• the history, philosophy, and practice of the criminal justice system in America.

You should consider the Abbey’s Criminal Justice degree program if you:

  • are committed to the search for truth
  • want to pursue societal justice
  • enjoy working with people

When we teach Criminal Justice at the Abbey, we prepare you for your post-college career with top-quality classes and hands-on experience.

  • Benefit from both a liberal arts core and an applied social science degree.
  • Explore law enforcement, courts, correction systems, and dig deeper to examine the relationship between culture and the rule of law.
  • Broaden your knowledge and experience by studying crime, offenders, and victims from the perspectives of theology, history, psychology, biology, and business.
  • Pursue an internship during your senior year and let our department help you to find a suitable agency that interests you and supports your career goals.

With a criminal justice bachelor’s degree from Belmont Abbey College, you will be able to pursue a variety of careers including:

  • Municipal, state, and federal law enforcement
  • Investigative and correctional agencies
  • State and federal court systems
  • Law school
  • Public administration

The Abbey Difference:

A Christian Focus At the Abbey we aim to help criminal justice majors, as future practitioners and citizens, continue to develop their sense of community with regard to the administration of law, under the guiding principle that God be glorified in all things. Explore Ethics Our criminal justice majors will develop knowledge of the building blocks of the criminal justice system, explore the schools of criminological thought regarding crime and criminal behavior, and explore the ethical issues surrounding the professional field of criminal justice. Think Critically and Creatively In the course of their education, criminal justice majors are taught to think critically and creatively about crime and other social problems. Students are encouraged to develop solutions to these problems and to support those solutions with empirical data. In this way, Belmont Abbey students of criminal justice will strengthen their oral and written communication skills as well as their knowledge of the field.

Program Requirements

To be eligible for acceptance into the program, the student must have completed CJ 201 with a grade of C or better. Students may submit an Intent to Declare form after they have successfully completed CJ 201. To graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice, the student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 in the major. In addition to the other Core Curriculum requirements, the following are specific core requirements:

Major Requirements:

  • CJ 201* Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • CJ 300 Law Enforcement in the United States
  • CJ 304 Institutional and Community Corrections
  • CJ 360 American Criminal Courts
  • CJ 307 Research Methods I
  • CJ 308 Research Methods II
  • CJ 314 Criminology
  • CJ 360 American Criminal Courts
  • CJ 403 Ethics in CJ Systems
  • CJ 408W Senior Thesis
  • CJ Electives and/or Internships**

Other Courses

  • Social Science Division Courses: 3 PC/PO/SO Electives
  • General Elective courses

*CJ 201 is a prerequisite for all upper-level CJ coursework for all students, including those pursuing a major or minor in Criminal Justice.

** Students must complete a minimum of 9 hours in CJ internships and/or electives. This requirement is met through one of the following options:

  1. completing three (3) CJ course electives
  2. completing two (2) CJ course electives and a 3-credit internship
  3. completing one (1) CJ course elective and a 6-credit internship

NOTE: Students must also pass the Computer Proficiency Exam or complete CS 100.

It is the student’s responsibility to see that all degree requirements for graduation are fulfilled.

  • CJ 201 Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • CJ 300 Law Enforcement in the United States
  • CJ 304 Institutional and Community Corrections
  • CJ 314 Criminology
  • CJ 360 American Criminal Courts

NOTE: All coursework must be completed with a grade of “C” or better.

It is the student’s responsibility to see that all degree requirements for graduation are fulfilled.

Study Abroad in London

Each Spring Semester of odd-numbered years, the Criminal Justice Department offers a Course entitled “English Foundations of American Law” that incorporates a study abroad trip to London over the week of Spring Break. Some places visited on the 2015 trip included visits to Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Churchill’s War Room, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court Palace, the Royal Courts of Justice the Old Bailey courthouse.  For more information on the trip, see Dr. Beeman’s report here.


Sgt. J.J. Sturm Memorial Scholarship

Sgt. SturmThis scholarship fund has been created in the memory of J.J. Sturm, a retired sergeant from the Greensboro, N.C. Police Department at the time of his death in 2019. Sgt. Sturm’s career spanned 28 years, some of which he was able to share with his son. Together, their commitment to Catholic education and the law enforcement profession were foundational in the creation of this scholarship.

Preference for the annual scholarship award of $1,000 will be given to a current Belmont Abbey College student who is the son or daughter of active or retired law enforcement officer(s) and majoring in Criminal Justice. Others may be eligible including the son/daughter of active/retired law enforcement in another major, or a current Criminal Justice major planning to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Click here to apply.

The James W. Buie Scholarship

In December 2016 Belmont Abbey College, the Gaston County Police Department and Gaston County Schools announced the James W. Buie Scolarship. The Gaston County Police Department will establish an initial fund at the College from drug forfeitures. The goal of the scholarship is to increase diversity in the department with minority and female applicants receiving priority. The Police Department, Gaston County Schools and Belmont Abbey will, for the first two years of the program select a current rising junior and one incoming freshman for this prestigious scholarship. High school seniors in Gaston County can receive applications from high school counselors.


CJ students have the opportunity to complete an Internship for academic credit. The majors have discussions with their advisers about the area of the system they would like to pursue: law enforcement, courts, corrections, juvenile justice, drug counseling, private investigations, etc. The student and their adviser work together to identify an appropriate position and submit an application. The majors are strongly encouraged to do the “leg work” as this is a good experience for them to hone their job-seeking skills. The internship is presented to the adviser for approval.

Alumni Stories

James Buie ’86 James Buie ’86

Formerly a Chief of Gaston County Police Department, and the county’s first African-American chief, Buie recently retired from Gaston County and served the department for 29 years. Buie is the namesake for the Belmont Abbey College Criminal Justice scholarship (see below) that provides for an education at Belmont Abbey College as well as employment after graduation. When asked to reflect on his time with Belmont Abbey College Chief Buie had this to say:  

“As a Belmont Abbey Alumni, I often reflect back on the value of my time spent there and how much of an impact it had in my career as an officer and Police Chief. Although I did not realize it at the time, It was through the Abbey that my subconscious was being developed into a consciousness of integrity, which is a must in the field of criminal justice.   A career in Criminal Justice is very rewarding but demands a commitment to virtue.  It’s a field so varied, from accident investigator to a U.S. Marshall, that there is enough to capture the most inquisitive mind to the most detail-oriented individual. Most importantly, it is now and will always be one of the cornerstones to maintaining our democracy and preserving an orderly society.” 

Kodi, Criminal Justice Major
Kodi, Criminal Justice Major

Kodi Shatzer

Internship: Pineville Police Department

From Lieutenant Corey Copley: Kodi “made our Hall of Fame board!” He is “the only intern to make the final cut.”

Here is what Kodi had to say:

“Going to school at the Abbey has really been a life changing experience for me. I decided to come to the Abbey…not knowing at all what I was getting myself into. Now I am in my final semester of my senior year and I could not be happier with the college I chose. Being at the Abbey for 4 years has given me some of my most memorable life experiences, friendships that will last a lifetime, and a family that will always be here for me. The Abbey helped me get in touch with Pineville Police Department…and gave me the opportunity to complete a summer internship. My experience with Pineville PD was unlike anything I had expected. They allowed me to work hands on in the field with patrol units, the 911 call center, the K-9 Unit and also the detective unit. Not only was this experience interesting and exciting, but  it also helped me to confirm that the Criminal Justice field is where I want to be working for the rest of my life with the degree I am receiving from the Abbey.”


Dr. Julia Foster Beeman
Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Criminal Justice
A.A.S., Central Piedmont Community College
B.S., University of North Carolina-Charlotte
M.S., University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Ph.D., Nova Southeastern University

Mary Summa, J.D
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice.
BA, Chestnut Hill College
J.D., Campbell University

Stephen Ward, J. D.
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

B.A., North Carolina State University
J.D., Mercer College

Richard Boner
A.B. UNC-Chapel Hill
J.D., UNC School of Law

Zachary Lechette
B.A., University of North Carolina at Wilmington
M.S., Fayetteville State University
Ph.D., Nova Southeastern University