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Criminology Overview

Criminologists use concepts and methods from social and behavioral sciences—social work, sociology, psychology, political science, legal studies, history, and criminal justice—to explore the causes and consequences of criminal behavior. Our program is based on principles of social justice and will challenge students to analyze data on crime perpetration and victimization, to examine the impact of social inequality on definitions and control of human behavior, to examine the impact of legal and social policies on criminal behavior, and to examine and evaluate crime prevention, control models, and treatment offender programs.
Degrees Offered
  • BA
Program School

At Chatham, we teach criminology from a broader perspective of understanding that includes how cultural, emotional, physiological, and experiential differences contribute to violence and victimization.

— CHRISTINE SARTESCHI, Ph.D., professor of social work and criminology

Close-up photo of a hand wearing a blue glove swabbing a scratch on a car into a petri dish for a criminal investigation.

Alumna Profile: Hannah Gross '16

“I wanted to pursue medical school and my double major in biology and criminology set me apart from other applicants. As a future doctor, I believe having knowledge of how society and culture impact and drive crime is crucial to understanding various populations. My criminology courses stimulated my interest in forensic medicine and these passions have carried through my first year of medical school.” —Hannah Gross ‘16

Explore the Criminology Degree:

  • You will work closely with faculty members who have had long and successful careers in social work, research, law enforcement, and corrections.
  • All students complete a capstone seminar that channels the knowledge they’ve accumulated into a discipline-specific project under close faculty guidance.

Criminalization of Mental Illness

This course explores the intersection of the criminal justice and mental health systems. Areas of focus include: the impact of governmental policies, law changes, prevalence of mental illness among offender populations, the biopsychosocial status of offenders, and interventions that assist offenders transitioning back into society.

What is Evil?

This course utilizes an interdisciplinary framework (criminology, sociology, psychology, history, political science) to examine definitions of “evil,” motivations to commit “evil” actions, social reactions to “evil,” and control of “evil.” This understanding is then applied to the examination of case studies which may include genocide, cults, terrorism, and mass shooters.

History of Crime and Punishment

This course provides an introduction to the historical study of crime and punishment. Specifically, the course examines definitions of crime, goals of punishment, and how these forms of crime and punishment reflect the structure of that society within that specific historical context.

View Full Curriculum

Our Faculty

If one word could best sum up Chatham's faculty, it would be engaged. Professors bring experiences to relate the course lessons to real-world situations.

Full Faculty
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Real Life Experience

Chatham is involved with two nationally recognized cold case groups in which students have the opportunity to work on real, unsolved murder and missing person investigations.

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Summer Opportunities

Students can apply for the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, an eight-week program that funds students to work directly with faculty on their research. 

Photo of Chatham University students gathering in Jennie Mellon King Library, sitting in chairs and tables while working on laptops and reading books.

Making a Difference on Campus

Students in the Integrative Capstone course have worked on research with direct impact on the Chatham campus community—including an evaluation of gendered language in University policy/documents, design and implementation of data collection strategies for a campus climate survey, and design of a campus survey on gender and sexual violence prevalence.

Photo of an historic red brick building sitting on Chatham University's Shadyside Campus.

2019 Western Pennsylvania Undergraduate Psychology Conference

Undergraduate student presenters, volunteers, and faculty present at the 2019 Western Pennsylvania Undergraduate Psychology Conference hosted by Chatham. Oral presentations included Impact of Social Dominance Orientation and Aggression on Attitudes about Militarism; Differences in Social Dominance Orientation and Authoritarianism Based on Perceived Intergroup Anxiety; and To the Extreme: Differences in Social Dominance Orientation, Right-Wing Authoritarianism, and Retribution Bias Among Solutions to Perceived Threat.

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2018 American Sociological Association conference

Aubrey Shombert ’18 (Criminology) and Liz Peace ‘17 (Psychology), attended the 2018 American Sociological Association conference in Philadelphia with Dr. Nichole Bayliss to present their paper, “Race-Based Threat Identification: Expressions of Fragility, Privilege, and Guilt in White Participants.”

Do you have questions?

We make it easy to get in touch:

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