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


Track A Crime & Criminology
Track B Global Justice & Policy
Track C Social Justice

Admission and Progression Standards

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

In their first semester of Justice Studies course work students are only permitted to take JUST 200. In their second semester of course work in the major students are only eligible to take the 200 level foundation courses (two in a student's track and one from another track). In their third semester in taking courses in the major students are permitted to begin taking justice studies courses at the 300 level. It takes at least five semesters to complete the major. Justice 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 and humanities to 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 nature of the world in which they live, and 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 and Humanitarian Affairs, and actively contributes to the Disability Studies minor.

More About the Field 

The social sciences, which include justice studies, are focused on understanding people and their behaviors. Justice Studies also examines moral, philosophical, and political definitions of justice and injustice and a history of their development. The major emphasizes theory, policy, and social science and other research methodologies, including interdisciplinary ones. Study of distinctions and commonalities between various kinds of justice, for example, criminal, social, global and environmental, is also essential to understanding justice studies.


In the Crime & Criminology Track, 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 track, 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 Track explores issues of justice in a global context, including security, equity, and equality. Courses in this track 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 track 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 Track 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 track may include advocacy, mediation, community organizing, government service, human services, and nonprofits.

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; Criminal Justice; 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; Russian Studies; Science, Technology, & Society; Statistics; Substance Abuse Intervention; Sociology; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; or Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication.

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 and willingness to engage in challenging conversations will be helpful in the major.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.


Professor, Researcher, Teacher


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, AmeriCorp Officer, Community Affairs Manager, Community Services Worker, EEO Specialist, Family Services Case Manager, Group Home Director, Juvenile Counselor, Peace Corp 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

Non-Governmental/Non-Profit Organizations

Arbitrator, Child Welfare Administrator, Civil Rights Activist, Conflict Resolution Specialist, Consumer Advocate, 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.

Career Profiles 

Judges, Magistrates, and Hearing Officers
Probation Officer and Correctional Treatment Workers

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.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

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

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