SMWC unveils new opportunities in criminology and healthcare administration

April 12th, 2013 | SMWC


By Sara Palmer

In fall of 2013 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) will launch two new majors to help students prepare for fulfilling careers in criminology and healthcare administration. Both Woods Online and campus students will have the ability to enroll in these new degree programs.

“Both of these majors are very applicable for students with associate degrees wanting to advance their career opportunities,” said Janet Clark, Ph.D., SMWC’s vice president for academic affairs. These programs take a unique approach to learning outcomes and are diverse enough to fit first year students, transfer students and adult learners.

 “The criminology focus is upon the helping professions as opposed to enforcement,” Clark explained. “The program would be of special interest to women students and those looking to work in probation and parole, victims’ assistance, halfway houses, juvenile facilities and more.”

Students will explore the psychological, cultural and political factors in criminal behavior, as well as social policy dealing with crime. Specialized internships will mirror the techniques and theories explored in the classroom, allowing students to get a well rounded, professional criminology experience.

“We work with students individually to find an internship site that best meets the student’s learning goals and interests,” said Susan Gresham, the director of SMWC’s career development center.

In addition to the focus on social services and specialized internships, the new criminology major is also designed to fit well with double majors or paired with minors to create an entirely unique field of study. Combined with the liberal arts foundation of critical thinking and global perspectives, these graduates will be ideal candidates for criminology careers. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics is currently predicting a 19 percent growth rate through the year 2018, faster than average,” Clark said. “The correctional population in the United States has risen dramatically in the past three decades.” In fact, as of 2009, there were more than seven million people under supervision in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. With these statistics, it’s no surprise that criminology is one of the top ten majors for online degrees, according to a study by Aslanian Market.

SMWC always strives to create innovative and relevant degree programs, both on campus and online. A dedicated program development team, which includes Clark and Gresham, reviews current programs and researches new ideas to ensure that the College maintains its commitment to liberal arts and growing needs in the 21st century. This perspective gave rise not only to criminology, but also the new healthcare administration major. 

“Our program has a focus on the business administration of the healthcare industry,” said Jackie Fischer, SMWC assistant dean of academic affairs, “which would allow for professionals to move into leadership areas of their organization.”

This healthcare administration program requires an associate’s degrees in an approved applied science major. “Our healthcare administration bachelor completion program is very unique,” Clark said. “We did not find a program at another institution where an associate degree is transferred in and the bachelor degree is then completed.”

In 2012, Hoosier Hot 50 Jobs included 17 healthcare careers, with medical services manager ranking in the top ten. “This type of degree would not only provide more job security, it would also allow students to move into a management or leadership position,” Gresham said.

SMWC’s program development team took to the street to test out their ideas and explore the accuracy of these statistics in their own backyard. Many local healthcare organizations, such as Hamilton Center and Westminster Village, reviewed the program and felt it a very positive step forward for medical professionals with associate degrees.

“Healthcare projected job growth is faster than average at 20 percent to 28 percent up to 2020,” Clark said. “As more employees realize leadership opportunities exist with a bachelor’s degree, they will begin looking at potential programs.”

SMWC’s emphasis on professional experience also applies to this new major. Gresham plans to pair healthcare administration majors with internship opportunities that focus on their special interests and allow them to explore the management side of the industry. “Working professionals and transfer students can increase their knowledge and enhance their credentials, which will position them for advancement and success in the healthcare industry,” she said.

Both new degree programs are deeply rooted in the liberal arts and tie directly into the College’s mission. “Graduates will enhance their knowledge and abilities and, ultimately, will have a positive impact in the community,” Clark said. “These new majors will help them develop critical thinking skills, which will be beneficial as they lead people or projects in their fields.”

For more information on the new criminology or healthcare administration degree programs at SMWC, visit

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