Handcuffs and finger prints

About 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. 

Criminal Justice, B.S.

Criminal Justice Combined Pathway, B.S. and M.S.

Criminal Justice, M.S.

Criminal Justice, Minor

Intelligence Analysis, Minor

Degree Information

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 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
  • Criminologist
  • Customs Agent
  • Drug Enforcement Agent
  • FBI Agent
  • Forensic PsychologistHomeland Security Agent
  • Immigration and Naturalization Agent
  • Law Enforcement Officer/Sheriff
  • Lawyer/Attorney
  • Paralegal
  • 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.

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.


Criminal Justice Club: This club aims to educate all Buffalo State students on crime and safety, as well as encourage principles of self-awareness, unity, determination, and responsibility among criminal justice majors.

Mock Trial: This organization is open to all majors. It fields a team of students who take part in a simulated legal competition each year as part of the American Mock Trial Association. 

National Criminal Justice Honor Society: Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society, the national honor society for criminal justice majors, recognizes the academic excellence of undergraduate and graduate criminal justice students.

University Police Student Assistant (UPSA) program: This program enables students to experience the work environment and learn about its expectations and responsibilities. The University Police Department hires more than 60 student assistants each semester.

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.

Undergraduate Research Office

SUNY Washington Internship Program: During students’ junior or senior year, they can participate in these semester-long internships. 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

“The people I’ve met and lessons I’ve learned are unforgettable."

Our History

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.

Clairissa D. Breen Associate Professor
Jill M. D'Angelo Associate Professor
Shashi M. Gayadeen Associate Professor
Carol H. Hill Administrative Assistant 1
Dae-Young Kim Associate Professor
Melissa A. Menasco Associate Professor
Ksenia Petlakh Assistant Professor
James J. Sobol Chair and Associate Professor
John H. Song Professor
JawJeong Wu Associate Professor