Why Study Criminal Justice at CHC?
At Chestnut Hill College, criminal justice is not just a cop-training program. Our program invites students to think about the gap between theory and practice (enhanced by the experiential and service-learning opportunities); to engage in critical analysis of media and public opinions; to embrace and uphold the ethical principles of a justice career; and, to promote social justice initiatives and restorative practices as a future means of conflict resolution.
Courses support program goals by introducing students to justice philosophy, by analyzing contemporary implementation of justice practices informed by social policy, and, by exploring real-world applications of restorative and social justice practice. The faculty bring years of experience, knowledge, and expertise into the classroom while mentoring students into their chosen career.
Through its placement within the Center for Education, Advocacy & Social Justice, alongside the Law & Legal Studies and Human Services programs, criminal justice majors have the unique opportunity to expand their career options into related fields such as juvenile justice, probation & parole, or child welfare among many other choices.
Criminal justice majors are exposed to a variety of major specific activities, honor societies and programs while at the College. These include:
- Alpha Phi Sigma - qualifying students who have declared a Criminal Justice major or minor, who have completed at least four courses in their major or minor, and who have a career and major GPA of 3.20 or higher, may be invited to join the Nu Epsilon chapter of the National Criminal Justice Honor Society. Eligible students must be approved by the department.
- Guest speakers/lecturers - Understanding the importance for students to hear from professionals in the field as well as those citizens directly impacted by the justice system, the department sponsors lectures and films on campus. These have included lectures by the Commissioner of Prisons for the State of PA, by the prosecutor in the Jerry Sandusky case, local screening of films produced by local artists (Concrete, Steel & Paint, and Broken on all Sides) and most recently, a panel discussion of recently exonerated men from Philadelphia.
- Just-Us Club - Open to students in all majors, this club helps promote real-world applications of restorative justice through a series of service projects and poverty simulation events among other things, that enable students to get involved in the surrounding community and learn about how rewarding a career in restoring social justice can be.
Criminal justice majors are routinely exposed to field experiences as a common element of the curriculum. Students are exposed to courtrooms, prisons and key criminal justice professionals, to show them firsthand what a career in the field might entail. These experiences occur throughout their academic experiences at CHC and include locations such as: The US Constitution Center, Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility, SCI Chester, SCI Phoenix, the Philadelphia Defenders Association, the offices of the Philadelphia District Attorney, The Philadelphia Police Academy, etc.
Restorative Justice Seminar:
Criminal justice majors are required to participate in the Restorative Justice Seminar, which is truly a unique classroom experience. The class is limited to 15 students and the semester is structured around participation in a Peacemaking Circle, a core component of the restorative justice process. It is a very hands-on learning experience for all students enrolled.
Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program:
CHC students may qualify to take an experiential course called "Inside-Out Prison Exchange." The program allows students to meet once a week inside of a local state prison where half the class is made up of CHC peers and the other half, prisoners on the inside. Students have credited this course with broadening their understanding of individuals and their choices, as well as leading them to a critical analysis of commonly held stereotypes. It truly is a life-changing experience for all who participate.
This program offers:
- Major: Criminal Justice
- Minor: Criminal Justice
- Minor: Restorative Justice
- Minor: Sociology
Our criminal justice degree prepares CHC graduates for a variety of occupations within law enforcement, court systems, corrections, local, state and federal government, and restorative efforts, as well as graduate study in criminal justice, criminology, law, public policy, social work, and other related fields. Career options include:
- City or state police and task forces
- Probation / Parole officer
- Prison officer / administrator
- Federal law enforcement agencies (FBI, CIA, DEA, FDA, Secret Service)
- Private security and investigation
- Victim advocacy
- Juvenile advocacy
- Program Researcher / Manager
- Community / Re-entry counselor
Experiential learning is a vital component of the criminal justice curriculum at Chestnut Hill College. With support from the Center, students are mentored by a professional internship director to identify a placement, apply for an internship, and work on-site completing tasks consistent with that position. Additional professional preparation support is provided through a corresponding class (CRJU 403) that students are required to take, which teaches them about navigating “life after college,” from initial salary/raise negotiations to personal financial awareness and management, to organizational structure and leadership.
We are proud that CHC students have held internships in a variety of fields, including but not limited to:
- Montgomery County and Philadelphia County District Attorney's Office
- Parents of Murdered Children
- Montgomery County Detectives Bureau
- Victim Services Center
- Philadelphia Crime Scene Unit
- Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Division
- NJPD Department of Homeland Security
- US Postal Inspection office
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Delaware Valley Intelligence Center (DVIC)
- Center for Homicide Research based, Minneapolis, MN
If you are interested in becoming a Criminal Justice major at Chestnut Hill College, please email the Education, Advocacy and Social Justice Center at EASJ@chc.edu