Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Studies

The multidisciplinary program in Criminal Justice Studies explores the conception and implementation of law, crime, and justice systems and ideas. The program emphasizes critical thinking about law, crime, and justice systems and their entanglement with larger political-economic processes. In particular, the program explores how ideas and systems of crime, law, and justice shape broader issues of social justice, especially those related to the experience of race, class, gender, sexuality, and age inequity in the U.S. The program teaches students the skills of critical analysis and ethical reasoning so that students can challenge structures and assumptions and innovatively contribute to the assessment of alternative solutions to problems associated with the identification, control, and prevention of crime and delinquency.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze how systemic inequality shapes and is shaped by crime, law, and justice systems.
  2. Examine how people and groups impact, engage, contest, and remake legal institutions and ideas.
  3. Analyze the history and politics of criminological knowledge.
  4. Critique and analyze claims, data, and knowledge about crime, law, and justice systems.
  5. Design and implement a senior capstone project that demonstrates effective written communication, ethical reasoning, and critical analysis.

Steps to Change Major

Undeclared majors and students enrolled in other disciplines at SF State who seek to change their major to criminal justice studies must have junior standing, have completed a minimum of 52 units with a grade of C- or better, and have taken one GE Area A3 Critical Thinking course (formerly Segment I critical thinking) with a grade of C or better before applying for a change of major.

Assistance to Enhance Writing Competence

Criminal Justice Studies majors who complete C J 330GW will have satisfied the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).

Criminal Justice Studies (B.A.) — 36 units minimum

Core Courses (18 units)

C J 200Construction of Crime and Justice3
C J 230Crime, Data, and Analysis3
C J 300Criminal Justice: A Cross-Disciplinary Perspective4
C J 330Research Methods in Criminal Justice Studies Activity1
C J 330GWResearch Methods in Criminal Justice - GWAR3
C J 680Field Course in Criminal Justice4

Elective Courses (18-22 units)

Power and Inequality (3 units)

Select one:

C J 435/LTNS 430Race, Crime, and Justice3
C J/LTNS 485Latina/o Youth, Crime, and Justice3
C J 530Geographies of Social Control and Urban Diversity3
C J 605Criminalization of Gender and Sexuality3

Criminal Justice Law and Administration (3 units)

Select one:

C J 400Police and Public Policy3
C J 450Jails and Prisons3
C J 480California Corrections System3
C J 501Criminal Law3
C J 502Criminal Procedure3

Select four additional Criminal Justice Studies Electives (12-16 units)

Other upper-division C J courses in addition to those listed below can be used as electives.

AA S 595Asian American Communities and Public Policy3
AFRS 375Law and the Black Community3
AFRS 376Government, the Constitution, and Black Citizens3
AIS 330American Indian Law3
AIS 460Power and Politics in American Indian History3
COMM 503Gender and Communication4
COMM 525Sexualities and Communication4
COMM 531Conflict Resolution4
COMM 541Critical Approaches to Culture and Communication4
COMM 543Dialogues Across Differences4
COMM 564Issues in Free Speech4
COMM 571The Rhetoric of Terrorism4
COMM 573The Rhetoric of Criminality and Punishment4
COUN 630Legal Center Training I3
COUN 631Legal Center Training II3
C J/I R 306Crisis in Central America: U.S. Policy and the Root Causes of Chaos4
C J 320Literature in Criminal Justice - Crime Control, Due Process, and Class Justice3
C J 323Ethics in Criminal Justice3
C J 335Legal Writing and Research4
C J 340/I R 341Comparative Criminal Justice4
C J 400Police and Public Policy3
C J 401Criminal Profiling3
C J 405Organized Crime3
C J 410Crime Scene Investigation3
C J 420Introduction to Forensic Science3
C J 435/LTNS 430Race, Crime, and Justice3
C J 450Jails and Prisons3
C J 451The Architecture of Incarceration3
C J 452/SOC 451Criminological Theory4
C J 460Community Corrections and Sentencing3
C J 461/I R 361Terrorism and Covert Political Warfare4
C J 470/SOC 452Juvenile Justice4
C J 471Contemporary Issues in Juvenile Justice3
C J 475Intervention Policies in Juvenile Justice3
C J 480California Corrections System3
C J/LTNS 485Latina/o Youth, Crime, and Justice3
C J 490Immigration, Criminalization, and Justice3
C J 501Criminal Law3
C J 502Criminal Procedure3
C J/SOC 510Analysis of the Felon in Society3
C J/SOC/USP 511Critical Analysis of Re-entry and Housing3
C J 515Extremism as Crime3
C J 525Global Restorative Justice and Corrections3
C J 530Geographies of Social Control and Urban Diversity3
C J 535Alternatives to Criminalization3
C J 550School Violence and Discipline3
C J 570Urban Violence3
C J 600Youth Gangs in Community Context3
C J 605Criminalization of Gender and Sexuality3
HIST 465American Ethnic and Racial Relations II: 1890-Present3
HIST 470The U.S. Constitution to 18963
HIST 471The U.S. Constitution Since 18963
HIST 472The Supreme Court and Social Change in U.S. History3
I R 259Children and Youth in International Relations4
I R 334International Organizations: New World Order4
I R/C J 360Intelligence and Intelligence Agencies4
I R/PLSI/C J 362The Making of US Foreign Policy4
I R 436/PHIL 435Human Rights in Global Perspective3
I R 453Women and Media in International Relations4
I R/PLSI 459Refugees in Global Perspective4
LTNS 415Latina/o Economic Empowerment3
LTNS 470Latina/o Immigration to the U.S.3
PHIL 335Law and Society3
PHIL 378Philosophy of Criminal Law3
PHIL 380Philosophy of Law3
PLSI 478Judicial Process4
PLSI/USP 512Urban Politics and Community Power4
PLSI 552Individual Rights and the Constitution4
PSY 472Introduction to Legal Psychology3
PSY 475Psychology of Policing3
PSY 547Social Conflict and Conflict Resolution3
RRS/SOC 330Comparative Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.: Class, Gender, and Nation3
RRS 571Women, Race, and Class3
SOC 455Punishment and Social Control3
SXS 455Sex, Power, and Politics3
SXS 569/PHIL 455Sex and the Law3
WGS 513Gender, War, and Militarism3
WGS 514Women and the Prison Industrial Complex3
WGS 554Gender and Global Migration3

A minimum of 30 upper-division units must be completed for the degree (including upper-division units required for the major, General Education, electives, etc.). A student can complete this major yet not attain the necessary number of upper-division units required for graduation. In this case, additional upper-division courses will be needed to reach the required total.

Up to a total of 6 transfer units in the following Criminal Justice courses completed at a community college may be counted toward meeting the "general electives" requirements for the major:

  1. Introduction to Criminal Justice 
  2. Concepts of Criminal Law; for applicable courses, go to the ASSIST website:

Complementary Studies

Bachelor of Arts students must complete at least 12 units of Complementary Studies outside of the primary prefix for the major. (Note: Students may not use an alternate prefix that is cross-listed with the primary prefix for the major.)

Students who complete two majors or a major and a minor automatically complete the Complementary Studies requirement. Additional ways to complete Complementary Studies for students in the Criminal Justice Studies major is to meet with an advisor to identify 12 units of courses complementary to the major. With advisor approval, up to 12 of these units may be used to satisfy units in the major. Consult with your major advisor for assistance.

Students who have earned AA-T or AS-T degrees and are pursuing a similar B.A. degree at SF State are required to fulfill the Complementary Studies requirement as defined by the major department. Students should consult with a major advisor about how transfer units and/or SF State units can best be applied to this requirement to ensure degree completion within 60 units.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Humanities LD 3 C2
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD 3 E
Ethnic Studies LD 3 F
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), a major or minor, or an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities LD or UD 3 AERM
Environmental Sustainability LD or UD 3 ES
Global Perspectives LD or UD 3 GP
Social Justice LD or UD 3 SJ

Note: LD = Lower-Division; UD = Upper-Division.

First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)

The roadmaps presented in this Bulletin are intended as suggested plans of study and do not replace meeting with an advisor. For a more personalized roadmap, please use the Degree Planner tool found in your Student Center.

First-Time Student Roadmap

SF State Scholars

The San Francisco State Scholars program provides undergraduate students with an accelerated pathway to a graduate degree. Students in this program pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree simultaneously. This program allows students to earn graduate credit while in their junior and/or senior year, reducing the number of semesters required for completion of a master’s degree.

Criminal Justice BA + International Relations MA SF Scholars Roadmap

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AA-T in Administration of Justice.
AJ Associate Degreee ADT Roadmap

For students with an AA-T in Social Justice Studies.
SJS ADT Roadmap

For students with an AA-T in Sociology.
SOC ADT Roadmap

For students with an AA-T in Law, Public Policy and Society.
LPPS ADT Roadmap

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Administration of Justice

California legislation SB 1440 (2009) mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). 

Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper-division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower-division preparation for the major.

An ADT totals 60 units and in most cases includes completion of all lower-division General Education requirements and at least 18 units in a specific major. (The Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science AS-T degrees defer 3 units in lower-division GE area C and 3 units in lower-division GE area D until after transfer.) Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.

Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.

Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.

A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and continue in a "similar" major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab on the degree requirements page for the major. The roadmap displays:

  • How many lower-division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower-division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.

Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower-division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California Government

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine:

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower-division major requirements for this major;
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government requirements.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper-division transfer (for example, if a course was not passed on the first attempt or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California Community College of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower-division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding the award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower-division General Education in Areas C and D until after transfer to focus on preparation courses for the major. This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.

Transferring From Institutions Other Than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower-division General Education requirements. Note that, as described below, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3, and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower-division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.