Department News



Beginning in the fall 2020 semester, The University of Scranton will offer a new major in cybercrime and homeland security to address the growing needs to investigate and protect information in the realm of cyberspace for both government and private sectors.

The proposed curriculum would allow students to gain skills required for a career in cybersecurity, and, at the same time, allow students to join a homeland security workforce that already employs more than 240,000 professionals, if that is the career path they prefer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for cybersecurity analysts is likely to increase by 18% (much higher than average) with high median pay for the period 2014 to 2024. Salary data posted on the BLS website show a salary range for an information security analyst in Pennsylvania to be $60,010 (lowest 10th percentile) to $142,110 (highest 90th percentile).

According to James Roberts, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University, cybercrime is an increasing problem in everyday life of people and business, yet cybersecurity/intelligence analyst is a relatively new profession in the criminal justice system and private sector.

“Over the past two decades, the expansion of the Internet and the availability of technological devices have resulted in an increase in computer crimes or cyber-related offenses. Numerous largescale attacks targeted Home Depot, Target, and, most recently, Equifax,” said Dr. Roberts. “Responses to breaches in cybersecurity are increasingly reliant on criminal justice practitioners. In real-world, cyber threats influence homeland security, private business and individual security, all of which increases the need for trained law enforcement, prosecutors or judges with the skills to understand and investigate cybercrime.”

In addition, Dr. Roberts said that cyber-attacks of both individuals and corporations require the cybercrime unit in law enforcement agencies, or the division of information technology in the private sector, to conduct cybercrime investigations related to fraud and theft perpetrated electronically. He noted the courses in the new major will cover legal, investigative, technical parts of cybercrime in addition to homeland security.

“As cybercrime is a borderless crime, our students also need to understand the broader national security implications, and how the technology relates to each component of the homeland security,” said Dr. Roberts. “The cybercrime and homeland security major will help students develop analytical skills to understand and analyze cybercrime in order to inform practitioners, policymakers, or public.”

The program includes courses criminal justices, mathematics, information systems and computer programming. Required courses include Cybercrime, Cyber Law and Policy, Cyber Intelligence, Ethical Hacking, Foundation of Cybersecurity, Introduction to Network Security, Digital Forensic Investigation, Introduction to Homeland Security, Terrorism and Homeland Security and Emergency Management, among other courses.

“With the skills developed through this curriculum, a graduate in this major will be able to apply to federal, state or local criminal justice agencies, or, based on the interests of the graduate, apply to other government or private sector jobs that are related to cybercrime or pursue advance graduate study in the field,” said Dr. Roberts. “That said, the main goal of the proposed program is to form the cybercrime investigators or digital forensic examiners or information security analysts and advocates of national security of tomorrow.”

The Bachelor of Science in Cybercrime and Homeland Security program will be housed in the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice and Criminology within the College of Arts and Sciences. Students pursing this major will also have access to hands-on programming and research opportunities offered through the University’s Center for the Analysis and Prevention of Crime.

For additional information, contact the University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions at 888-727-2686 or email


Two Majors Seeing Major Growth at Scranton

Two majors at Scranton – criminal justice and history – have seen the number of incoming students triple in the past three years for the same reasons: cogent explanations of career employment opportunities following graduation; having an engaging faculty and providing appealing courses.

“Parents want to see routes to employment and they have heard about new technology-based programs in criminal justice,” said James Roberts, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice and Criminology. “We are still just as good as we have always been with the traditional criminal justice career areas of police, courts and corrections. We have been blessed to build off what we already had into new areas of crime analysis. Police departments and private sector firms are recruiting for positions in cyber security and crime analysis and the salaries are quite good – some start in the range of $70,000 or $80,000.”

The number of incoming Scranton students declaring a major in criminal justice increased from 13 in 2017-18 to 39 in 2019-20.

The increase in history majors at Scranton is bucking the national trend. According to surveys by the American Historical Association, overall enrollments in history courses have declined by nearly 8 percent from 2013-14 to 2016-17, before stabilizing. Scranton has seen the number of incoming students declaring history as their first major rise from a low of 5 in 2017-18 to 16 in 2019-20. The total number of history majors, which includes those who have changed their major as well those who declare history as a second major, also increased from 48 to 62 during the same period.

David J. Dzurec III, Ph.D., professor and chair of the History Department at Scranton, said parents often ask what their son and daughter can do with a degree in history and are “dubious” when he tells them “anything they want.” However, he then provides them with examples of recent graduates who have gone onto to medical school, business and consulting firms in addition to all of the graduates who have gone to law school. The concrete examples of success in a wide range of fields win over many of the skeptical parents.

According to Dr. Dzurec, another factor contributing to the increase is the department’s enrollment is the “exceptional faculty” who he noted are accessible and “engaged with our students.” The University’s Jesuit education requires all students to take courses in the humanities, which “allows us access to students, and when we get them in the classroom they really begin to understand how much fun history can be,” said Dr. Dzurec. “So even if a student doesn't come in as a history major, by the time that class graduates, the number of history majors has grown exponentially.”

Dr. Roberts also credits the faculty for the growth of the major. Their expertise allowed for the development of new content in the areas of cybercrime and crime analysis. The department opened in 2017 the Center for the Analysis and Prevention of Crime, which provides a vehicle for developing partnerships with local and regional criminal justice and social service agencies to use faculty expertise and state-of-the-art technology and techniques for the sophisticated analysis of data to more efficiently utilize resources or to evaluate of the effectiveness of programming. The center also offers a Student Analyst Program, which allows students to work directly with criminal justice agencies and faculty on research, data collection and analysis.

“Our faculty are highly trained, professionally active, publishing and are at the top of their fields. All are doing research and taking students under their wings, giving them practical experience as undergraduates through the center,” said Dr. Roberts.

Dr. Dzurec and Dr. Roberts also credited new courses for an increase in interest in their fields. Criminal justice developed new courses crime analysis and cybercrime. Travel courses to Italy, Germany and England offered in history have been very popular, as has an “Indigenous Peoples of America” course that took students to the Navajo nation in Arizona. Also popular is a “Disney’s American History” course that examines the accuracy of Disney movie portrayals of historical figures and concludes with a trip to Disney World in Florida.

In addition, both say Scranton’s recent 3+3 programs with Boston College, Duquesne, Penn State and Villanova law schools have interested students who wish to pursue law degrees after graduation. They also credit the support their departments have received from the University as a contributing factor as well.

Recipient of the 2019 RCPS Kaleidoscope Award 

 Dr. Ismail Onat , Assistant Professor of The Sociology/Criminal Justice& Criminology Department at the University of Scranton, received The 2019 RCPS Kaleidoscope Award. The Rutgers Center on Public Security (RCPS) presents the Kaleidoscope Award each year to a recipient who has demonstrated innovative applications of Risk Terrain Modeling that advance research and practice for the public good. Dr. Onat has advanced Risk Terrain Modeling (RTM)throughgh innovative applications to terrorism, drugs and crime analysis from an international perspective. He incorporates professional judgment into risk analysis and research projects that are place-based and actionable, and has demonstrated a unique ability to help practitioners maximize local resources and expertise to solve problems. This is exemplified in his participation with The Center for the Analysis and Prevention of Crime—housed in the University of Scranton’s Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Criminology department—where he combines his RTM knowledge with practitioner insight and student learning to enhance the technological and analytical capabilities of students, police officers, and other criminal justice agencies in the regional community.

Scranton’s Criminal Justice Program Receives Prestigious Certification

The University of Scranton joins just nine other colleges in the nation with criminal justice programs certified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. The University’s criminal justice bachelor’s degree program received notice of certification by the Academy in February. The certification extends until 2026.

The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) certification is designed to evaluate evidence-based compliance that meets or exceeds all academic standards set by the ACJS executive board for associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s level criminal justice programs. The certification is based on outcome assessment of evidence of a program’s quality and effectiveness. ACJS academic certification standards assess the program’s mission, structure and curriculum, faculty, admissions, student services, integrity, quality and effectiveness, and outcomes for graduates leading to employment or graduate study, among other factors.

“This achievement did not happen overnight. It developed over a period of years due to our dedicated faculty, past and present, as well an administration who has supported our numerous departmental initiatives,” said Harry Dammer, Ph.D., professor and chair of the University’s Sociology, Criminal Justice and Criminology Department, who orchestrated the certification process for the program. 

The ACJS is an international association with more than 2,800 members that fosters professional and scholarly activities in the field of criminal justices, according to its website. Members represent every state and multiple countries including nearly every institution of higher learning with a criminal justice/criminology program. The association promotes criminal justice education, research and policy analysis for both educators and practitioners.

The University of Scranton offers a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. The University also offers minors in criminal justice and criminology.

New Applied Sociology Minor

We are happy to introduce the creation of a new Applied Sociology Minor.  Applied sociology refers to when practitioners use sociological theories and methods outside of a university setting in order to answer research questions or problems for specific clientele or to promote social change.  Applied sociology is useful in obtaining accurate statistics documenting a social problem, designing programs to address social issues, and for program/policy evaluation.  Furthermore, the job growth rate for sociologists, including  applied sociologists, is expected to be higher than the average job growth rate.

Students interested in an applied sociology minor, as opposed to a general sociology minor, will need to focus their attention on understanding social organizations and conducting community-based learning projects.

For questions about the Applied Sociology Minor, please see Dr. Loreen Wolfer or Dr. Meghan Ashlin-Rich in the Department of Sociology/Criminal Justice & Criminology.

For more information about our department, faculty, majors, and minors, visit our website: