Michael Tapia, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

  • Faculty
Sociology and Criminal Justice
Contact Michael
Ferguson 231
Related Department
Sociology and Criminal Justice

A Conversation with Dr. Michael Tapia

What is your favorite course to teach?

Several years ago, I developed a special topics course called Streetcrimes and the Underclass. It is my favorite to teach because it draws on my research specialty and allows me to integrate what I've learned into the class and cultivate student interest in topics related to it.

Why did you choose your discipline?

I always tell my students that the discipline chose me via a mix of serendipity, my interests, passion and opportunity. A related fun fact is that I did not take my first crime class until I was a doctoral student but I had lots of work and life experience to know that I should stick with it going into the professoriate.

Why did you choose your research area?

An early work experience unrelated to my college major (political science) changed my trajectory into the field of criminal justice, gangs and criminology.

Tell us about a project you are working on, academic or otherwise.

A handful of current & former A&M-Commerce students, colleagues and I just completed a paper that maps drug-gang crimes in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico–a large and violent border city with El Paso, Texas. It is a fascinating place to study and I was happy to be able to include several students and former colleagues in the project. This is a first of a series of related papers that I hope will result from the project.

Educational Background

  • B.A. Political Science, 1996, St. Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas.
  • M.A. Sociology, 2001, University of Texas at San Antonio.
  • Ph.D. Sociology, 2008, The Ohio State University.


  • Assistant & Associate Professor, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Department of
    Sociology & Criminal Justice, August 2021 – current.
  • State of New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD), Adult Probation and Parole
    September 2020- May 2021.
  • Assistant & Associate Professor, Criminal Justice Dept., New Mexico State University
    (NMSU) August 2015 – August 2020.
  • Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice Dept., Univ. of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)
    August 2008 – May 2015.
  • Lecturer, Criminal Justice Dept., University of Texas at San Antonio August 2003 – July
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Sociology Dept., The Ohio State University Sept 2001 –
    May 2003
  • Caseworker, Youth Gang Intervention, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
    Prevention (OJJDP). Irving Spergel (PI), University of Chicago School of Social Service
    Administration, Jan. 1997- Dec. 2000.

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