News & Events
Mars Hill College Establishes New Criminal Justice Major
Beginning in the fall of 2013, Mars Hill College will offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.
Many of the classes that are included in the curriculum will begin in January of 2013 (spring semester). The major will be offered through traditional classes on the Mars Hill campus, and through the Adult and Graduate studies program at the new South Asheville site.
Currently, Mars Hill offers a minor in criminal justice, as well as sociology major with a criminal justice concentration. According to Dr. Barbara Sims, Professor and Coordinator of Criminal Justice at Mars Hill, officials felt that the time had come to expand the minor to a major.
“Over half of the sociology majors at Mars Hill had a concentration in criminal justice, so both the administration and the faculty leadership felt that it was time to meet the needs of students by developing a major,” Sims said.
Sims, a former professor of criminal justice at Penn State Harrisburg and a former member of the executive board of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, was hired in the fall of 2012 with the express charge of developing a curriculum for the major. The resulting major, she said, meets the standards of the ACJS and compares favorably with the best practices of peer and competitor institutions in the region.
Sims describes the major as a good fit for a liberal arts college like Mars Hill, because it approaches the major from the standpoint of education rather than training.
“There’s a lot of good teaching and learning that goes on in criminal justice programs in two-year institutions, but an associate degree cannot take the place of a four-year degree in today’s world,” Sims said. “This is especially true if the student wants to advance beyond an entry-level position.”
According to Sims, the major will give students a background in criminological theories, corrections, policing, victimology, ethics, the American court and legal systems and other themes. Graduates will also be steeped in the theory and methods necessary to think critically and problem solve about complex social issues, and to be better prepared to either be consumers of criminal justice research or to conduct original research related to criminal justice fields.
According to Dr. John Wells, Executive Vice President of Mars Hill College, the new major fits well with the overall mission of the college. “One of the central commitments of Mars Hill, affirmed in its mission statement, is to connect the liberal arts with the world of work,” Wells said. “There is no greater example of that connection than a major in criminal justice, which will allow our student to enter those related careers with a deep understanding of the sciences that speak to human behavior. We are excited about this relevant and needed addition to our academic offerings.”
For more information on the new criminal justice major at Mars Hill College, contact MHC undergraduate admissions at 828-689-1201 or MHC Adult and Graduate studies at 828-689-1166, or read more online at www.mhc.edu/criminal-justice.