New Major Tilts the Scales in Favor of Rider Students

Rider’s new B.A. in Criminal Justice prepares students for careers or advanced study in a variety of fields.
Thursday, October 24, 2013

The classroom doors have barely opened for one of Rider’s newest degree programs and already 36 students have declared themselves Criminal Justice majors. “Law and Justice, one of the most popular minor programs at Rider,” said Dr. Ava Baron, director of the Law and Justice Program, “now houses the new undergraduate major. So it’s not surprising that student interest would be so strong in its first semester.”

The criminal justice major was under consideration by Rider faculty and administrators for some time. “Our faculty wanted to be sure the major would provide students with practical knowledge about crime and the criminal justice system that was firmly grounded in the liberal arts,” Baron said. “With that goal in mind, new courses have been added to the curriculum enabling us to create a new major that is both distinguished in terms of quality and distinctive in the ways it combines theoretical analysis and skills development with practice and application.”

The B.A. in Criminal Justice prepares students for careers or advanced study in such fields as corrections, court services, homeland security, juvenile justice, law, law enforcement, rehabilitation services, and victim advocacy. “We do this by providing a variety of opportunities to develop critical and analytic thinking skills and the ability to understand data analysis in today’s world,” Baron explained.

“This is an exciting major with great growth potential,” said Dr. Victor Thompson, assistant professor of Sociology, who expects the major’s enrollment to more than double over the next five years.

Ethics, Methods of Sociological Research, Introduction to Forensics, and Politics of Law and Order are some of the 13 courses being offered through the degree program. Its multidisciplinary curriculum and faculty expertise in criminal justice, law, sociology, ethics, psychology, and business forensics makes the degree distinctive from others of its kind.

“As the new major finds its footing, students are benefiting from shared knowledge across disciplines,” Thompson said.

Criminal Justice Practice will introduce students to the broad range of occupations involved in implementing criminal justice. “When questions are answered, such as how are these professions related to each other? and how have criminal justice occupations been affected by changes in society, technology, and reorganization of criminal justice agencies since 9/11?” said Baron, “students will begin to develop a grounded understanding of the criminal justice system.”

Geographically, Rider is ideally situated to provide students with internships and mentoring experiences. State agencies are nearby and our faculty has contacts and networks within state and municipal agencies. Internship opportunities established by the Law and Justice Program are also available to Criminal Justice majors. Students could find themselves working on family and criminal court issues, domestic violence and Megan’s Law cases and more through placements in prosecutors, state and municipal offices, such as New Jersey’s Superior Court, State Police Forensic Lab, Juvenile Justice Commission and Department of Corrections.

“It is our hope,” said Baron, “that Rider students graduating with this degree will be the next leaders in the criminal justice field.”

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