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University finally adds criminology major

April 22, 2015

While some departments on campus have been forced to cut back due to budget cuts, one major, criminology, will be added.

On Friday, April 10, the Wisconsin Board of Regents approved a new criminology major for UW-River Falls, which will be effective immediately. This new major will allow students to major or double major in criminology with the first criminology majors graduating this spring.

According to department Chair Rich Wallace, a criminology major will differ from a criminology minor with a much stronger emphasis on research.

“The criminology major will be focused around understanding why criminals do what they do, and understanding trends and patterns in crime,” Wallace said.

By the time students graduate, they will conduct and complete research on a topic of their choosing focused on research and statistics.

This is an important aspect to criminology because according to Wallace: “A lot of knowing crime is understanding trends and patterns, and you cannot understand that without knowing how data is collected.”

The hope to add this major at UWRF began 10 years ago, but the process to actually get the major approved began two years ago. Wallace credits this to the need of solidifying faculty that would be dedicated to teaching in the area specifically of criminology.

“Students have been waiting for this major for a while,” said double major in journalism and criminology Sadie Horton. “We didn’t know if we’d graduate with a minor that will sort of help us or a major that will actually help us.”

In addition to the new major helping students to reach their career goals, Wallace also believes it will bring new students to the university. This is timely news because according to the UWRF criminology homepage, criminology is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy.

“In the months of September to December, we had roughly 120 students asking about a criminology major, when we didn’t even have a criminology major,” Wallace said. “The closest university with either criminology or criminal justice is either UW-Eau Claire or the Twin Cities so we were losing people in the St. Croix Valley. So we’ll be providing something closer to home that really addresses the need they had to begin with.”

Horton also believes that this new major will bring in more students and provide then with training that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. One major concern, though, with getting the major approved was the budget cuts the university is facing.

“When the announcement of the budget cuts came down, we were comfortable that we could still do this,” Wallace said. “But personally I was a little nervous in the way of seeing new majors and seeing allocations of resources.”

One of the major strengths of the new program will be that it dovetails well with other programs such as sociology. So while students in the past only had the option of minoring in criminology, they will now have the freedom to major.

For more information on the criminology department go to: http://bit.ly/1yPa43P.