There are many ways in which studying crime and criminals can help us better understand our own society. We can begin to identify and address the underlying causes of criminal behavior by examining “why” crimes occur and what motivates individuals to commit them. In spite of the fact that some people in every society will always deviate from social norms in a destructive manner, minimizing this process has real benefits for the entire society. Understanding crime is the first step in reducing it.
There are many misconceptions about criminology, and this is one of the most common ones. In our section on the difference between criminology and criminal justice, we’ll go into greater detail on this topic. One thing to keep in mind when reading this guide is that criminology doesn’t focus on enforcing the law. Criminology is not concerned with how to manage inmates, how to catch criminals, or how to coerce confessions.
Rather than simply focusing on the answers to the questions listed above, criminology attempts to delve deeper into the mind of the criminal.
If you choose to pursue a career in criminology, you will learn about a variety of topics, including:
- Crime rates are on the rise.
- Locations of criminal activity
- Crime has a wide range of repercussions.
- From a wide range of people and organizations
- How criminals are “dealt with” by governments or individuals
And a host of other criminal activities. While criminal justice studies are a sub-discipline of sociology, they are still committed to conducting scientific research.
A career in criminology may be right for you if you’ve ever wondered why criminals do what they do or why we treat them in certain ways.
What Degrees Are Available in Criminology?
There are criminology degrees available at every level of education. Students who are interested in a career in criminal justice or criminology often seek knowledge from both of these fields. The majority of criminal justice students who earn an associate’s degree may go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminology or something similar.
Associate’s degrees in criminology serve primarily as a stepping stone to doctoral studies. There are many community college systems that offer free or greatly reduced tuition costs for in-district or in-state residents to pursue these degrees. Following your associate’s degree in criminology, you have the option of enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program in the same field or another.
General education classes are required at the associates level. These aren’t criminology courses per se, but they are meant to ensure that you are a well-rounded thinker, capable of clear communication, and knowledgeable in science and mathematics at the college level.
In order to earn an associate’s degree in criminology, you’ll need to complete the following courses:
- Justice for children
- The investigation of a crime
- Law and Procedure in Criminal Cases
- Corrections in the community
- Society and the Police
- In addition, you have the option of taking electives.
Criminology bachelor’s degrees are commonly the starting point for those who want to help with criminological research. A bachelor’s degree in criminology is a popular choice for both law enforcement and loss prevention, despite the fact that a bachelor’s degree is not required.
Traditionally, it takes four years to complete a bachelor’s degree, but part-time or accelerated study can reduce that time to as little as three years.
Bachelor’s degrees in criminology begin with general education requirements, like associate’s degrees in criminology. These are generally the same as those in associate’s degree programs.
You’ll take some of the following courses once you’ve completed your upper-division courses:
- In terms of neighborhood crime,
- Legal Processes and Procedures
- Microeconomics courses are offered.
- Analyses of Governmental Action
- Law and Economics
- Literature on the Law
- Issues of social justice and public policy
- Sociological Theory
- Laws and Social Order
- Gangs and Organized Criminality
- History of American Law, Volumes I and II
- The Contract for the Common Good
- Law and Legal Thought
- Politics in the United States
- Constitution of the United States of America
There are numerous subfields within the larger field of criminal justice that can be explored in greater depth with a bachelor’s degree in criminology. Criminology degrees tend to prepare students well for advanced degrees in criminology, sociology, or law school.
In general, criminology degrees tend to be more academic than practical. There could be additional requirements for a thesis, capstone project, or research in some programs.
Students can begin to take an active role in criminology research at the master’s level. Those with a master’s degree in criminology are better prepared for law enforcement positions than those with a bachelor’s degree. In addition, a master’s degree is usually required for positions in public policy, government, and criminology research.
What do you learn in a criminology master’s degree?
The core of a criminology master’s degree is a set of courses, which may be more diverse than those offered at the bachelor’s degree level. The following are possible examples of such classes:
- Theories of crime and punishment, a survey
- Theory and Research in Criminal Justice
- The use of computer technology in criminal justice.
- Methods of Criminal Justice Research
- Applied Statistics in Criminology
- Racism, Ethnic Minority Issues, and Criminal Justice
- Rights and Procedures for Individuals, as well as Criminal Law
- Youth delinquency and crime prevention
- Criminal Justice and Criminology in Comparative Perspective
- In the field of criminal justice administration
- The Police and Society
Finally, criminology doctoral degrees help students get ready for full-time careers in research and education. Those who wish to pursue a career in criminology to its pinnacle should pursue a doctor of philosophy degree (Ph.D.). Two years of classroom instruction are followed by several years of research in this research doctorate. To earn a Ph.D., you must write a dissertation at the end of your studies. Dissertations are lengthy research papers of several hundred pages each that have been accepted for publication in scholarly journals after being subjected to a rigorous peer review process.
Although Ph.D.’s allow for the widest range of options, there are some common areas that criminology doctorates tend to concentrate on. Included in this list are:
- Women who Commit Crime
- Offenders in their Adolescent Years
- Management of Crime
- In addition, there are numerous other possibilities.
A Criminology Degree Can Be Earned Online?
Yes, that’s the quick answer. There are a wide variety of online criminology degrees available at every academic level.
There has been an increase in the number of students taking at least one class online in recent years.
As a result, not everyone should pursue a degree entirely online.
It’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of in-person and online degrees before making a final decision.
Among the most frequently cited advantages of an online degree are:
- That a large number of programs charge lower fees is a factor.
- A greater degree of adaptability is possible with asynchronous programs.
- Because you don’t have to relocate in order to further your education, this is an advantage.
- The fact that you receive the same degree as if you had attended an in-person program is a major selling point.
- Providers of specialized assistance to working adults
While these are all positive aspects of online education, students also point out the following drawbacks:
- When it comes to online classes, it’s generally more difficult for students and instructors to get to know each other.
- In online environments, there are typically fewer support services.
- Self-motivation is a key component of online learning because it relies on your own initiative.
The fact that a course is available online does not entail that you should only use that method of delivery. Self-starters and people who want more freedom should consider this option. For those who prefer the social pressure and interpersonal relationships of face-to-face events, online programs may not be for you.
Consider the fact that an online degree can fall under a wide range of definitions. There are some hybrid degree programs that require students to attend every other class session in person, whereas fully online degree programs may not require you to attend campus once in years of instruction.
It’s also possible to log in at any time with asynchronous courses. You may still be required to meet a set of deadlines and adhere to a timetable. In contrast to a traditional classroom setting, where students must log on at the same time each day, this is a much more flexible option.
How can I get into a criminology program?
Admissions requirements for criminology degrees are typically the same as those for other degrees at the same level.
Many community colleges’ “open admissions” policies allow any student to enter the associate’s degree program at the associate’s level. Students must then maintain a certain grade point average in order to stay in the course.
Ordinary college entrance exams, such as the ACT or SAT, are commonly required for bachelor’s degree programs. Admissions officers may also request additional documentation, such as a resume, letters of recommendation, transcripts, or essays.
Master’s degrees typically require a statement of purpose and a connection to a professor. When applying to a criminology program, you’ll want to explain what you hope to learn and research.
As part of your doctoral studies, you may be required to work with a variety of faculty members as “mentors.” Once you’ve found a school that you think would be a good fit for your research, it’s time to start the application process.
All of the prerequisites for admission to a criminology program are, of course, much more extensive. Nonetheless, our primary goal is to give you a general idea of what you might need to do in order to get accepted to a university and pursue a criminology degree there.
What’s the Difference Between Criminology and Criminal Justice?
Criminology is not the same academic field as criminal justice, which is one of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of the discipline.
The fields of criminology and criminal justice are sometimes offered as associate’s degrees. In terms of academic pursuits that require original research, these are two distinct academic interests.
So, what exactly is the distinction?
The suffix “-ology” means “the study of,” and criminology is no exception. Criminology, the study of crime and its consequences, is exactly what it sounds like. How, why, and where do crimes take place are all questions that criminology tries to answer.
There are many ways in which criminal justice uses criminology in its work. Rather than focusing solely on the “what,” criminal justice focuses more on the “how.” A career in law enforcement is better suited to someone who has studied and trained in this area.
What are my options as a recent criminology graduate?
A degree in criminology opens up many career options.
Criminologists, on the other hand, are one of the most direct routes out of academia. If you’re a sociology researcher, you might find yourself working with these academicians in universities or other places that support sociological research. Some of them may be writers, while others may be researchers who aid policymakers in their work.
Criminologists aren’t as common as you might think. And the entry requirements are quite high, requiring a master’s degree at the very least.
If you are a criminology fanatic, however, this is a great way to continue your investigation into the most difficult questions about why, when, and where crime occurs.
There is currently a $83,571 average salary for criminologists.
Criminology graduates are well-prepared for a career in law, even though we did not go into the specifics of obtaining a law degree. Graduates in the field of criminology, in particular, are well-suited to careers as criminal defense or prosecution counsel. In nearly every criminal trial, these attorneys go head-to-head.
In many cases, prosecutor lawyers will be employed by the state, federal government, or a municipality. For a governmental body, they may handle all cases of a certain stature, or they may specialize in one type of crime.
The state, on the other hand, assigns criminal defense attorneys to those who cannot afford legal representation. In addition, they practice law in private for-profit and nonprofit firms. Attorneys who focus on a particular area of law or criminal offense are called “specialists.”
A criminal defense attorney’s average salary is $78,500, while a prosecutor’s is $91,950.
Law enforcement is a third career option for criminology majors. The most common job is that of a police officer, but there are many others. There is plenty of room for advancement within police departments for college or graduate school graduates, even if they do not have a degree from a police academy. The majority of criminologists end up working as detectives or as leaders in law enforcement later in their careers.
The following is a breakdown of the typical pay for some of the most common law enforcement positions:
- $65,400 for a police officer.
- Detection Officer: $85,020
- Special Agent: $135,177 per year
- Ten thousand eight hundred and forty-four dollars
Finally, grant writers for non-profits and research organizations are often rewarded for their talents as criminologists. Many social justice and public health initiatives are predicated on the accurate quantification of crime statistics. Crime has a devastating impact on the health and well-being of those who live in areas where it is prevalent. Many criminologists are ready to take on research roles in which the importance of tracking crime is recognized.
Grant writers make an average salary of $45,850, despite the fact that there are many other positions in the nonprofit sector.