Criminology department deceives grad students
Fresno State’s criminology department has a reputation for being one of the best in California, if not in the United States. Because of this, it’s no wonder why students who are pursuing higher education in the field of criminology would want to do so at this university.
However, many students have become disappointed when the programs they have seen in the catalog are not actually offered.
In the 2008-2009 catalog, students are invited to apply for the Joint Doctorate in Forensic and Behavioral Sciences (Ph.D.). “Application can be made at www.csumentor.edu. Please go to the Criminology Department Website for more information at www.csufresno.edu/criminology/,” it states. However, the program never existed, and according to Dr. Ruth Masters, the criminology department chair, it probably never will.
“Two years ago the plug was pulled,” Masters said. “We never offered it. It doesn’t look like we were ever going to offer it. It’s not operational. It’s not in progress. It doesn’t exist.”
It wasn’t until the 2009-2010 catalog that it stated, “This program is pending approval.”
According to Luz Gonzalez, the dean of the social sciences department, budget cuts began to put doubts in their minds that the program would ever take off. On March 25, 2009, she announced that the doctorate program would officially not be an option.
“We had already taken it off the books because of the budget crisis,” she said. “Prior to that we were already telling faculty that we needed it off the books.”
As of March 9th, 2011, nearly two years after the department officially decided to let the program go, there were flyers in the hallway of the social sciences building advertising the joint doctoral program, in addition to the Masters of Science in Criminology with an option victimology, which also doesn’t exist.
“There are no options in our graduate program,” Masters said. “Students receive an MS in criminology.”
When asked why these programs are still being advertised in their brochures and in the catalog, even though they are nonexistent, Gonzalez was not able to provide a clear answer.
“I don’t have an idea,” she said. “ A lot of times you have old information floating around.”
Although the programs were listed in several publications, Masters claims they weren’t advertised as being programs that were in process.
“It was forthcoming,” she said. “It never went into operation. It was never advertised as operational. It was never approved.”
Several students don’t feel that the department was forthcoming at all. Some saw the listing in the catalog or in the brochure, and based their decision on where to continue their education on the information provided.
“My big thing is just the lack of consistency and them promising us things that aren’t available, like the PhD program,” one student, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “They are actually accepting applications for it, and it’s not a real thing you can do.”
The student said that the decision to continue a higher education at Fresno State was because of the victimology program.
“That was one of the big incentives for staying at Fresno State,” the student said.
This student isn’t the only one who chose Fresno State based on information that was misleading. Several applied for the programs, and ended up being disappointed once they were accepted.
“There is no other program in the United States that offers [an option in victimology],” the student said. “There was no other reason for me coming to Fresno State. And now what do I do? Can I do the job that I should be able to do with my education? Probably not. I feel like I’d have to redo my master’s degree in order to actually be able to fulfill a lot of the positions I want to work in. I can’t really afford to take more school. And I can’t get a job because I don’t have what they are looking for.”
“Whether or not it was approved at one time or not, you shouldn’t advertise it as though it was,” another student said. “They shouldn’t have started advertising it until it was in stone.”
Ruth Masters said the department is working to remove the advertisement of these programs.
“We are currently in the process of updating our brochures,” she said.
The students interviewed all chose to remain anonymous because they feared retaliation from members of the criminology department.
“There is definitely going to be some backlash for this,” one said.
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