The Justice Studies major is a department within the College of Arts and Letters.

  • Crime & Criminology
  • Global Justice & Policy
  • Social Justice
  • General Justice Studies Major 
Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

It takes at least five semesters to complete the Justice Studies major. JUST 200 is the only major course students can take in their first semester in the major. In the second semester of course work in the major students are eligible to take 200 level foundation courses only. In the third semester, students are permitted to begin taking justice studies courses at the 300 level; in the fourth, students may take JUST 399 (MATH 220 is also a prerequisite). Then, in the fifth semester, they may take JUST 400: Senior SemesterJustice Studies is a 41 credit major.

Description of Major

Justice Studies is offered as a major through the Department of Justice Studies. Justice Studies is an interdisciplinary area of inquiry that brings together insights from social sciences, humanities, and other areas explore questions of justice. Through rigorous empirical and normative analysis of justice and injustice it seeks to help students develop a personal definition of justice, a fuller understanding of the world in which they live, and to identify careers and strategies for action. Justice Studies values community and civic engagement, encourages students to actively participate in and contribute to their communities, and provides engagement opportunities and resources. The Justice Studies Department also administers interdisciplinary minors in Criminal Justice, Youth Justice, Social Justice Studies, and Humanitarian Affairs, and actively contributes to the Disability Studies, AAD, LAXC, WGSS, and other minors.

More About the Field 

Justice Studies is a transdsciplinary program that incorporates the social sciences, humanities, and other fields of knowledge to better understand the complex concept of “justice. The major emphasizes theory, policy, and interdisciplinary research methodologies. Understanding distinctions and interconnections between various kinds of justice, for example, criminal, social, global and environmental, is also essential to understanding justice studies.


In the Crime & Criminology Concentration, students focus attention on the nature, causes and solutions for crime, primarily but not exclusively in the United States. It explores questions of justice in the context of criminal behavior. While understanding the nature of various forms of criminal endeavor is significant in this concentration, there is also a strong focus on understanding the roots of the problem, and the theoretical traditions in the social sciences which have sought to explain this type of behavior. In addition, there is an emphasis on thoughtful examination of the responses to crime, with a concentration on effective policy initiatives. Potential career directions might include criminal justice policy making and research, graduate study in the justice field, academic/research fields, law enforcement, the courts (including the practice of criminal law), or corrections. The Global Justice & Policy Concentration explores issues of justice in a global context, including security, equity, and equality. Courses in this concentration address the individual, group, and state dimensions of these and related issues in a diverse set of policy areas including democratization, cultural identity, development, environmental justice, conflict resolution and human rights. Students in this concentration may be interested in careers in government service, law, federal law enforcement, peace corps, diplomatic corps, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations. The Social Justice and Engagement Concentration is designed to investigate what is fair, equitable, and just for society. Emphasizing the oppression and liberation of vulnerable, exploited, and marginalized populations, this curriculum promotes sustainable and just solutions to social, political, and economic problems. Potential career interests for students in this conventration may include advocacy, mediation, community organizing, government service, human services, and nonprofits.

Students may also choose the General Justice Studies major, without specializing, which provides an expansive and holistic education in the broad, interdisciplinary field of justice studies, including and beyond the subfields represented in the concentration areas 

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Possible combinations could include African, African American, and Diaspora Studies; Asian Studies; Cultural Communication; Communication Studies; Computer Science; Conflict Analysis and Intervention; Disability Studies; Economics; Environmental Management; Environmental Studies; Family Studies; Gerontology; Health Communication; Human Science; Humanitarian Affairs; Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Medical Humanities; Middle Eastern Communities and Migrations; Modern Foreign Language; Modern European Studies; Music and Human Services; Law Enforcement Spanish; Nonprofit Studies; Political Communication; Political Science; Philosophy, Religion; Public Policy & Administration; Queer Studies; Russian Studies; Science, Technology, & Society; Statistics; Substance Abuse Intervention; Sociology; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication; or Youth Justice.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Students who are invested in helping others and creating positive change, want to continue to develop strong analytical and communication skills, and are interested in complex issues on both local and global levels are most attracted to this major. Additionally, intellectual curiosity, comfort with ambiguity and complexity, willingness to engage with multiple perspectives in challenging conversations will be helpful in the major.


Given the holistic, interdisciplinary, and broad approaches to justice, graduates pursue a wide range of career pathways. Some fields will require graduate study or further training and experience. The listing below offers just some examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.


Professor, Researcher, Educator


Correctional Caseworker, Juvenile Probation Officer; Probation/Parole Officer

Diplomatic Corps

Cultural Affairs Associate, Diplomatic Analyst, Foreign Service Officer, Public Diplomacy Officer

Human Services, Government, Service Corps

ADR Case Specialist, AmeriCorps Officer, Community Affairs Manager, Community Services Worker, EEO Specialist, Family Services Case Manager, Group Home Director, Juvenile Counselor, Peace Corps Officer, Rehabilitation Specialist, Victim/Witness Coordinator, Youth Service Coordinator

Intelligence and Security

Homeland Security Agent. Intelligence Analyst, Intelligence Specialist, Public Safety Coordinator, Secret Service Agent, Security Analyst

Law and Law Enforcement

Criminal Defense Attorney, Criminal Investigator, Criminal Prosecution Attorney, Criminologist, Court Administrator, FBI Agent, Judge/Magistrate, Law Enforcement Officer, Law Librarian, Legal Assistant, Litigation Paralegal, Public Defense Attorney, Crime Data Analyst

Non-Governmental/Non-Profit Organizations

Arbitrator, Child Welfare Administrator, Civil Rights Activist, Community Organizer, Conflict Resolution Specialist, Consumer Advocate, Diversity Consultant, Human Rights Advocate, Mediator, Negotiator, Public Interest Group Associate, Social Welfare Administrator, Victim Advocate

Public Policy and Politics

Campaign Manager, Legislative Correspondent, Legislator, Lobbyist, Political Aid, Political Consultant, Public Administrator, Public Affairs Aid, Public Policy Analyst, Speech Writer

Who Employs Graduates?

Advocacy Groups, Banks, CIA, Colleges/Universities, Community Service Agencies, Consulting Firms, Correctional Facilities, Criminal Courts, Diplomatic Corps, Family Courts, FBI, Federal/State/Local Government Agencies, International Human Rights Agencies, Intelligence and Security Agencies, Juvenile Courts, Juvenile Justice Programs, Law Enforcement Agencies, Law Firms, Lobbying Organizations, Nonprofit Agencies, Nursing Homes, Political Parties, Probation and Parole Departments, Professional Associations, Public Action Committees, Public Interest Groups, Public/Private Schools, Social Service Agencies or Think Tanks.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Students are encouraged to gain hands-on experience in their area of interest. Students can consult with faculty in the Justice Studies program to identify possible opportunities.

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to career@jmu.edu

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