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Programs and Courses

This section provides you with information about majoring in Criminal Justice, our program requirements, the Academic calendar information, a list of courses, and information about our field placement course and our Honours program.

Is Criminal Justice (CJ) the same as Criminology? The short answer is, no. The longer answer is it is often not easy to draw a clear distinction between the two, and there is overlap.

Criminal Justice is an academic discipline with research and teaching that is focused on how the systems of criminal justice - policing, courts, and correction - work.

  • CJ also focuses on criminal policy, criminal law and its procedures, and the organization of corrections.
  • CJ research in this field also examines theoretical issues facing the operation of the justice system (past and present) and its representation in media and culture.
  • CJ is multi-disciplinary meaning it draws on multiple academic areas (or disciplines) of study. This includes history, politics, legal studies, sociology, psychology, anthropology and can even include English, Women and Gender Studies, Human Rights, and Indigenous Studies. Therefore, the study of criminal justice can be quite diverse methodologically and theoretically.

 Criminology tends to focus on why people commit crime and responses to crime – in other words, crime and criminals.

  • Criminology is mainly derived from sociology and tends to be grounded in sociological principles and perspectives. This is why it is often organized as a sub-area of sociology. It most often focuses on the societal causes of criminal behavior.

 Overall, Criminologists study why offenders commit crime and Criminal Justice researchers consider the role of the criminal justice system in preventing and investigating crime (policing), determining criminal responsibility (criminal law) and dealing with those convicted of criminal offences in institutional and community settings (corrections and penology) and, sometimes, how these parts work together. 

 Inevitably, there is overlap between Criminal Justice and Criminology as academic disciplines. This is also true of university departments across Canada. Many criminology programs are housed in sociology departments such as at the University of Alberta & University of Manitoba. But, there are many criminology programs that are separate from sociology and pair up with criminal justice such as Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice.  Some universities offer separate criminology/sociology and criminal justice majors such as the University of Winnipeg, the University of Regina, the University of Guelph, and Mount Royal University.