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Criminology and Criminal Justice

  • Info Session Wednesday, June 13, 6:00 p.m.Register

Required Courses

Police, Courts, and Corrections

This foundational course will consider the origins, the evolution, and the continuing evolution of the component segments (law enforcement, the courts, and the corrections system) of the criminal justice system in the United States. The organicity and dynamism of the system of criminal justice will be deconstructed in a framework of critical analysis that will examine the history and the legacy of the oppression of underclass populations by this system and the ways in which the manifestations and remnants of that history inform contemporary criminal justice practice. Students will investigate and interrogate discrimination, racism, and the brutality directed toward “otherized” populations in our corrections system, in law enforcement, and in the courts in order to consider and propose meaningful change strategies that will alleviate systemic inequality and injustice.

Public Policy, Crime, and Criminal Justice

This foundational course is an in-depth analysis of historically significant and recent crime and criminal justice policies. We will examine how crime, the public perception of crime influence public policy in the United States. We will place particular emphasis on the role of media and political forces that shape the social response to crime.

Advanced Research Methods & Evaluation

This course focuses on the research designs most often used in evaluating the effectiveness of criminal justice policies and programs. Emphasis will be placed on experimental and quasi-experimental designs, questionnaire and scale development, and data collection methods in applied settings. Applications to police, courts, corrections, and crime prevention programs will be examined. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to successfully design and execute evaluations in a variety of criminal justice agencies.

Capstone Seminar—Theoretical Application and the Professional Practice

This course will be the final course in the graduate course sequence for students who have engaged in fellowships or internships as part of their degree program. Students will conduct an in-depth examination of the various theories that they have studied throughout their first nine courses that pertain to policy, practice, criminology, and the system of criminal justice, specifically as they relate to their experiences in the field. Students in this course will be responsible for completing a major paper as well as a school-wide presentation.

Capstone Seminar—Theoretical Application and Emerging Criminal Justice Policy

This course will be the final course in the graduate course sequence for students who have elected to pursue a strictly academic course of study in their graduate degree program, without engaging in a fellowship or internship component. Students will conduct an in-depth examination of the various theories that they have studied throughout their first nine courses that pertain to policy, practice, criminology, and the system of criminal justice, specifically as they relate to nascent and future directions for informed criminal justice policy making. Students will propose and construct policy in either the court or corrections system or in law enforcement in an effort to underscore theoretical applications to working policy. Students in this course will be responsible for completing a major paper as well as a school-wide presentation.

Concentrations and Electives

Advanced Topics in Criminology

Criminology is the systematic study of the causation, patterns, and control of crime and criminal behavior in individuals, groups, organizations, cultures, and societies. Criminology fosters theoretical debates and ideas about lawmaking, law breaking, and the social consequences of both. Criminologists also offer suggestions for reducing crime and improving crime policies. In this class we focus on current issues within the field of criminology, including such topics as: interrogations and interviewing; investigations and evidence collection; ethics in policing; new social media and policing; the use of intelligence in post 9-11society; and careers in law enforcement. A goal of this class is to help students cultivate critical thinking and informed analysis about crime – its causes and the policies in place to deter or solve crime.

Forensic Behavioral Analysis

This course is designed to allow students to examine the development of individual criminality and criminal careers, the role of social group processes in criminal activity, varieties of criminal behavior including violent, sexual and predatory crime, mental disorders, psychopathy and crime, victims and victimization, offender profiling, and the broader topic of forensic criminal investigation. The course will also explore the contribution of psychology to our contemporary understanding of crime and the criminal justice processes through the application of psychological theory in the investigation of crime and the efficacy of the criminal justice system.

Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure

This course will examine the law of criminal procedure through the prism of U.S. Supreme Court as well as appellate court case law. Included in this survey will be the laws governing search and seizure, interrogations, confessions, and self-incrimination, eyewitness identification, the right to counsel, guilty pleas and plea-bargaining, and the pretrial process. The adjudication process, the role of the prosecutor and defense counsel in the adversarial system, as well as all relevant aspects of the criminal law will also be surveyed and explored.

Applied Criminology

Applied Criminology allows students to put criminological theories and research methods into practice in real world settings. The course provides students with a background in the scholarly literature and data on the etiology of crime and encourages them to apply this knowledge to criminal justice policies designed to reduce crime. The class will also address the efficacy of criminal justice policies currently being used to reduce crime. Students will focus on how the criminology studied in academia is, or should be, used to solve real crime problems and criminal justice issues.

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the Era of Homeland Security

This course will consider the implications of the increase in the use of surveillance and other information gathering technologies by agents of the government (local, state, and federal), in the evolving quest to ensure “homeland security.” Enhanced technologies that enable the widespread and unprecedented collection of information on individuals and groups that threaten the protections of the Constitution as they relate to civil rights and civil liberties will be examined. Also, the increased militarization of domestic law enforcement that is facilitated by federal government grant and military equipment redistribution programs will be explored and investigated.

Juvenile Justice and the Legal Rights of Children

This course examines the historical development, philosophy, and evolution of the juvenile justice system in the U.S. Emphasis will be placed on police practices, intervention, diversion, adjudication, and the detention of juveniles. The nature and extent of delinquency and status offenses, as well as the legal rights of children within the justice system will be discussed. Theory, research, and key contemporary policy issues will be analyzed and recommendations for reform developed.

Offender Reentry and Reintegration

This course examines prison- and community-based approaches to help offenders with successful reintegration back into the community after incarceration. The challenges faced by convicted offenders will be explored, including post-release supervision, employment, education, housing, healthcare, and family concerns. Theoretical models of rehabilitation and recidivism will be discussed and the effectiveness of reentry programs and policies critically evaluated. Emphasis will be placed on the disparate impact of incarceration on minority communities and solutions to reduce its discriminatory effects will be proposed.

Prison, Incarceration, and the Treatment of Convicted Persons

Mass incarceration affects more people than ever, yet the realities of incarceration are unknown to most people. This course looks at prisons and jails in terms of daily life, operations, social hierarchies, and social interactions. We will study both historical and contemporary accounts of life in prisons and jails in an attempt to understand the experience of incarcerated individuals, but also the relationship between penal institutions and the larger culture. We will pay particular attention to the political debates surrounding incarceration and the treatment of inmates.

Girls, Women, Crime and Control

This course is an exploration into topics related to femininity, deviance, crime and social control. The course will promote critical writing, thinking, and discussion skills using literature from social history, sociology, criminology, law, and criminal justice. We will address issues concerning girls and women, deviance, crime and both informal and formal methods of social control. We will consider feminist literature within criminology and the sociology of law to consider how societal notions of female offenders are changing and how the criminal justice system should address female criminality.

Terrorism and Public Security

This course will provide an historical overview of terrorism in seeking to establish a definition of the term “terrorism” as we have come to understand it in the 21st century. Acts of terrorism that have occurred throughout the world as well as acts of domestic terrorism will be examined and explored in an effort to understand and explicate terrorism in its current state. So-called “home grown” and “lone-wolf” terrorism as well as the myriad forms of domestic and international extremism will be surveyed and explicated in an effort to identify underlying causes of terrorism and the motivations and ideologies of those who engage in terrorist activities.

Crime in Small Town and Rural Settings

This course explores the criminological literature on crimes that takes place in rural and small town settings. Until the last decade or so, criminology has not paid a lot of attention to crimes that take place outside of metropolitan areas. Criminologists and criminal justice professionals are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that many crimes take place in rural settings, and that some crimes are distinctly rural, e.g., poaching has long been considered to be a response to the scarcities created by the modern institutions of private property and the laws protecting it. This class will examine the literature of the social and cultural history of rural crimes of protest, such as poaching and arson, or incendiarism, which is linked to storied cultural traditions found all over the globe. A goal of this class is to provide a more nuanced picture of rural crime that takes into account the history of various forms of rural protest.

Intelligence Analysis in the Information Sharing Environment (ISE)

This course will examine existing and emerging methods, strategies, techniques, and technologies employed by analysts in the collection of information and data on individuals and groups in the law enforcement and homeland security milieu. Also considered in the course will be the policies that govern the exchange of intelligence in the ISE, particularly as they relate to privacy and civil rights and civil liberties protections.

Geographic Information Systems and Crime Analysis

This course will examine the use of computer technology in capturing, analyzing, disseminating, and storing data relating to crime trends and associated pattern correlations. Students will be introduced to the discipline of crime analysis and crime mapping through the use of GIS technology. The use of databases in crime analysis, geocoding, pattern identification methodologies, tactical crime analysis, modus operandi analysis, and pattern finalization will be investigated and explicated. Strategic crime analysis: problem analysis, temporal analysis, and spatial analysis will be explored in the development of crime analysis products and the role that such products play in the criminal investigation process.

Cybercrime and Cyber-criminology

This course will examine the various means by which computers and other forms of technology can be used in the commission of crime: from identity theft to music, video and other types of piracy to the facilitation of child-related sex offenses. The use of social media in the commission of crime will also be explored as will the psychological processes implicated in computer-assisted acts of criminality. The course will consider such topics as: the impairment and the interception of data, the misuse of devices, fraud, spam, and criminal copyright infringement, cyber-stalking, child pornography, sexual predation online, as well as jurisdictional issues implicated in the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime.

Race, Ethnicity, and Social Control

This course examines the historical and contemporary connections between race, ethnicity, and social control (both formal and informal). The politics and culture surrounding race and ethnicity are fundamental to the criminal justice system in the United States and elsewhere. In this course, we will explore how racial inequality is connected to the legislative process, patterns of punishment, and public attitudes toward crime control. In the age of mass incarceration, we will consider the ways that understandings of crime and criminal justice not only respond to inequality, but also help perpetuate it.

Family Violence and Intimate Partner Abuse

This course will explore the social dynamics of family violence in the United States. Students will learn the historical perspectives on family violence and examine the social structures such as economy and cultural norms that can affect its prevalence and outcomes. We will cover the entire life course of child abuse, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and elder abuse, in addition to violence in same-sex couples and the prevention of violence. We will look at responses to family violence by the criminal justice and social welfare systems, as well as various strategies of public advocacy, including social movements and campaigns for social change. Finally, students will gain familiarity with intersectionality, as a method of analysis, as it has been taken up to answer questions about family violence.

Families, Schools, Communities and Pathways to Crime

This course will explore the relationship of children, families, communities, and schools to crime and crime control. This course takes the approach of developmental criminology, which examines the risk and protective factors that influence criminal offending. Special attention will be paid to how understanding these factors can contribute to the development of successful prevention and intervention programs, especially for youth.

Applied Multivariate Data Analysis

This course introduces students to multivariate data analysis techniques in criminology and criminal justice. Students will learn to use SPSS software and apply statistical techniques to real data sets. Selecting data analysis techniques to appropriately answer research questions and interpretation of regression output will be emphasized. Students will develop skills in interpreting statistical results presented in government reports and scholarly research articles.

Program Evaluation in Criminal Justice

This course will examine the means by which research methodologies are utilized to evaluate and analyze program efficacy and success in the criminal justice system. Students will conceptualize, design, propose, implement, assess, and evaluate an intervention or program in an actual criminal justice, social service, or advocacy agency in an effort to understand and achieve a graduate-level skill set in program evaluation.

Crime Ethnography

This course will focus on how qualitative fieldwork and analysis are used in the study of crime. We will explore the varied ethnographic methods utilized by social scientists, with a primary focus on participant observation and intensive interviewing. Students will be guided in taking an applied approach as they conduct their own ethnographic investigations of some aspect of crime in the local community.

Teaching at the College and University Level

This course will prepare students for a teaching role in a college classroom and will include a h4 student-teaching component that will familiarize students with the andragogic process. Students will be exposed to the curriculum design process, including selection of topical material, syllabus construction, and effective techniques and strategies for delivering instruction in the college classroom. Students will design a college-level criminology or criminal justice course that would be appropriately taught at the community college or associate degree level.


Take it to the next level - the graduate level - at Merrimack.