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Criminology majors focus on the social roots and implications of criminal behavior and the operation of the criminal justice system. Students learn to apply the theoretical and methodological tools of sociology to make sense of crime and social control in modern society while selecting from a variety of substantive course topics. These include but are not limited to: juvenile delinquency, street crime and gangs, corporate and white collar crime, hate crime, terrorism, drug use and abuse, media and crime, the culture of police work and punishment and social control.

The sociological approach to crime distinguishes criminology from the related field of criminal justice, which emphasizes the procedural activities of criminal justice agencies.  

Criminology treats crime as the product of complex social forces, seeking to understand why laws are made in the first place, how and why these laws are violated, and how society responds when laws are broken. This holistic societal perspective prepares graduates to pursue a broad range of careers such as policing, security, corrections, law, social services and business.  

How will I focus my studies?

Criminology students can choose from an assortment of minors to further focus on aspects of the field, such as psychology, political science and many more.

Quenton King, Charles Town, W.Va.

Major: Criminology, Spanish and  Latin American Studies 
Minor: Anthropology

“I think it’s important to supplement your in-class learning with a great amount of outside-of-class experiential learning,” says Quenton King. “I have been able to apply much of what I’ve learned in the classroom to real life situations and problems.” As an intern for the West Virginia Innocence Project, Quenton has worked to examine evidence overlooked or used incorrectly to help those who were wrongly convicted of a crime. While his internship was valuable work experience, it also allowed Quenton to learn more about how he can use his coursework to identify the “political, societal, economic and cultural factors that contribute to criminal behavior at varying levels.”

Learn more at the Criminology site