Get Involved

Student Involvement refers to the amount of physical and psychological energy that the student devotes to the college experience.
~Astin, 1984

College is about more than going to class. It’s about learning that extends outside of the classroom into the real world – learning that can take place in internships or independent studies, in student organizations, or on study abroad. MSU graduates should be leaders and life-long learners.

So yes, go to class. Learn about your field of study. But don’t forget to learn about yourself, others, and the world.

For questions on how these opportunities fit into your academic plan, make an appointment with an advisor.

Independent Studies and Undergraduate Research

MSU’s Office for Undergraduate Research works to increase opportunities for MSU students to engage in scholarship and to expand the pool of faculty and partners engaging undergraduate students in their scholarly work. The Undergraduate Research Office is housed within the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.  Information about College and University research opportunities can be found here.

At times, academic personnel in the School of Criminal Justice have research projects with which they could use assistance from undergraduate student(s). We encourage students to review the list of research expertise by academic personnel and reach out to faculty during office hours or via email.

Independent studies are a great opportunity for students to spend time focusing on a particular area of interest not already offered in a class. Students who are interested in an independent study should find a faculty member who is able to facilitate the independent study over the course of the semester, and complete the application for independent study.

Inside-Out Program

The Inside-Out program is a course held at the Cooper Street Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan. The course is comprised of a group of traditional MSU undergraduate students along with a group of non-traditional inmate students.

To learn more about the program, visit the website for the International Headquarters of The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program:

For questions about MSU’s Inside-Out course or enrolling in the course, contact Dr. Jennifer Cobbina.


The School of Criminal Justice highly encourages students to participate in internships. An internship is a great way to integrate classroom learning with real world situations. Internships offer a planned program of observation, participation, and study in a selected criminal justice agency. They also give students an opportunity to explore a possible career choice and learn professional skills necessary to be competitive in the job market.

Click here to learn more about careers and internships.


Service-learning is a form of experiential education; service-learning engages students in structured activities that work to build a stronger community and facilitate student learning and development (CAS, 2009).

Service-Learning and volunteer work have many positive personal, social, and academic outcomes. Service-learning helps students and communities build collaborative relationships and focus on community issues. It allows students to practice leadership and communication skills and apply in-class learning to “real world” situations. Service-learning opportunities also facilitate cultural understanding, create actively contributing citizens, and have an impact on critical thinking and cognitive development.

For more information about service-learning at MSU, visit the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement or contact Erin Smith, Coordinator of Domestic Internships/Service-Learning for the College of Social Science at 517-353-9291.

For an introductory course (with academic credit) focusing on leadership, social change, and community involvement, consider SSC 199 “Community Engagement: Act Locally, Think Globally.”

Student Organizations

The School of Criminal Justice has several student organizations available for students to get involved with:

American Criminal Justice Association

The American Criminal Justice Association (Lambda Alpha Epsilon, Mu Sigma Upsilon chapter) is devoted to the advancement of professionalism in all areas of criminal justice. Its objectives are to supplement a student’s criminal justice major with social and educational activities outside of the classroom, develop professionalism in the field of criminal justice among its members, promote awareness of criminal justice issues, provide a unified voice for students, and promote high standards of ethical conduct within the field.

AJCA has more than 152 active chapters on campuses nationwide and is not just a college student organization; it contains members working in the criminal justice field, and related agencies also participate in LAE activities. For more information regarding the national chapter, visit their website.

For more information on ACJA at MSU, contact Barbara Kolar. You can also contact ACJA by email, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

Alpha Phi Sigma

Alpha Phi Sigma (APS) is the nationally recognized honor society for criminal justice students. With more than 250 chapters nationwide, APS is made up of student members who share a commitment to learning and improving the criminal justice field.

The society offers leadership and group organizational experiences to students who want to make the most of their time in college, and is a strong resume builder. Members receive a membership certificate, lapel pin, and honors cords to be worn at graduation. Typical activities include presentations by high-level guest speakers, volunteer activities, and field trips and tours, which allow members the opportunity to make useful connections and gain additional hands-on experience. Members also develop lasting personal and professional friendships through social activities during the academic year.

For more information, contact Tim Homberg.

National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice

The National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (NABCJ) is a multi-ethnic, nonpartisan, nonprofit association of criminal justice professionals and community leaders dedicated to improving the administration of justice.

The MSU chapter is the first student NABCJ chapter in the Midwest. The mission of the association is to serve as a professional and social network for African-American undergraduate and graduate students in the field of criminal justice.

Students will gain valuable communication, networking, and leadership skills. Programming throughout the academic year focuses on enhancing professionalism in criminal justice, community service, networking, and social activities. For information on membership, contact Barbara Kolar.

Michigan State University has more than 650 registered Student Organizations, so visit the Department of Student Life  for a complete list of groups to get involved with!

Study Abroad and Study Away

Study Abroad

Study abroad is an opportunity for students to grow personally, professionally, and intellectually by exploring new cultures and meeting new people. For more information follow the links below or visit the the Office of Study Abroad.

The School of Criminal Justice offers four study abroad programs:

Study Away

MSU Study Away programs offer courses and internships at locations within the United States.  Programs allow students to apply classroom knowledge in professional settings. College of Social Science study away programs include Boston, New York, Hawaii, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Visit their website for more information.