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New advanced degrees establish state's first Ph.D. criminology program

June 27, 2007

Arizona State University is answering the state’s increasing demand for crime and justice experts by developing its first doctoral program in criminology and criminal justice. The university recently received approval from the Arizona Board of Regents to add a master’s and doctorate degree.

“We are gratified to be able to add the only research-based graduate degrees in criminology in Arizona to the programs offered by ASU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice” said John Hepburn, dean, College of Human Services at ASU’s West campus. “This is an important step for both the state and for ASU, and we look forward to working closely with local agencies to address the problems of crime and violence in our communities.”

Scott Decker, director of the school, noted the addition of the degree programs better positions the school as a leader in research and policy.

“ASU’s new programs will ensure that Arizona will be at the forefront of criminological research and policy-making and will more effectively address the causes of crime and the processing of criminal offenders. Doctoral students will use the state of Arizona as their laboratory, understanding the patterns and causes of crime, and working in partnership with state and local agencies to create more effective responses to enhance public safety.”

The new doctoral degree in criminology and criminal justice will bring an integrative and thematic focus to areas of concern in contemporary American society, and specifically the state of Arizona. The areas of emphasis include: (1) the study of causes and consequences of crime, particularly violent crime; and (2) the study of the criminal justice system, including police, corrections, courts and juvenile justice. In this context, noted Decker, faculty and students will work to develop and identify “best practices” for agencies, to better determine what criminal justice agencies can do to prevent or reduce crime.

The master’s of science in criminology and criminal justice is designed to provide students with sophisticated knowledge about crime and criminal justice. This degree will give students the necessary research skills for careers in the field of criminology. The new master’s compliments the existing master’s degree targeted for practitioners who wish to further their education at the graduate level.

Criminology is the scientific study of crime, criminals and the reaction to crime. It combines a focus on the causes of crime as well as improving the way that the system responds to crime.

“There is a dramatic need for this degree,” Decker said. “This program will allow ASU to train the next generation of criminal justice professionals, researchers and policy analysts. In addition, the new graduate programs will enhance the ability of current and former students to address important issues of public safety in the state of Arizona.”