November 2, 2023
Students interested in the criminal justice system and criminological theory can receive a broad knowledge in law enforcement, courts and corrections through a criminal justice degree at NDSU.
Maggie Sperle, who’s a fan of true crime, mystery and problem solving, said she decided to pursue a criminal justice degree after experiencing Mock Trial during high school. When deciding what university she wanted to go to, Sperle said she fell in love with the NDSU community and felt at home the moment she arrived.
“I toured about 10 different colleges and universities, only stopping at NDSU on my way to tour UND. To my surprise, I ended up loving the campus, the city and the community in Fargo, and couldn’t wait to begin my experience here,” said Sperle, a senior from Woodbury, Minnesota.
Throughout her time at NDSU, Sperle has gained plenty of practical knowledge and skills in the criminal justice program.
“I have learned so much about the theories behind criminal behavior, delinquent behavior, the nature versus nurture argument and even about the lives of serial killers,” Sperle said. “I have had such a great, well-rounded experience through the criminal justice program here and I am grateful for the tight-knit community of this program on campus.”
In addition to the in-depth curriculum, Sperle credits the program for providing opportunities to receive hands-on experience by bringing in working professionals in the field.
“There are so many opportunities for internships, part-time positions, field trips and travel abroad within the criminal justice program,” she said. “Often, these opportunities are presented right in class as the Fargo Police Department, West Central Regional Juvenile Center, Centre Inc., and many more businesses come to our classes and give us information and job applications. Personally, my favorite hands-on experience was being able to tour the Fargo Police Department and meet some of the officers.”
Amy Stichman, the department chair and associate professor of criminal justice, said the department holds a Criminal Justice Career Fair for students in the fall to help students make connections with potential employers.
“We typically have anywhere from 25 to 35 agencies who come to the fair. It can be a very good way for students to begin making contacts with agencies for employment or internships from the beginning of their enrollment in the program,” Stichman said.
Sperle also gives credit to professors in the department for helping her along the way, including Stichman and Kevin Thompson.
“The criminal justice department is made up of only a few professors, but each of them has had a positive impact on my education,” she said.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s an above average growth rate for several jobs that can be obtained with a criminal justice degree. The job outlook for private detectives and investigators is expected to grow 6% by 2031, and the job outlook for lawyers is expected to grow 10% by the same year.
The career opportunities for those with a criminal justice degree is broad as students can find work in the private and public sectors. Some common jobs Stichman said students enter are in law enforcement with city, county, state or federal policing agencies. Other students have gone on to work in corrections, community and court programs.
Sperle found a passion for criminal law in the NDSU classroom. After she graduates, she wants to pursue law school.
Sperle recommends NDSU students interested in criminal justice get involved on campus. The Criminal Justice Club, internships, job fairs and class field trips are also great ways to get the most from the program, she said.
“Lastly, introduce yourself to your professors at the beginning of the semester to build rapport,” Sperle said. “Go to your classes, sit in the front and ask questions when you have them. You will have all of the resources that you need to be successful.”