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Campus News / News

Criminal Justice joins list of bachelor degree options

12/17/2019 11:48 am

Criminal Justice made its debut this fall as a new major degree offering. The degree is part of the University’s Sociology and Criminal Justice department, which is part of the College of Social Sciences, Commerce and Education. Criminal Justice previously was offered as a concentration within the Sociology major.

The Criminal Justice degree is designed to provide students with a wide range of opportunities including academic internships at local agencies or organizations within the Rockford community and beyond by preparing students for a variety of careers, such as law enforcement (local, state, and federal), probation and parole, pre-trial services, law, homeland security, forensic science, fish and game wardens, and detectives and criminal investigators.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of police and detectives is projected to grow seven percent from 2016 to 2026. The continued need for public safety is expected to lead to new openings for officers.

Chair, Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice, Lynn Newhart, Ph.D.Chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Lynn Newhart, Ph.D. (pictured right), says, “In this program, the all-university and collegial requirements ensure a strong liberal arts foundation for a more specialized program of study. Our Criminal Justice curriculum takes an interdisciplinary approach to criminal justice incorporating courses from criminal justice, political science, and sociology.” She also notes that the interdisciplinary approach is important since it offers appeal to students who are interested in criminal justice careers other than law enforcement. A sampling of classes includes: Introduction to Criminal Justice, Transnational Organized Crime, Homeland Security, Terrorism, Law and Society, Constitutional Law: Rights of the Accused, Juvenile Delinquency, and Criminology. Dr. Newhart adds that students will gain knowledge and skills in research, writing, public policy, criminology, corrections, juvenile delinquency, terrorism, and transnational organized crime.

Rockford Police Department’s Assistant Deputy Chief Michael Dalke consulted with the University and Dr. Newhart to provide additional expertise and guidance on shaping the criminal justice program. “Having this program at Rockford University will benefit the institution, the students and community in many ways,” states Dalke. “Knowing the challenges that are presented in Rockford and having a deeper understanding of the community will set these students at an advantage. Building the relationships with the community and hands-on learning through local internships with RPD and others, along with a strong degree curriculum, will help prepare students for a successful career upon graduation.”

Students interested in the Criminal Justice Program at Rockford University are encouraged to contact Rockford University Admissions at 815-226-4050 or email Dr. Newhart at for more information.