Department of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies & Social Work

Frequently Asked Questions

What majors and minors are offered?
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with choice of the following emphases: Administration, Corrections, Juvenile Delinquency, Law Enforcement and/or Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work
  • Associate of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Science Degree in Legal Assistant
  • Minor in Criminal Justice
  • Minor in Childhood Studies
  • Minor in Legal Assistant
  • Certificate in Legal Assistant
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work
Is the program accredited?
The Legal Studies program is approved by the American Bar Association. We have the only ABA approved program at a public institution in Missouri. Our Legal Assistant program is also a charter member of the American Association for Paralegal Education. Paralegals cannot practice law. Only attorneys, who are licensed in the state by the Supreme Court, can practice law.

Currently there is no accrediting agency for criminal justice programs.
As a high school student, how should I prepare for a Criminal Justice or Legal Studies degree?
If you are interested in a Criminal Justice or Legal Studies degree, you should complete the college core courses and work to improve your writing skills.

Courses such as Speech, Sociology, Writing or Psychology offer good preparation for Criminal Justice majors; and Writing, Speech and Government classes, and classes that help develop cognitive thinking, are helpful for Legal Studies majors.
Are there opportunities for travel study?
Yes. Students have the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC as part of the Current Legal Issues course.
What is the typical class size?
Class sizes for upper level majors courses average 25 students. Students receive a great deal of personal attention, and every full-time faculty member serves as an academic advisor for our students. Faculty members also make themselves accessible to students during their regular weekly office hours and by appointment.
In what ways do faculty and students work together?
All students complete an independent research project under the direction of a faculty member in LAW 420-Senior Research

Students may work with professors on grant projects, also, such as The Study of Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders, and Restorative Justice.
Has the department received any grants?
In the past two years, the department has received four grants totaling $168,000. Three were research grants relating to restorative justice, and a fourth was for a research project entitled, “Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders.” Criminal Justice students assisted faculty on all four grants.
What are some of the student accomplishments in your department?
In January 2005, Andrew Weeden and LeeAnn Fann, two senior Criminal Justice/Legal Studies majors at Missouri Western, presented research poster sessions at the American Corrections Association Annual Winter Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Andrew presented results of his research on the fear of flying commercial airlines in the wake of September 11th, 2001. LeeAnn's research was on the effectiveness of state program's dealing with child support. Andrew won First Place in the undergraduate division.

Members of Delta Phi Epsilon, MWSU student chapter of the American Criminal Justice Association -- Lambda Alpha Epsilon, compete every year at ACJA-LAE regional and national competitions. Our students often win awards in crime scene, written, firearms and other areas.
What are some of your faculty members’ accomplishments?
One faculty member worked with the Department of Chemistry to create a Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science, which has proven to be a rapidly growing, very successful degree program. He also worked with the Southern Institute of Forensic Science to offer courses on campus, such as Basic Forensic Anthropology for Law Enforcement & Death Investigators, Basic Forensic Pathology, Blood Spatter Pattern Analysis, and Human Skeletal Remains.

Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Department faculty members are contacted on a regular basis to serve as consultants for the St. Joseph Police Department, the Buchanan County Juvenile Office, and the Law Enforcement Center, as well as in drug courts, mediation, and for drafting of state legislation. One professor is often called upon by local law enforcement agencies to aid in the analysis of case evidence, GPS mapping of crime scenes and in the processing of crime scene photographs.

One professor has served 14 years on the governor-appointed state Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board, while another currently serves on the governor-appointed Juvenile Justice Advisory Group.

What types of facilities are offered? All classes are taught in “smart classrooms,” which are equipped with computers, Internet, video, and other state-of-the-art media presentation equipment.

There is also a Criminalistics Lab and a Photography Lab for students enrolled in Police Photography and Criminalistics courses.
What student organizations are offered?
Students may choose from four student organizations in the department: Delta Phi Upsilon, student chapter of the American Criminal Justice Association-Lambda Alpha Epsilon, the Missouri Western Legal Studies Association and the Organization of Student Social Workers

Delta Phi Upsilon is affiliated with the national association that supports education and training in the area of criminal justice. Students have the opportunity to attend regional and national conferences, where they can compete in written tests, mock crime scenes, firearms, and physical agility. There is also a national student paper competition and scholarship paper competition for recognition and publication. Missouri Western students have done well in competitions each year, as evidenced by the trophy case in the department. They also participate in campus and community activities.

The Legal Studies Association participates in community service, campus activities, and networking within the legal community. For more information about the Legal Studies Association, please contact Suzanne Kissock at (816) 271-4454.
How does the department interact with the community?
Student organizations participate in local highway clean up, Habitat for Humanity and tutoring at the Salvation Army. The Legal Studies Association, in conjunction with the LAW 310-Legal Drafting class, offers a Pro Se Divorce clinic through Legal Aid of Western Missouri.

All faculty members in the department serve on local, county and state boards or committees, and they are involved in both community and professional organizations such as the Buchanan County Law Enforcement Center Board, Buchanan County CASA, Buchanan County Juvenile Drug Court, Northwest Missouri Child Advocacy Center, Legal Aid of Western Missouri, St. Joseph Bar Association, Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, Missouri Bar Association, Crime Stoppers and Enough Abuse.

Faculty members have done fingerprinting for community agencies, and one faculty member is often called upon by local law enforcement agencies to aid in the analysis of case evidence, GPS mapping of crime scenes and in the processing of crime scene photographs.
Does the department accept transfer credit?
Students who have taken paralegal courses at other institutions may petition to the Department Chair to have courses transferred into Missouri Western State University. No more than nine credit hours of legal specialty classes will be accepted as transfer credit. The student must include with the petition a catalog from the institution, course syllabi, a transcript, and sample work from the legal specialty courses. Transferability is based on the approval by the American Bar Association of the program, comparability of the course, including evaluation of practical assignments, year course was taken, and grade the student received. Transfer from schools that are not ABA approved will be considered on a course by course basis, as long as academic quality and comparability to Missouri Western State University courses exists. Courses over seven years old will not be transferred into the program.
What types of facilities are offered?
All classes are taught in “smart classrooms,” which are equipped with computers, Internet, video, and other state-of-the-art media presentation equipment.

There is also a Criminalistics Lab and a Photography Lab for students enrolled in Police Photography and Criminalistics courses.