Criminal Justice Specialization Certificate

A holistic approach

At the Schulich School of Law, we acknowledge the importance of substantive and procedural criminal law and also recognize that criminal justice interacts in a variety of ways with society and individuals. Our research and teaching look at what influences criminal justice, and whom criminal justice affects while being alert to alternatives that may be better suited to respond to factors that influence crime.

We are concerned about the impacts the criminal justice system has on marginalized communities and individuals, both as victims and perpetrators. We believe that criminal justice must be understood in a social justice context, and that community engagement is central to a fair and transparent criminal justice process.

If you believe that criminal justice goes beyond enforcing the law to examine the factors behind why crimes happen, and you have the passion to serve the community and make a difference, then Schulich Law is the place for you.

Specialize in Criminal Justice

We are committed to providing a broad, practical, and well-rounded educational experience to students studying criminal justice. Our course offerings include both large and small group classes that combine lectures, discussions, and active learning techniques. They provide training in trial and appellate advocacy skills, in-depth approaches to advanced concepts, and substantial opportunities for experiential and clinical learning.

Our Criminal Justice Specialization gives JD students an opportunity to focus on this area and earn a certificate upon graduation. 

Students interested in registering for the Criminal Justice Specialization Certificate must complete the registration form found here.  Once completed, send it to as early as possible and ideally at the start of their second year.

For questions about the Criminal Justice specialization, please email

Specialization Requirements

To graduate with a specialization in Criminal Justice, students must:

  • Complete the mandatory core criminal law courses LAWS 2008 Evidence and LAWS 2091 Criminal Procedure (Eight credit hours total);
  • Complete eight credit hours of electives chosen from the lists below. Students must take at least one course from each basket.  

Basket 1: Advanced Criminal Law Issues Electives

Basket 2: Social Justice Electives

Please note:    Basket 2, for major paper courses, the major paper must be in a Criminal Justice related field and requires pre-approval.  Please submit your paper topic and a brief summary to

Basket 3: Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning

Our students have many opportunities to engage with the community, and get practical experience:

  • Third-year students can spend a term working at the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service (DLAS) where they may participate in youth sentencings, bail hearings, peace bond applications and prison law work.
  • Internships, both at home and abroad, can offer opportunities to work with organizations dedicated to criminal justice.
  • Pro Bono Dalhousie @ Schulich Law provides an opportunity for 180 student volunteers to work with more than 50 community organizations, 15 of which currently deal with criminal justice issues including the Elizabeth Fry Society, the Canadian Prison Law Association and Innocence Canada.
  • We participate in both the Sopinka and Gale Cup moots, which focus on criminal matters.
  • In the Criminal Clinic course, students shadow a defence lawyer, Crown attorney or judge for a term, attending trials and gaining exposure to the criminal justice system. 
  • In the Sexual Assault Clinic course students learn through field activities with crown attorneys who specialize in this area, and other professionals involved in sexual assault cases.
  • In the Criminal Appeals Practice and Criminal Trial Practice  courses, students are given practical exposure to the entire process of conducting an appeal or a trial in a criminal case.