Criminal Justice

Examine the ways that crime is defined within societies and the systems designed to manage it.

Why do people break laws, and what happens then they do? Our Criminal Justice program is often chosen by students who are curious about answers to these questions and those who are interested in helping to define the answers through a career in law enforcement, legal practice, corrections, and governmental or non-profit advocacy work at the local or even international level.

Daniel Renfrow, Associate Professor of Sociology

This program is currently available as a major or a minor.

Foundations in Theory and Methods

The program at Wells centers on an understanding of social theory—a novel approach that is crucial for discussing and analyzing the factors that contribute to violence or criminal behavior. That is, our program is for those who are interested in examining the structures that lead to rule-breaking and addressing it at that level.

You'll learn to comprehend and define links between social stratification and inequality,  connect and compare justice systems around the world, and write and speak about a range of issues from petty theft to war crimes. In addition to core classes in corrections, criminal justice, and criminology, you'll apply liberal arts lenses and approach the discipline as a critical social science. Courses on research methods and statistics require students in the program to spend time with the realities of crime in society and learn to interpret the ways that it is discussed in the media.

Professional Expertise & Practical Experience

This knowledge is complemented by firsthand accounts of the way that criminal justice is practiced. Guest speakers including law enforcement professionals, attorneys, and experts visit classes to discuss their careers and answer questions. Our professors have also organized rare and eye-opening class trips to local correctional facilities. These experiences provide insight into real-world applications of the lessons you'll learn throughout your time at Wells.

The program in Criminal Justice can be combined with other disciplines to add specialization and additional expertise. For example, a Political Science focus will find a deeper understanding of the links between democracy and the justice system, a Women's and Gender Studies focus might take on a research project examining the role of gender within or in opposition to terrorist activity, or a Psychology focus might examine possibilities for therapy within domestic violence shelters or intersections between mental health and drug use.

Criminal Justice faculty are focused and responsive to the interests of students in the program. You'll often benefit from our small class sizes as you learn to discuss important issues and drive the conversation. Additionally, you'll find that your own work improves as you receive supportive, personalized feedback from your professor and your peers.

Hand-on Learning

This knowledge is complemented by firsthand experience through internships. These opportunities will give you the chance to work in a professional setting and discover what you like or don't like about potential careers. Wells students have recently held internships with:

  • Suffolk County Police Department
  • District Attorney's Office, Auburn, NY
  • Election Campaign for Massachussetts Attorney General Maura Healey
  • Legal Aid Society, Rochester, NY
  • Gennessee County Sherriff, Batavia, NY
  • Lakeside Behavioral Health, Auburn, NY
  • Wells College Campus Safety

Our Experiential Learning and Career Services Office is dedicated to helping you find the right opportunity and get the most out of it.

"I just got a glimpse of the school and I loved it. All you see coming up is the lake, and you just think—oh my goodness—I did not know a place like this existed!"

Abena Poku ’16
Visual Arts: Art History Major, Community Court Chair
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Program Faculty
Daniel Renfrow
Associate Professor of Sociology
Shilpashri Karbhari
Visiting Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice
Internship Opportunities

Internships offer firsthand views into the professional world and opportunities to make connections with those in potential career paths. All Wells students will take more than one experiential opportunity—whether an internship, semester abroad, work-study or a related opportunity.

Learn more about internships at Wells.


Wells College promises a relevant liberal arts and sciences education. Intellectually challenging. Reinterpreted for today. Classroom teaching combined with hands-on learning. Wells graduates enter the world prepared for successful futures.

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