Criminal Justice

You have a strong moral compass and a desire to make a positive difference. We have the degree for you. At Coastal, our Criminal Justice degree program is focused on you and your desire to be a part of the solution to real-world challenges.

The field of criminal justice offers opportunities to contribute in multiple areas, including law enforcement, investigations, the courts, corrections, and cyber defense. Coastal Georgia’s criminal justice major is focused on the knowledge that each of these areas and many others are important to the education of today’s criminal justice students. We are preparing our students to be tomorrow’s capable and prepared law enforcement professionals, and leaders who will contribute to public service and help shape public policy in municipalities and states, as well as domestically and internationally, for many years to come.

Our graduates have been employed by federal departments and agencies, including Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Secret Service, and others, as well as numerous state and local departments, including Georgia State Patrol, Glynn County Police Department, Cobb County Police Department, Brunswick Police Department, and others. Other students have successfully entered graduate level programs or law school.

In addition to the strength and relevance of our criminal justice courses, our students benefit from our close partnership with the nearly Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC). Our criminal justice courses are taught by some of the finest law enforcement instructors in the nation. Additionally, our criminal justice degree provides students with key management and leadership competencies and critical thinking skills, further enhancing our program’s focus on preparing our students for their futures.

The field of criminal justice is vast and includes positions such as police officer, detective, criminal investigator, special agent, probation or parole officer, crime scene investigator, intelligence analyst, border patrol agent, etc. Earning the baccalaureate degree in criminal justice is geared toward helping students learn real-world skills by pursuing a concentration in one of three distinct areas: homeland security, public management, or cyber defense. The strong combination of criminal justice with any of these areas of academic study will provide a thorough preparation for students as they pursue a career in the field of criminal justice.

Cyber Defense

This area of concentration combines interest in criminal justice with talent in information technology in order to make an impact for public or private sector employees struggling with the challenges of cybercrime and cyber security.


Homeland Security

Homeland Security is designed for those who wish to pursue a career in state, local, of federal government, including state or federal homeland security departments or agencies such as Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Secret Service, etc., as well as more traditional law enforcement and policing.


Public Management

With a strong focus on leadership and managerial and conflict management skills, the public management concentration provides a strong foundation for criminal justice students with a desire to be the future leaders of public sector law enforcement departments or agencies.


Contact Information:

Cynthia Atwood

Senior Lecturer of Criminal Justice

Ms. Atwood has served as a full-time faculty member researching, developing, and teaching courses in Criminal Justice since 2014.

Prior to joining the faculty at the College of Coastal Georgia, Ms. Atwood completed a distinguished 30-year career retiring as an Assistant Director (AD) with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC).As a career member of the Senior Executive Service, Ms. Atwood provided executive leadership and oversight for both training and administrative functions at the FLETC, including all training and training support functions across the FLETC’s four domestic locations in Glynco, GA; Charleston, SC; Artesia, NM; and Cheltenham, MD; training delivered at the International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEAs) around the world; and state, local, tribal, and territorial training delivered across the United States. Ms. Atwood led training across the spectrum of law enforcement training areas including: Behavioral Science, Counter-Terrorism, Leadership, Legal, Firearms, Drivers, Maritime, Investigative Operations, Enforcement Techniques, Physical Techniques, Financial Fraud, and Instructional Development. She also led efforts to ensure coordination with federal, state, and local law enforcement entities to develop and deliver programs to effectively prepare law enforcement officers and agents in areas such as Active Shooter and Cyber training programs across the United States.

While serving as the FLETC’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ms. Atwood provided executive leadership and oversight for multiple complex areas including: human resources (including employee and labor relations), facilities management (including design and construction), procurement, property management, and the Critical Incident Stress Management program.

Ms. Atwood’s law enforcement and teaching experience span 31 years and include serving as a Special Agent in the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Senior Special Agent, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. General Services Administration.She conducted investigations resulting in the successful prosecution of criminal and civil matters across the eight southeastern states and the District of Columbia, including program fraud, bribery of government officials, food stamp trafficking and serious allegations of employee misconduct.

Ms. Atwood graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Police Administration from Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Law Enforcement, and earned her Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University’s College of Public and Urban Affairs. Additionally, she is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, VA and the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC.

Meet Our Faculty

Dr. Nelbert St. Clair

St. Clair, Nelbert

Associate Professor of Cyber Defense

Dr. Nelbert St. Clair is an Assistant Professor of Cyber Defense and Director of the Coastal Cyber Center. He earned his Doctor of Science (Dsc) in Information Systems and Communication from Robert Morris University (Moon Township, PA), M.A. in Information Technology Management from Webster University (St. Louis, MO) and a Bachelor of General Studies from the University of Nevada, Reno (Reno, NV). He earned all his civilian education while severing (now retired) in the Army National Guard for 23 years. He currently maintains 15 active cyber/IT certifications.

Dr. St. Clair started at the College in Fall of 2019, with the task of building a Cyber Defense program from the ground up. As the Director of the Coastal Cyber Center, a non-profit center aimed to provide IT services to non-profit and small businesses, he reaches out to the local community with the help of the Cyber Defense students. He believes in giving back to the community.

Dr. St. Clair inspires students to begin a career in the field of Information Technology. He brings to the Cyber education world, 23 years of experience in leadership, security, and military knowledge (National Guard including two deployments), 14 years in the private sector and 8 years working for the federal government. Dr. St. Clair’s main focus is cybersecurity education, but he enjoys recruiting new students and partnering with local businesses, to provide cyber education and services to the community, with the help of his students.

James Atwood

Judge Atwood

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice
Asst. Professor J. Alexander Atwood

On January 1st, 2022, Alex Atwood joined the faculty of the School of Business and Public Management, College of Coastal Georgia. Prior to assuming this position, Professor Atwood served as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Administrative Services, overseeing all State-Wide Contracting, Risk Management, Fleet Management, Human Resources Administration and Surplus Property for the State of Georgia. In this position, Professor Atwood also served on numerous state boards and authorities and represented the State of Georgia as a member of the National Association of State Chief Administrators.

Professor Atwood holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University, a Master of Arts in International Relations from Webster College, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) in Law (Cum Laude) from Atlanta’s John Marshall School of Law and a Master of Law (LL.M.) from Georgia State University’s School of Law. Professor Atwood is a member of the legal honor fraternity Sigma Delta Kappa, was a recipient of the Corpus Juris Secumdum Award for academic excellence, is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, and is a Fellow of the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia. Professor Atwood is also a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Professor Atwood has served as a member of the United States Attorneys Committee for Project Safe Neighborhood, an Adjunct Instructor at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary, a member of the Legal Advisors Section to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a legal advisor to the Georgia Sheriff’s Association, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Georgia Council of Magistrate Court Judges.

Prior to his appointment as Commissioner, Professor Atwood enjoyed many operational and command roles including service as the Chief of Legal Training for the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Special Agent and Supervisory Special Agent for several federal executive branch agencies, Chief Operating Officer of Alpha Protective Services, Inc., a 700-member security corporation which provided security services for the federal government and the National Football League, as the Chief Judge of the Magistrate Court of Glynn County, and as the founding partner of Atwood Choate, PC. Professor Atwood also served for 34 years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in ground, aviation and Intelligence positions, entering service as a Private and retiring at the rank of full Colonel.

Professor Atwood also served as a State Representative in the Georgia House of Representatives where among many committee assignments he served as Appropriations Committee Chairman for Public Safety, Vice-Chair of the Juvenile Justice Committee, and Secretary of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. Representative Atwood also served as Majority Caucus Deputy Whip and as a member of the Jekyll Island Legislative Oversight Committee.