Criminal Justice Major: Integrating Christian Faith into Your Studies

by Stephanie Thurrott

Azusa Pacific University gives you a unique opportunity to integrate your faith into the criminal justice field.

“A Christian perspective connects with everything that we do, whether it’s the biases we have, the arrests we make, the charges we give, or the sentencing we apply,” explained Candice Hodge-Williams, PhD, chair of APU’s Criminal Justice department. “Our Scripture model is Micah 6:8, which talks about justice, love, mercy, and walking humbly with God.”

Students Apply Faith to Criminal Justice Issues

At APU, a Christian viewpoint weaves throughout the criminal justice program. “Faith integration is not just one assignment per semester or class. It’s a comprehensive approach to the program. As a criminal justice student, you figure out how to live out God’s calling in this field,” said Hodge-Williams.

For example, if you’re studying to be a police officer, how would you respond to a domestic violence situation compared with your colleague who isn't a believer? How would you think about rehabilitation, second chances, and forgiveness if you’re studying to be a judge? “We provide students with real-life issues and ask them how they would apply their faith,” Hodge-Williams said.

At APU, you’ll explore how faith interacts with criminal justice in relevant and practical ways. For example, in studying recent issues regarding racial relations in America, students discussed how discrimination affects certain demographics of people and examined ways to come together as a Christian community to protect and serve one another. “Having that one-on-one interaction is where people start to see their calling,” Hodge-Williams said.

Faculty Members Bring a Christian Perspective

APU’s criminal justice faculty members integrate their Christian faith into their specialty areas. For example:

  • Hodge-Williams specializes in human trafficking, sex crimes, and interpersonal violence. One point she covers in her classes is how victims and their family members can lose their faith.
  • Another faculty member focuses on terrorism, gangs, and prison systems to challenge students to think about forgiveness.
  • One faculty member focuses on activism to discuss how issues impact people based on their race, class, and gender, as well as how it plays into the Bible’s teachings about equality.
  • A faculty member with a law school background looks at how Christians can change policies.

How Faith Impacts the Community

At APU, you go beyond simply learning about faith and criminal justice in the classroom. You get into the community, where you:

  • Tour prisons.
  • Volunteer with at-risk youth or at women’s centers.
  • Intern with local police departments, courts, and law offices.
  • Learn from professionals at different stages of their careers.

As part of APU’s American courts class, you’ll tour a Los Angeles courtroom and sit in on a case. You’ll also take a class trip to Homeboy Industries, an organization that helps people who have been involved with the criminal justice system reintegrate into society. “People aren’t defined by the crime they committed. They are making a difference in their lives and their communities,” Hodge-Williams said. “A lot of them talk about how they found God, joined a Christian group, or are part of communities that are helping people get closer to Christ. You can see how God is working in their lives.”

Learning to Make Faith-based Decisions

A criminal justice major at APU helps practically prepare you to pursue justice and serve others in your career.

Are you ready to learn more about studying criminal justice at APU? Download the criminal justice major brochure today.