The Criminal Justice (CJ) program is designed to provide entry-level skills and education for students who desire to pursue a career in one of the many areas of the Criminal Justice field. Graduates from the program have the option of continuing their education or applying for the various criminal justice career opportunities that exist. Typical entry-level positions for which a program graduate might qualify include police officer, deputy sheriff, state trooper, corrections officer, juvenile probations officer, communications officer/dispatcher, fingerprint technician, private investigator, claims investigator, commissioned park ranger, loss prevention officer, or private security officer. The program’s courses focus on the criminal justice system, law enforcement, legal studies, investigative techniques, patrol procedures, security and corrections. Most classes are open to majors and non-majors as long as the curricular prerequisites have been met. Graduates from the program have the option of continuing their education by applying their AAS degree as a transfer degree to Central Washington University’s Bachelor of Arts degree in Information Technology and Administrative Management, and to the Evergreen State College’s Bachelor of Arts Law and Public Policy degree.
Also, in collaboration with the Pierce College Center of Excellence- Homeland Security department, the SVC Criminal Justice department co-sponsors a Homeland Security Emergency Management Associate in Technology degree. This degree gives graduates the skills to oversee emergency planning and training programs, coordinate disaster response and recovery efforts, and navigate the administrative and technical demands of disaster and emergency management efforts. The curriculum of this degree is applicable to all emergency service fields, businesses and Industries, and prepares students to work in any all-hazards emergency environment.
Today, most law enforcement and criminal justice agencies require a minimum educational requirement of an Associate Degree as a prerequisite for employment. Although this program does not guarantee acceptance into a specific law enforcement position or criminal justice agency, it does prepare a student to take a police agency entrance examination or engage in a similar entry-level process.
Program Learning Outcomes
Graduates of the Criminal Justice program will be able to:
- Complete a job application, resume and prepare for civil service testing procedures in local, state and federal criminal justice professions.
- Communicate effectively in writing in order to document the actions of criminals, investigators, corrections officers and probation officers and meet the requirements of the American court system.
- Using critical thinking skills to understand and analyze verbal, non-verbal and cultural communications, effectively communicate with the public and respond to various problems many of which may not be criminal in nature, and some of which may be adversarial.
- Develop an understanding of the basic precepts of criminal law as it applies in the state of Washington.
- Develop an understanding of the court system in the United States in terms of constitutional issues and historical precedents.
- Identify and understand correctional practices in the United States in relation to philosophies of punishment, sentencing practices, victim’s rights, and institutional limitations.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the purpose, function, and historical evolution of the American Criminal Justice System in terms of the three major branches of criminal justice: police, courts, and corrections, and their relationships, similarities and differences.
- Utilize knowledge about state, federal and sovereign laws that impact law enforcement and corrections in decision making in the United States.
- Utilizing critical thinking, information and technical literacy, and effective communications, discuss and demonstrate basic procedures related to the fields of law enforcement and corrections, including investigative techniques, patrol procedures, interactive community policing and courtroom testimony.
- Discuss ethics and professional conduct as related to law enforcement and corrections, including ethical dilemmas and paradoxes faced by criminal justice professionals.
- Meet Social Science, Humanities, Written Communication, and Quantitative Reasoning distribution area outcomes.
Entry into the Program
Please apply at Enrollment Services. Students may enter the program at the beginning of any quarter, and advanced standing may be requested. For more information, contact the Department Chair or Enrollment Services.
Associate in Applied Science Degree
The Associate in Applied Science Degree, AAS is awarded upon completion of a minimum of 90 credits of specified technical and related education coursework above 100-level with both an overall 2.0 grade point average and a 2.0 grade point average in the technical major.
Associate in Applied Science Degree (AAS) - Criminal Justice
The Criminal Justice - Criminal Justice Emphasis, AAS is awarded upon completion of a minimum of 90 credits of specified technical and related education coursework above-100 level with a 2.0 grade point average in both Criminal Justice Studies and overall technical degree coursework. Areas of emphasis are suggested allowing the student flexibility in choosing a career tract meeting their academic interests, career goals, and/or individual needs.
Associate in Applied Science Degree (AAS) - Parks Service and Protection
The Criminal Justice - Parks Service and Protection Emphasis, AAS is awarded upon completion of a minimum of 90 credits of specified technical and related education coursework above 100-level with a 2.0 grade point average in both Criminal Justice Studies and overall technical degree coursework. This degree prepares students for careers in visitor services, facilities maintenance and repair, and resources protection. This area provides an academic and skills background that facilitates entry into the parks and recreation/tourism industry, and encourages growth and advancement in the disciplines of parks, recreation and wildlife enforcement.
Associate in Applied Science - Homeland Security Emergency Management
The Criminal Justice - Homeland Security Emergency Management Emphasis, AAS (HSEM) is offered in collaboration with the Pierce College Center of Excellence-Homeland Security Emergency Management. This degree is awarded upon completion of a minimum of 90 credits of specified technical and related education coursework above 100-level with a 2.0 grade point average in both HSEM and overall technical degree coursework. This degree prepares students for a broad array of career options in areas of emergency planning, disaster training, response and recovery efforts, incident management, and working in any all-hazards emergency environment. Careful consideration is given to help students understand socioeconomic and cultural diversity Issues, preparing them to succeed in all situations and settings.
Associate in Arts Direct Transfer Agreement, AA-DTA
Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university may choose the Criminal Justice program as their major area of emphasis. The Department Chair or counseling office can offer students assistance in choosing those courses most appropriate for pursuit of their desired degree. Acceptance of credits depends on the college a student plans to attend. See the AA-DTA here .
In-Service Training Credit
Students actively working with a criminal justice agency may receive credit for selected courses as a result of accredited in-service training successfully completed as recognized by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission or other documented criminal justice agency training, coupled with work experience. Evaluation of such training shall be assessed by the Criminal Justice Department Chair.
Credits for successful completion of an approved Law Enforcement or Corrections Academy, including a Police Reserve Academy, may be awarded, but do not apply toward completion requirements for the AA-DTA or AAS in Criminal Justice. Students who apply to Police Reserve Academy for Skagit Valley College credit must provide appropriate documentation of having previously completed the prescribed training program as specified by the Washington State Legislature, or to have current sponsorship by a law enforcement agency and have passed a background investigation and industry-suited psychological examination as required by state law. To be awarded credit, a student must enroll in CJ 236 and CJ 237 .
The Parks Law Enforcement Academy Certificate is awarded to students who complete the courses listed with an accumulated grade point average of 2.0 and achieve technical competency.
These certificates focus on a specific skill within this program. A certificate is awarded to students who complete the requirements with a 2.0 grade point average or above.
Criminal Justice Degrees and Courses
ProgramsAssociate in Applied Science (AAS)Criminal Justice Certificates