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Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies

Degree: BA

Campus: Columbus, Marion, Mansfield

College: Arts and Sciences

Criminology is the sociology-based study of crime and the criminal justice system. Through the criminology and criminal justice studies major, students learn about the dimensions of the crime problem, explanations of the prevalence of various types of crime, and the various agencies and programs designed to prevent and control crime and delinquency. These agencies and programs include the police, courts, probation and parole systems, and correctional institutions. Attention also is given to such issues as youth and crime, women and crime, and the place of control agencies in the larger societal context.

As a social science/liberal arts field, criminology provides majors with a variety of techniques for examining and responding to important questions about the causes and consequences of crime and the workings of the criminal justice system.

Upon admission to the university, students can declare a major in criminology and criminal justice studies.

As a prerequisite to declaring a major in criminology and criminal justice studies, all students should complete Sociology 1101: Introduction to Sociology. This three-hour course may be taken concurrently with other lower-level criminology (and sociology) courses. 

Criminology majors must complete the following core requirements:

  • Sociology 3410: Criminology
  • Sociology 3487: Research Methods in Sociology
  • Sociology 3488: Introduction to Sociological Theory
  • Sociology 3549: Statistics in Sociology

Criminology majors must complete a minimum of 24 additional credit hours of course work in criminology and sociology, including a minimum of 12 hours of 4000- or 5000-level criminology courses. Students are also required to complete either a research, education abroad, service-learning or internship experience. Students should consult with a sociology and criminology undergraduate advisor to develop a plan of study that is appropriate for meeting their academic and career interests and goals.

Students are encouraged to participate in one of the Department of Sociology's two education abroad programs, Genocide and its Aftermath in Rwanda and the Warsaw Summer School in Social Sciences. The department's faculty are also currently developing additional education abroad programs for the future.

The Department of Sociology has a strong internship program for its undergraduate majors in criminology. Students may augment their course work with career-related internship and volunteer experiences. Students may participate in community-based experiences at settings such as the Columbus City Prosecutor’s Office, Columbus Division of Police, and the Office of the Inspector General. Students can receive credit for their internship experience.

Honors students who pursue a major in criminology and criminal justice studies have the opportunity to enroll in Honors-specific courses, conduct research with faculty, attend departmental forums and engage in intellectual discussions as a member of our Honors community. The following courses have Honors sections:

  • Sociology H1101: Introduction to Sociology
  • Sociology H3410: Criminology
  • Sociology H3463: Social Stratification: Race, Class and Gender
  • Sociology H3487: Research Methods in Sociology

Honors students are exposed to research in several ways. Most courses at the 4000 level and above require students to read and critique research articles. Relationships developed in class lead many students to become involved in faculty-led research projects or conduct their own independent research (senior Honors thesis) under the supervision of a faculty advisor.

Current undergraduate research assistants are working on faculty-led research projects such as such as Police Use of Deadly Force, Drug Trade on the Dark Net and Marijuana Criminalization in the United States. 

Criminology and criminal justice studies students can join the national Alpha Kappa Delta sociology honorary society, which hosts annual recognition events and is a forum for intellectual exchange.

Students can also participate in Sociology and Criminology Club to do service work, attend speaking events, explore careers and participate in a variety of social activities.

An undergraduate major in criminology and criminal justice studies provides an excellent liberal arts foundation, and graduates are able to apply their skills and knowledge across a wide variety of occupations and professions and for graduate or professional education. Some graduates enter directly into the labor force in law enforcement, delinquency prevention and control services, crime prevention, corrections, probation or parole, criminal justice administration, and research. Like other social science majors, undergraduate criminology majors also are employed in non-crime-related sectors: health and social services (in substance abuse and rehabilitation counseling); community work (in child welfare agencies); and federal, state and local government (in urban planning and housing). 

The criminology major provides a foundation for postbaccalaureate work in law, public policy, social work, business, theology and urban planning. Many students also will use the undergraduate major as preparation for graduate work in criminology or in a related field, such as sociology. Graduate degrees lead to teaching and/or research positions in universities or colleges, governmental agencies, business and industrial firms, research institutes in the nonprofit sector, or self-employment and consulting.

Students in the criminology and criminal justice studies program will:

  • develop comprehensive knowledge of the criminology and criminal justice studies discipline;
  • understand criminological and sociological theories and concepts;
  • apply research methods and statistical analysis to questions about the causes and consequences of crime and the workings of the criminal justice system;
  • prepare for employment or graduate school through a series of academic and experiential learning opportunities.

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Faculty within the Department of Sociology are nationally and internationally recognized for their contributions to research, scholarship and teaching. Students have the opportunity to study with some of the leading scholars in the world in their respective fields. The contacts and references provided by these faculty members can be invaluable when applying to graduate school or for landing a great job after graduation.