Criminal Justice Certificate Program

Recognizing an increased student interest in the field of criminal law, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School launched the Criminal Justice Certificate Program (CJCP) in 2018. From 2011-2018, the Law School offered the program as the Criminal Justice Honors Program.

Jonathan Rapping, Professor of Law, Director of the Criminal Justice Certificate Program, MacArthur Genius Fellow

The Law School has noticed the desire to enter the program has expanded from prospective students only to current students as well. In an effort to broaden the Program’s reach, the Law School has made some structural changes in hopes of allowing all students the opportunity to pursue this career track. Originally designed with specialized coursework beginning in the first year, the Program required students to apply before entering law school without the possibility of later transitioning into the Program. Therefore, many Atlanta’s John Marshall students were ineligible because they did not come to the decision to join the Program until after beginning their law school careers.

To complete the program, students must complete 300 hours of approved field work and take a CJCP workshop that is not for credit during their third year. This modification will allow students who are inspired in their first year to pursue careers in criminal justice to benefit from this unique program. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is excited about this step in the evolution of this cutting-edge program.

Practical Curriculum

The Criminal Justice Certificate Program curriculum prepares graduates to practice criminal law, whether as a prosecutor or a defender. Core components of the program approach include:

  1. Integration – Students appreciate how all of the courses in the criminal law curriculum relate to one another and to the larger practice of law;
  2. Application – Students not only understand these lessons in theory, but learn how to apply these lessons to situations they will encounter in their practice;
  3. Reality Based – Students not only learn the ideals that underscore any criminal law curriculum, but also understand how the criminal justice system works in reality.
Judith Barger, Associate Dean for Academic Administration

Students graduate equipped with strategies to allow them to shape the criminal justice arena rather than simply being shaped by it. The Criminal Justice Certificate Program provides an integrated, applied approach to legal education that equips our students with the necessary strategies to be ethical, professional, and moral lawyers in less than perfect systems. Full-time program participants must complete all first year requirements before applying. Part-time program participants must complete all requirements in the first and second year before applying.

To earn the Criminal Justice Certificate, students must maintain a 2.3 GPA in the following courses, which will be required in addition to the other requirements necessary to complete the J.D. Program.

Criminal Law
Criminal Procedure (4 credits)
Advanced Criminal Procedure
Advanced Evidence
Criminal Justice Lawyering
Criminal Law Ethics
Criminal Pretrial Practice
Criminal Trial Practice

Expert Faculty

B. Michael Mears, Associate Professor

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is particularly qualified to offer this intensive and practical criminal law certificate. It boasts a faculty of experts in the practice of criminal law, with a combined total of over 75 years of practical experience in the field. Our faculty members are well-connected to the criminal justice community both locally and nationally. Our low student-to-faculty ratio allows for our students to be mentored by their professors.

Real-World Experience

Suparna Malempati, Associate Professor

Students enrolled in the Criminal Justice Certificate Program will complete 300 hours of approved field work in their third year, where they will be afforded the opportunity to apply curriculum lessons in a criminal law placement. Our location in the heart of Atlanta provides access to a wide variety of criminal law related externship opportunities. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School has established and approved externship placements with many criminal courts, juvenile law and advocacy agencies, public defenders offices, prosecutors offices, and municipal and state agencies.

Application Process

  1. The CJCP is available to any student whose GPA exceeded 2.2 during their first semester.
  2. Complete, sign, and date the downloadable application found on the Apply page.
  3. Obtain one faculty reference. Have one of your first year professors email Professor Jonathan Rapping regarding their support of your application.
  4. Submit a program interest statement exploring who you are. Please include:
    – What specifically makes you interested in the program;
    – How has your background and/or experience impacted your decision to study criminal justice.

The CJCP brings together students passionate about criminal justice who are eager to learn from and share with one another as the class embarks on a collective learning experience. We want students with an array of experiences, perspectives, and ideas. We are looking for thoughtful responses that help us understand your background and experiences and how they will both enrich the learning environment and prepare you to succeed in this program.

External transfers are welcome to apply to the program, the application deadline is the same for all applications as indicated on the downloadable application found on the Apply page.


Connect with Professor Jonathan Rapping, or (678) 916-2642.