Criminal Justice at PLU

Students interested in pursuing careers related to criminal justice will find the Department of Sociology an ideal academic home. Each year, about one-third of our graduating seniors intend to pursue work in law, law enforcement, or other criminal justice fields.

While some universities offer stand-alone majors in Criminal Justice, the law enforcement agencies we work most closely with in Pierce County have informed us that they prefer to hire students with more well-rounded academic backgrounds in Sociology or other fields. Law enforcement agencies want to teach new recruits the nuts of bolts of criminal justice work in their own academies, rather than having new employees show up with information that doesn’t transfer to the particularities of their agency. At the same time, criminal justice employers value the analytical and research background Sociology majors bring to their work, including an ability to conduct program evaluation.

Jen and Matt DESC Focus Groups


Students majoring in Sociology can tailor their studies to include up to 20 credits of criminal justice-related electives.

Sociology Major
Sociology Major with
Criminal Justice electives
SOCI 101 Introduction to Sociology SOCI 101 Introduction to Sociology
SOCI 232 Research Methods SOCI 232 Research Methods
STAT 233 Statistics for Sociology Majors STAT 233 Statistics for Sociology Majors
Any 200-level Sociology course SOCI 226 Juvenile Delinquency
SOCI 330 (Family) or SOCI 336 (Deviance) SOCI 336 Deviance
Any 400-level Sociology course SOCI 413 Crime and Society
SOCI 496 Major Theories SOCI 496 Major Theories
SOCI 499 Senior Seminar: Capstone SOCI 499 Senior Seminar: Capstone
8 hours of SOCI electives 8 hours of SOCI electives, such as Sociology of Criminal Justice (SOCI 384), Gender and Violence (SOCI 494), or Internship (SOCI 495)
Total: 40 credits Total: 40 credits


One of the hallmarks of the PLU Sociology program is our inclusion of an internship as an elective course. Students are not required to participate in an internship, but we strongly encourage it.

Examples of internship placements for students interested in criminal justice work include:

  • Pierce County Sherriff
  • Pierce County Juvenile Court
  • Remann Hall Juvenile Detention Center
  • Washington Correctional Center for Women
  • Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration
  • Department of Licensing Criminal Investigations Unit

Jennifer Burbridge - Fauntleroy Food Fest

The PLU Sociology department helped me find my passion for criminal justice through various classes that touched on issues of crime, as well as through an internship with a probation department. In my senior year, the professors in the PLU Sociology department helped me find and apply for a Masters of Arts in Criminal Justice program.

Without the background in sociology that I gained at PLU, I would not be where I am today: working for the Seattle Police Department (SW Precinct) as a Crime Prevention Coordinator.

Jennifer Danner, Class of 2014