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The Program

Through the Marian University Online BS in Criminal Justice Program, students engage in a challenging curriculum centered on the three segments of the American criminal justice system – law enforcement, correctional institutions and social and juvenile justice. Students broaden their perspective by learning alongside others who bring experience working in criminal justice agencies, police forces, correctional institutions, and other settings.

For more details regarding this program, view Marian’s Academic Bulletin.

Liberal arts core, 45 credits:

A course designed to enhance students’ composition and critical-thinking skills, by providing experiences with a range of writing strategies, with emphasis on expository and argumentative prose. Students develop their awareness of the resources of language and of the stages in the writing process. The course aims to make students competent in standard edited English and to prepare them for the writing they will do in college and in their careers. The course also introduces students to the principles of college research, with emphasis on analytical reading of research material, focused use of sources, and the methodology of citation and documentation. It acquaints students with techniques of interviewing and conducting surveys, as well as with search strategies involving resources in print. The course provides guidance for students as they apply research principles to subjects within their disciplines or areas of interest.

ART Art elective
MUS Music elective
ENG Literature elective
BIO Biological, ecological or environmental science elective
PHS Physical science, chemistry, meteorology, or physics elective
MAT Mathematics elective, 3 cr.
SOC Sociology elective
PSY General Psychology or Human Development

A survey of world civilizations from the 16th century to the present. Exploration of the cultural, political and economic development of humankind in a global context.

HIS 2xx History elective

An introduction to Christian theology understood as the critical and reflective study of God’s revelation through the person, life, and teaching of Jesus Christ and of the implications of this revelation. Proceeding from the Catholic intellectual tradition and incorporating perspectives of other Christian traditions, this study aims to present theology as a striving for the harmony of faith and reason. Through critical study and reflection, students are introduced to specific concepts, terminology, and methodologies needed to participate well in on-going theological dialogue. Students have the opportunity to apply and reflect on their knowledge in written work, presentations, service-learning, community service, and/or retreat experiences.

THE 2xx Theology elective

This introductory philosophy course builds on the critical reading and thinking outcomes students will have achieved in the First Year Seminar, and prepares students for their future studies and for life by leading them to develop their abilities in three outcome areas: Interpretive Reasoning, Critical Reasoning, and Global Citizenship. Through engagement with historical, multicultural, and contemporary texts students will learn how to interpret texts, move from evidence to conclusions, and use their interpretations and conclusions to live a more examined life.

PHI 2xx Philosophy elective

Criminal justice courses, 36 credits:

This course explores the three main subsystems of the Criminal Justice System: Law Enforcement, Courts, and Corrections. The history, philosophy, structure, current issues and future trends of these three main subsystems are presented, discussed, and studied using a cooperative learning approach. This course also identifies the functions and jurisdiction of Wisconsin law enforcement and criminal justice system agencies and the sources and legal principles that form the foundation of Wisconsin criminal law. Additionally, belief systems, social pressures, moral problems, ethical decision making and the consequences of decisions are discussed. This course identifies the resources available in communities to assist the criminal justice system. This course also covers Wisconsin requirements for written law enforcement agency policies and procedures.

In this course students will examine the tenuous balance between the needs of society to investigate and prosecute criminal conduct against the rights of the individual to be free from governmental intrusion in their lives. Students will analyze laws and court decisions relating to arrest, search and seizure, and confessions law under the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

This course identifies the elements of crimes against persons, property, controlled substances, and alcohol beverage laws. The legal definitions and potential penalties of felonies, misdemeanors, and ordinance violations are explored. Students will be able to identify potential violations and penalties in simulated cases.

This course examines the juvenile justice system including juvenile court proceedings involving alleged delinquent children and on behalf of children in need of protection and services under applicable Wisconsin Statutes and constitutional law principles. The roles and responsibilities of law enforcement, child protection agencies, intake workers, and court officials are developed. The juvenile justice system is also examined from a sociological perspective with students evaluating the system’s effectiveness in controlling juvenile delinquency by reviewing recent legislation and court ruling on the rights of youthful offenders and assessing legal efforts to correct their antisocial behavior.

An overview of corrections (jails, prisons, probation/parole, and community-based options) as a means to protect society. Students will develop an understanding of the concepts of incarceration, prison management, and rehabilitation (penology), especially in the United States. Topics include pre-sentence investigations, sentence recommendations, conditions of probation and parole, case plans, rules, probation/parole violations, and revocations. How offenders change their lives in order to become productive community members will be explored in this course. Students will become familiar with corrections philosophies, prison violence, inmate subcultures, health care needs, treatment programs, punishment, prison educational programs, community perceptions, and jail administration. Consideration of aspects of probation service delivery, home visits, restitution, court obligations, supervision fees, and alternative methods of community protection.

This course examines trends and issues in the delivery of public safety issues and services. It explores strategic innovations such as community policing, problem-oriented policing, disorder-based policing, Intelligence-Led Policing and the use of technologies. It discusses criminal justice effectiveness and reviews what research tells us about ‘what works’. The course also examines issues of law legitimacy and accountability, corruption, regulating use of force and brutality, special and legal issues in policing as well as in a law enforcement agency, and the challenges involved in ensuring that criminal justice professional’s behavior conforms with democratic principles such as fairness, equity, access to justice and respect for human rights. It also looks at issues of equity and diversity as regards to women in the criminal justice arena and relationships with ethnic minority communities. Finally, it sketches and assesses developments in private policing, both domestically and globally. While this class focuses on critical issues in the United States, it offers a global perspective and incorporates examples from different parts of the world.

This course is a study of the fundamentals of criminal investigations including the principles involved in the collection, processing, and preservation of physical evidence. Students will examine the unique aspects of death, sexual assault, and child maltreatment investigations including crime scene management, identification and evaluation of physical evidence found in the crime scene, and the collection and preservation of that evidence.


A survey course of police management practices and principles. The course is structured to provide the student with a comprehension and knowledge of the law enforcement profession, including administration, management and supervision and duties and functions therein. The course focuses on job descriptions and responsibilities, as well as law enforcement traditions, current trends and practices, and the future needs from an administrative and technical standpoint. Other topics covered include staff development, planning, budgeting, community relations, and legal aspects of administration. Application of decision-making and problem-oriented policing techniques are included in this course.


An overview of corrections, probation, and parole as they relate to the community. Examination of community resources and collaboration with other law enforcement agencies. Topics include pre-sentence investigations, sentence recommendations, conditions of probation and parole, case plans, rules, probation/parole violations, and revocations. Consideration of aspects of probation service delivery, home visits, restitution, court obligations, supervision fees, and alternative methods of community protection. Discussion of job descriptions for probation/parole agents and preparation for the statewide probation/parole examination will be part of this course. This course will be primarily an applications class where students will experience the process of being a probation/parole agent. (Junior standing preferred)

An overview of theories of crime. The following theories will be explored: classical, spiritual and natural explanations, biological factors, psychological factors, control theories, deterrence theories, conflict theory, gender and crime, age and crime, and integrative theories.

Students will learn the role of crisis intervention and its management strategies necessary for their criminal justice career. Professional communication will be integrated and reinforced throughout the course. Students will be expected to apply these professional communication skills appropriately in (all) simulations. Students will also learn intervention principles, guidelines and techniques for criminal justice, public safety and health providers- about persons with possible mental disorders, alcohol or drug problems, dementia disorders, and/or developmental disabilities. Strategies of crisis intervention will be discussed in their own right and within the contexts of: suicide and personal loss/bereavement as well as other crises of lethality; posttraumatic stress disorder, hostage situations and the catastrophic events that are related, and sexual assault and domestic violence (including both adult and child victims and the perpetrators of these crimes) as well as the current issue of school-based violence.

An upper level seminar course specifically designed for the Criminal Justice student. This seminar primarily deals with a career-oriented study of various federal, state and local criminal justice departments/agencies. The course focuses on both the organizational structure and personnel policies of the respective departments /agencies. Some of the major areas of concentration will include recruitment and selection procedures, minorities in law enforcement, and inter-agency relationships within the Criminal Justice System. The course identifies the importance of specific recruiting policies and interagency relationships within Criminal Justice on employment.

15 credits from the following:

This course is designed to provide the student with a thorough understanding of gangs, theories of gang formation, gang behavior, and policies implemented to address them. Upon completion of this course, students should have a good understanding about what a gang is, how gang violence is functional, and how the existence of gang criminal activity has impacted criminal justice policy (prosecution, courts, prisons, probation and parole).

This course studies the different types of child abuse. Central to this course is an extensive review and examination of the multiple causes and intricate familial dynamics of abuse. Both the physical and behavioral indicators of the victim are also studied as well as potential family intervention strategies.

This course examines crime prevention strategies and concepts. It emphasizes new and innovative approaches to preventing criminal behavior; and explores the legal, moral, and ethical considerations and problems of human and environmental manipulation in an interdisciplinary context.

This course is a seminar in the major concepts of professionalism in Criminal Justice Administration, and further, an introduction to the knowledge and skills necessary for one to practically apply the theory and principles of professionalism and professional conduct in the environment of criminal justice practice.

This course is designed for criminal justice students as an entry-level skills preparation for patrol and traffic related functions in policing. This course is designed to develop job-related skills with a specific focus on traffic law enforcement, scene management, and traffic crash investigations.

Selected topics relating to the field of Criminal Justice are presented. The topics reflect the particular competencies and interests of program faculty taking into consideration the needs and requests of the students.



This course provides students with a basic knowledge of how to respond to emergencies as first responders in situations involving hazardous materials and common medical emergencies. Students will learn how to assess the scene, recognize the nature of the emergency, and take appropriate action. Students will participate in lecture and hands-on demonstrations to become proficient at caring for persons suffering a heart attack, stroke, and trauma management, along with multiple other minor and major emergencies. The course follows the American Red Cross Professional Rescuer protocol for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid management. The student who successfully completes this course will be certified in First Aid, Automated External Defibrillation (AED), and CPR for adults and children.

The focus of this course is to study the nature and extent of racial, cultural and gender issues as they pertain to criminal justice issues in America. Furthermore, the class will attempt to distinguish the variability in past and existing criminal justice practices at each stage of the criminal justice system for minority groups.


This course presents the basic principles and methods of social science research. Students are introduced to techniques for critical analysis of the professional practice literature and how, as consumers, they can incorporate research findings in practice. Students also acquire knowledge and skills for applying research in their practice. Similarities between the research and problem-solving processes are identified, beginning with conceptualization of the research question, followed by determination of the appropriate design and methodology, and concluding with qualitative and quantitative data analysis and presentation of findings. Professional values and ethics, as well as sensitivity to human diversity, are subsumed within the conduct of research.


This course examines assumptions people make about catastrophes by way in-depth analysis of the way social and cultural processes which shape the experience and understanding of catastrophe, whether natural, accidental, or intentional. Students will learn how disasters emerge from the convergence of hazard, risk, and the social construction of vulnerability. This course offers students an overview of a variety of natural and man-made disasters and how society prepared for, responded to, and recovered from specific events from multiple perspectives. In doing so, students will access case studies “scientific storytelling,” as well as research and their affects on “disaster theory.” Students will gather an increased appreciation of the complexities associated with planning for and responding to natural and man-made disasters.


This course will examine terrorism as a weapon of power, a forensic issue, and a social phenomenon. Types of terror, types of groups and governments involved in terror, and the people who become terrorists and their victims will be examined. Theories of political policy, group dynamics, and individual predilections will be evaluated so that terrorism can be understood to be combated. The course is designed to give students an overview of terrorism and its impact on American society. It will prepare students to understand the contemporary problems associated with terrorism and to anticipate problems society will face in the twenty-first century.

The purpose of this course is to provide a primer on homeland security for emergency managers and related disciplines. Content first includes an overview of the Homeland Security basic management concepts, replete with readings, discussions and problems related to achieving homeland security.


This course introduces students to leadership and management principles and practices, with a focus on homeland security agency administration examining the management of public safety agencies, as well as leadership theory. We will also examine the “people” side of government organizations and leadership in emergency operations.

This course provides a general introduction to the methods, procedures, protocols and strategies of emergency planning, with emphasis on situations in industrialized countries and the local level of organization (i.e. cities, municipalities, metropolitan areas and small regions), though with ample reference to national and international levels. Rather than concentrating on the practices of any one country or state, the course focuses on general principles.


This is a basic course in employment and labor law in the public sector, using the Federal public sector as a model. It covers the key subjects one needs to function effectively in the public sector workplace. This course examines the form, organization, and function of administrative agencies in the context of a democratic constitutional system. The course looks at agency rulemaking, enforcement, and adjudication, and examines as well the legislative, executive, and judicial control of these functions.

This course is the final in a six-course comprehensive certificate in leadership for Homeland Security. The Capstone Project will be an individual research, design, and implementation project chosen by each student. Projects are approved by the faculty member leading the Capstone Course. The expectation is that this would be a significant project acting as a capstone for their Homeland Security Leadership education. Depending on the student’s interest there may be more of a research and writing aspect to the work or possibly more design and implementation of software. The project would be structured with various deliverables during the semester and culminating with a colloquium at the end of the semester. The particular content of each presentation is agreed upon in advance by each student (or sub-group) and the professor. The professor will arrange for each of the students taking the senior seminar to give presentations preferably at the end the term to the cohort, seminar groups and any other interested faculty and students. (Senior status or Homeland Security Leadership Certificate completion or permission.)


This course explores the major types of psychopathology to include anxiety disorders, personality disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia, organic brain disorders, substance-related disorders, somatoform disorders, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, mental retardation, adjustment disorders, sexual and gender identity disorders, impulse control disorders and delirium, dementia and amnestic disorders. Emphasis is given to the issues surrounding classification, etiology and treatment.

24 credits:

University electives


The Marian University Online BS in Criminal Justice program prepares students to be mature, competent, and effective leaders in the criminal justice field and its occupational and organizational settings. The program is committed to promoting and developing in students an understanding of criminal justice related politics and law; a working knowledge of best practices in community development aspects of crime prevention; juvenile probation, detention, and residential treatment; problem-oriented community policing; community corrections; adult probation; prison; prisoner reentry and parole. The program promotes and develops in students an understanding of multiple perspectives, conflicting values, and the role of research-based knowledge and critical thinking in the criminal justice field.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will develop and promote in others an appreciation for individual diversity of thought and values.
  • Students will use different levels of critical thinking and research-based practices in decision making activity in the criminal justice field.
  • Students will evaluate situations for appropriate application of criminal justice related policies, procedures, and law.
  • Students will establish best practices in key aspects of crime prevention, problem-oriented community policing, and systems of correction and rehabilitation.
  • Students will develop skills of an effective and competent criminal justice leader.
  • Students will develop effective communication skills in order to complete the essential oral and written documentation of the work in the criminal justice field.

Marian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Students in the Marian University Online BS in Criminal Justice Program find the convenience of a program designed with their needs in mind, including the relevancy and quality that comes from a faculty compromised of criminal justice experts. Students can start the program in the fall, spring, or summer, and they are able to proceed through the program at their own pace by taking one or more courses per 7-week term.

Tracey Marx, M.A.
Assistant Dean for Adult and Online Studies

Andrea Wolf, M.A.E.
Assistant Dean for Adult and Online Studies

Alan Johnson, J.D.
Assistant Professor

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Adult and Online Studies Office