The Rise of Criminal Justice Majors at UNC

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Brian Iannacchione, a professor in the CRJ Major, grading homework.

For 12 years, criminal justice and criminology has been the most popular major in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado. However, in the recent years, there has been a significant surge in student enrollment.

To investigate this trend, Brian Iannacchione, a professor and chair of the criminal justice and criminology department at UNC, and Haile Morgan, UNC alumna who completed their studies in the same department in 2022, answered questions regarding this increase.

“The most intriguing part of the CRJ department was how many different classes they offered,” Morgan said. “I was in a certification program in which I was able to take classes on crime scene investigation. I took classes about the courts, correctional systems [and] an ethics class. This variety allowed me to be able to see what part of the field of criminal justice I wanted to go after I graduated.”

The emphasis on the wide range of classes and different types of lectures such as hands-on demonstrations to classroom settings are offered to attract students to pursue this major.

Iannacchione said that his favorite classes to teach are judicial processes or crime statistics.

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Correctional systems was Morgan’s favorite class of the criminal justice curriculum, citing the ability to learn about how the legal system works to help reintroduce people back into society after incarceration. This class helped them discover their future career.

“They had someone who worked in the field come and talk to us which was really useful as I went to work at a correctional facility once I graduated,” Morgan said. 

One reason that most students go to college to study criminology and criminal justice is because of relevant media, such as CSI, Criminal Minds, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Beverly Hills Cop or the influx of true crime podcasts available online. Netflix’s various true crime documentaries are another reason for viewers to choose the major. 

“We have a degree that’s prevalent in TV,” Iannacchione said. “Criminology and criminal justice have been the biggest major since 2012.” 

A major in criminology is perfect for students who have a strong sense of justice or enjoy detail-oriented fields of study. For any students interested, UNC’s Criminal Justice Society holds meetings and other events through the school year. To find more information, go to @cjsociety.unco on Instagram.

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