Preparing for a Career in Criminal Justice

The Psychology Department offers many opportunities for students to get involved in research. Students can earn Departmental credit (PSYCH 499), for working in faculty members' labs as part of their research teams. PSYCH 499 opportunities are listed on the psych department website under Undergraduate, Research 499.

Some examples of research studies that may be of interest to students planning a career in criminal justice are:

  • Assessing anti-social behavior
  • Stereotyping and prejudice
  • Substance abuse and assault
  • Belief, self-esteem, and bias
  • Stereotyping and stigmatization
  • Stress and coping project
  • Family relationships study

Typical lab duties and experiences that may be especially valuable for students with an interest in criminal justice are:

  • Data collection and management
  • Interviewing subjects
  • Attending lab meetings
  • Data analysis
  • Coding video/audio tapes
  • Library research

To find out about getting involved in research across campus, and to learn about research training grants available for students, visit the Undergraduate Research Program webpage at

Related Courses

Courses that may be of interest to students planning a career in criminal justice:

Code Title
ANTH 372 Anthropology of Law
ANTH 439 Law in Changing Societies
OE 200 Introduction to the Law
PHIL 114 Philosophical Issues in the Law
PSYCH 467 Eyewitness Testimony
SIS 460 Law, State & Society
SOC 371 Criminology
SOC 372 Introduction to Criminal Justice
SOC 472 Juvenile Delinquency
SO JU 363 Law in Society
SO JU 425 Introduction to the American Court System
SO JU 440 Criminal Law & Procedure
SO JU 473 Corrections
SO JU 471 Persuasion

Check the quarterly Time Schedule for course availability and times.

Internship and Volunteer Opportunities

Students who participate in internships and volunteer work get the chance to explore different career options on a first-hand basis. Credit is available for this type of experiential learning, via PSYCH 497 (Fieldwork Seminar), or GEN ST 350 (Independent Fieldwork).

Psychology majors interested in the criminal justice field have previously found internship and volunteer positions at

King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office

My supervisor did an excellent job in guiding me throughout the internship. She thoroughly explained expectations and answered my questions and was always excited to see me and very supportive and enthusiastic about the work I did. - former intern

Northwest Institute for Restorative Justice

Work with juvenile and adult offenders. Opportunities in educational programs and victim/offender mediation--helping offenders to confront the human reality of what they've done.

Seattle Police Department

Working with the Department's Victim Support Team, interns provide support, resource location, and short-term safety planning to victims of domestic violence.


A legal advocacy project for youth involved in the juvenile justice system, TeamChild seeks to address the underlying causes of the youth's delinquency. Interns' duties may include tutoring clients, analyzing school records, and advocating for clients at school meetings.

Special Tips

Students interested in attending law school should see a pre-law adviser. Contact Nancy Hennes in the Undergraduate Advising Center, 171 Mary Gates Hall, 543-4883

Think about a minor in:

Society & Justice
215 Smith Hall, 543-1824

Political Science
101 Gowen Hall, 543-2780

Interested in forensic psychology? Forensic psychology is the application of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system. For more information about this field, check out the American Board of Forensic Psychology website at

For students who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in criminal justice or criminology, check out this website with state by state listings of programs at