Criminal Justice Degree


Want to solve crimes, keep people safe and see that justice is served? A degree in Criminal Justice is for you!

A degree in criminal justice from Southwestern Michigan College can lead to careers in law enforcement, investigation, forensics, law, and security.

The criminal justice degree at Southwestern Michigan College uses comprehensive curriculum and hands-on learning to prepare students for careers in criminal justice and related areas.

About the Criminal Justice Program

Students in the CJ program will learn about the U.S. legal system, human behavior, criminal law and justice, law enforcement, and delinquency prevention as well as basic psychological and sociological principles.

Upon completion of this degree, students will have experienced a broad introduction to the field of criminal justice. Students will be able to communicate effectively in a variety of situations in the field, demonstrate knowledge and application of analytical skills to criminal justice situations and apply criminological theories to contemporary public policy.

Hands-on learning is a top priority in the criminal justice program. Our students practice the skills they learn in the classroom through in-class exercises and interactions with criminal justice professionals. We have strong ties to local law enforcement, who often come to campus for SWAT demonstrations, K9 drills, and other training programs. For the second year in a row, SMC criminal justice students swept the board at the regional SkillsUSA conference, which tests students as they run through simulated crime scenarios, and competed at the national level.

A highlight of the CJ program is the opportunity to work with local law enforcement to help solve cold cases. Most recently, our students cracked a 38-year old murder case that led to the arrest of the culprit.

Students may also participate in the Criminal Justice Club, which organizes events and trips to places such as Washington, D.C.

All of the criminal justice faculty are advanced legal professionals.

About the Criminal Justice Degree

The Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice is for students who want a two-year degree or who plan on transferring to Ferris State University, but it can also be adjusted for transfer to other four-year institutions for a bachelor's degrees in forensics, law, criminal justice and related areas. The CJ degree is offered on the Dowagiac campus, and the corrections, probation and parole track is offered in an evening program format on the Niles campus.

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice is offered on the Dowagiac campus through our partnership with Ferris State University.

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice

Earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice on our Dowagiac campus through our partnership with Ferris State University.

Ferris at SMC students can pay three years at SMC’s low tuition, and only one year of Ferris’ tuition. Plus, out-of-state students can pay Ferris’ in-state tuition. Click the link above to learn more.

Career Options & Salaries
Police and Detectives:           $63,380
Correctional Officers:           $44,400
Lawyers:           $120,910
Private Detectives :           $50,090
Probation Officers:           $53,020
Forensic Science Technicians:           $58,230
2018 median pay. Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Evening Program Format

The Corrections, Probation and Parole track is available in an evening program format, so that you can balance your family and work while earning your degree. Ask an advisor for details.


See It Now!

Click here for images of the Foster W. Daugherty Building, home to all social science and humanities classes, or click here to schedule a tour.