Criminal Justice Specialization

The Criminal Justice Specialization educates master of social work students to provide culturally competent clinical and macro social work services to people involved with and impacted by the criminal justice system by understanding the historic and contemporary context of mass incarceration, criminal justice, and reentry.

Students develop a broader understanding of the uneasy alliance between social work and criminal justice, and the variety of interventions and programs that work to improve the criminal justice system and the lives of the individuals therein.  Students will receive multidisciplinary instruction to better comprehend the intersecting issues connected with mass incarceration. Field placement will focus on skill development to enable students to work effectively with individuals, communities, and systems while developing strategies for productive policy and programmatic change within the criminal justice field.  Students will utilize classroom and field learning opportunities in local, state, and federal courts, corrections, and supervision; non-profit criminal justice service agencies; and criminal justice policy organizations.

The goals of the specialization are to:

  • Integrate macro and clinical social work across the field of criminal justice, including juvenile and adult corrections, courts, reentry, probation/parole, mental health, substance use organizations, social service agencies, and alternatives to incarceration;
  • Train future social workers to become familiar with and maneuver through various sectors of the criminal justice system; and
  • Incorporate social work into a broader, multidisciplinary context focusing on criminal justice.