Jul 22, 2024  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Bulletin 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED BULLETIN]

Sociology and Criminal Justice

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Emeritus Professor Stewart
Professors Hardesty, Norland
Associate Professors  DiChiara (Director of Criminal Justice Program), Eichar (Chair)
Assistant Professors Freeman, Levchak, McGeever, Younts

Sociology is the scientific study of society and social behavior. It is an outgrowth of the unique capacity of humans to wonder about their own and others’ behavior. If you have every wondered why some people are poor and others wealthy, why men are paid more than women for the same work, why neighborhoods are racially segregated, why your clothing is made overseas, or how anyone could abuse a child, then you have experienced the same curiosity about social life that inspires the “sociological imagination.”

Sociology students learn to develop this curiosity into a set of analytical tools that can be used to demystify the complex workings of society. Central to this task is the sociological understanding that the causes of social issues do not solely reside within the private lives of individuals but are linked to the culture and the social structure of our society.

Sociological training is relevant to a wide variety of occupations dealing with social life. Graduates have the skills and perspectives that make them valuable assets in business, nonprofit organizations, and government. Typical jobs in social or health services include group work with youth or the elderly and helping others learn about available social services. Many businesses - such as insurance and marketing firms - nonprofits, and government agencies hire sociologists as researchers, human-resources administrators, or public-relations staff. Students with a degree in sociology go on to graduate work in social work, law, and public policy as well as sociology.

Criminal Justice is a social science that attempts to provide a comprehensive understanding of both criminal behavior and the criminal justice system. It applies a critical approach to criminal behavior and crime-control policy through an interdisciplinary lens, combining the perspectives of sociology, political science, and psychology. The Criminal Justice Program represents a liberal arts approach to crime and justice issues, with an effort to develop critical thinking, writing and data interpretation skills.

The study of criminal behavior and law enforcement is becoming more sophisticated. Professionals who work in today’s police forces, court systems, correctional facilities, or related agencies need a broad social science background to be prepared for the range of career opportunities. The increasing complexity of American law and society requires that criminal justice professionals be properly educated before taking up their duties. Criminal justice graduates are thus ready for careers in law enforcement, court administration, victim services, and corrections, and many use the degree to advance into law school and graduate programs.

Writing Requirement

Most upper-division courses in both programs require that the student complete a formal writing project in conjunction with the course. The writing project ordinarily takes the form of a term or research paper that tests the student’s ability to communicate the course material effectively. The exact nature of these projects is determined by the individual course instructor.


Both sociology and criminal justice students are required to do an internship. The University’s location next to Hartford, the state capital, provides an exciting and diverse environment in which to study social life, crime and criminal justice. Opportunities for sociology students include working with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, while those for criminal justice majors include working for the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch in the areas of probation and parole.


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