Justice Studies B.A. and Minor

Justice studies student
The B.A. in justice studies program explores the interrelationships between societal conditions and institutions and systems of justice


The curriculum complements majors in anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, public administration, sociology and social work. It is an excellent choice for those interested in careers in corrections, criminal justice research and policy development, law, law enforcement, mediation and labor relations, public service, social service or fields dealing with children and adolescents. 

In addition to your coursework, all students at Rhode Island College are expected to participate in experiential learning opportunities prior to graduation. Experiential learning is a process through which you develop and apply knowledge, skills, conceptual understanding and values to real-world problems or situations. The classroom, laboratory, studio or authentic real-world experiences on campus and in the community can serve as experiential learning settings. Through experiential learning, you are able to bridge the gap between theory and practice.


As a justice studies major, you will take a culminating capstone course in your senior year: JSTD 466: Seminar in Justice Studies, as well as a two-semester research methods sequence: SOC 302: Social Research Methods I and SOC 404:  Social Data Analysis, in which you will develop your skills in social research. (Double majors in justice studies and either psychology or political science take a slightly different sequence of research methods, but are still required to take two semesters in this area.)

Experiential learning in these required courses focuses on the skills you will need for applied social research. You will learn to design research projects and data collection instruments, collect data in various ways and analyze your data using both qualitative and quantitative methods of data analysis. You will also learn to relate these findings to real-world problems, with particular focus on the implications of research findings for justice policy, justice services and theory. You will graduate having completed an original research paper, grant proposal or other project linking theory and research, which enables you to demonstrate your real-world skills.

Internship for Course Credit

​As a justice studies major, you also have the option of completing an internship for course credit toward your major. You may choose POL 327: Internship in State Government, POL 328: Field Experiences in the Public Sector or SWRK 436: Internship, depending on your area of professional and academic interest. Through an internship, you have the opportunity to connect your classroom learning to the occupational opportunities available in justice-related fields and to develop real-world work experiences and networking connections that will serve you well in your future pursuits.


Interested in Justice Studies?

Rhode Island College is an exclusive member of the Common Application.

Program Details

Course Information

Here we provide information on course requirements, course descriptions and an Academic Rhode Map for each program, a semester-by-semester plan to help you toward graduation in four years.

Course Requirements 

Please Note: Students who matriculated prior to Fall Semester 2020 should consult with their justice studies advisor or the department secretary (401-456-8026) for the course requirements that pertain to them.

Course Descriptions

Academic Rhode Map

Program/Learning Goals

Upon completion of this program, graduates will be able to:

  • understand basic criminal and social justice concepts and theories
  • demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between criminological and sociological theories, research design and interpretation, and engage in work developing research literacy
  • understand and engage in qualitative and quantitative data collection and analytical processes
  • communicate, in written and oral form, criminological, sociological and other social justice arguments
  • develop a sociological perspective on the justice system
  • demonstrate a scholarly understanding of crime, its causes and social consequences
  • become familiar with debates and guidelines about ethical, professional and moral standards involved in criminal justice activities
  • become familiar with global and comparative-historical perspectives on justice systems
  • become familiar with issues of social justice both within and beyond the criminal justice system.

Writing in the Discipline

Why or in what ways is writing important to your discipline/field/profession?

In the Justice Studies Program students learn to critically engage with ideas of equity, fairness and equality as it relates to the broader domains of both social and criminal justice. In its academic and applied settings, writing is a significant skill students acquire to demonstrate their understanding of sociological and criminological fundamental concepts and ideas, theoretical and research literacy. Writing also helps them connect all these components to an applied setting in their capstone courses. 

Which courses are designated as satisfying the Writing in the Discipline (WID) requirement by your department? Why these courses?

There are two justice studies courses that meet the WID requirement: 

  • Sociology 362: Theories of Crime Seminar
  • JSTD 466: Senior Seminar in Justice Studies

SOC 362 and JSTD 466 provide a cumulative academic experience for students while they prepare to embrace a career in the field or pursue a graduate degree. In SOC 362, students are introduced to different tenets of criminological theories, the knowledge of which is demonstrated through several long and short writing assignments. In JSTD 466 students take this learning from their theory class as well as required research classes (including SOC 302, which is the WID requirement for the Sociology Program) to work on a senior project (research paper, grant application, etc.). 

What forms or genres of writing will students learn and practice in your department’s WID courses? Why these genres?

In SOC 362, students learn a wide range of theoretical concepts and their application to contemporary social justice issues. Typically, the class requirements include an extensive term paper which is built on relatively shorter writing assignments. The class works on providing students with the opportunity for faculty feedback on their articulation and application of theories through these shorter assignments throughout the semester. 

In JSTD 466, the final term paper is more extensive and detailed and integrates theory, a literature review, a research method, data, data analysis, discussion and conclusion. Similar to most social science research projects, students should be able to formulate a research question, seek out relevant literature, work on relevant research design and revisit the literature and theory after data analysis. Alternative assignments include research grants, which require a more in-depth literature review and a justification of the grant in an applied context. Irrespective of the type of assignment, writing is pivotal for students in being able to make the academic connection between scholastic literature and the practical context.  

What kinds of teaching practices will students encounter in your department’s WID courses?

In both SOC 362 and JSTD 466, short writing assignments assess their understanding of theories, definitions of research problems, brief reviews of literature and proposed research designs. Case studies and discussion board prompts also support this learning process. The longer term papers required at the end of the semester in each course build on these different types of learning and are supported by consistent and systematic instructor feedback.

When they’ve satisfied your department’s WID requirement, what should students know and be able to do with writing?

Writing is a both a fundamental and advanced skill set that will enable students to thrive in life opportunities beyond their undergraduate degree. Students will build their articulative capacity to make the connections between daily experiences which pertain to the social world and the underlying social science knowledge surrounding the same. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways in students’ career paths – communication with peers, working on projects that ensure vertical mobility in careers, advocating for a diverse workplace and career planning, amongst others. For students pursuing an advanced degree, these undergraduate writing experiences clearly set forth the academic path where writing as a skill set works to their advantage to seek out more profound scholastic endeavors and succeed in these attempts.​

Minor in Justice Studies

Declaring a minor allows you to explore other areas of interest and make interdisciplinary connections. Minor areas at RIC complement and reinforce all major areas of study. By declaring a minor, you can set yourself apart as a candidate for job, internship and volunteer opportunities.

Minor in Justice Studies

Transfer Students

How to Transfer

If you are thinking about coming to Rhode Island College as a transfer student from another college, including the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) or Boston Community College (BCC), or if you have transferred already, you will find information here to help you navigate the transition. Many of our majors and minors transfer to our program, and if you have taken sociology courses elsewhere, you should be off to a great start in completing your degree here. Please note that you still need to complete all the general education requirements, along with your major requirements, and earn a total of 120 credits to graduate from Rhode Island College.

RIC has a 2+2 Justice Studies plan with CCRI. If you follow the plan, you can take two years of full-time classes at CCRI and two years of full-time classes at RIC and complete a B.A. in justice studies with an optional minor in sociology or political science. You can even choose to complete a double major in sociology or apply after you have 75 credits for RIC's B.A.-to-M.A. program in justice studies, enabling you to complete a master's degree in as little as one additional year.

If you are a CCRI student with less than 30 credits, you can apply for the Joint Admissions Agreement (JAA) plan in justice studies, which will enable you to leave CCRI having made the most progress toward your degree. Even if you don’t qualify for the JAA plan, you can use the JAA degree requirements to select the most appropriate CCRI courses. 

Justice Studies JAA Plan

You are strongly encouraged to complete your math course prior to transferring or in your first semester at RIC. At CCRI, you should select Math 0600 and Math 1139, Math 1175, or another Math class that transfers to meet RIC's general education Math requirement. At BCC, Math 119 or 209 or higher and at Quinebaug, Math 146 or higher (note these equivalencies are subject to change, so be sure to verify the most up-to-date transfer guides below).

Accepted Courses to Transfer

The following is a list of courses that RIC accepts toward the justice studies major from local community colleges. If you transfer from another institution, you will have your transfer credits evaluated when you apply for admission. Once you enter the degree program, you can contact the director of the Justice Studies Program or the chair of the relevant department to see if any additional credits might be awarded toward courses in the major (for example, if you are looking for credit for a political science course, see the chair of the Department of Political Science).

RIC Course CCRI Course BCC Course Quinebaug Course
SOC 207

SOCS 2300 OR

SOCS 2310

CRJ 251

SOCS 2300 OR

SOCS 2310

POL 202 POLS 1010 GVT 111 PLSC 111
PSYCH 110 PSYC 2010 PSY 101 PSY 102
PHIL 206 PHIL 206 PHIL 152 PHIL 113
POL 332 LAWS 2000 AND 2030 -- --
Rhode Island College entrance


Dr. Geoff Harkness

Associate Professor