MA in Criminology

 

A graduate sociology student sits at a computer and looks at the front of the classroom

 

GW’s Master of Arts in Criminology program has a strong emphasis on research methods, incorporates required and elective courses from the GW Department of Forensic Sciences and underscores the way crime and criminal justice need to be understood in social context. The program is housed in the Sociology Department and therefore draws on criminology’s roots in sociology. Racism and police abuse of force are as much the subject matter of our program as are classes in forensics, criminal law and traditional criminological theories of crime.

Through research and coursework, students develop an understanding of how societies define, facilitate or reduce crime and the social conditions that contribute to crime and its control.

We offer financial aid to select academically competitive students and/or salary-only graduate teaching assistantships to many of our students.

 

 


Program Highlights

 

Flexible Curriculum

The foundation of the degree lies in three research methods classes, two criminological theory and policy classes and one sociology theory class. Students can specialize in particular areas within criminology, criminal justice or forensics by taking classes and conducting research in areas including policing, criminal law, punishment, victimology, race, gender and crime scene investigation, among other subjects. Students may take up to four elective courses in the Forensic Sciences Department, four in Sociology/Criminology and, with permission, pertinent classes throughout the university or Consortium.

 

Diverse Student Body

The faculty and their research areas are decidedly international in origin and study although, like most U.S. universities, most of the substantive materials in our classes focus on the United States. Likewise, our master’s students are diverse in their national origins, racial and sexual identities and academic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Most of our students are full time, but some complete their degree on a part-time basis. We are a proudly small program that gives our graduate cohorts strong support and a sense of community.

 

Thesis Option

Criminology MA students have the option of writing a thesis or taking a comprehensive examination (and enrolling in two additional courses). Most criminology students select the thesis option, consistent with our emphasis on students’ research skills.

 

Prestigious Career Paths

The MA in Criminology prepares students for policy, advocacy, academic and professional careers in and beyond criminology and criminal justice. While some of our alumni go on to work in law enforcement or forensic science, our focus is primarily on criminology from a sociological perspective.


Sample Schedules

 

Thesis Option

First Year Fall

  • SOC 6230: Sociological Research Methods
  • SOC 6258: Deviance and Control
  • SOC 6238: Sociological Theory OR Elective

First Year Spring

  • SOC 6231: Data Analysis
  • SOC 6259: Criminology
  • Elective

Second Year Fall

  • SOC 6998: Thesis Research
  • SOC 6232: Qualitative Methodology: Doing Field Research
  • FORS 6224: Criminal Law for Forensic Scientists OR SOC 6257: Criminal Law

Second Year Spring

  • SOC 6999: Thesis Research
  • SOC 6239: Sociological Theory OR Elective
  • Elective

 

Comprehensive Exam Option

First Year Fall

  • SOC 6230: Sociological Research Methods
  • SOC 6258: Deviance and Control
  • SOC 6238: Sociological Theory OR Elective

First Year Spring

  • SOC 6231: Data Analysis
  • SOC 6259: Criminology
  • Elective

Second Year Fall

  • Elective
  • SOC 6232: Qualitative Methodology: Doing Field Research
  • FORS 6224: Criminal Law for Forensic Scientists OR SOC 6257: Criminal Law

Second Year Spring

  • Elective
  • Elective
  • SOC 6239: Sociological Theory OR Elective

 


Course Requirements

Note on choosing courses: Many forensic sciences courses require a substantial science background, especially chemistry, and such courses are best suited for students who have strong science training. Courses that are not science-based include FORS 6254: Forensic Psychiatry, FORS 6208: Terrorism, FORS 6253: Homicide Investigation, FORS 6255: Child Abuse Investigation and FORS 6256: Forensic Pathology.

The Sociology Department recommends that students take Criminal Law I during their second year.

This program is a joint offering of the Department of Sociology and the Department of Forensic Sciences.

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

The following requirements must be fulfilled: Non-thesis option—36 credits, including 21 credits in required courses and 15 credits in elective courses; thesis option—36 credits, including 27 credits in required courses and 9 credits in elective courses.

Required
SOC 6230Sociological Research Methods
SOC 6231Data Analysis
SOC 6232Qualitative Methodology: Doing Field Research
or SOC 6240 Field Research in Organizational Settings
SOC 6238Development of Sociological Theory
or SOC 6239 Contemporary Sociological Theory
SOC 6257Criminal Law for Forensic Scientists
SOC 6258Deviance and Control
SOC 6259Criminology
Electives
Five elective courses in criminology, of which at least two are in forensic sciences and at least one is selected from the following:
SOC 6260Special Topics in Criminology
SOC 6261Sociology of Law
SOC 6262Corrections
SOC 6263Race and Crime
SOC 6264Organized Crime
SOC 6266Gender and Criminal Justice
SOC 6273The Sex Industry
Thesis option
Students choosing the thesis option substitute the following for two elective courses:
SOC 6998Thesis Research
SOC 6999Thesis Research