By ARDEN IGLEHEART
UT will offer a Master of Science in criminology and criminal justice starting in fall 2017, the school announced in December. UT expects that the program will attract criminology majors as well as other majors at UT, and will also attract people in the Tampa community who are already working in a related field and wish to add to their credentials.
The program will offer both a thesis and a non-thesis program. The thesis program is better suited for students who want to continue on to receive a Ph. D. and the non-thesis program is suited for students who just want a master’s, according to Christopher Capsambelis, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice and graduate director for the program.
The criminology department will also offer an integrated program for undergraduate students majoring in criminology, in which they can take two courses in their senior year that count for both their undergraduate and graduate degree. Students apply for this program during their junior year.
Both the thesis and non-thesis programs require 36 credit hours. The thesis option differs in that it offers one fewer elective. Classes offered include statistics for criminal justice research, victimology, and white collar crime. Capsambelis said that it will be possible for students to graduate from the program in one or one and a half years because required courses will be offered each term.
The graduate degree further stresses research and statistical analysis beyond what is taught at the undergraduate level. There is a research methods for criminology course for undergraduates, but Capsambelis said that the current degree program just touches on statistics. The graduate degree also has a class on program evaluation, which is particularly valuable for those in management roles in law enforcement, according to Capsambelis.
“Say, for instance, you’re working in an area of substance abuse, and you try different things to try to deal with the problem of substance abuse,” Capsambelis said. “Once you have implemented a program you say, ‘Did that program work, or not?’ So if you know how to evaluate a program then you can use that knowledge in your job.”
Criminology is one of the largest majors at UT, with about 300 students, according to Capsambelis. The program graduates about 100 students each May, and this number has grown with the growth in enrollment at UT. Capsambelis thinks that the program will attract these majors as well as other majors at UT, especially from the social sciences. It will also attract people already working in law enforcement who wish to be promoted and UT has a particular advantage being in downtown Tampa. There are several law enforcement agencies located downtown, like the Tampa Police Department, so Capsambelis said it’s easy for those people to come to UT for night classes.
The university is also in the process of hiring two new full-time professors to the department, due to the addition of the degree.
A master’s degree in criminology or criminal justice is not necessary for a lot of careers, although Capsambelis said some federal law enforcement agencies have begun to require one. What appeals to most people is that a graduate degree makes it much more likely for someone to get promoted in a law enforcement job, according to Capsambelis.
Claire-Marie Maillot, a junior criminology major, is applying to the integrated program. She ultimately plans to work as a war crimes investigator and said a master’s degree will help her be more successful.
“I think it would give me a better opportunity of getting promoted,” Maillot said. “you don’t want to be a cop for the rest of your life; you want to rise up in the hierarchy.”
UT’s program is a new one, but Capsambelis said it has definite advantages due to the school’s small size and the fact that the program has no online courses. Maillot’s other top choice is USF, but she likes that UT’s small class sizes provide opportunities for class discussions.
Capsambelis acknowledges that a bigger school or an older program might have some advantages over UT, but believes that the program will be a strong one.
“Maybe [students] find that larger schools have more course offerings that ours,” Capsambelis said. “It’s a new program, we’re just starting out, we’ll add courses as they go along. But we have a nice basic curriculum. We studied curricula all over the country to see what a masters in criminology and criminal justice looks like and that’s what we put together.”
Arden Igleheart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.