Criminology is the study of the root causes of crime and deviant behavior in society. Early criminologists believed that crime was a choice based on an individual’s free will, but the field expanded to include biological, psychological and sociological explanations of crime. Poverty, family structure, and capitalism are among some of the widely debated root causes of crime. Criminologists consider what motivates offenders as well as the impact of crime on victims and society as a whole. By studying the causes of crime, criminologists can offer practical solutions to reduce or even prevent certain types of crime. Criminologists have been instrumental in evaluating criminal justice policies such as Megan’s Laws, mandatory sentencing for drug offenders and Three Strikes laws.

Our courses also focus on national and international systems of law; comparative punishment and the administration of justice; and the various mechanisms of law enforcement and control at the local, state, federal and international levels. Additional courses we offer focus on international social and political problems which underlie current issues in international criminal law.

Criminology graduates, with the combination of a strong theoretical background and a practical skill set, will be well-prepared for advanced graduate studies and law school, as well as a variety of careers in state and federal law enforcement, investigation, victim advocacy, policy research and analysis. This degree offers students the opportunity to pursue a future in one of the most exciting, diverse and fastest growing fields.

Program Highlights

Some distinctive features of our program include:

  • Practical competency in the fields of criminology, law enforcement, and public policy;

  • Small classes emphasizing student participation (our average class size is 20, with upper division classes averaging 12);

  • Close working relationships with teachers through independent studies, student-faculty research, activities outside of class, and individual mentoring and advising;

  • Preparation for life after graduation through internships, study abroad, and developing the critical thinking, data analysis, and problem solving skills relevant to a range of professions.

Degree Plan

NOTE: All students are required to complete the General Education Requirements of their campus in fulfillment of their Bachelor degree requirements. 

Required courses (18 credits)

Elective courses (18 credits)

The elective courses vary by semester, but some of the options include the following:


Contact Information
Amy Shlosberg, Department Chair

Course Descriptions

  • CMLGY1201 An introduction to sociology that explores society and culture, groups and organizations, socialization, deviance, social stratification, race and ethnicity, the family and education.

  • CMLGY1306 This course provides an understanding of crime and criminal justice. Students will examine theories of crime, individual and group criminal behavior and aspects of criminal justice systems from American and global perspectives.

  • CMLGY2203 This course provides an introduction to the theories and methods underlying modern social science research across sociology, political science, economics, and criminology. In this course, students will learn to assess the validity of social science research and design their own projects, using a variety of qualitative and quantitative techniques such as ethnography, content analysis, experiments and surveys. Students are required to have completed Math 1126 or Math 1128 and should have this level of mathematical skill in order to succeed in the required Methodological course.

  • CMLGY2300 The course will examine the criminal justice system through the prism of cases in which an innocent person was convicted. It will examine the causes of proposed remedies for wrongful conviction and consider its implications for the criminal justice system as a whole. Topics will include mistaken eyewitness identification, forensic science, false confessions, prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance, snitch testimony, and the death penalty. The class will explore the current debate regarding the significance of the number of wrongfully convicted people who have recently been exonerated.

  • CMLGY2307 What is considered deviant behavior and how do certain behaviors become deviant in the eyes of society? This class will examine the social construction of deviance and the different theoretical perspectives that explain deviance. Certain forms of deviance will be examined critically, including drug use, sexual deviance and suicide.

  • CMLGY2317 Probation and Parole: Theory and Pratice This course examines the history of probation and parole from past to present. Specifically, we will look at the historical foundations of community-based corrections, the everyday operation of probation and parole and evaluations of the effectiveness of probation and parole.

  • CMLGY2333 A basic introduction to criminal law in the United States. Emphasis is upon social factors, norms, values and social policy considerations that shape modern criminal law. Subject areas include issues such as the justification of punishment, the elements of just punishment, and the death penalty as well as the study of substantive laws of homicide, rape and other criminal acts. Attention is also given to the emergence of international criminal law and the punishment of war crimes.

  • CMLGY2503 This course offers an examination of the role of the media in reporting crimes and the extent to which media coverage of crime and the criminal justice system impacts the commission of crimes and the operation of the system. We also explore the impact the media has on public perceptions of crime and society, criminals, and the criminal justice system.

  • CMLGY3012 This class explores the theoretical and practical responses to traumatic events (e.g., crime, domestic violence, natural disasters, medical conditions, substance abuse, suicide and suicide attempts). Further, this class also examines the strategies utilized by treatment providers and first responders, such as police and firemen, to these traumatic events.

  • CMLGY3030 Recent revelations about data collection by actors as varied as the National Security Agency and Facebook have challenged many of our most basic beliefs about power and privacy. It is increasingly clear that our bodies, images, and words are ceaselessly tracked, sorted, profiled, stored in databases, and recalled by algorithms-all in the name of a loosely defined concept called "security". In this class, we will interrogate these uneasy relationships between surveillance and security, looking at both state surveillance practices as well as visual practices aimed at monitoring the state. By engaging with a broad array of media- academic research, social theory, television, film, fiction-we will debate the role of surveillance in generating security, but also focus on the ways that broad data collection can actually enable populations to act in new and beneficial ways.

  • CMLGY3205 This course would focus on societal responses to dealing with mass violence. Specifically, students would be exposed to examples of domestic and international episodes of mass violence and the governmental and non-governmental responses created to redress mass violence and human rights violations. This course would introduce concepts of transitional justice and use contemporary and historical examples from the United States, Rwanda, Cambodia, and other sites where mass violence has taken place.

  • CMLGY3301 This course examines the major theoretical explanations of both female offending and victimization. We will analyze the sociological, cultural, and political forces that have shaped the construction of the female offender in society. Additionally, we will examine the role of gender in shaping the female experience within the criminal justice system as a whole.

  • CMLGY3308 Law as a determinate of social control and change analysis of legal systems and their administration with special emphasis on law affecting the poor.

  • CMLGY3309 Is Megan's Law a good policy? What about three strikes laws? Many criminal justice policies have been passed due to public sentiment without proper evaluation. The goal of this class is to teach students to critically analyze, evaluate and develop sound criminal justice policies.

  • CMLGY3310 This course examines the juvenile justice system in the United States, including the roles of the court, police and corrections. Current empirical evidence regarding trends in juvenile delinquency will be provided, along with a thorough examination of the theoretical causes of juvenile crime.

  • CMLGY3997 Supervised internship in criminology fields with practical, experiential, and academic components. More than one criminology internship may be completed. Note: Not open to freshmen; permission of instructor needed.