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Conference Courses

A conference course is a unit of study requiring an amount of work equivalent to a normal lecture course or seminar session. The student taking a conference course, however, is required to show more initiative and self-direction in selecting and justifying a course of study and in completing the assigned work.

Such a course should provide the student with an opportunity to examine areas not covered in the regular Criminology and Criminal Justice curriculum or not offered due to limited interest. The student should not select topics that are generally provided through the regular teaching program. Ordinarily, a course offered during a given academic year would not be an appropriate topic for a conference course.

Although students may take a conference course at any time during their academic career, they should not expect to have more than one conference course approved, except in very rare circumstances. Normally, a student should not take such a course until the last few semesters of study. Approached in this way, the conference course provides an opportunity to fill gaps in the student’s education and allows a more rational selection of a topic based on career goals and opportunities.

The form of a conference reading course may be reflected in any of the following:

  • An extensive reading program developed by the student in consultation with the faculty advisor, leading to a bibliographic essay or research paper.
  • An original research project involving substantial data collection, analysis, and submission of a manuscript acceptable for a criminal justice journal; or an assignment approved by the supervising instructor or program director.
  • Other — as approved by graduate or undergraduate advisor or the program director.

Reading requirements for undergraduate level conference and reading courses will be a minimum of 1,500 pages.

These requirements represent a minimum and normally credit will not be given for any course involving less than that amount. The number of pages to be read will vary depending on the complexity of the materials selected and the content of the other work activities scheduled for the course. For example, original data collection, processing and analysis activities may limit the amount of time available for reading. The total reading requirements, however, should reflect sound consideration of the activities scheduled and should not be eliminated in favor of other requirements.

A student enrolled in a conference or reading course will normally be expected to meet with the instructor for the equivalent of at least one hour per week. Needless to say, there may be some weeks when the student would not confer with the professor at all and other weeks in which they would meet for several hours.

Each student will be required to file a proposal (including the reasons for taking the course, schedule of work activities, the bibliography) with the faculty supervisor and the divisional director within two weeks after the first day of classes during a long term. During summer sessions, the proposal should be filed within one week of the start of classes.

The final product of any conference or readings course will be an extensive research paper, bibliographic essay or other documents indicating the work completed. A copy of this document will be filed in the program office for future reference.

A student may not take more than one conference or readings course from a single instructor except in very unusual circumstances and with the approval of the program director.

Students must have the approval of the professor who is to direct the course before he or she will be allowed to register for either a conference or a readings course.