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2023-2024 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Criminal Justice

For additional information about opportunities, please refer to the College of Education and Community Innovation Community and Public Service section in this catalog.


The School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Legal Studies Criminal Justice offers a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts and a master's degree in criminal justice. Students take a variety of required and elective courses to educate themselves as critical thinkers and to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the field. The school also offers an undergraduate major in legal studies for students seeking to become paralegals or aspiring to attend law school. For information about the paralegal program, consult the legal studies section in the Grand Valley State University Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog. Summer course offerings will be determined on an annual basis. Please check the schedule of courses.


The School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Legal Studies Criminal Justice educates students to become knowledgeable, competent, and ethical leaders in the criminal justice and legal professions.


To promote the growth of students through teaching, mentoring, creative scholarship, and community engagement.

Graduates will possess a solid foundation of knowledge and performance skills in the criminal justice field and legal system and will also have the ability to make ethically sound and appropriate decisions in response to the challenges presented to them in their professional and personal lives.

Faculty and staff of the School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Legal Studies will demonstrate, model, and promote a respect for diversity and commitments to integrity, intellectual and moral virtues, and lifelong learning through effective teaching, active scholarship, and service.

Requirements for Licensure in Law Enforcement

The School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Legal Studies at Grand Valley State University operates a Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) approved Police Academy during the summer months. The program leads to eligibility for law enforcement licensing in Michigan. The courses taken in this program can also be used for graduation. Non-Grand Valley students who meet the MCOLES minimum eligibility requirements may apply. The Grand Valley Police Academy has a proven reputation for excellence. Entry is extremely competitive and is not guaranteed. Those wishing to apply will be required to pass the MCOLES pre-enrollment Reading and Writing and Physical Fitness tests and meet the minimum state employment standards as part of the application process. Grand Valley State University students may apply for the academy during their senior year. Non-Grand Valley students must possess at least an associate degree prior to the start date of the academy. Application packets will be available on our website ( during the yearly application process. MCOLES requirements can be found at under the Licensure and Professional Development section.

Grand Valley offers two unique police academy programs: a 16-week Basic Police Academy and an abbreviated eight-week Military Police Basic Training Program (MPBTP) designed specifically for military police veterans. Both academy programs are conducted during the spring and summer semester. An additional Basic Police Academy runs in the fall as well. Upon successful completion of either program and the state law enforcement licensing examination, participants will be eligible to be licensed as a law enforcement officer in the State of Michigan. Students selected to attend the 16-week Basic Police Academy must enroll in the following courses (15 credits): CJ 415, CJ 416, CJ 417, CJ 418, and CJ 419. Students selected to attend the eight-week MPBTP must enroll in the following courses (6 credits): CJ 415 and CJ 416.

Eligibility for the MPBTP requires that a candidate must have performed as a military police officer (in any branch of the U.S. Military) for a minimum of 2,080 hours in a specified law enforcement MOS, have satisfactorily completed military police training at a federal service school, possess an honorable discharge or be currently serving, and not be separated from employment in a specified law enforcement MOS for more than five years.


The School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Legal Studies allows selected students to complete internships at specified job sites. Upper-division undergraduate students may elect from one to nine hours of CJ 490 if they are approved by the internship coordinator and a job site supervisor unless otherwise specified by a particular organization. Students taking three credits of CJ 490, are normally expected to put in 15 hours at the internship site per week. Credit hours are based on site requirements. Graduate students without prior criminal justice or private security work experience are highly encouraged to complete CJ 640 - Graduate Internship (see Criminal Justice master's degree Requirements). No more than six credit hours may be applied to the undergraduate major; no more than three credit hours may be applied to the graduate internship. To apply for an internship, contact the internship coordinator.

Honors Organizations

Alpha Phi Sigma is the nationally recognized honor society for students in the criminal justice sciences. The society recognizes academic excellence by undergraduates and graduate students of criminal justice. Members participate in many activities, including community service, career workshops, and fundraisers.

Program Requirements

The following programs are available:

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