SUNY Cortland offers one of New York state’s best criminology programs, based on rankings from a college discovery website that emphasizes post-graduation employment and earnings.
Cortland placed No. 2 on the list of “2022 Best Criminology Schools in New York” compiled by College Factual, behind only John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
“This suggests we’re doing a good job of placing our students, which is important,” said Anna Curtis, an associate professor in the Sociology/Anthropology Department who specializes in criminology topics.
“We think about what students are trying to get out of our program and we encourage them to extend past the edges of their comfort zones,” she said.
“Our students are interested in criminology careers and we’re interested in helping them get there.”
The ranking methodology from College Factual emphasizes post-graduation outcomes and program accreditation in addition to indicators such as graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio and faculty pay. Data sources include the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
In addition to law enforcement or the legal profession, possible career fields for criminology majors include substance abuse treatment, social work, social justice advocacy, data analysis or work with non-profit organizations. At SUNY Cortland, 235 students pursued a B.A. in criminology in Fall 2021, making it one of the university’s 10 highest-enrolled undergraduate majors.
Curtis explained that criminology is an interdisciplinary field that considers why people commit crime and how crime-related decisions are shaped by a larger social context.
“When I tell people what they’re going to learn in criminology, I normally talk about the cultural and historical context for our current criminal justice and legal systems,” Curtis said. “We want people to understand what’s going on now based on what happened previously.”
She praised the collaborative nature of SUNY Cortland’s Sociology/Anthropology Department, which includes four majors — anthropology, archaeology, criminology and sociology — in addition to various concentrations. Criminology majors often will pursue an additional major or minor in areas such as political science, economics, communication studies or computer applications.
Outside of the classroom, areas of opportunity include undergraduate research with faculty members as well as internships with local organizations, from police departments to the Cortland County District Attorney’s Office.
“Because we’re focused on core skills like reading analysis, critical thinking and writing, our students go a lot of places,” Curtis said. “We strongly encourage them to think about criminology in a wholistic, interdisciplinary way.”