University first in the nation to offer criminal justice Ph.D.

Simone Garvey-Ewan/Staff Writer

The Department of Criminal Justice has a new Ph.D. program in the works – an international crime and justice track with a degree encompassing international criminal justice issues, such as international drug trafficking, terrorism and transnational crime.

Harry Rhea, assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, played a pivotal role in the drafting of this all new program.

“There are only Ph.D.’s in criminal justice, so the United States is lacking in the specific type of Ph.D. that we’re going to offer, ” said Rhea.

This new graduate program was approved by the Faculty Senate and will be the first of its kind in the nation; its launch is expected in either 2014 or 2015.

“I think that this degree puts you above the rest of people who just have a bachelor’s degree,” said Afia Amfo, a sophomore criminal justice major. “If you have a Ph.D., then you’ll have more opportunities and get better job offers.”

Currently, the highest international crime and justice degree that one can obtain in the nation is a master’s degree. Many individuals have to travel overseas to obtain such a degree, like Rhea who received his doctorate in international criminal law at the National University of Ireland.

This fact, according to Rhea, explains why the University and the nation are in need of such a program.

“A lot of people look at FIU and they’re like ‘Oh that school is nothing,’ and nobody cares about this school,” Amfo said. “But we now have something that nobody else has and we [will] have an advantage over other schools.”

Amfo said she is strongly considering pursuing this degree when the time arrives because of her deep interest in international affairs.

Students interested in obtaining this degree should expect the course content to cover topics such as national and homeland security, terrorism, comparative criminal justice systems, transnational crime, international criminal justice and human rights.

Nicole Hall, a junior criminal justice said although she is not 100 percent sure what she wants to do with her degree, she is interested in international crime and justice.

“I have a few things in mind, but international crime and justice sounds like a very interesting and promising field,” she said.

Hall predicts this program will create a large influx of students.

Individuals with master’s degrees in areas such as political science, international relations, sociology, criminal justice and law will be most familiar with the concepts covered in this Ph.D. program.

According to Rhea, the degree will require approximately 80 credit hours, with about 36 of them coming from a master’s degree.

“I feel like this program casts a positive light on the University and more people will be inclined to apply at FIU since we are the only one providing this particular program,” said Hall. “We look way more appealing.”

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