College students at UWRF, majoring in the criminology program, explore the sources of criminal behavior. Illustration: Police lights.

Majors & Minors

Criminology Degree

Program Overview

Criminology is a new program at UWRF, having the first students graduating with the major during the 2015-2016 school year. Criminology focuses on the causes of crime, seeing it as a problem that is social in both its origins and its solutions. The emphasis of the program is to have students explore the complexities of criminal behavior, effectively investigating and researching why people engage in criminal behavior. As a scientific discipline, understanding why criminals engage in this behavior can help communities and institutions take steps to effectively prevent crime from occurring and more effectively deal with those who have committed crime. There is overlap between Criminal Justice programs and our Criminology program, but while their focus is on the structure and functioning of the system and its agencies, our program looks at the criminal justice system in terms of how the agencies address crime and its attendant causes. Criminology majors will be prepared to support both public and private sector agencies in their needs to understand, investigate, and predict patterns in criminal behavior.

Criminology and Criminal Justice programs are not designed to provide an education focused on the analysis of crime scene evidence or criminal profiling. For those with an interest in criminal forensics you should contact our Chemistry, Biology, and Physics Departments.

Highlights of the Criminology Major

  • Enhancing classroom experiences by working collaboratively with crime and justice professionals within the region, allowing students to benefit from their expertise and experience.
  • A commitment to a focusing on how the components of the criminal justice system work to address crime and its attendant causes.
  • The development of skills needed to complete a research project related to a criminological topic of your choice.
  • Applying your knowledge through a variety of internship possibilities throughout the St. Croix Valley, the Twin Cities, and beyond. While not required, we strongly encourage our students to gain valuable experience doing an internship with law enforcement, corrections, courts, and/or community services agencies throughout the year.
  • Recognition that solutions to the problem of crime require a broad, theoretically-grounded, understanding of a wide array of reasons why individuals engage in criminal activity.
  • By completing 30 credits per year toward your requirements, you can attain a bachelor’s degree in four years. You can even explore additional areas of interest through a minor or possibly even a second major and graduate within 4 years.  

Skills and Learning Outcomes

Criminology students develop:

  • An appreciation for the complexities of criminal behavior, from the diversity of criminals and criminality to the variety of responses made by society and the criminal justice system.
  • In-depth, and theoretical, understanding of the reasons why individuals become engaged in criminal behavior.
  • The skills needed to calculate, interpret, and analyze appropriate data, culminating in the completion of an independent research project.
  • A thoughtful and analytical understanding of the way that the criminal justice system, and the agencies within it, work to address crime and its underlying causes.
  • Ethical and moral reasoning skills that can be used to assess and evaluate the actions of individual actors, the actions of agencies and institutions related to criminal justice, and the implications of policies.
  • Skills needed to support the pursuit of professional opportunities, including: team work and team building, critical thinking, problem solving, quantitative reasoning, and oral and written communication.

Career Opportunities

Criminology is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy, and prepares students for careers in a wide variety of careers related to crime and justice. Among the areas in the private and public sectors that our graduates start their careers:

  • Law enforcement/public safety/security. Within the public sector this is primarily at the local, county, or state level with positions as police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and park rangers.  Positions at the federal level are also possible, but often require additional training and/or schooling. Within the private sector the positions include corporate security and crime prevention.
  • Corrections. The majority of jobs in corrections are in the public sector, and include both institutional corrections (jails and prisons) and community corrections programs for juveniles and adults. Graduates often start as correctional officers, probation and parole officers, and service positions in treatment provision and educational/employment training.
  • Community services. Positions in this area are often with non-governmental organizations that provide assistance and support for victims or offenders. Our graduates accept positions at crisis centers for victims of intimate partner violence, programs addressing the needs of delinquents and at-risk youths, and drug and alcohol programs.
  • Law and courts. There are positions that do not require post-bachelors education, such as victim-witness coordinators, but to be an attorney or a judge a law degree is a necessary first step after graduation. Law school is one of the more popular graduate programs for students who major in criminology.


There are both public and private sector jobs available to those graduating with a criminology major. Among those who have hired our graduates (and also have provided internship opportunities):

  • Wisconsin Department of Corrections
  • Positive Alternatives (at-risk youth group home)
  • Ramsey County, MN Probation and Parole
  • Somerset, WI Police Department
  • Turningpoint (domestic violence shelter)
  • Boy’s Totem Town, MN (juvenile correctional institution)
  • St. Croix County, WI District Attorney’s Office
  • Bayport, MN Police Department
  • Washington Country, MN Probation and Parole
  • Minnesota Department of Corrections

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The median annual salary for police and detectives is over


(Bureau of Labor Statistics)