Students passionate about social justice will be able to pursue a criminology degree at the University of Utah beginning this fall.
The College of Social and Behavioral Science, through the Department of Sociology, will offer a criminology major that will give students a multidisciplinary understanding of critical issues surrounding crime. The major will help prepare students for careers in criminal, juvenile and social justice services. It also will provide a foundation for graduate study in criminology, criminal justice, other social sciences and law.
“This is a real contribution to the community given the need here,” said Ming Wen, chair of the Department of Sociology. “This will be an attractive option for students who are interested in the field of criminal justice and want to be closer to networking opportunities where they want to live and work.”
The Department of Sociology has offered a certificate in criminology since the 1990s. On average, approximately half of the department’s graduates receive the criminology certificate. The certificate has enabled students to land jobs in law enforcement, corrections, probation/parole, detention centers, victim advocacy, criminal justice services and with non-profit organizations.
But demand for a major program has been strong, according to Wen, matched by job growth.
The Utah Economic Data Viewer projects faster than average growth for criminal justice related jobs, such as mental health counselors, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, and substance abuse social workers. Job growth is expected to be particularly strong in major metropolitan areas, said Heather Melton, an associate professor of sociology and director of the degree program.
The interdisciplinary major will offer courses spanning nine different departments in four colleges. Courses to be offered through the program include such subjects as: women and crime; society and the criminal mind; murder in America; courts and corrections in the U.S.; and the economics of sex, drugs and crime.
Students also will be able to pair the major with complementary certificates such as the Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment Training Certificate Program from the College of Social Work.
“There is interest, educational demand and job demand for college graduates in this field,” Melton said.
“Sociology is interested in structural factors — race, gender, intersectionality — which you have to look at in order to understand what is happening with crime,” she said. “One of the things that excites me about criminology is that to address criminal behavior and its impacts you need to understand why to understand how to respond.”