What is Criminology?

| Staff Writers

Advertisement BestCounselingDegrees.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to find your fit?

Find the information you need to find, get into, pay for, and thrive in the best college for you.

While criminal justice deals more with the individuals who investigate crimes and arrest suspects, criminology is the study of crime and what makes it happen. A graduate of a criminology program studies the how, where and why of criminals, crime and criminal behavior. Criminology is also a field that offers an abundance of career opportunities.

What It Is

Criminology is the study of crime from a social view. It’s the study of not just crime in general but what impact crime has on society, the causes of crime and the individuals who commit the crime. The focus of the study is to determine what makes individuals commit crimes or act in a criminal manner. It also studies why certain areas have more crimes or how crime affects victims. Anything having to do with criminals, crimes and crime victims is covered in the study of criminology.

See our ranking of the Top 25 Small Colleges for a Counseling Degree.

Advertisement BestCounselingDegrees.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

What Criminologists Do

Many describe working as criminologists as exciting, unpredictable and interesting. What they often fail to say is that it’s an occupation that requires an individual be detail oriented, logical thinkers and have the ability to look at the big picture. Criminologists may do some of their studies and research alone, but spend a great deal of time working with law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level. They may spend part of their day in an office studying certain behavioral patterns of a criminal or may be out in the field helping to investigate a crime and searching for evidence. Criminologists may also go to crime scenes, question witnesses or attend autopsies. Their basic duties include:

  • Conducting Research
  • Developing Theories
  • Investigating Crime Scenes
  • Composing Reports

How to Become a Criminologist

To become a criminologist requires at least a bachelor’s degree. The Princeton Review states that while criminologists may be hired with just a bachelor’s degree, many choose to earn a master’s degree in behavioral sciences. Individuals who want to teach the subject must complete doctoral degree programs in sociology or psychology. The major of criminologists have completed psychology programs.

Criminology programs have courses in behavioral science, logic, computer science, statistics, psychology, and writing. Many of the states require criminologists to pass a written test to be licensed. At the start of their careers, they’re often referred to as assistant or junior criminologist. The title of criminologist is usually not used until the individual has at least five years’ experience.

Career Opportunities for Graduates

An individual who graduates from a criminology program is not limited to just working as a criminologist, although that in itself is a very rewarding career. Graduates may initially work as criminologists but decide they want more of the “real action” and pursue similar criminal justice careers as federal law enforcement investigators, detectives or police officers. Other career opportunities available to criminology graduates include:

  • Federal law enforcement investigators
  • Police officers
  • Detectives
  • Prison officers
  • Community development workers
  • Probation officers
  • Social workers
  • Psychologists

With the high rate of crime today, many individuals are pursuing careers in law enforcement. Whether the job is as a police officer, detective, social worker or criminologist, they’re all contributing a much-needed service to the public. Those who earn degrees in criminology are in positions to choose almost any criminal justice career they desire.

Latest Posts

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Counseling Programs

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Counseling Programs

January 22, 2021   |   Staff Writers

A master's degree in counseling online provides an affordable option for students interested in helping people through challenges and difficulties. See our rankings for details.

Comparing Psy.D. vs. Ph.D. Programs

Comparing Psy.D. vs. Ph.D. Programs

October 13, 2020   |   Staff Writers

When choosing between a Psy.D. and a Ph.D., psychology students can find help from this guide. The best path hinges on interests and career goals.

Advertisement BestCounselingDegrees.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

View hand-picked degree programs