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Contributing to more just, equitable, and safer communities. Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology


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 1941, under Dr. Vivian Anderson 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.


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


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

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

Media Inquiries


Media inquiries should be directed to Vice President for Marketing and Communications Phil Weiler (

CAS in the Media

  • WSU Pullman student receives governor’s award for civic engagement

    McNair scholar Areli Orozco, a psychology and criminal justice double-major, is the recipient of a Governor’s Student Civic Leadership award from the Washington Campus Coalition for the Public Good (WCC). The award highlights student leaders for their work in civic engagement, community leadership, and social entrepreneurship.

    “I was kind of shocked,” said Orozco, a first-year student at Washington State University who researches anxiety among first generation students that are people of color. “I thought the recognition was cool, but at the same time, I feel like there are other people who do a lot more.”

    Ben Calabretta, director of the Center for Civic Engagement, says … » More …

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  • Portland’s broken window epidemic: Who’s behind the vandalism and what is going to stop it?

    Every 42 minutes there is a report of vandalism in Portland — often involving broken windows. Some storefronts have been hit repeatedly.

    There were more reports of broken windows and vandalism in Portland last year than during the violent protests of 2020.

    “It is a complex problem that really requires a complex solution,” said Laurie Drapela, a criminal justice professor at Washington State University Vancouver. Drapela explained that because there are fewer people living and working in downtown Portland, there aren’t as many eyes and ears around to help prevent crime.

     “You have a lot of office complex space now where people are working from … » More …

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  • Research: The operationalization of bodycam data

    Washington State University researchers are working with police departments to objectively review videos to benchmark officer performance and inform training

    An agency’s body-worn camera video contains multiple data points that can be operationalized to benchmark officer performance and inform training. Tapping into that wealth of knowledge is the mission of David A. Makin, Ph.D., an associate professor in criminal justice and criminology at Washington State University and director of WSU’s Complex Social Interactions Lab.

    Through data analytics and machine learning, Makin and his team code and catalog key variables in bodycam videos associated with a range of outcomes as specified by the agencies participating … » More …

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  • SURCA presents undergraduate research awards

    Several students from across the College of Arts and Sciences were among WSU scholars who presented posters at the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) 2022 on March 28.

    SURCA is the unique WSU-wide venue for students from all majors, years in college, and all WSU campuses to share their mentored research, scholarship, and creative activities, and have judges evaluate their work shown on a poster. At this year’s event, around 140 students from four campuses were among those accepted to present 112 posters to 90 judges. Faculty, postdoctoral students, and community experts used a common rubric to evaluate and score presentations across nine … » More …

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