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Explore the criminal justice bachelor's degree program at UW-Eau Claire

Help protect and serve our communities with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Designed for those concerned about crime and motivated to further justice, this growing program combines rigorous coursework with practical, real-world experience.

Explore the structure and functions of law enforcement, the courts, and corrections through internship and research opportunities. Interdisciplinary projects will not only enhance your knowledge of the field but will build your critical thinking, ethical leadership and analytical skills.

Study abroad, immersion programs and participating in the National Student Exchange are highly encouraged. These eye-opening experiences can help you to develop a deep understanding of the many political, social, cultural, philosophical and psychological forces that shape our justice system’s policies, programs and practices.

At UW-Eau Claire, our criminal justice degree isn’t just about helping you understand the causes of crime. It also empowers you to be part of the solution. Whether you decide to patrol neighborhoods, serve in a courtroom or work in a correctional facility, you and your degree will help make a difference.

A summer internship convinced Emily Bindl to pursue a career as a federal probation officer.

Internship inspires career path for criminal justice student

An opportunity to intern with the United States Probation Office in Des Moines, Iowa, gave Emily Bindl the experience — and confidence — she needed to pursue her career. 

“I was surprised by how hands-on my internship was,” she said. “There was never one day where I just sat at my desk doing paperwork.” In addition to sitting in on federal court proceedings and talking with district court judges, Emily also witnessed the strong bonds that probation officers form with their clients, something she found very inspiring. 

The added bonus of working alongside many successful women also crushed her fear of entering a historically male-dominated field. “All the female probation officers made a big impact on me. This internship solidified that working in U.S. Probation is what I strive to do with my career.” 

Why criminal justice at UW-Eau Claire?

Cultural immersion programs. Many Blugolds seek out opportunities to learn about other cultures. Ranging from week- to semester-long, these faculty-led experiences focus on a variety of interesting topics and often lead to life-changing perspectives. Recent programs students have participated in include the Civil Rights Pilgrimage in Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana; the Social and Environmental Justice Experience in Guatemala; Women's Lives and Experiences in Nicaragua; and Culture, Society and Economics in Argentina. 

Real-world experience. See what it's like to work in probation offices, public defenders' offices or even the secret service. Longstanding partnerships with local organizations provide you with direct paths to more than a dozen internship sites, allowing you to earn up to 6 credits of on-the-job experience. Students have held internships at places like the Eau Claire County District Attorney's Office, Eau Claire Police Department, Wisconsin State Patrol, Eau Claire Restorative Justice Center and the United States Secret Service. 

Research opportunities. Criminal justice faculty are regularly engaged in research and actively encourage students to become involved in their latest projects. These opportunities often lead to a chance to travel to state, regional and international conferences and present your findings. 

Expert faculty. Our professors are highly-regarded experts and researchers in their field. For example, professor Dr. Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, has done extensive research on the subject of cyberbullying. Dr. Patchin has shared his expertise at the White House and FBI Academy and has discussed his findings in national media, including CNN, NPR, the BBC and the New York Times.

Ability to enter the field quickly. Thanks to our partnership with Chippewa Valley Technical College's (CVTC) Law Enforcement Academy, you can apply to earn your academy certification while still enrolled at UW-Eau Claire. This shortens the amount of time it takes to begin your career in law enforcement.

Connection to local employers. Annual on-campus Career Conferences and a Non-Profit and Government Career Fair bring potential employers right to you. These events are excellent opportunities to network and submit your resume for current and future job openings. 

More than

12 local internship sites

90% employed

or continuing education after graduation

2020-2021 Graduate Report

A team of UW-Eau Claire student researchers spent time this summer studying all aspects of the criminal justice system in Taiwan.

Shaping the future of law enforcement policies and procedures

Three Blugolds recently returned from a 21-day immersion program in Taiwan after having immersed themselves in the country's criminal justice system. Students conducted field observations and interviews at 25 sites, including prisons, law enforcement agencies, universities, courts and detention centers.

The experience gave students a better understanding of the similarities and differences that exist within criminal justice in other parts of the world.

"If you don’t experience something firsthand, it is hard to think outside the box and see opportunity as well as setbacks you may face when trying to make change," said Courtney Wiemer. "I think our criminal justice system has a lot of room for improvement, and by learning about what works for other countries I can help shape our system in a positive way.”

Quick facts

Criminal justice program details
  • Program length: four years
  • Offered: in person
  • Campus: Eau Claire
  • This major does not require a minor.
  • Students majoring in this program may choose either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree.
 Student organizations
  • Criminal Justice Association (CJA)
  • Association of Student Social Workers

What can I do with a criminal justice degree from UWEC?

The criminal justice major at UW-Eau Claire will help prepare you for a career in law enforcement, corrections and court-related agencies at the local, state and federal level. The program is also an excellent path for those who wish to go on to graduate school in the fields of criminal justice and criminology.

Where are criminal justice alumni now?

Criminal justice jobs

I fell in love with this field, and I know that this is what I want to do. I want to live my life serving others and helping people live their best lives.

Breah Ostertag Criminal Justice
Professor and student pose with research

Crime victim research empowers Blugold on career path

At UW-Eau Claire, you don't need to be a graduate student or in a specific major to participate in research. It's one of the many high-impact, experiential learning opportunities that await you. And for Haley Alger, it served as a time to branch out, try something new and grow — both professionally and personally.

With help from Dr. Ming-Li Hsieh, Haley collected data on fear of crime and victimization on college campuses. Haley then took her findings to a regional conference, where she presented her research to scholars. The experience and the mentorship she received throughout the project was a major highlight of her college career.

"UW-Eau Claire has not only prepared me for my professional career, but it has also shaped me into a strong individual who is ready to take on the world."

Criminal justice bachelor's degree program curriculum

One of UWEC’s largest interdisciplinary programs, the criminal justice major includes courses in sociology, psychology, social work and political science. A variety of elective courses will help fuel your criminal justice passion and provide you with the opportunity to pursue internships and collaborative, student-faculty research. 

What classes do criminal justice majors take?

Your classes may cover topics like: 

Learn more about the comprehensive criminal justice major in the UWEC course catalog.

Related programs at UW-Eau Claire

Thinking about a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice? Here are other programs you may be interested in exploring.

Department information

Photo of Hibbard Humanities Hall during sunset

Political Science

Hibbard Humanities Hall 401
124 Garfield Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Visit the Political Science department website

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