Protect and Serve With Criminal Justice
When you were a child, you may have enjoyed dressing up as a superhero and “fighting bad guys.” Now that you are older, you may still be interested in crime—why it happens, how societies control it, and how it can be prevented. Becoming a criminal justice professional is the closest you can come to being a modern-day superhero. And just like a superhero, you may be faced with enormous responsibilities, challenges, and rewards. If that sounds like a compelling career, Buffalo State College’s Criminal Justice Program may be the perfect fit for you.
What Is Criminal Justice?
Criminal Justice involves far more than finding and arresting suspects, although that is certainly an important part of the criminal justice system. Criminal justice majors also focus on the causes, definition, and prevention of crime, as well as the legal process criminals go through and how they might be rehabilitated. Criminal justice majors may study law, justice, public administration, crime statistics, sociology, psychology, and even philosophy.
“I always tell people that Buffalo State is like my Harvard. My Buffalo State experience has taught me to be a leader, and I am always inspired when I am here,” Alexia Matos-Mateo, ’17, who majored in criminal justice with a minor in deviance and African-American studies.
“I tell my students that police work is complex. Digging a ditch on a hot, sunny day—that’s hard work. A lot of police work, like driving around on patrol, is boring. But when an incident happens, even something as routine as a traffic stop, it can become very complex very quickly,” said Scott Phillips, professor of criminal justice, who began his career 30 years ago as a police officer in Houston, Texas.
Careers in criminal justice are usually exciting, and occasionally even dangerous. As a criminal justice major you should have a “cool in the trenches” temperament, because you will likely find yourself in many high-stress situations. Criminal justice majors generally enjoy jobs that are never dull, always stimulating, and which allow them to make a true difference in the safety and well-being of others. Students who choose graduate school after earning a bachelor’s degree typically pursue doctoral programs in criminal justice or attend law school.
Some criminal justice career opportunities include:
- Alcohol/Tobacco/Firearms Agent
- CIA Agent
- Coast Guard Officer
- Compliance Officer
- Computer Forensics Specialist
- Corrections Officer
- Court Clerk/Reporter
- Crime Scene Investigator
- Customs Agent
- Drug Enforcement Agent
- FBI Agent
- Forensic Psychologist
- Homeland Security Agent
- Immigration and Naturalization Agent
- Law Enforcement Officer/Sheriff
- Police Detective
- Private Investigator
- Private Security Guard
- Probation Officer
You also might choose to pursue a career in homelessness/poverty alleviation, child fostering and social services, or trauma/abuse counseling, in which case a criminal justice background would be highly useful.
Distinctive Program Features
Buffalo State’s bachelor of science (BS) in criminal justice explores social, cultural, political, and organizational influences on criminal justice policies. The program’s courses examine constitutional issues, white-collar crime, forensic anthropology, police organization and management, and prepare students for challenging careers in a variety of fields. Highlights of the Buffalo State program include:
- Intelligence Analysis Minor: This optional minor gives students an understanding of the theoretical, conceptual, and technological dimensions of intelligence analysis.
- A rich legacy: Buffalo State’s criminal justice program is the oldest such program in Western New York and its reputation extends across the state.
- Experienced faculty: Our well-qualified, nationally known faculty members are trained in a variety of policy-oriented disciplines.
- Local career options: Our recent graduates have been hired by the Buffalo Police Department, the Erie County Sheriff's Department, the Erie County Probation Department, the New York State Police, U.S. Customs and Immigration, and Erie County Victim Services.
Undergraduate students may gain research experience by working with a faculty member on an independent study. Past undergraduate projects have included topics in cultural competency assessment, immigrants' adaptation to the American criminal justice system, and the nature of culture among juvenile delinquents.
The Undergraduate Research Office promotes, supports, and funds undergraduate research in all academic areas—from the sciences to the arts—and for all committed students. More than 400 students present their research through posters and performances each year at the Student Research and Creativity Conference. They also compete for Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships, which support eight weeks of paid research activity
During students’ junior or senior year, they can participate in the semester-long SUNY Washington Internship Program. Sample internship agencies in D.C. include:
- Naval Criminal Investigative Service
- Department of Justice
- Federal Bureau of Prisons
- Washington Metropolitan Police Department
- Washington, D.C., Office of the Attorney General, Criminal Division
- Office of the U.S. Attorney, Law Enforcement Coordinator’s Office
- Supreme Court Police Department
- The International Association of Chiefs of Police
- Montgomery County Maryland Police Department
- Fairfax County Virginia Police Department
Other internship experiences students have recently enjoyed include:
- Homeland Security Investigations (ICE)
- Niagara County Sheriff’s Department — Crime Analysis
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
- Erie County Sheriff’s Department
- Amherst Police Department
- Buffalo Police Department
- Cheektowaga Police Department
- Erie County Analysis Center
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- U.S. Marshals Service