Top Criminology Programs in Criminal Justice

Top Criminology Programs in Criminal Justice

We have 298 criminology programs in our database.

What Is Criminology?

While criminal justice deals directly with the enforcement of the law and the punishment of the offenders, criminology is focused on studying the causes of crime and its impact on society. Criminology draws from a number of different academic areas, including sociology, psychology, behavioral science, and the physical sciences in understanding why crime occurs and how it can be prevented.

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What Do Criminologists Do?

In the broadest sense, criminologists as a whole work to formulate theories of crime and develop strategies for deterring future criminal acts. The principles established by criminologists serve as the foundation for shaping policy within the different branches of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, the prison system, and the courts. Individually, the day-to-day duties of a criminologist ultimately depend on their field of specialization. For example, a forensic psychologist may work with the court system to diagnose mentally ill defendants and recommend a specific plan of treatment.

Victimologists study the victims of crimes while crime scene investigators and forensic technicians are responsible for processing evidence and using this information to develop a theory of how the crime occurred and identify possible suspects.

What Kind of Education Do I Need to Be a Criminologist?

The type of degree you’ll need to pursue a career in criminology depends on your primary area of interest. While a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for a number of criminal justice careers, criminologists typically require additional education at the graduate level. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a forensic psychologist, you’ll need both a master’s degree or higher in criminology as well as a doctoral degree in either clinical or counseling psychology. If you’re a fan of shows like CSI, you may only need a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree in criminology to get started. If, however, you want to specialize in a particular area of crime scene investigation, such as ballistics or toxicology, it may be necessary to complete an additional degree in chemistry, biology or one of the other physical science fields.

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*Consider accredited online programs that can put a Bachelors or Masters in Criminal Justice degree well within reach:

Career Opportunities in Criminology

Compared to other criminal justice careers, the projected job growth for criminologists overall is promising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for forensic science technicians, including crime scene investigators, is expected to grow by 19 percent through the year 2020. Employment of psychologists, including forensic psychologists, is expected to increase by 22 percent within the same period. Salary ranges for criminologists vary widely, depending on your particular area of expertise. For example, the median annual wage of psychologists, in 2010, was $68,640 with the top 10 percent making more than $100,000 annually. Forensic science technicians earned slightly less, with a median annual income of $51,570, which was still nearly $20,000 higher than the national average for all income groups in the United States.