Criminology Department

Study Criminology in Portland, Maine!
students walking by Abromson Center
Study Criminology in Portland, Maine !
Payson Smith Hall, Portland
Study Criminology in Portland, Maine!
Skywalk to Abromson
Study Criminology in Portland, Maine!
Students in front of Luther Bonney Hall

The Department of Criminology offers a four-year program leading to a bachelor of arts degree in criminology. The program provides students with a liberal arts education whose focus is the complex relations among crime, law, and society, and which emphasizes the social sciences. The curriculum is a rigorous series of courses which provides students with a comprehensive knowledge of crime and crime control in contemporary, historical, and comparative perspective. The core of the curriculum is an integrated set of required courses. These courses are designed as a cumulative set of experiences and should be taken in sequence. Elective courses enable students to place their criminological interests in a broader perspective. Many students in the program are interested in social and human service occupations related to criminal, juvenile, and social justice. The program also prepares students for a wide variety of other career options and provides as excellent basis for graduate study in criminology, other social sciences, and law.

Why Students Study Criminology at USM

The 4-year Criminology program at USM is a great fit for students interested in social and human service occupations related to criminal, juvenile, and social justice.  With a comprehensive curriculum that covers everything from white-collar crime to the death penalty, this course of study is also a great basis for further graduate study in criminology, the social sciences, and law.

Here are some thoughts that a few current students agreed to share on why they chose criminology as a major or minor:

"Prior to taking my first Criminology course at USM, I had worked in a women's prison in Massachusetts and with ex-offenders in Boston.  My experiential learning was extremely valuable; now I understand the importance of the academic component of the work in the field of criminology.  The faculty expertise and passion for the work has motivated me to learn all that I can about the sociology of crime.  I feel confident that I will re-enter the workforce with a greater ability to be more effective." Kathy Bouchard, Criminology minor.

"My teachers have gone above and beyond to assist me outside of the classroom and to ensure my success." Amy Blaisdell-Pechmanova, Criminology major.

"Starting school, I was unsure whether I wanted to be a police officer, a lawyer, or a professor.  I quickly found that the Criminology program is not limited towards a single career track.  You can take your learning wherever you want to go, even if you're not exactly sure where that is yet." Samantha Skillings, Criminology major.

"When I decided to transfer to USM from a school in New Hampshire, I was required to switch my major from criminal justice to criminology.  I wasn't sure how I would like the change.  As I sat through my first few classes I realized there were a few major differences between the two majors.

Criminal justice contains a vast amount of information on policing, courts, and corrections.  It focuses on the structure and procedures of the criminal justice system.  Criminology has a lot more to do with research and the underlying factors of society that lead to crime.  Criminology allows you to analyze a particular part of society, crime, or criminal justice and draw conclusions that will lead to improvements or suggestions for unfortunate circumstances that most people who commit crimes are forced into.

After completing different assigned readings on criminological research, I've realized that there are many ways that I can make a difference once I obtain my degree.  A criminal justice degree would have educated me on the criminal justice system, but a criminology degree will do so much more than that.

Criminology has shifted my focus from prosecuting criminals to really trying to understand the criminal and their background.  When it comes down to it, many people commit crimes because they have been forced into an unfortunate situation that was beyond their control.  Criminology has shifted my career goals from becoming an attorney, to becoming some sort of criminal counselor.

This major has driven me to look at the underlying issues behind criminals and crime and has motivated me to be one of the people who will help make a difference in not only the lives of people impacted by crime, but also some of the negative aspects of the criminal justice system." Iva Henke, Criminology major.