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Criminology and Criminal Justice Department

criminal justice students in front of a courthouse


Our  Criminal Justice Program is one of WCU's largest, with residential or online options. The online Emergency and Disaster Management Program is rated as one of the best online emergency management programs by The Emergency and Disaster Management Program is also offered as a residential major and minor. Each program of study brings together theory and hands-on practice through the curriculum, internships, independent studies, and student-faculty interaction, a hallmark of our department.

The goal of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is to provide students with a strong interdisciplinary foundation. Graduates are prepared to respond appropriately and ethically in challenging “real world” situations as they move on to careers in criminal justice,  emergency and disaster management or for further education.

In conjunction with the goals of the University, the College, and the Department, our programs are based on the philosophy of a liberal arts education, grounded in social science methodologies.

EDM Students At Active Shooter Drill


Our curriculum emphasizes the interdependence of theory and practice in addressing "real world problems." Our emphasis on application guided by scholarship provides a strong, interdisciplinary foundation for future criminal justice and emergency and disaster management professionals.

The focus for undergraduate students is to achieve mastery of fundamental academic competencies and a basic level of expertise in the fields of criminal justice and emergency and disaster management.

The faculty are committed to provide high-quality education in criminal justice, emergency and disaster management, and criminology to our majors, other students across the University, and to the professional community.

Available Programs

Residential B.S. in Criminal Justice

B.S. in Criminal Justice

B.S in Emergency and Disaster Management


Criminal Justice Program Ranked Among Top 40 Programs

Western Carolina University's Criminology and Criminal Justice Program is ranked among the 40 top criminal justice programs in the country.  According to the website, UNIVERSITYHQ, WCU's Criminology and Criminal Justice Program is ranked at #25.  The program's many course offerings in residential and online formats and its association with the top-ranked Emergency and Disaster Management Program as a dual major or minor propelled the program to this auspicious ranking.


Faculty and Staff

Our faculty have a wide range of expertise, experience, and interests. Recognized nationally for their research, these faculty members’ practical knowledge has been developed on the front lines of the criminal justice system in courtrooms, prisons, juvenile centers, and on the streets.

Karen Mason

Department Head

Criminology and Criminal Justice

Jamie Vaske

Assistant Department Head

Criminology and Criminal Justice, Director of the Administration of Justice Program

Lisa Briggs


Director, Emergency & Disaster Management Program

Stephen Brown


Criminology and Criminal Justice

Cyndy Caravelis


Criminology and Criminal Justice

John “Andy” Hansen

Associate Professor

Criminology and Criminal Justice

J. Tom Morgan

Associate Instructor

Criminology and Criminal Justice

Ophir Sefiha

Associate Professor

Criminology and Criminal Justice

Maggie Skiscim

Assistant Instructor

Criminology and Criminal Justice, 2020-2021 Visiting Scholar

Tasha Youstin

Assistant Professor

Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Connie Bryson

Administrative Assistant

Aaron Vassey

Aaron Vassey

Distance Learning Coordinator

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