University of South Florida students

A Look at the University of South Florida Criminology Program

The University of South Florida criminology department was created in 1972. Since then, they have added a Master’s program as well as being only the second university in Florida to offer a PhD in Criminology.  According to the Journal of Criminal Justice Education the USF Criminology faculty is ranked 7th in the nation for scholarly research. The College of Behavioral and Community Sciences is diverse and offers in depth learning in subjects including law enforcement, detention, the judiciary, corrections, and probation and parole as well as a background in the theory, issues and methodology comprising Criminology. According to the university website, the objective of the undergraduate program in Criminology is to develop a sound educational basis either for graduate work or for professional training in one or more of the specialized areas comprising the modern urban criminal justice system.

We spoke to Zach Evans, a USF graduate, about his experience in the Criminology program. Here is what he had to say about his favorite professor, his dream job, and advice to current students.

What program were you in at the University of South Florida and what degree did you graduate with?

I was in the Criminology program and received my B.A in Criminology and M.A in Criminal Justice Administration.

Did you always know that you wanted to be when you grew up? When did you realize it?

I really had no idea what I wanted to be. Growing up I thought I wanted to be in business, but when I started taking classes requiring me to crunch numbers, I quickly realized it wasn’t for me. I got in the field I’m in now randomly, because I needed a job, and found out I was pretty good at dealing with people. If you would’ve told me in high school that I would’ve worked in a jail and then become a cop, I would’ve called you a liar.

What was your favorite class at USF and why?

I really don’t think I had a favorite class. A lot of the material was related to one another so there isn’t anything that stands out particularly in my memory.

Who was your favorite professor at USF and why?

My favorite professor was Professor Pelfrey. He was a Captain at the Sarasota County Sheriff Office at the time. I think the reason I liked him was that he was able to take the academic side and blend it in with the actual practice of law enforcement.

Did you have an internship in your field while you were in school?

I did not.

What is your current job?

I am a police officer with the City of Boulder.

What is your dream job and why?

My dream job is to become a U.S. Marshal. I think the main reason I want to do this is because I like searching for people. I find the thrill of the catch fun and exciting.

Do you have any advice for criminology students at USF?

My advice for criminology students is to start branching out early in your degree program. Make connections with public officials and agencies. Who you know will definitely benefit you if you decide to choose a career in public service. Get involved with volunteer groups and try to get an internship if you can. Just because you get a degree in criminology don’t limit yourself. Pick a minor or take classes in something else you like, business, history, etc. Agencies (especially Federal ones) want to see that you are well rounded when it comes time to get a job.

To complete a Criminology major at USF here is what you need:


  • Survey of Criminal Behavior
  • Theories of Criminal Behavior
  • Research Methods
  • Seminar in Criminology

You must also take 8 elective courses. You have choices ranging from Patterns of Criminal Behavior to Death Penalty to Juvenile Justice Systems to Criminal Investigation and much more.

As a student studying Criminology at USF you can expect tough classes, plenty of field experience, and a rigorous schedule. Another thing you can expect is knowledge that will allow you to reach your goals of starting a career fighting crime and making the world a safer place.

If you are interested in learning more about the University of South Florida, check out the USF School Spotlight or check out the University of South Florida Visitor Guide.

about the author

Callie Pederson

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Degree in Communication and Creative Writing. Outdoor enthusiast, animal lover, blogger.

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