Department of Criminal Justice

The Department of Criminal Justice is housed within the College of Heatlh and Public Service at the University of North Texas. We currently have approximately 750 undergraduate and 65 graduate students pursuing degrees within our programs. The Department is located on the UNT Campus in 265 Chilton Hall. We currently offer courses at the Denton Campus, online, and at the UNT New College at Frisco. Our undergraduate advisor is Anthony Vazquez  (last names A-K) (Anthony.Vazquez@unt.edu) and Rachel Rachel (last names L-Z) (Rachel.Rachel@unt.edu). Our graduate adviser is Dr. Adam Trahan.

Majoring in Criminal Justice

As a criminal justice major, you will take required classes in correctional systems, criminal justice and public policy, criminal law, criminology, ethical issues in criminal justice, police systems, diversity issues in criminal justice and research methods in criminal justice. You will also take introductory courses in psychology and sociology.

You may take elective courses that cover alcohol and drug abuse, community corrections, corporate security, forensic science and criminalistics, juvenile justice, offender behavior and rehabilitation, and organized crime. Seminars focusing on such diverse topics as juvenile gangs, terrorism, victims' issues and violence are also offered.

Criminal Justice Faculty

UNT's criminal justice faculty includes experts in policing, criminal law and procedure, courts, corrections, terrorism, juvenile justice, race and crime, corporate security and loss prevention, and criminalistics. Our faculty includes former police officers, former federal law enforcement officials, a former federal prosecutor, former juvenile correctional officers, former prison correctional officers, a criminalist, lawyers, probation and parole officers, and experts in corporate security and loss prevention.

Our faculty members have authored numerous books and publications in a variety of areas in criminal justice. Books and articles by UNT criminal justice faculty are used in classrooms across the nation and some have been cited as "landmark" research efforts. Our faculty currently has books in print on juvenile justice, digital crime and digital terrorism, corrections, research methods, ethics, policing, drugs and crime, and victimology. We also have numerous publications in the top academic journals in crime and criminology in the nation.

Our faculty members routinely work with a wide variety of criminal justice agencies throughout the North Texas region, the State of Texas, the United States, and internationally as they seek workable solutions to problems and challenges in the criminal justice system. We have trained and worked with police departments including Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Richardson, Carrollton, McKinney, Allen, Denton, Anaheim CA, Santa Ana CA, and numerous others. We have worked extensively with the Dallas County District Attorney's Office and other prosecutorial agencies. Our faculty members have also worked with the Texas and California prison systems, and numerous federal agencies and other state agencies. Finally, we have trained, educated, and consulted with numerous international bodies such as the Thai Ministry of Justice, the Turkish National Police, and the Turkish Gendarmerie.

Getting Hands-On Experience

In some of your classes, you may be provided the opportunity to go on field trips to law enforcement agencies, jails and prisons, or to a courtroom to observe a criminal trial.

Our department maintains an extensive Internship Program with numerous agencies in the area and nationally. As a criminal justice major, you may qualify for a special class in which you will intern at one of the following: a parole, police or probation department; a federal law enforcement organization; a jail or prison; a juvenile detention center; a law firm; or an alcohol and drug treatment program. This internship class provides academic credit, and you may take it more than once.

How to Prepare Before You Come to UNT

To prepare for college course work, we suggest that you complete four years of English, math and social science, including economics, geography, government and history; three years of science and foreign language; and one year of fine arts courses, among other subjects. You also should become proficient in using computers. High school elective courses in government, psychology and sociology will help prepare you for a major in criminal justice.

At UNT, you will need to take courses in most of these subjects under the university core curriculum required of all undergraduates, in addition to taking courses in your major. You can declare a major in criminal justice immediately upon enrolling at UNT.

Charting Your Path with Academic Advising

The College of Public Affairs and Community Service has full-time criminal justice undergraduate advisors who will help you plan your class schedule each semester and select courses necessary to achieve your degree. The Department of Criminal Justice office is in Chilton Hall, Room 265 and the academic advisors are located in Chilton Hall, Room 289. Our undergraduate advisors are Anthony Vazquez  (last names A-K) (Anthony.Vazquez@unt.edu) and Rachel Rachel (last names L-Z) (Rachel.Rachel@unt.edu). 

Career Potential

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, criminal justice job opportunities have dramatically increased in the last 10 years. These options will continue to expand as communities add police officers and as more prisons are built to relieve overcrowding. Choosing criminal justice as the major for a bachelor's degree will help lay the groundwork for becoming a police officer, a sheriff's deputy or another kind of law enforcement official. After receiving your degree, you will need further training at a police academy or through another department of law enforcement.

You may enter the corporate world as an investigator or a contingency manager, assisting in investigations of internal theft and fraud. Several professional journals list Dallas-Fort Worth as one of the major areas for corporate security career opportunities.

You may work as a detention or custodial officer in a city, county, state or federal jail or prison. You may serve as a probation or parole officer at the county, state or federal level. With additional graduate school training, you may become a criminal lawyer, a victim's advocate, an administrator with a criminal justice agency or a researcher in crime and law enforcement.

UNT's criminal justice alumni can be found in virtually every criminal justice agency serving the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and throughout the State of Texas. Alumni include administrators, managers, and officers of numerous local law enforcement agencies, police chiefs, special agents and officers of the United States Government, administrators and officers in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, numerous probation and parole officers, and numerous students working in corporate security, corporate and private investigations, and loss prevention.

UNT's Career Center can help you prepare to pursue your career. The center has information about jobs and employers. It assists with resume and letter writing, job search strategies and interview preparation.