Criminal Justice

The Criminal Justice, Restorative Justice, and Criminology program at Wheaton equips students with the knowledge, perspectives and experiences to tackle the most challenging questions in the fields of law, criminal justice and restorative justice. Combining classroom learning with experience in research and in the field, this program prepares graduates for a wide range of potential careers.


Why study criminal justice at Wheaton?

The central challenges facing professionals working in law, policy, the criminal justice system and restorative justice require a liberal and broad-based education that combines sociological, psychological and biological approaches with a historical understanding of current systems of law and criminal justice. Professionals will need to understand racial, gendered, socioeconomic and other inequalities in these systems.

As a liberal arts college with a long commitment to equity and social justice, Wheaton can equip students with the interdisciplinary perspectives and habits of mind to think critically and productively and with the experiential opportunities to put these into practice. The mission of the Criminal Justice, Restorative Justice, and Criminology program is to produce students prepared to tackle some of the most challenging questions in the field that increasingly interrogate issues of  wrongful arrests, mass incarceration and systemic disparities on the basis of race, class, nationality, and many other factors.

Understanding Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Restorative Justice

This program combines theoretical frameworks on crime and justice with an in-depth investigation of how these systems actually operate. The major provides students the ability to develop critical thinking skills that promote an understanding of the structure and purpose of the criminal justice system, human factors that influence the people in the system and the system itself, issues of disproportionate minority contact and their perpetuation in the system, and the role of policy in shaping the operation of local facilities and national systems.


Criminology involves studying the social and political origins of criminal law, the causes of criminal behavior, the extent and distribution of criminal patterns, and the societal definitions and reactions to crime.

Criminal Justice

Criminal justice involves studying the structure, purpose and functioning of the police, the courts, and the prison system and understanding criminal justice as a product of history, politics, economics and social decision-making.

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice focuses on victim-offender reconciliation in righting the wrong caused by crime and underscores connectedness, compassion and forgiveness with the goal of repairing the individual, relational and social harm caused by the crime.

Criminal Justice Courses

Core courses

  • Introduction to Criminology
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Research Methods
  • Justice Ethics
  • Course on systemic injustices and disparities
  • Senior Research Seminar


  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Adolescent Development
  • African American History 1877 to the Present
  • Brain, Mind and Behavior
  • Child Development
  • Citizen and Society
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Contemporary Social Problems
  • Deviance and Social Control
  • Disability and Difference
  • Drugs and Behavior
  • Gender Inequality
  • Grant Writing for Social Justice
  • How Judges Reason
  • How Organizations Work

  • Imagining a Just World Through Action
  • Immigration
  • Inside Out
  • Intro to Women’s Studies
  • Moral Development
  • Multicultural Psychology
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Policing as Governance
  • Psychology and Law
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology of Law
  • Statistics
  • Telling Stories with Data
  • Violence Against Women


Alumni in criminal justice

Wheaton College graduates who pursue careers in criminal justice, restorative justice and criminology work in a variety of fields.

Sergeant Detective
Boston Police Department
Boston, MA

Special Investigator
Attorney General’s Office of New York
New York, NY

Senior Special Agent
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
U.S. Department of Justice
New Orleans, LA

Workplace Violence Prevention Program Coordinator
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
San Antonio, TX

Associate Justice
Massachusetts Trial Court
Boston, MA

Assistant Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Brunswick, ME

Assistant Public Defender
Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office
Sacramento, CA

Deputy General Counsel
New Hampshire Department of Justice
Concord, NH

TakeRoot Justice
New York, NY

Forensic Program Coordinator
Collaborative Testing Services
Sterling, VA


Offered by the Sociology department.