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The University of Alabama sign

Douglas Klutz: Top-Rated College Professor

In the field of criminal justice, there is one man making an indelible impression on his college students.

Student ratings of their professors have become a valuable tool for those seeking to choose the best instructor for their chosen field of study. While some in higher education see ratings as inconsequential, others view it as an important source of student feedback. Receiving consistent glowing remarks would make any professor feel a sense of accomplishment. Case in point is that of a criminal justice professor…

“One of the most caring professors I have encountered throughout my college career. He is incredibly helpful with career advice.”

“You learn so much in his class about your rights and different cases. He is a really great mentor.”

“CJ 220 was my second class with Klutz. He is an AMAZING professor. Always is willing to help with career advice.”

“Excellent professor. Fun lectures and very caring and helpful.”

“LEGEND.”

These are just some of the hundreds of comments that students submitted about Professor Douglas Klutz of the University of Alabama on RateMyProfessor.com, the largest online site for professor ratings with over 19 million ratings. In October 2017, a national poll was taken asking students to vote for their favorite professor.

The following month an article in Forbes named Klutz as the No. 1 top-rated professor out of 1.7 million academic staff from over 7,500 colleges. Overall, Klutz scored a perfect 5.0 with 100% of students saying they would take his class again. Class difficulty level was rated as 1.8 out of 5 with 5 being the hardest.

Learning about his No. 1 ranking took him by surprise, but many former students felt it was well deserved. In an interview with the University of Alabama News Center, he states, “I am very thankful for the positive feedback from students. It’s a real honor to have been reviewed so positively, and a big surprise to find out about the article from Forbes.”

Here’s a news clip from WVUA announcing his ranking…

The Favorite Professor

Klutz’s recognition drew welcome attention to the University of Alabama where he is a full-time instructor in the Department of Criminal Justice and holds classes for around 900 students a year. His expertise is in constitutional law, white collar crime, and introduction to criminal justice. Additionally, he serves as director of criminal justice internship and academic advising.

He enjoys teaching the introduction to criminal justice class because of the wide variety of majors he touches on. He starts off each semester with a lecture on the media’s depiction of the criminal justice system.

“A lot of these TV shows and movies they make for great entertainment but they are not reality. My class lets them see more of the realistic aspect and when I get them interested in that angle, then they start thinking about completing internships in the field,” he says in a University of Alabama interview. “So seeing them build that experience and seeing them start off their careers is very rewarding,”

His teaching style focuses on threading academics with current events. Students seem to appreciate this approach which helps them gain a better understanding of applied theory and concepts. In his classes, students learn about the importance of criminal justice and constitutional rights. They also learn about media influence on cases, unsolved murder mysteries, and civil court cases. Students also enjoy his help with preparing resumes and career planning to better prepare them for today’s job market and long-term goals.

His Early Career

While growing up, Klutz developed an interest in criminal justice after watching the TV show Profiler. He had set his mind to become an FBI profiler, just like in the TV show. But reality set in when he went to school.  TV show portrayals of profilers and criminal justice tend to be inaccurate. He realized he could not pursue being a profiler but still desired to work in another field of criminal justice.

via Wikipedia, Fair Use

In the fall of 2011, he had an opportunity to work in an academic capacity at the University of Alabama and he’s been there ever since. Prior to his academic career, Klutz worked with the Center for Commercialization of Advanced Technology. Funded by the Department of Defense, the partnership of public and private institutions is designed to accelerate the transfer of first responder technologies from the federal level to state and local governments and law enforcement.

He earned his Master of Public Administration with a concentration in policy analysis and received his undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Criminal Justice Author

Klutz authored the book Career Guide in Criminal Justice published by Oxford University Press in August 2018. It is the quintessential guide for students aspiring to enter the field of criminal justice and covers the three main areas of study including law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Additionally, the book covers careers in related fields such as private investigations, the bond industry, forensic psychology, and cybersecurity. Klutz addresses common myths about the criminal justice system and provides tips on job hunting and interviews, networking, and career-building strategies.

He also wrote From the Crime to the Courts: An Overview of Criminology and Criminal Justice (2012) which uses current research and contemporary issues to familiarize students with the structure and nature of both the criminal justice system and criminology. Another published work is The Social Construction of Terrorism: Risk Assessments and Perceptions of Fear to Terrorist Acts. (2007).

Klutz would welcome the opportunity to teach more students and to do more for them as well as the university. And what is next in store for the good professor? He seems quite content to continue teaching at the university, inspiring students who most likely will continue to give him high ratings and more glowing reviews.