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.

NEW Criminal Justice FlexForward Program
Earn your associate degree in Criminal Justice on a schedule that works for you! The Criminal Justice FlexForward program offered on the Niles Campus features more evening and online-hybrid courses so you can earn a degree while working. Learn more.

About the Criminal Justice Degree

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. All of the criminal justice faculty are advanced legal professionals.

Because Experience is the Best Educator
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.

Degree Options
SMC offers two criminal justice degree pathways, a generalist track and a corrections, probation and parole track. The degrees transfer well to four-year institutions for bachelor's degrees in forensics, law, criminal justice and related areas. They are offered on the Dowagiac campus and on the Niles campus in a FlexForward format.

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

Career Options & Salaries
Police and Detectives:           $62,960
Correctional Officers:           $43,510
Lawyers:           $119,250
Private Detectives :           $50,700
Probation Officers:           $51,410
Forensic Science Technicians:           $57,850
2017 median pay. Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Curriculum Guide

Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice (Generalist)
Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice (Corrections, Probation and Parole)

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.

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.