The Criminal Justice Program

We offer various degrees in Criminal Justice: a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences with a Criminal Justice Concentration (BAAS/CJ Concentration), a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (BSCJ), and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ).

  • BAAS/CJ Concentration: one of our newest degrees in Criminal Justice. It is an innovative program that is especially well-suited for Texas Peace Officers because student may use Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) training hours to satisfy 21 semester credit hours of vocational/technical credits. This places students at a distinct advantage as they can use that experience towards completion of a four-year degree. That, in turn, enhances career advancement and earning potential.
  • BSCJ: one of the largest majors at TAMIU. Our undergraduate degree prepares students with the rudimentary skills necessary to seek employment in the criminal justice system and provides a strong academic education go on to graduate and law school. The BSCJ is a 120 credit hour degree program and students can take courses on campus or online. Graduates from our program find employment in law enforcement, corrections, private security, courts, and legal offices.
  • MSCJ: 100% online program that sharpens students’ critical understanding of the justice system. The online degree provides students with an opportunity to earn an advanced degree without having to worry about balancing school and work schedules. It was also developed in such a way as to maximize interaction between students, classmates, and our faculty through the use of state-of-the-art technology, thereby replicating the most enriching classroom experience. We offer a thesis or non-thesis track.

Our Mission

The Criminal Justice Program faculty are dedicated to students’ academic attainment and committed to providing the best education possible. Our aim is to impart the knowledge and skills necessary for students’ future goals in obtaining advanced degrees or working in the field of criminal justice.

Our Faculty

The Criminal Justice Program has internationally and nationally recognized scholars teaching courses. Faculty teach courses that build and/or enhance knowledge of criminological theories and criminal justice system issues as well as improve critical thinking and writing skills. Department faculty have a wide range of teaching and research interests. We routinely apply our research expertise to a broad range of local, state, national and international issues and emerging challenges.


Criminal Justice Program News & Events


  • Professor Aldert Vrij from the University of Portsmouth in the UK and his team visited to begin a collaborative research project with Dr. Kate Houston. As part of his visit, Professor Vrij gave a presentation/lecture on detecting deception in interviews and the common myths associated with so-called social signs of deception. Professor Vrij is a world-renowned expert in detecting deception with over 400 publications on the subject.

Professor Aldert VrijProfessor Aldert Vrij's Lecture

  • TAMIU students James Deliganis, Miguel San Miguel, Rogelio Padilla, Lisa Trejo, and Claritza Vasquez presented their research at the American Society of Criminology's 2014 Annual Meeting and were featured in the ASC's newsletter "The Criminologist". The group based their presentation on the question: "Why should drug trafficking organizations be considered a terrorist group?" Claritza Vasquez stated "It was interesting to view this topic from a criminology standpoint. Having to define and theorize drug trafficking organizations and terrorist groups from a macro and micro level really helped us have a better understanding as to why certain people get involved in that lifestyle and why it has been difficult to prevent it from happening. Having the opportunity to attend the ASC conference was amazing. It helped us expand our knowledge and it demonstrated the importance of research. Being included in The Criminologist is a huge honor and I am very proud of my group, myself and our work.


  • Nu Psi, the TAMIU chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, was featured in "The Docket," the official newsletter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Criminal Justice Honor Society. Chapter faculty advisors are Dr. Frances Bernat, College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean, and Dr. Kelly Frailing, Director of Criminal Justice.
  • Drs. Kate Houston and Thomas Zawisza were hired as Assistant Professors.
  • Criminal Justice faculty and students presented papers at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences meeting in Philadelphia.
  • Leobardo (Leo) Benavides, one of our MSCJ students, published an article in ACJS Today.
  • Dr. Kelly Frailing received the Instructional Technology Excellence Award (2013) from TAMIU.
  • The following CJ courses received Quality Matters certification:
    • CRIJ 1301 Intro. to Criminal Justice (developed by Ms. Diana Carreon)
    • CRIJ 4340 Special Issues in Criminal Justice: Multicultural Issues in Criminal Justice (developed by Dr. David Makin)
    • CRIJ 5327 Adv. Quantitative Methods in Criminal Justice (developed by Dr. Brenda Vollman)
    • CRIJ 5303 Law and Criminal Justice (developed by Dr. Frances Bernat)
    • CRIJ 5330 Seminar in Criminological Theory (developed by Dr. Kelly Frailing)
    • CRIJ 5337 Crime and Criminal Justice after Disasters (developed by Dr. Kelly Frailing)
    • CRIJ 5340 Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice: CyberCrime (developed by Dr. Frances Bernat)
    • CRIJ 5340 Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice: Victimology (developed by Dr. Elizabeth Tomsich)


Department of Social Sciences
5201 University Boulevard, Academic Innovation Center 313, Laredo, TX 78041-1900
Phone: 956-326-2475 E-mail: norma.arenal@tamiu.edu