Criminal Justice Degrees

Beyond the Classroom in Criminal Justice

To help you make the right decision about criminal justice, or to learn more about what people in the criminal justice field do, we’ve assembled this comprehensive guide of criminal justice resources. There’s no limit to what you can learn beyond the classroom:

Professional Associations

There’s no better way to gain an understanding of the criminal justice system than to walk in the shoes of the professionals. A student membership or affiliation with a professional association will allow you to meet and network with your future colleagues.

American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) – Established in 1975

The American Probation and Parole Association provides education, training, and cross-disciplinary partnership resources for individuals and organizations involved with juvenile and adult probation, parole, and community-based corrections. Representing parole and probation practitioners, supervisors, administrators, educators and volunteers, APPA strives to improve the criminal justice system by advocating on the local, state, and federal levels for improved public safety methods and crime prevention models.

Memberships to APPA are available on institutional and individual levels. Individual-level membership is open to probation and parole professionals, criminal justice students, citizens, and individuals who volunteer with crime and criminal justice programs and agencies. All members have access to APPA’s training resources, including its 12-month Leadership Institute, which is designed for personal and professional development, and to increase understanding of community-based justice and corrections.

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) – Established in 1963

The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) fosters professional and scholarly activities in the field of criminal justice. ACJS promotes criminal justice education, research, and policy analysis within the discipline of criminal justice, for both educators and practitioners, by providing a forum for disseminating ideas related to issues in research, policy, education, and practice within the field.

The dissemination and exchange of ideas serves to address fundamental issues in crime, social justice, and the criminal justice system. To respond to the expansion of the criminal justice field, ACJS membership is made up of international and multidisciplinary academics, professionals from all sectors of criminal justice, and students exploring the field as future educators or practitioners.

American Criminal Justice Association-Lambda Alpha Epsilon (ACJALAE) – Established in 1937

The American Criminal Justice Association-Lambda Alpha Epsilon seeks to be the voice for students and professionals in the field of criminal justice. The ACJALAE strives to improve criminal justice by working toward higher standards of professional ethics, the development and implementation of professional training and higher education programs, and increased public, academic, and professional awareness of criminal justice issues.

ACJALAE’s national and regional membership is comprised of professionals employed in the criminal justice system and students enrolled in traditional or online criminal justice programs at an accredited college or university at the time of application. A student can choose to join an existing chapter, or they can request a “starter kit” and form their own collegiate sub-chapter of ACJALAE with at least four other students.

American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) – Established in 1948

The AAFS is a multi-disciplinary professional society committed to promoting the application of science to the law through higher education, professional development, and collaboration within the field of criminal justice. The AAFS publishes peer-reviewed journals and other publications as a means to encourage higher standards of accuracy, precision, and specificity within the forensic science profession.

AAFS has three membership categories: affiliate, trainee, and student. To become an affiliate member, a candidate must possess an accredited bachelor’s degree or higher and have significant professional forensic science experience. Candidates who hold a criminal justice degree but do not have work experience may join AAFS as a trainee. Full-time undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in programs that can lead to a career in forensic science may apply for a student membership. AAFS also has a Young Forensic Scientists Forum (YFSF) mentorship program that fosters the education and development of new forensic scientists by partnering them with working forensic science professionals.

Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) – Established in 1915

The Fraternal Order of Police is a professional organization for sworn law enforcement officers. The FOP uses criminal justice programs, information, legislation, community involvement, and professional development as tools to improve law enforcement officers’ working conditions and to help them better serve the communities in which they work.

A primary objective of the FOP is to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement officers and agencies to elevate the public’s confidence in law enforcement’s ability to enforce the law and protect citizens and their communities. FOP membership is only open to appointed or elected full-time sworn officers in federal, state, county, municipal, and political sub-division law enforcement agencies.

National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) – Established in 1950

The National District Attorneys Association is the largest professional association for criminal prosecutors in the world. NDAA’s mission is “to be the voice of America’s prosecutors and to support their efforts to protect the rights and safety of the people.” To accomplish this, the NDAA provides its members with training and research programs, legal information and publications, and technical assistance resources.

By promoting the continuing education and professional development of its members, the NDAA seeks to facilitate and improve the administration of justice in America, and to ensure that the rights and public safety of citizens are protected. Active membership status is available to prosecuting attorneys regardless of title, such as district attorneys, circuit solicitors, attorney generals, or municipal prosecutors. Associate membership status is available to non-attorneys, including law students, prosecutors’ support personnel, administrators, investigators, training coordinators, and executive directors.

National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) – Established in 1971

The National Criminal Justice Association is a public interest organization that works to develop and implement criminal justice policy. The NCJA advocates for local, tribal, and state juvenile and criminal practitioners and agencies on crime prevention and control issues. The organization also encourages collaboration among public and private agencies, practitioners, and policy makers to achieve effective and comprehensive criminal justice policy development and implementation.

The organization also presents the needs and accomplishments of local, tribal, and state criminal justice practitioners and agencies to Congress to petition for greater resources and awareness. Full membership is available to criminal justice professionals, including law enforcement, prosecution and defense attorneys, witness and victim agency representatives, judges, and scholars. Student memberships are available to full-time students enrolled in on-campus and online criminal justice programs at accredited colleges and universities.

Review Academic Journals

These journals are regularly read and referenced by top criminal justice professionals, and fortunately many offer subscriptions for students. These publications will educate you about the issues, trends, and policies that could impact your future as a criminal justice professional.

Criminal Justice Review

Published by the Georgia State University Research Foundation and College of Health and Human Sciences, this quarterly journal serves as a platform for social scientists to present research findings on diverse topics related to crime and the U.S. criminal justice system. The research reported in this journal provides a basis for innovative policymaking and advanced methodologies for approaching crime and justice on the local, state, and national levels. Students pursuing a criminal justice major can purchase a print-only subscription for $43, however, individual articles, single print issues, and institutional subscriptions are available online.

Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice

This journal examines critical criminal justice issues that affect public policy, institutional methodology, and political action from a multidisciplinary perspective. Every quarter, the journal presents an in-depth exploration of an issue such as gang violence, white-collar crime, excessive police force, or community policing using an approach that includes perspectives from scholars in criminology, economics, history, criminal justice, political science, social work, legal studies, and public administration. Institutional subscriptions are available online, as well as single print issues and specific articles. A print-only subscription costs $103 for criminal justice majors.

Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice

This University of North Texas at Denton quarterly publication is an interdisciplinary journal that focuses on research related to school safety, juvenile justice, and youth violence prevention methods, programs, and interventions. Articles typically focus on policy, practical, theoretical, and qualitative analyses, as well as empirical research findings. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice serves as a resource for practitioners and students in fields like education, social work, criminal justice, counseling, sociology, and law. An electronic subscription is offered at $117 per year, however, individual articles can be purchased online without a subscription.

Criminal Justice Policy Review

Criminal Justice Policy Review (CJPR) is a peer-reviewed quarterly journal that publishes empirical and non-experimental research notes, articles, and essays pertaining to the study of criminal justice policy. CJPR is a collaborative work of the Department of Criminology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Northeastern Academy Department of Criminal Justice Sciences, the American Society of Public Administration, and the Northeastern Association of Criminal Justice Science. An individual print-only subscription is $119, but individual articles are available for immediate purchase online.

Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency

Published by John Jay College, one of the best colleges for criminal justice studies, this peer-reviewed quarterly journal is presented as a multidisciplinary forum of research notes, critical essays, articles, and analyses that examine criminal justice within the context of economic, political, and social controversies and concerns. Contributors to the forum represent diverse fields related to crime and criminal justice, including crime prevention, criminology, psychology, sociology, crime scene investigation, economics, and police studies. Single print issues may be purchased for $49 each, while a full year subscription costs $151. Select articles are also available for purchase online. 

Feminist Criminology

Through the examination of qualitative and quantitative research, the Division on Women and Crime of the American Society of Criminology analyzes crime and the criminal justice system within the context of the feminist critique of criminology, which is the perspective that the paths to crime are different for females than for males. The quarterly journal presents articles and arguments that seek to help students pursuing a criminal justice degree understand research topics such as the treatment of female criminal offenders, women criminal justice professionals, cross-cultural perspectives on women and crime, and girls and women as victims of crime. A print-only subscription costs $151, however, articles are also available for immediate purchase online.

Gain a Unique Point of View from Blogs

This listing of criminal justice blogs offer first-person accounts of the field you hope to enter. Based on our extensive survey of criminal justice professionals, we’ve compiled the blogs they read to help you continue your learnings. Written by professionals, professors, and analysts, they’ll give you a varied and insightful understanding of criminal justice issues.

Crime and Consequences  – Michael Rushford, Kent Scheidegger, and contributors

The Crime and Consequences blog discusses criminal law from the perspective of crime victims. It is updated daily and includes posts from the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation staff, as well as guest contributors.

Law Professor Blogs Network – Various

Law Professor Blogs is a network of blogs authored by law professors who disseminate information and resources regarding the law, crime, politics, and public policy to inform the general public and to assist one another’s research and teaching.

Criminal Justice Online – Lt. Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (Retired)

The Criminal Justice Online blog provides criminal justice students, scholars, and practitioners with news, information, and resources related to the field of criminal justice.

The Sentencing Project – Staff

The Sentencing Project blog offers students research resources and publications that discuss racial disparity in the justice system, sentencing policy, felony disenfranchisement, and other criminal justice issues.

The Becker-Posner Blog – Gary Becker and Richard Posner

This blog explores issues of law, policy, and economics in a dialogue format between an economics and sociology professor (Becker) and a judge and law school lecturer (Posner).

Legal Theory Blog – Lawrence Solum

Lawrence Solum, a Georgetown University law professor and legal theorist, presents commentary and reports on legal procedure, constitutional theory, and the philosophy of law.

The Volokh Conspiracy – Various

The Volokh Conspiracy is a law professor collaborative weblog that presents commentary and analyses of legal current events and the U.S. criminal justice system.

SCOTUSblog – Tom Goldstein, Amy Howe, and contributors

Sponsored by Bloomberg Law, the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) blog offers coverage, commentary, and analysis about new filings, orders, and opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Grits for Breakfast – Scott Henson

Grits for Breakfast looks at the Texas criminal justice system and politics from the perspective of a former journalist turned political consultant and public policy researcher.

CSI Tech Blog – Don Penven

The CSI Tech blog is dedicated to providing up-to-date crime scene forensics information, crime scene investigation training resources, and a forum for collaboration between the blog’s contributors and readers.

Follow the Action on Twitter

There is no better way to stay informed than by following the real-time tweets of trusted organizations and individuals. We recommend these Twitter feeds from the movers and shakers who affect and shape criminal justice policy.


The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is the federal entity responsible for providing leadership in the control and prevention of crime. Students pursuing a criminal justice degree can have access to newsfeeds and information about internship opportunities.


Criminal justice majors can stay updated about the Center for Court Innovation’s new programs designed to address public safety issues and increase public trust in the justice system.


Alex Stevens is a criminal justice professor at the University of Kent in England, and his tweets can offer students an international criminal justice perspective.


Students interested in a criminal justice major can follow Justice Fellowship to see how a grassroots criminal justice organization can affect policy by lobbying for state and federal legislation for justice system reform.


Crimspace, sponsored by SAGE Publications, is an online criminal justice and criminology academic forum for criminal justice students and researchers to network, exchange ideas, and share resources.


Equal Justice Works offers information, resources, and training to law students and lawyers interested in pursuing public service careers to work for and promote justice in underserved and underrepresented communities.


The Crime Lab Project is a nonprofit organization that advocates for increased forensic science research, education, and public support for crime labs, medical examiners, and coroners.


Richard Q. Holloway, director of the criminal justice program at Colorado Technical University, the best college for criminal justice information online, offers his insight on issues related to corrections, law enforcement, courts, and public safety.


Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice – Geoffrey Robertson

The author, an international attorney, discusses how increased violence and social injustice around the world have underscored and defined the human rights movement, international laws, and global politics related to crimes against humanity.

The Collapse of American Criminal Justice – William J. Stuntz

This book gives students interested in criminal justice  a historical critique of the American criminal justice system, and argues that policy inconsistencies and excessive plea-bargaining have led to an ineffective justice system in need of reform.

Chasing Justice: My Story of Freeing Myself After Two Decades on Death Row for a Crime I Didn’t Commit – Kerry Max Cook

Students who choose a criminal justice major like forensic science should be interested in Cook ‘s story of how he was wrongfully sentenced to life in prison for rape and murder, and how DNA evidence eventually cleared him.

The Litigators: A Novel – John Grisham

Grisham tells the fictional account of a disillusioned attorney, a questionable law firm, criminal activity, and courtroom drama surrounding a pharmaceutical class action suit, which is an interesting read for a criminal justice major considering law school.

Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make it Right – Barry Schenk, Peter Neufeld and Jim Dwyer

This book outlines how DNA testing can expose and overcome fundamental flaws, injustices, prejudices, and malfeasance within the criminal justice system.

In the Blood (Genealogical Crime Mysteries, No.1) – Steve Robinson

This murder mystery is a work of fiction, but it explores the real-life debate regarding the potential role of genetics in criminal behavior.

Professional Ethics: Being Ethical When No One is Looking – Jay S. Albanese

The author examines the connection between corruption and criminal activity within the courts, corrections, law enforcement, and lack of professional ethics.

Inside the Criminal Mind: Revised and Updated Edition – Stanton Samenow

Dr. Samenow presents a case against traditional theories that external factors can cause criminal behavior, and argues that all criminals share a common mentality that starkly differs from that of the average citizen.

Fill the Gaps in Your Criminal Justice Knowledge

Still hungry for information about criminal justice organizations and careers? We recommend that you explore these authoritative, highly credible sites.

The Crime Report

The Crime Report is an online criminal justice news service that offers students taking criminal justice online courses access to crime analyses, investigative reports, editorials, and commentaries by leading criminologists, law enforcement and corrections professionals, and legal experts.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS)

The NCJRS is a criminal justice resource hub that makes a variety of reference resources available to students attending criminal justice programs or anyone interested in crime and justice-related research, policy, and practice.

Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)

The BJA’s mission is to help local, state, and tribal criminal justice agencies increase public safety by providing leadership in the areas of criminal justice programs, planning, and policy development.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (UNODC-CCPCJ)

The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is an international forum for the exchange of information and expertise related to criminal justice policy, transnational crimes, and terrorism awareness and prevention.

National Institute of Justice (NIJ)

As the research and development arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, the NIJ helps state and local agencies promote justice by providing them with crime reduction and prevention tools and knowledge.

Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)

The Bureau of Justice Statistics collects and publishes data related to all levels of governmental criminal justice systems, crime, criminal offenders, and victims of crime, which can be a useful resource for students pursuing a criminal justice degree.

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)

The FLETC is an interagency training organization for 91 federal agencies, and it also provides criminal investigator, uniformed police, and land management police training services to international, tribal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

ATF is a federal law enforcement agency that defends communities against organized crime, acts of arson and bombings, terroristic acts, and the illegal use, storage, and trafficking of firearms and explosives.