CLS Honors Program

About the Program

Each year a different full-time faculty member coordinates the Criminology, Law and Society Honors Program and sets the topics and assignments. Seminar activities may include readings, individual and group projects, discussion of seminar papers, special field trips, and surveys or observations of the justice system in operation. All honors seminars expose students to advanced questions in justice studies and encourage them to approach these issues with a scholarly method.

All honors seminars require a great deal of initiative from students, who learn from each other by presenting and discussing their work in progress. The professor and other students provide suggestions and a supportive environment for learning by doing. By the end of the second course the professor may have arranged for the students to present their work to interested justice officials, researchers, or citizen groups. Thus, students gain experience in presenting research, as well as doing it.

The organization of the course may take a variety of forms. For example, the honors professor may spend the first semester introducing the students to a particular topic and helping them develop their own research projects to conduct during the second semester. Alternatively, the professor may develop a specific research project beforehand in which all students will engage, such as doing a research project that provides valuable information that a justice agency can use. 

Students are encouraged to review the seminar descriptions below for information about past honors course topics and projects.  The course requirements will vary with the instructor, but all courses will require extensive participation in seminar discussions, presentations, and written work. Students are graded on the quality of their work, but because only highly qualified students are admitted, it is expected that they will do well. Ordinarily the honors courses are offered in a fall-spring sequence, one per semester, but sometimes both honors courses will be offered the same semester.

What Students Gain

The Criminology, Law and Society Honors Program helps students develop advanced knowledge of justice issues, in addition to enhancing students' analytical, research, and communication skills. Students who desire rapid advancement in a justice profession or who seek careers in law or other graduate studies will find the honors experience invaluable. Successful honors students have gained experience in research, writing, and public speaking that normally comes only through graduate study or years on the job.

Students who successfully complete the two honors seminars with a grade point average of 3.5 or above will receive the honors designation in criminology, law and society when they graduate.

How to Apply

The Criminology, Law and Society Honors Program is open to Criminology, Law and Society majors who show the ability and drive to benefit from intensive study in the honors seminars. There are no formal course or GPA requirements, although the most promising candidates will be students who have taken challenging courses at Mason and who have earned at least a 3.5 overall/cumulative GPA.

Each spring our program will invite students to apply for the following year's Honors Program, introducing the seminars and their contents, as well as detailing the process for applying. Admission into the Criminology, Law and Society Honors Program will be determined by the faculty. University rules require that the number of students admitted into the Honors Program not exceed twenty percent of the number of students who graduated with a bachelor of science in criminology, law and society the previous year.


Honors Seminar Course Descriptions