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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

  • Mothering a Book: Recollections of a WSU Author

    In her 2019 edited book Mothering From the Field: The Impact of Motherhood on Site-Based Research, WSU criminal justice associate professor Melanie-Angela Neuilly collected the experiences of academic researchers and mothers conducting their fieldwork while raising children. Neuilly’s own experience of juggling site work and motherhood in Nice, France, in 2014 is also chronicled.

    Neuilly said she came to the book somewhat circuitously: In 2013, she obtained a WSU Seed Grant to conduct ethnographic field observations at a medico-legal institute in Nice. However, Neuilly was obtaining her green card then, and in the midst of a somewhat risky pregnancy. She got a no-cost extension on … » More …

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  • Investigation into body cameras finds nagging challenges for UK police

    An Engineering & Technology investigation finds gaps in research on the benefits of police body-worn cameras, as well as shortcomings in the reporting of complaints against officers wearing them.

    David Makin, an associate professor and director of the Complex Social Interactions Lab at Washington State University, argues police forces may have the ability to purchase body-worn cameras yet few have the infrastructure to analyse the footage. If footage is not analysed, its value is limited: “Failure to integrate the technology into organisational practice will relegate it to a cost expenditure and not a cost benefit.”

    Makin mentions another area of concern in the United States: … » More …

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  • Native American drivers are more likely to be searched by Washington State Patrol

    While the searches occur at five times the rate for white drivers, they are less likely to turn up drugs or other contraband.

    Twelve years ago, WSU academic researchers in sociology, political science, and criminal justice and criminology working with the Washington State Patrol raised a warning flag: Troopers were searching drivers from minority communities, particularly Native Americans, at a much higher rate than whites. They recommended additional study.

    That was the last time the State Patrol conducted a substantive analysis of the race and ethnicity of drivers searched by troopers. Meanwhile, troopers continued to search Native Americans at a rate much higher — more … » More …

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  • 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 …

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