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Higher Education in Criminal Justice


Most of the expansion of criminal justice educational curricula in universities and colleges can be attributed to the 1960s and 1970s. Several program types exist due to this rapid growth, both regarding the emphasis on content and the subject areas. The emphasis on social sciences and the workplace appears to be shifting in courses toward an adopted and integrated strategy. The sort of curriculum created by educational institutions has ramifications for the choice of instructors, the connections between practitioners, and the organizational structure within the higher education institution (Kuykendall,1977).

Emergence and Orderly Growth

According to Southerland et al. (2007), the school of sociology at the University of Chicago was founded in 1893 and included a section on deviance and crime in society. This was the beginning of criminal justice education. In 1909, The first National Symposium on Criminal Criminology and Criminal Justice was held in Chicago by Northwestern University, which served as the location for establishing the American Institute of Criminology and Criminal Law. The Institute founded The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology the following year, swiftly gaining notoriety as the most prominent forum for the most recent ideas in reforming criminal justice. However, most historical accounts of criminal justice education start with Vollmer. From the end of the second world war until 1965, there was orderly growth. Sixty-four colleges and institutions offered such criminal justice programs in 1965. Two programs were created annually on average.

Implementation Strategies and Institutional Decisions

The argument between criminal justice and criminology did not need to be resolved, nor was it required to determine if programs that touch on crime should be strictly academic, professional, or vocational. Initiatives in criminal justice may begin to be evaluated. The Joint Commission’s study revealed an existing body of information, methodologies and literature. It looked at how to apply minimal standards using four strategies: professionalization, voluntary peer review, specialized accreditation, and standards for program creation. The Joint Commission left it up to the field to decide how to go about putting the basic requirements established in Quest for Quality into practice (Southerland et al., 2007)

One significant problem influenced by educational orientation is the architecture of program practitioner connections. Some theoretically minded academics have publicly disregarded specific criminal justice policies, which may have negatively impacted research prospects, professional interactions, graduate jobs, and instructor credibility. Political considerations, personal prejudice and evidence, and apparent prejudice in certain professional and technical institutions so extensively impacted by practitioner input have, at one extreme, diminished the academic tradition of unrestricted inquiry and discussion. Programs that have tried to strike a balance between academic and professional obligations are at the centre. Often, the integrative efforts required for establishing professional programs lead to an understanding of the value of balance. The pressures and realities that practitioners must deal with are frequently less of a concern in theoretical programs than conceptual knowledge. Technical programs typically operate in the exact opposite way (Kuykendall,1977)

Convergence and Divergence

Our assessment of the extent to which professional organizations have diverged and harmonized in crime-related training supports both the convergence and divergence theories. In crime-related education, there are a variety of ideas that are backed by divergence and are seen when contrasting the affinities of professional groups. (Sorensen 1994).

As per Sorensen et al. (1994), federal funding revived the teaching of criminal justice in the 1970s in universities, which resulted in an expansion in the number of degree-granting programs. During this expansion, questions about the future of criminal justice training began to surface. Which of the following: professional, humanist, or vocational, should be the primary priority of criminal law program curricula? Which category – those with agency expertise or doctorates? —should instruct in these programs? Could one classify criminal justice as a discipline? Programs in criminal justice: Should they be accredited? If so, who needs to be in charge of the accrediting procedure? These queries sparked various epistemological investigations, which revealed that the study of criminal justice lacked the conventional academic traits associated with established disciplines. Criminal justice instructors frequently perceived this critical research as biased, typically siding with sociological criminologists.

While there is still proof of differences between criminal justice and criminology, their scholarly approaches are growing more comparable. These recent studies suggest that attitudes toward academia and scholarly productivity are converging. We analyze how much criminal justice and criminology vary and converge by evaluating the frame story, characteristics of the organization, academic work, workstyle dispositions, and achievements based on the respective memberships of ACJS and ASC (Sorensen et al., 1994)

The National Criminal Justice Educational Consortium

Nearly all of the objections against higher education criminal justice studies in the 1970s have quality at their core. It was important when early debates centred on whether or not this belonged in higher education. It was considered as efforts were made to advance beyond second-class citizenship. Every program that OCJET financed has this issue as its primary focus. The issue was the calibre of the instructors working in these programs. According to traditional academic criteria, there weren’t enough competent people to fill the gap, mainly because LEEP stimulated a quick expansion. There was also a school of thought that said these programs’ instructors needed real-world experience. Even when a person had a terminal degree, this assumption frequently damaged their academic reputations (Forster et al.,2007)

Late in 1973, LEAA offered financial assistance to the National Criminal Justice Educational Consortium to solve these and related problems. When OCJET was first established, this program was represented. Seven universities received significant funding to create and improve PhD programs in criminal justice. The Consortium additionally offered a venue for discussion of research and issues facing criminal justice organizations. The Consortium was successful in many ways. Four member schools started doctoral programs that have grown into exceptional departments in the years after the Consortium ended its activities.

In contrast, two member universities improved vital doctoral programs to make them great. The Global Association of Doctoral Studies in Criminal Law and Forensics was founded under Dr Lejins. In parallel to the Consortium’s activities, the accessibility of minorities qualified to instruct in criminal justice courses was a primary issue for OCJET. As a result, the State University of New York at Albany (SUNY) received a grant to attract and prepare minorities for PhD study (Foster 1979).


A more thorough investigation of the divergence/ convergence ideas would be beneficial. Using attitudinal parameters to assess affiliation with criminal justice may be more successful than focusing on membership in professional organizations. To more quickly assess the regularity of such promises and descriptors, the sample in future studies should be widened beyond those members of professional organizations. Youthful criminal justice instructors with a solid commitment to knowledge production and the domain of criminal justice but lesser ties to the sociological discipline and the criminal justice agency will make up a substantial portion of future research that supports the convergence hypothesis (Sorensen et al. 1994).

The future of criminal justice education is uncertain, according to Kuykendall (1977). The number of programs will undoubtedly decrease if the LEEP program is eliminated or drastically scaled back. However, the value and relevance of higher education to specialists are too well-established to be considerably altered. Many practitioners view affirmative action legislation and practices as the biggest threats to the need for higher education in the field, together with the legal obligation that hiring factors must be demonstrated to be connected to work performance. However, these alleged dangers will have little effect if criminal justice program graduates are more proficient practitioners than non-graduates. On the other hand, it will be challenging to argue the continued existence of criminal justice programs with anything other than a theoretical bent if they do not generate such graduates.


Although there have been a significant number of shifts in the 26 years ever since the prosperous era of the 1970s for higher education related to crime, those in the area appear to have found their place in academia. In higher education, the field has a strong foundation. The journals produced by the two significant academic associations, the Academy of Criminal Justice Studies and the American Society of Criminology, as well as numerous other forums for the field’s studies, are highly regarded by the academic community, despite ongoing concerns regarding theoretical coherence and integrity (Forster et al.,2007)

There are many different education programs on criminal justice in the United States, both in terms of the topic matter and content emphasis. Kuykendall. (1977) favours a curriculum with component tracks for undergraduate education, a systems approach and professional orientation. This choice is based on the idea that a criminal justice undergraduate education’s primary goal is to educate students to work in criminal justice agencies as entry-level professionals. This premise’s logical conclusion is that criminal justice school graduates should be more successful general practitioners than non-graduates or individuals with undergraduate degrees in other subjects. Although it is a gut feeling, the author believes that technical and theoretical models have not and will not result in the production of such graduates.


Foster, J. P., Magers, J. S., & Mullikin, J. (2007). Observations and reflections on the evolution of crime‐related higher education. Journal of Criminal Justice Education18(1), 123-136.

Kuykendall, J. L. (1977). Criminal justice programs in higher education: Course and curriculum orientations. Journal of Criminal Justice5(2), 149-163.

Sorensen, J. R., Widmayer, A. G., & Scarpitti, F. R. (1994). Examining the criminal justice and criminological paradigms: An analysis of ACJS and ASC members. Journal of Criminal Justice Education5(2), 149-166.

Southerland, M. D., Merlo, A. V., Robinson, L., Benekos, P. J., & Albanese, J. S. (2007). Ensuring quality in criminal justice education: Academic standards and the reemergence of accreditation. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 18(1), 87-105.


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