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M.A. in Criminology


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The Master of Arts in Criminology is available completely online. The program explores major correlates of crime, delinquency, and deviance, and examines societal responses to crime and delinquency. Students gain insight into correction systems, penology, criminal law, rehabilitation and recidivism, while developing strong research skills to gather and analyze criminological data.

Students are exposed to the empirical study and evaluation of crime patterns in society using a social scientific perspective. The program challenges degree candidates to think about how prior and current research in the field of Criminology can be used to inform social and public policies.

The Online Advantage

  • All courses are taught online, providing you with unparalleled flexibility
  • On-demand courses available, allowing you to start any day of the year and complete coursework on your schedule
  • Credentialed faculty with broad research interests (see below for faculty list)
  • No out-of-state tuition ever charged
  • Staff dedicated to support of online students

The minimum requirements for acceptance are as follows:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • GAP score of at least 600 [GAP = (GRE-V + GRE-Q) + (Undergrad GPA x 100)] for students who took the GRE after August 2011.
  • GAP score of at least 2200 [GAP = (GRE-V + GRE-Q) x Undergrad GPA] for students who took the GRE prior to August 2011. 
  • Application and Fee
  • Official copy of Transcript(s)
  • The GRE IS required for admission into this program.
    • Analytical Writing score of at least 3.5
  • Conditional admission is considered on a case by case basis for those not meeting these requirements.

Application Process

  • Apply for admission
    • Visit the WKU Online Admission Page for more information.
      • A Step By Step Guide for completing the application process: Application Tutorial
      • There is a $65 application fee.
    • Complete the WKU Domestic and International Graduate Application
      • Under Planned Course of Study Section,
        • Choose:Category of Study >>> Masters
        • Planned Course of Study >>> Criminology (0421)
  • Submit Required Materials:
    • OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT
      • Request at least one official transcript showing the completed degree from accredited institutions other than WKU. 
      • The transcript must be forwarded from the college or university registrar electronically or directly to the Graduate School. 
      • Send your official transcripts from each college attended to Graduate Admissions.  
        • You may request electronic transcripts through the National Student Clearinghouse. This speeds up the admissions process considerably. If your school is not listed with the Clearinghouse, please contact them directly to see if they have another process in place for electronic submissions or request an official copy be sent by mail.
  • GRE SCORES
    • Submit an official GRE score report taken within the last 5 years.
  • For additional information on university admission requirements please visit the Graduate School Admission Page.

The Criminology MA program only provides a non-thesis option and all courses are taught online using WKU's Blackboard Website.

Required Core Courses (15 hours)

  • SOCL 513: Quantitative Research Methods
  • SOCL 514: Advanced Social Statistics
  • CRIM 525: Survey of Criminal Justice Studies
  • CRIM 532: Criminology
  • CRIM 596: Applied Research Project

Selected Elective Courses (15 Hours)

In addition to courses outlined above, students must complete 5 elective courses for a total of 15 credit hours.

  • A minimum of 2 courses must be selected from the approved department list.
  • Up to 3 electives may be selected from the approved list of courses that fall outside the department. Courses must be approved by the criminology advisor. Students may work with their advisor to select applicable courses at WKU to fulfill program requirements or select courses from the list of approved electives offered by the Department of Correctional and Juvenile Justice Studies and the Department of Criminal Justice at Eastern Kentucky University: 

Online c ourses may be selected from the list below:

Approved Electives from within the Department of Sociology: Select at least 2 elective courses (6 hours):

  • CRIM 530: Penology
  • CRIM 533: Criminology and Law
  • CRIM 534: Neighborhoods and Crime
  • SOCL 535: Family Violence
  • CRIM 538: Victimology
  • CRIM 547: Life-course Criminology

Approved Electives from Outside Department: Select up to 3 elective courses (9 hours): 

  • COR 823: Topical Seminar in Corrections/Juvenile Justice
  • COR 830: Corrections and Society
  • COR 835: Administration of Corrections and Juvenile Justice
  • COR 840: Adult Corrections
  • COR 850: Offender Rehabilitation Strategies
  • COR 856: Law and Ethics in Corrections and Juvenile Justice
  • CRJ 814: Policing and Society
  • CRJ 874: Crime and Popular Culture
  • CRJ 875: Crime and Public Policy
  • CRJ 878: Ideology and Criminal Justice

Please note the following as you plan your program of study:

  • Additional course options are available on campus. Please click HERE to see the full schedule of classes.
  • Students can also choose to enroll in a graduate certificate program and use up to 12 hours of courses to fulfill their elective requirements with advisor approval. 
  • A list of available graduate certificates can be found HERE.
  • Students may transfer up to 12 hours from another graduate program or institution to fulfill program requirements (if courses meet transfer requirements and advisor approval). 
  • Students must pass an oral examination after completing all course work in the specified curriculum.

With the Master of Arts in Criminology you will:

  • Explore major correlates of crime, delinquency and deviance
  • Gain insight into correction systems, penology, criminal law, rehabilitation and recidivism
  • Examine societal responses to crime and delinquency 
  • Develop strong research skills to gather and analyze criminological data
  • Explore the causes of offending and victimization in violent and property crimes.

Employment opportunities within the field of criminology/criminal justice are expected to be excellent in the upcoming years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The field of criminology encompasses a broad range of career paths. Positions can be found in government agencies (accounting for approximately 50 percent of jobs), the private sector, and nonprofit agencies. Advanced technology and increasingly complex legal issues have led to specialized work in technology, computer security and intelligence.

Specific examples of entry-level career options include: 

  • Law Enforcement
    • Police Officer
    • Private Investigator
    • Detective
    • Research Intelligence Analyst
  • Judicial System
    • Victim-Witness Coordinator
    • Court Security Officer
    • Legal Assistant
    • Jury Analyst
  • Correctional Facilities
    • Corrections Officer
    • Juvenile Counselor
    • Probation Officer
    • Case Manager

The salary range for those working in the field of criminology can range from $40,000 and $122,000 per year, depending on employer, location and level of experience, according to PayScale. The highest paying jobs will usually be with the federal government, though large municipalities may also pay at the higher end of the salary range.

Eligibility Requirements and the Application Process

Financial Aid includes grants, scholarships and loans for educational purposes. To qualify for federal student aid you must meet certain requirements. General eligibility requirements can be reviewed on the Federal Student Aid website. Here are a few basics to keep in mind:

  • Your eligibility is determined through an application process. So, your first step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Even if you doubt your eligibility, apply. Approximately 90% of those who apply qualify for some form of aid. View a step-by-step guide through the application process.
  • WKU Online courses are treated the same as face-to-face courses. If your application is approved, you may elect to take web, on demand or face-to-face courses. Distance courses through On Demand require same semester completion and an On Demand Agreement.
  • You must be classified as a degree-seeking student to qualify. Degree seeking normally refers to an associate, baccalaureate or master degree. However, some stand-alone certificates are eligible.
  • Certificate Eligibility: As a general rule, if you are seeking an undergraduate certificate (certificate only; no degree), the program must require at least 16 credit hours, 15 weeks of instruction and be clearly tied to a profession. If you are seeking a graduate certificate (certificate only; no degree), the program must require at least 8 credit hours, 10 weeks of instruction and be clearly tied to a profession. For additional information on certificate eligibility, please email fa.questions@wku.edu. Certificates may also be earned in conjunction with degrees at the associate, baccalaureate and master levels.
  • You must be registered at least half-time to receive aid (6 credit hours for undergrad students; 4.5 credit hours for grad students).
  • You must meet federal and state regulations regarding Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to remain eligible. View the complete SAP Policy.

Veterans and Active Military

WKU is a military friendly school. Veterans and active military are required to file additional forms for military tuition assistance. The Office of Veterans Affairs unit that helps ensure all appropriate information is on file. Visit the Veterans Affairs office website.

Dr. Nicole Breazeale
earned her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010 with a focus in Community & Environmental Sociology, Her research interests include agri-food systems and rural restructuring and development, and the intersection between processes of globalization and localization of agriculture and food. Dr. Breazeale's courses include Community, Environment, & Development; Poverty & Inequality; Global Social Problems; Marriage & Family; Sociology of Agriculture & Food; and Research Methods.

Dr. Jerry Daday
earned his PhD from the University of New Mexico in 2004. His research interests include overlap and divergence between offenders and victims involved in violent crimes; the correlates of fear of crime in African countries; the influence of corruption on cross-national homicide; the influence and effects of health care utilization variables on homicide lethality in the United States, and ethnic conflict and how the international community via the International Criminal Court is prosecuting those accused of committing acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Dr. Daday's courses include Criminology, Genocide, Sociological Theory, Quantitative Research Methods, and Human-Wildlife Conflict.

Dr. Holli Drummond
earned her MS in Criminal Justice at the University of Alabama in 1999 and a PhD in Sociology in 2004 from the University of Georgia. Her research involves analysis of the influence of circumstance on adolescent perception and behavior. Specifically, she has focused on the psychometric properties of several "Code of the Street" components, and evaluation of "Gendered Pathways" both to street code adoption and gang affiliation, as well as participation in violent behavior and risky sexual activity both in her home state of AL and in Medellin Colombia. Dr. Drummond teaches Juvenile Delinquency, Gender, Crime, and Justice, and Social Inequality. Her research specialty is quantitative analysis via Structural Equation Modeling.

Dr. James Kanan
earned his Ph.D. from Penn State in 1996. His teaching and research interests include: theories for criminal behavior, neighborhoods and crime, residential segregation and homicide, healthcare access and homicide, fear of crime, and the impact of television crime dramas on perceptions of evidence in the courts system (known as the CSI effect). Dr. Kanan teaches the Neighborhoods and Crime course in the Criminology MA program.
Dr. Kate King
earned her PhD from State University of New York at Albany in 1992. Her research interests include AIDS in prison, elderly inmates, women and the justice system, attitudes and language of inmates and correctional staff, and ethical decision-making by law enforcement officials. Current research is focused on the attitudes, experiences, and beliefs of family members of homicide victims; and how power is used by the justice system and the "alternative realities" of those engaged by it.Dr. King's courses include: Prison Culture, Victimology, Death Penalty, and AIDS in Prison.

Dr. Carrie Trojan
earned her Ph.D. from the City University of New York in 2009. She has collaborated with both local and federal law enforcement agencies in the past for research purposes and currently have manuscripts published in several criminological journals. Her research interests include: theories of criminal behavior, homicide and serial homicide, prior criminal offending of homicide offenders, investigative and solvability factors in homicide, behavioral crime scene analysis, criminal justice policy, and empirical tests of offender profiling assumptions. Dr. Trojan's courses include: Homicide, Offending Escalation, Crime Scene Pattern Analysis, Criminal Investigations, and Criminology.

Dr. Douglas Smith
earned his PhD from Pennsylvania State University. His research interests include environmental and natural resources, community, health and well-being, education, and collective behavior and social movements. Dr. Smith's courses include: Environmental Criminology, Community Sociology, Environment and Natural Resources Sociology, Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methodology, Social Psychology, Social Movements, Rural Education, and Rural Poverty.

To learn more about the faculty listed above, visit wku.edu/sociology/staff. 

For more information about this program, fill out the form below.



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 Last Modified 4/12/18