Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology


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 Ph.D. 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.


  • It’s Time To Recognize What Many Mass Murderers Share In Common

    Among researchers who work on predicting violence, domestic abuse is recognized as an important clue that a person may be a future risk to society.

    “When you are trying to predict violent recidivism, you tend to find that domestic violence is one of the strongest predictors,” said Zachary Hamilton, a WSU assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology who studies risk assessment as director of the Washington State Institute for Criminal Justice.

    He cited an analysis of criminal offenders in Washington state, which found that a felony domestic violence conviction was the single greatest predictor of future violent crime.

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  • Officers’ outside work linked to fatigue

    Asking police officers if they’ve had enough sleep to safely perform their jobs is akin to asking drunks if they are capable of driving.

    “People are lousy at self-assessing themselves,” said Bryan Vila, a professor with the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and the Sleep Performance Research Center at WSU Spokane. “It turns out that the part of the brain affected by fatigue is also the self-assessment part.”

    Vila tells officers who are chronically sleep-deprived and don’t get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, “you may be driving your patrol car while just as impaired as the last person you arrested for … » More …

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  • Shift-work fatigue negatively impacts police officers’ tactical social interaction

    Fatigue related to shift work affects the interactions that police officers have with the public, according to findings presented by WSU researchers in criminal justice and criminology at the SLEEP 2016 annual meeting.

    These interactions can, in turn, influence the public’s trust in police, the researchers reported.

    “Our results indicate that officers who work biologically normal day shifts perform much better than those on other shifts,” said professor Bryan Vila. “This suggests that better fatigue management might improve officers’ ability to deftly manage encounters with the public in ways that win cooperation and reduce the need for use of force.”

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    » More …

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  • Study of police officers finds fatigue impacts tactical social interaction

    Results lay foundation for addressing impact of shift work-related fatigue on officer-public interaction

    A new study led by a WSU professor found that fatigue associated with shift work influences how officers interact day-to-day during encounters with the public, which can either build or erode trust in the police.

    Results show that experienced police patrol officers who worked day shifts were significantly more likely to manage simulated encounters with the public in ways that resulted in full-on cooperation—and significantly less likely to have encounters escalate into violence—when compared with officers working the other three shifts.

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