Sociology / Criminal Justice

The curriculum in the Department of Sociology provides strong academic training in the field, as well as an exposure to varied pre-professional training. The three-fold mission of the department is: (1) to provide course offerings in the liberal arts curriculum of the College, in order to introduce students to the sociological perspective, thereby adding that dimension to their critical thinking processes; (2) to provide an academically strong major which affords an approach to the study of social systems and social change; (3) to provide a major within the discipline of sociology which can reflect a student’s vocational interest, for example, criminal justice, social gerontology, or social work and social welfare.

Students majoring in sociology or criminal justice may plan to continue their work in graduate and professional schools. Others study sociology in preparation for careers in social work, teaching, law, business, criminal justice, or governmental service. Graduates in sociology may look toward careers in teaching, administration, or research.

Within the Department of Sociology, a student may choose the general sociology major, the criminal justice major, or a major in sociology with a concentration in criminal justice, social gerontology (Continuing Education only), urban studies, or social work and social welfare. Students finding an interest in sociology, but committed to majoring in other fields, may choose to minor in the department. The analytical skills and critical ability developed in this program are complementary to numerous other disciplines.

The possibility exists for the applied sociology-oriented student to design, in consultation with the department, an off-campus practicum/internship (CJ/SO 280, 380) for which college credit is given. Internships are required of students majoring in Criminal Justice, Social Gerontology, Urban Studies, and Social Work, and are optional for those choosing the General Sociology major. Many sociology courses may be used toward interdisciplinary majors as well as electives or General Education requirements.

The Criminal Justice Major

Building on the College’s strengths in Sociology and Psychology, the Criminal Justice major will prepare students for employment in those social services and criminal justice sectors which directly support police and government law enforcement efforts. The program will also prepare them for graduate work in these fields. The focus of the major will be to ensure that students understand the criminal justice system in the United States as it is related to class structure, race, ethnicity, and gender so that they will develop a more person-centered understanding of crime and law enforcement. Counseling skills, coupled with an understanding of individuals’ behavior within families and groups in society, will ensure that students, as leaders in the community and as professionals, are prepared for respectful and effective interaction with citizens.

This focus on a person-centered orientation, rooted in the discipline of Sociology, also provides a strong foundation from which “action-oriented” ethics teaching can be provided. Our students, through both core and major courses, as well as in their Criminal Justice field experiences, will be exposed to and practice ethical reasoning and will work to gain an understanding of the perspective of others.

Our students receive extensive field experience through participation in at least two guided internships. This experience provides a more broad set of career options, including graduate education in fields such as criminal justice, law, social work or public administration.