About the Department

UCI’s distinctive, interdisciplinary Department of Criminology, Law and Society integrates two complementary areas of scholarship — criminology and law and society (sometimes called socio-legal studies). It is the only criminology department and one of only two law and society units in the University of California system. Among our distinguished faculty are three former presidents of the American Society of Criminology; former presidents of the Law and Society Association, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the American Psychology-Law Society; and two Fellows of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. The department is consistently ranked 5th (US News and World Reports Chronicle of Higher Education) in the nation among doctoral degree-granting programs in criminology and criminal justice, and 5th in scholarly productivity (2009 Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index - Most recent evaluation).

The Department of Criminology, Law and Society conducts research and teaching activities that focus on the causes, manifestations, and consequences of criminal behavior; methods of controlling criminal behavior; and the relationships and interactions between law, social structure and cultural practices. Courses include overviews of American legal systems, forms of criminal behavior, legal and criminal theory, social science and the law, victimology, and regulatory issues, in addition to substantive areas of law such as family, criminal, environmental, immigration, procedural, and constitutional.

The Department of Criminology, Law and Society (CLS) is recognized as one of the nation's top programs in criminology, criminal justice, and legal studies, and has a distinctive history. The department began as an emphasis within the program of Social Ecology, which was founded in 1970 by Professor Arnold Binder, a key figure in both CLS and the field of criminology. The PhD in Criminology, Law and Society was established in 1991. Following the formal establishment of the School of Social Ecology in 1992, Criminology, Law and Society became a formal department with both an undergraduate major and PhD program. The purpose of the School of Social Ecology was and is "to train undergraduate and graduate students to analyze research and policy questions from a broad, ecological perspective that integrates multiple disciplines and links basic theory and research with community problem-solving."1 Since then, CLS faculty have trained numerous undergraduate and graduate students over almost three decades. Graduates work in both the public and private sectors and at colleges and universities around the country. The CLS curriculum offers a broad array of topics for both undergraduate and graduate study that are central to crime and its control, social policy, and the law. In keeping with the main tenet of Social Ecology, faculty and students approach these subjects from a multidisciplinary perspective.

We offer a highly selective PhD program designed to train the next generation of scholars in criminology and social-legal studies. We also offer an innovative online Masters (MAS) program designed to further the education of working professionals in law and criminal justice, and we offer a distinctive undergraduate major in Criminology, Law and Society.

1For a complete history of the school and department, please visit here.