Although the term “criminology” was not used until 1885, criminological knowledge has accumulated for more than 200 years. As criminology evolved, its emphasis on the sociology of law was complemented by theories and research on delinquency, adult criminality, and criminal justice agencies. Presently, criminology is defined as the scientific study of the causes of crime and delinquency, crime control policies, institutions designed to control crime, and media depictions of crime, criminals, and victims. It is an interdisciplinary field of study, drawing heavily from psychology and sociology, but also relying on insights from economics, history, management, political science, and other disciplines.
Our criminology major, which consists of 35 credit hours, is supplemented with the resources of psychology and sociology in order to effect a broad-based view of criminal behavior and its control. Criminology majors may enroll in courses critically exploring capital punishment, the correctional system, psychology of the law, white collar crime, and an array of other topics, and all students complete an internship at an approved site. The internship affords opportunities to better understand policies and the relationship between theory and practice.
Students pursuing a degree in criminology also complete a series of classes endorsed by the National Science Foundation and referred to as the Scientific Core. This series of courses helps students understand and use science as a problem-solving and critical thinking tool. The Scientific Core culminates in a team-based research project under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Upon completion of these projects, many of our students present their research findings at regional and national conferences.
Our criminology seniors complete an exit examination containing four subject areas. Their scores on this test are nationally normed, and we are delighted to report that our students’ knowledge of criminology is in the top 78% nationally. Given that we do not require students to complete a class examining one of the topic areas on this test, this is an especially good ranking.