Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology

Welcome

The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology has a long rich history. In 1935, the President of then, Washington State College, Dr. Ernest O. Holland, contacted the nation’s first ever FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, for guidance in creating a program for the sole purpose of training law enforcement officers (September 18, 1935 Letter, October 3, 1935 Letter- Part 1, and October 3, 1935 Letter- Part 2). In 1943, under Dr. V.A. Leonard, the Department of Police Science was formed. Since then it has expanded beyond training police officers to touch on every aspect of the criminal justice system.

Combining a passion for scholarship with a keen understanding of practical applications, the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology offers students the opportunity to learn, explore and develop in a substantive and expanding field. The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology is located on three campuses of Washington State University, at Pullman, Spokane, and Vancouver.

The department offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees; students may earn a minor, a bachelor of arts, a master’s degree, or a doctoral degree in criminal justice and criminology. We have degree options to suit today’s students, with our B.A. offered both on campus and online. With groundbreaking research, renowned professors, and students who are making a difference, WSU is an exciting place to pursue your education.

 

criminal justice undergrad studentsUndergraduate

Undergraduates benefit from a policy-focused curriculum that prepares them both for careers and future study, learning from leaders in the field.


criminal justice faculty and grad studentGraduate

Graduate students work closely with faculty, pursuing a more comprehensive understanding of the field of criminal justice and developing as scholars and researchers.

Meet our faculty

criminal justice faculty

Department faculty have a wide range of research and teaching interests, and the department is nationally and internationally recognized for its scholarship.

News

  • What happened to crime under Washington’s legal marijuana?

    Here’s the situation: An officer pulls over a driver. They are suspicious that the driver is impaired and they have a DUI on their hands. Specifically, a marijuana DUI.

    But proving this is not as simple as breath test, or asking if their names are Cheech, Chong, or Lebowski. Washington state has a 5 nanogram limit, which is determined through a blood test. It’s similar to blowing a .08 on a breath test for alcohol.

    “We mostly interviewed law enforcement officers, but we also interviewed prosecutors throughout the state,” said Washington State University Professor Dale Willits. “Some of them, not all … » More …

    Read Story
  • Study finds minimal effect on major crime from legal marijuana sales

    Legalizing recreational marijuana has had minimal effect on violent or property crime rates in Washington and Colorado, a WSU study funded by the National Institute of Justice has found.

    “As the nationwide debate about legalization, the federal classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act, and the consequences of legalization for crime continues, it is essential to center that discussion on studies that use contextualized and robust research designs with as few limitations as possible,” Dale W. Willits, an assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology at WSU and a study co-author, told the Crime & Justice Research Alliance. “This is but one study and legalization of marijuana is still relatively new, but … » More …

    Read Story
  • Criminal justice faculty help non-violent offenders take first step

    Two Washington State University criminal justice faculty members are playing key roles in a national effort to free thousands of non-violent prisoners and help them transition smoothly to civilian life.

    The First Step Act was signed into law by President Trump late last year. The legislation was designed to create a path to release for prisoners convicted of non-violent drug offenses. The prisoners earn credit for good behavior and are issued a risk profile based on a number of factors. That’s where WSU’s Zach Hamilton and Alex Kigerl come in.

    Hamilton received a phone call earlier this year from the National … » More …

    Read Story
  • Outstanding criminal justice student chosen to carry CAS gonfalon

    Outstanding senior in criminal justice and criminology Jordan Sykes will carry the gonfalon for the College of Arts and Sciences during Washington State University graduation ceremonies on Saturday, May 4, in Beasley Coliseum.

    “When I arrived at WSU, I made it my mission to make a meaningful impact,” Sykes said. “While I have attempted to accomplish this mission, I feel that, in turn, the University and the Pullman community have had such a profound impact on me that I will be forever indebted to this amazing community.”

    The honor of being selected gonfalon bearer recognizes Sykes’s outstanding achievement during his undergraduate career. Gonfalons are the … » More …

    Read Story