Johnny Nhan thought he would pursue a study in engineering and was accepted at several universities, but after reviewing the course catalog at the University of California in Irvine, he decided to pursue the study of criminology.

(Photo Courtesy of Johnny Nhan)

(Photo Courtesy of Johnny Nhan)

“This was the time when OJ Simpson was in the news and the study of crime was really expanding,” said Nhan.

Nhan was a double major and earned Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminology and Economics. He had an internship at a jail and went on to work for the Santa Ana City Jail. He did consider becoming a police officer and simultaneously applied to a couple of police departments in the Los Angeles area but was accepted into a doctorate program and instead pursued his Ph.D. in Criminology at University of California at Irvine.

“Fifteen years ago, people either didn’t know about the study of criminology or they thought that those that studied it became police officers. When the major started, people assumed it was a ‘cop shop’ where future police officers would go who were taught by former police officers. It is a whole lot more than that. There are a lot of students that go on to law school, many of the students want to be federal agents and some want to become police officers,” said Nhan.

Many who pursue a master’s degree are currently in law enforcement and realize this is a key stepping stone to getting promoted past sergeant. Many also want to get into a doctorate program and will acquire the master’s degree to do so.

“With a doctorate, one can work on Think Tanks and work on creating federal policy, for example, those who analyze crime prevention programs to see their effectiveness. There are many police chiefs who have Ph.Ds in criminology.”

“The Dallas Police Department is looking to hire 250 officers and Lubbock is looking to hire 70 officers,” said Nhan, who is the assistant professor of criminal justice at Texas Christian University (TCU).

“Criminal Justice is one of the fastest growing majors in the country and pursuing an online education is a viable way to earn a degree,” said Nhan.

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at