civil rights, and the maintenance of social order with justice and freedom for all, are essential to the functioning of a democratic society.”

Today, the School remains committed to using research, education, and engaged outreach to enhance what the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Law and Justice has called the balance of “fairness and effectiveness.” Specifically, the mission of the School is to generate new knowledge, to apply that knowledge to solve justice-related problems, and to educate future leaders with a commitment to enhancing both effectiveness in reducing crime and victimization, and fairness through the preservation of basic human and civil rights.

The School’s philosophy is evident in its strategic agenda.

Excellence in Education

Foremost we are committed to providing an excellent educational experience through our undergraduate and graduate degree programs, certificates, and specializations. At the undergraduate level we offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice. We have made the degree more flexible so that students can pursue the rich variety of additional majors, second degrees, and academic specializations offered at MSU. The School offers a security management specialization, and students can also pursue a range of other specializations: conservation and environmental law enforcement; Muslim studies; spatial information processing; women, gender, and social justice; and a variety of area studies programs. Students are encouraged to participate in internships and Study Abroad programs, and two student associations assist students in making connections to the professional community.

Our Master of Science degree program in criminal justice is designed to support professionals seeking personal growth and career enhancement through continuing education, as well as students preparing for doctoral study. The program is also offered in online format to better address the needs of professionals employed throughout the country and the world. The degree includes specialization options in security management and judicial administration, and certificates in anti-counterfeiting and product protection program, conservation criminology, homeland security, international focus, judicial administration, law enforcement intelligence and analysis, and security management.

Masters degrees are offered online in judicial administration and law enforcement intelligence and analysis. The School is also proud to offer a master’s degree in forensic science. This degree attracts outstanding students pursuing one of three tracks: forensic anthropology, forensic biology, and forensic chemistry.

MSU is one of the three founding universities to offer a doctoral degree in criminal justice. The PhD was an outgrowth of the Presidential Crime Commission of the late 1960s, with the initial degree awarded in 1971. Since that time MSU PhDs in criminal justice have become leaders in academia, private research organizations, and governmental agencies. Indeed, our doctoral alumni include deans and professors in leading university programs throughout the U.S. and internationally, as well as highly-ranked officials within national police organizations and the U.S. Department of Justice. We provide a challenging yet supportive academic environment and close mentoring relationships with faculty. Several studies have found recent graduates of our School to be the most productive faculty in terms of scholarly publication.

International and Cultural Scholarship and Education

As the nation’s founding Land Grant University, MSU has long been committed to both generating new knowledge and applying that knowledge to address fundamental problems facing communities, nations, and the world. This is a fundamental and distinctive aspect of the School of Criminal Justice. It is apparent in the many programs that are part of our Outreach Unit; in the collaboration between our faculty and students and forensic crime labs throughout the U.S. and beyond; and in the research conducted by our faculty.The School is home to the Michigan Justice Statistics Analysis Center and the Michigan Victim’s Assistance Academy. It is also home to major national programs on juvenile detention, law enforcement intelligence, and gun violence, and international programs on transnational and comparative criminal justice. As you review faculty research interests –  including topics as diverse as corporate security; delinquency and youth development; drug courts; environmental crime; forensic evidence; gangs, gender and justice; homicide; inmate re-entry; judicial administration; law and policymaking; police deviance; police use of force; race, ethnicity and justice; restorative justice; staff burnout; risk assessment; terrorism; victimization; and much more – it becomes apparent that the School is engaged with the most pressing crime and justice issues of the day.

The School’s engagement is also evident in the partnerships established with professional associations, public and private agencies, and universities within the U.S. and abroad. For example, the Judicial Administration Program has established formal partnerships with the leading professional associations of judicial managers, as well as with many state and federal judicial organizations and court systems in Australia and Egypt. The School collaborates with the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, the Michigan State Police, numerous Michigan and U.S. local law enforcement agencies, federal agencies (e.g., DEA, DHS, EPA, FBI, Fish and Wildlife, FLETC, NIJ, National Park Service), Interpol, the Korean National Police, the Turkish National Police, the Thai Royal Police, and a number of constabularies in the United Kingdom.

A prime example of such collaboration is our relationship with the University of Michigan, whereby our faculty directs the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data and the newly established Archive on Terrorism. Similarly, we work with the University of Minnesota on food security, Rutgers University on risk assessment, Babes-Bolyai University in Romania on community policing, and universities in Australia, India, Korea, the Philippines, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and beyond. Additionally, the School works with leading corporations including Ford, General Motors, IBM, and Target, to address security-related issues in a global marketplace.

These partnerships enrich the School by generating research questions and providing research opportunities, grounding our educational programs in real world experience, and linking our students to professional opportunities.

The Engaged School – Fulfilling the Land Grant Mission through Public Policy/Applied Research

As the nation’s founding Land Grant University, MSU has long been committed to both generating new knowledge and applying that knowledge to address fundamental problems facing communities, nations, and the world. This is a fundamental and distinctive aspect of the School of Criminal Justice. It is apparent in the many programs that are part of our Outreach Unit. It is apparent in the collaboration between our faculty and students and forensic crime labs throughout the U.S. and beyond. It is also apparent in the research conducted by our faculty. The School is home to the Michigan Justice Statistics Analysis Center and the Michigan Victim’s Assistance Academy. It is home to major national programs on juvenile detention, law enforcement intelligence, and gun violence and international programs on transnational and comparative criminal justice. As you review faculty research interests, including topics as diverse as corporate security; delinquency and youth development; drug courts; environmental crime; forensic evidence; gangs, gender and justice; homicide; inmate re-entry; judicial administration; law and policymaking; police deviance; police use of force; race, ethnicity and justice; restorative justice; staff burnout; risk assessment; terrorism; victimization; and much more, it becomes apparent that the School is engaged with the most pressing crime and justice issues of the day.

The School’s engagement is also evident in the partnerships established with professional associations, public and private agencies, and universities within the U.S. and abroad. For example, the Judicial Administration Program has established formal partnerships with the leading professional associations of judicial managers as well as with many state and federal judicial organizations and court systems in Australia and Egypt. The School collaborates with the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, the Michigan State Police, numerous Michigan and U.S. local law enforcement agencies, federal agencies (e.g., DEA, DHS, EPA, FBI, Fish and Wildlife, FLETC, NIJ, National Park Service), Interpol, the Korean National Police, the Turkish National Police, the Thai Royal Police and a number of constabularies in the United Kingdom. A prime example of such collaboration is our relationship with the University of Michigan whereby our faculty direct the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data and the newly established Archive on Terrorism. Similarly, we work with the University of Minnesota on food security, Rutgers University on risk assessment, Babes-Bolyai University in Romania on community policing and universities in Australia, India, Korea, Philippines, Ukraine, and United Kingdom and beyond. Additionally, the School works with leading corporations including Ford, General Motors, IBM, and Target, to address security-related issues in a global marketplace. These partnerships enrich the School by generating research questions and providing research opportunities, grounding our educational programs in real world experience, and linking our students to professional opportunities

Interdisciplinary Scholarship

With roots in anthropology, history, law, political science, psychology, and sociology, criminal justice is an inherently multidisciplinary field of study. This focus is apparent in our faculty. In recent years it has become even more apparent as we move toward an inter- and cross-disciplinary focus in our educational, research, and outreach activity. We build on connections to every college within MSU. This is evident through the specializations offered to undergraduate and graduate students and through the outside cognate area of the PhD program. It is also witnessed in the School’s involvement in MSU’s Risk Research Initiative. Through these connections, MSU students have access to cutting-edge courses in information and cybersecurity; environmental compliance and enforcement; forensics; geospatial analysis; global and area studies; judicial administration; public health; and supply chain security. This interdisciplinary focus runs through the curriculum, is part of specializations and degree programs, and is available for individualized programs of study at undergraduate and graduate levels.

Commitment to Diversity

The School’s commitment to diversity is multidimensional. The Land Grant philosophy has historically included a commitment to making higher education available to everyone, and we believe this is particularly important for the study of criminal justice. Thus, we are committed to providing access to a diverse student body. We are also committed to a diversity of ideas. Our faculty members do not agree on all of the normative dimensions of criminal justice policy, the causes of crime and delinquency, nor the preferred responses to crime and disorder. This, however, is a positive trait as we seek to be an environment where exchange and debate are encouraged and where scientific critique of research becomes the engine for the generation of new knowledge.

Many of our alumni who are now police executives talk about the influence of the late Professor Zolton Ferency. Professor Ferency was firmly committed to the preservation of individual rights as embodied in the U.S. Constitution. One of his former students, now a law enforcement executive, commented, “I didn’t always agree with him but he made me think about civil rights in a way that has stuck with me my entire career.” It is precisely this type of critical thinking, about both the fairness and effectiveness of the justice system, that lives on within the School to this day.