MA in Criminology

An MA Degree in Criminology is offered in a joint program by the Sociology Department and the Forensic Sciences Department at GWU. The program is unique in combining training in traditional criminology, criminal justice, and forensic sciences.

The MA in Criminology is an academic program, weighted toward traditional criminology (with some forensic science training as well), and is not intended to train practitioners who wish to work in criminal justice or security agencies. Students interested in pursuing an MA in forensic sciences fields (e.g., traditional forensics, security management, crime in commerce, computer fraud) should consult the Forensic Sciences website.

For more information, click on the MA Program Handbook (downloadable pdf file) or contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Antwan Jones at [email protected].

General Requirements

All students must satisfactorily complete the following courses:

Research Methods
SOC 6230 Methods
SOC 6231 Data Analysis
SOC 6232 Qualitative Methodology OR
SOC 6240 Field Research in Organizational Settings

SOC 6238 Development of Sociological Theory OR 
SOC 6239 Contemporary Sociological Theory

SOC 6258 Deviance & Control
SOC 6259 Criminology

Criminal Law
SOC 6257 Criminal Law for Forensic Scientists
Note: this is a new course number beginning Fall 2015, same as FORS 6224 (formerly FORS 6221)

Five courses chosen from the following list.  A minimum of two electives must be taken from Forensic Sciences.  A minimum of one elective must be taken from Sociology (from the list below). 
Any Forensic Sciences graduate course(s)
SOC 6260 Special Topics in Crime/Criminal Justice
SOC 6262 Corrections
SOC 6263 Race & Crime
SOC 6264 Organized Crime
SOC 6266 Gender & Criminal Justice
SOC 6273 The Sex Industry

Comprehensive Examination or Thesis:

Either a Comprehensive Examination or Master's Thesis is required.

  • Comprehensive Examination: Written examination covering required research methods and criminology/criminal justice coursework.
  • Master’s Thesis: Substitute Soc 6998 and 6999 (Thesis Research) for two elective courses. The thesis is expected to be original research of publishable quality. The thesis committee will consist of two members, at least one selected from the Sociology faculty or the Forensic Science faculty.

Time to Complete Degree

Normally it takes two years for full-time students to complete their degrees. A part-time option (with a minimum of six credits per semester) is also available.

Program of Studies Form & Thesis Topic Form

All MA candidates must complete a Program of Studies Form no later than the end of the first semester of residence. See MA Progam Handbook for more information.

Completed by the student and submitted to the Thesis Director, the Thesis Topic Approval Form is submitted upon approval of thesis topic prior to registration for thesis research (SOC 6998/6999). 

GW Graduate Admissions

Meet Our Professors: Ron Weitzer

Professor Ron Weitzer has published extensively on sex work, human trafficking, and prostitution policies in the United States and Europe. His edited book, Sex For Sale (Routledge, 2010) is regarded as a landmark collection of studies in the field of sex work. His recent book, Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business (NYU Press, 2012) examines theoretical paradigms, political struggles over prostitution, and the social ecology of legal red-light districts in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. He is currently conducting research on the politics of marijuana legalization in comparison to the legalization of prostitution. One of his students, Sarah Rockefeller, is writing her undergraduate honors thesis in Criminal Justice on media coverage of marijuana legalization in Colorado. These issues, among many others, are covered in his undergrad course Advanced Seminar in Criminal Justice and in his graduate course on Deviant Behavior.