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Math & Science Requirements for Criminal Justice Majors

by Steve Foster

From measuring impact angles after car accidents to building statistical models of crime patterns to put patrol officers where they need to be, math and science are used to solve and prevent crimes. Not everyone in the criminal justice system has to know all the math and science involved, though, so educational requirements vary for people studying criminal justice in college. Some degrees require only basic classes, while specialized programs require additional math and science.

Basic Requirements

Most of the math and science classes criminal justice majors are required to take are part of the university's core requirements for all bachelor's degrees. Typically, this means completing college algebra -- which, depending on entrance exam scores, might require prerequisites -- and two sections of biology, chemistry, geology or physics. Some universities offer criminal justice as either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree, and a B.S. program might require more advanced math.

Additional Requirements

Some criminal justice programs require math and science classes beyond the university's core requirements. These are typically required only in specialized criminal justice focuses, like forensic science, but are occasionally required in general criminal justice programs. The most common additional math class is statistics, because nearly all criminal justice professionals are involved in at least the gathering of data for statistics. The most common additional science requirements are those dealing with human behavior, like sociology and anthropology.

Applied Math and Science

Much of the math and science work required of criminal justice majors takes place in criminal justice classes themselves. Most criminal justice programs require at least one class about collecting and interpreting data in criminal justice situations. These classes require enough math that students cannot enroll in them before completing core math requirements. Other classes apply knowledge from statistics classes to analyze specific topics, like the relationships between physical environments and the crimes that occur in them.

Specialized Degrees

Some specializations within the criminal justice major require much more math and science than others. For example, forensic science specialization requires several semesters of calculus, statistics, physics, biology and chemistry. These classes prepare students to work in forensic laboratories. Criminology, another common specialization, requires extensive study of sociology and anthropology, with particular focus given to the scientific study of the behaviors and cultural conditions of crime.

About the Author

Steve Foster is an educator with a Master of Arts in English. As a writing instructor, Foster shows students the deep, repeatable logic behind grammar rules and the psychology behind document composition, working from the theory that students engage with and absorb ideas best when those ideas are wrapped in strong context.

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