Service Learning Internships

Criminal Justice Service Learning Internships Program

The School of Criminal Justice & Criminalistics is proud to be developing a service learning internships program for criminal justice students. The purpose of this program is to connect student experiences inside the classroom (i.e., academic knowledge) with real-world experience in the field of criminal justice (i.e., professional practice). An integral component of this process is the use of reflections, such as shared readings, group discussions, and public journaling, to strengthen students’ commitment to public service, social responsibility, and civic engagement. In this way, service learning provides students an organized and meaningful transition for students from their university training to the professional workplace.


What is Service Learning in Criminal Justice?

In contrast to a traditional internship, service learning is project-based, faculty-mediated, and community-oriented. Students are assigned individually or in groups to carry out a project that addresses a community-oriented need at a criminal justice agency or related organization. Through weekly reflections and regular check-ins, faculty members guide students to develop a plan to address the problem, execute the plan, and publicly present their results or findings.


Examples of past Service Learning Projects:

  • A director of Probation at a juvenile facility wanted to know when violent incidents between youth are most likely to occur. The student coded and tracked all information on violent incidents during the year to date and presented her findings to the facility staff.
  • A director of Probation in an area office wanted to know youth and parent perspectives on a recently implemented program. The student attended all program sessions and interviewed five youth and their parents. The student’s research will be continued by a full-time staff member.


What can criminal justice-related agencies and organizations expect in the Service Learning Internships Program?

At least six months prior to the service learning term, organizations should contact Dr. Akhila Ananth ( to begin developing a service learning project. Organizations will be asked to create or update an agreement to work with students at Cal State LA and to brainstorm a research- or programming-related project for students to develop and execute. Some considerations include:

  • Does the project have specific goals and deliverables? Is it manageable for undergraduate-level students?
  • How many students will be required for the project?
  • What are the specific tasks involved in the project?
  • How will the project benefit your organization or the community at large?

During the internship, organizations can expect to supervise student work and expose students to its operations for a minimum of eight hours a week. Organizations will also be expected to attend two to three class meetings during the term with faculty and students from other service learning projects and participate in the final presentations of the project.


What can criminal justice students expect in the Service Learning Internships Program?

Students must attend an informational session held by a faculty member one term prior to their involvement in the program. After attending the session, students will be asked to submit application materials required by a faculty member and the placement organization. Once students are accepted into the program, they will be notified about their placement.

Once the semester begins, students are required to attend a minimum of three class sessions: one at the beginning of the term to meet the organization and develop the project, one or two during the course of the term to check-in on progress, and one during Finals week to present findings. Students will also be required to complete eight hours per week in placement, coordinated with the organization’s schedule. During their time in placement, students must dress and behave professionally and adhere to all organization policies and protocols. Finally, students are required to produce weekly reflections on their work in the field on Moodle. Any student who does not meet one or more of these requirements may be removed from his/her placement and/or receive a failing grade for the course.

For more questions on the Criminal Justice Service Learning Internship Program, please contact Dr. Akhila Ananth at