Commencement 2024 Information

Commencement 2024 Information

Criminology Master’s Degree Program in Development

June 4, 2020

photo of Gloria Gadsden

Gloria Gadsden

Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University is developing the first criminology master’s degree program in New Mexico that will be offered through distance education.

Gloria Gadsden, a criminal justice associate professor at Highlands, developed the criminology master’s program proposal within the university’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice.

“The idea for the criminology master’s program is to provide a new and unique opportunity for those interested in various crime-related and criminal behavior fields to hone critical thinking skills and provide a more sophisticated understanding of inequality and stratification,” Gadsden said. “This proposed degree program will increase its graduate’s earning potential, pave the way for federal employment, and assist with promotion.”

Criminology is the study of the causes of criminal behavior and the variety of social responses to it.

 Gadsden said the criminology master’s degree will provide an advanced understanding of sociological theory and a thorough examination of trends in the fields of criminal behavior and social justice.

“This program will help advance criminal justice professionals to leadership positions within their current agencies, prepare students for post-law enforcement career opportunities, and enable students to teach criminology, sociology and criminal justice at the community college level,” Gadsden said.

Gadsden said the criminology field covers a wide range of careers such as correctional officer, crime victim specialist, probations officer, criminal analyst, witness protection program worker, correctional counselor and domestic abuse investigator.

 Gadsden said the criminology field is growing nationally and in New Mexico.

“The outlook for job growth is positive,” Gadsden said.

Gadsden said the program’s electives will provide opportunities for students to concentrate on subjects such as conflict resolution, drugs and society, prison reform, restorative justice, social justice and sexual, gendered and family violence.

“Another unique highlight of the criminology master’s degree is that it is designed to be completed in just one and a half years,” Gadsden said.

Roxanne Gonzales, vice president of academic affairs and provost at Highlands, said: “This master’s degree in criminology is one of the fields that is remarkably popular with students. We have the faculty expertise to deliver a strong curriculum.”

Gonzales said that providing the master’s degree in criminology through distance learning allows flexibility for the working professional.

“The criminology master’s degree is targeted to a wide audience of people in areas of social services, criminal justice, sociology, psychology, Department of Defense and related fields,” Gonzales said.

The master’s degree in criminology proposal cleared its first hurdle when the Highlands University Board of Regents approved it in a public online meeting May 7. Next, the New Mexico Graduate Deans Council, New Mexico Higher Education Department, and the Higher Learning Commission must approve the proposal.

For more information about the master’s degree program in criminology, contact Gadsden at