Dr. Robert Kane is the director and professor of criminology and Justice Studies Program at Drexel University. His teaching and research involves police authority and accountability, the ecology of urban policing, and the intersections among neighborhood violence, justice, urban health, and health behaviors. He has recently co-authored a book for NYU Press based on research he conducted in the New York City Police Department on career-ending police misconduct.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Robert Kane)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Robert Kane)

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What sort of education is needed to secure a good job in this field? 

“A B.S. in a quantitative social science (e.g., criminology, sociology, psychology — even anthropology, which isn’t typically a quantitative field), and an M.S. in criminology with a strong grounding in research methodology and statistics. To obtain a job as a professor of criminology, then a Ph.D. in criminology or a related field is needed. Of course, at a research institution, the Ph.D. is the entry-level credential. The successful job candidate will also need several scientific publications in peer review journals.”

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

“Right now, my primary emphasis is on conducting research and publishing the findings; however, staying linked to the classroom allows me to directly impact students by transferring to them the most state-of-the-art information, as well as trying out some of my (sometimes…half-crazy) ideas on them. Adding an administrative position to my regular faculty responsibilities means that teaching and research now have to compete for time in ways that did not previously exist. At the same time, however, as the department chair, I am able to help set a tone for how we — as a department — interact with our students.”

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After graduation, how hard was it to transition to the actual working world?

“I was a traditional graduate student in a traditional graduate program, which means that I was socialized into the academic life from the first day I arrived on campus as a new Ph.D. student. I was taking classes, but even more than that, I was talking to professors in the hallway about their research; and I was quickly required to start teaching courses. As such, it was not long before my professors transitioned into becoming my mentors and my colleagues. By the time I graduate with my doctorate, I had spent seven years as a graduate student engaged in on-the-job-training — so that when I took my first tenure-track job as an assistant professor, I had a good idea of what was expected of me.”

What advice would you give someone who is pursuing a career in this field?

“The trend these days is to tell our graduate students to publish early and often. As a result, there is a lot of “noise” out there in the world of published articles. Good institutions and programs still value quality over quantity; so my advice is to take it slowly and really learn your field.”

Christina Thompson is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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