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Justice Studies Frequently Asked Questions

 What are common minors that pair with Justice Studies?

Justice Studies also administers two minors, Criminal Justice (which cannot be paired with Justice Studies), and Humanitarian Affairs (which can be). Other common minors for Justice Studies include Disability Studies; Nonprofit Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Family Studies; Africa, African American, and Diaspora Studies; and Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies. Many students complete various minors in Foreign Language. Students may want to diversify, however, and complete a minor that would add very different skills and knowledge, such as Computer Science, Biology, or Business. JMU has a wide range of minors available, many of which would complement the Justice Studies major well, depending on your own academic and career interests and goals.

 Can I double major?

Since Justice Studies is a 41-credit major, and students need 120 credits to graduate, it is both possible and somewhat common for students to double major in Justice Studies and another major.

 Do I need to declare the major coming in to JMU?

If you declare Justice Studies when you enter JMU, you will be able to enroll in JUST 200 your first semester to get started on the major. However, it’s okay if you need some additional time to decide on the major. Just be sure to declare Justice Studies early on in your sophomore year so that you can stay on track to graduate.

It takes at least five semesters to complete the major; this is because of the prerequisite structure. We want you to take specific classes to help scaffold you up and prepare you for the next set of classes. Here’s what a typical pathway through the major would be:

First semester: JUST 200
Second Semester: Track Foundation Course(s)
Third Semester and Beyond: Upper Level Track and Core Courses
Last Two Semesters: Research Methods and Senior Seminar

 What kinds of classes will I take in Justice Studies?

For a full description and listing of the curriculum, please consult the JMU Catalog.

But, here’s an overview:

  • Core Requirements:
    • JUST 200: Intro to Justice Studies (covers all three tracks)
    • 200-level Foundation courses
      • Two in Track, One Out of Track
    • JUST 100: Proseminar
    • 300-level Comparative course
    • JUST 399: Research Methods
    • JUST 400: Senior Seminar

  • Track Requirements: Students select one of the following tracks and complete at least six track elective courses:
    • Track A: Criminal Justice and Criminology
    • Track B: Global Justice and Policy
    • Track C: Social Justice Engagement

  • Here are some examples of courses you might take to fulfill your track electives:
    • Death Penalty, Media and Justice, Restorative Justice, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Justice
    • Building Democracy, Genocide, Peace Studies, Human Rights, Globalization and Justice, Solutions to Global Poverty, Global Migrations
    • Example Courses: Gender and Justice, Disability and Justice, Environmental Justice, Sexual Orientation and Social Policy

 What are typical career interests for Justice Studies majors?

Because our alumni go on to a wide range of meaningful careers, it’s hard to identify a “typical” career path for Justice Studies. However, here are some examples that might be helpful:

  • Track A: local, state, federal law enforcement (police, Homeland Security, Secret Service, FBI,); legal careers; corrections; academic/research, public policy and politics
  • Track B: federal law enforcement, peace corps, international aid agencies, NGOs, diplomatic corps
  • Track C: mediation organizations, human services, overseas development organizations, nonprofits, advocacy JMU offers some excellent resources, through the Career and Academic Planning Office, for internship and career exploration and searching; for example, see their Career Guide for Justice Studies 
*But these aren’t the only possibilities!

JMU offers some excellent resources, through the Career and Academic Planning Office, for internship and career exploration and searching; for example, see their Career Guide for Justice Studies.

 What opportunities are there to get involved in the community?

Justice Studies encourages students to get involved in the local and global communities. You can learn more on our website, under Civic Engagement.

Here are some programs you may wish to investigate:

 If I’m interested in law school, should I major in Justice Studies?

We have many students who are interested in law school. Students interested in law school are often also interested in studying justice more broadly. Justice Studies can help equip you with the kinds of things law schools are looking for, including strong communication and critical thinking skills. However, law schools are not expecting you to come in knowing the law—that’s what they teach you. And, while law is one of the things we explore, the study of justice encompasses much more than that. Law is just one piece of the very complex puzzle that is justice. If you’re interested in law school, you can have your pick of almost any major; it’s always important to find the right fit for you.

 Can I do research as an undergraduate?

Yes, we encourage students to conduct and disseminate research as undergrads. Many of our courses contain engagement and research opportunities, and we do offer opportunities to work one-on-one and in small groups with faculty conducting research. In Justice Studies, we focus primarily on community-based and civically-engaged research. Here are some examples of past projects in which our students have participated:

  • Homelessness Survey in Research Methods
  • Harrisonburg Community Police Academy
  • Food Justice in Harrisonburg
  • Racial Lynching in Virginia
  • Immigrant and Refugee Oral Histories
  • Prison Scholars
  • We also encourage students to share their work. Our students have been published in forums such as VA Engage Journal and have presented their work at university, regional, and national academic conferences.

 Do you offer small classes?

Yes, most of our classes are small, typically 35 students are under. We do not have large “lecture hall” classes. Sometimes, due to demand, we may need to have slightly larger classes at the introductory level (typically no more than 40 students). However, many of our classes are even smaller, including Research Methods and Senior Seminar, which are under 20 students. There are also multiple opportunities for smaller, even one-on-one, research and independent study courses.

 Do faculty teach the classes?

Yes! Most classes in Justice Studies are taught by full-time instructional faculty with terminal degrees. Exceptions include adjuncts who are professionals in the field, such as judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officers; feedback from students indicate they find value in making professional connections and hearing insights from people working in the field. We do not employ graduate students to teach students. While they are also experts and scholars, teaching is extremely important to Justice Studies faculty, and all are widely available to students during class time, office hours, appointments, and via electronic communication.  

 Do you require internships?

While we do not require internships, we strongly encourage them. They are excellent ways to gain experience, explore and make decisions about career options, and build professional networks.

You can learn more about Justice Studies internship requirements and opportunities on our website.

Most students complete internships over the summer, when they do not have to balance the internship and other coursework. Our students have participated in a wide range of internships, from the United Nations, the Secret Service, and various local and state law enforcement agencies, to local nonprofits, law firms, and Capitol Hill. Students are encouraged to find internships that align with their own goals, strengths, and interests.

JMU offers internship search resources through Career and Academic Planning.

 I’m interested in a career in federal law enforcement; what should I do?

Many of our majors are interested in careers in federal law enforcement. Because this is often a competitive field, we encourage students to do their homework now. Go to the website of various agencies of interest. Learn more about their shadowing, internship, and pathways programs. Research what kinds of skills, knowledge, and experience they are looking for, and plan now for how you will achieve it. Learn all you can, and start preparing now.

 

If you have any additional questions, please see the Justice Studies website: www.jmu.edu/justicestudies

Or email us:

Daisy Breneman, Academic Advisor: brenemdl@jmu.edu
Dr. Glenn Hastedt, Department Chair: hastedgp@jmu.edu 

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