What are the top brick-and-mortar and online colleges and universities for criminology?
Whether a school is considered among the top criminology colleges may depend on which subfield of criminology a student intends to pursue, such as corrections, law enforcement, private investigation, criminalistics, forensics, profiling, cybersecurity or international counterterrorism. This will also usually determine whether a certification or associates degree is sufficient or if a bachelors or masters is required.
According to the U.S. News and World Report college rankings, the overall best colleges for criminology are University of Maryland, College Park, State University of New York, Albany, University of Cincinnati, University of Missouri, St. Louis and Pennsylvania State University at University Park.
Utica College in New York is the best known college for criminology studies in cybercrime investigation, offering a bachelors degree with both on-campus and online degree programs. Similarly, Florida Institute of Technology is known for its BA in forensic psychology, and Kaplan University boasts a top BSCJ in Crime Scene Investigation.
The College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University received a number 1 ranking among the best criminology colleges for faculty that produces the most research. You might consider the potential undergraduate research opportunities that could be open to students at a college on the cutting edge of new knowledge in its field.
What extracurricular activities should I pursue when I am studying criminology in college?
Most colleges have a Criminology Student Association that can help you get involved in various activities that are popular with other criminology students. One interesting extracurricular activity that is particularly common amongst students at top criminology universities is martial arts, perhaps because students expect it to be helpful when apprehending criminals in their future careers.
Activities that facilitate your success in school and beyond may involve you participating in research or investigations. Getting connected with the local branch of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) could lead to opportunities in research. For instance, a criminology student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale presented her research on mental illness in correctional institutions to lawmakers in Washington D.C. at an event hosted by CUR. Many accredited criminology universities will also involve undergraduates in their own similar research programs.
The best criminology universities will often help you find volunteer opportunities at correctional facilities or assisting local law enforcement with more mundane tasks such as monitoring CCTV cameras.
The geographic location of your criminology college can provide unique opportunities as well. For instance, criminology students at University of Pennsylvania are able to work as student assistants for the United States Secret Service and at the Philadelphia Field Office. Check with your program advisor about opportunities particular to your school or region.
What volunteer opportunities will I have at my brick-and-mortar or online criminology university?
Some volunteer opportunities for students enrolled in criminology online colleges will offer a chance to learn about vulnerable populations that you may encounter in the criminal justice field and help increase your understanding and awareness. For example, to work with the cognitively disabled, you can contact your local chapter of the Arc of the United States. Or if you are interested in working with disadvantaged youth, get in touch with mentoring programs like Big Brothers/Big Sisters or YMCA programs.
Additionally, social service organizations that need support often turn to a nearby criminology university for volunteers. Check with nearby victim or witness advocacy, restorative justice or substance abuse programs to see if they have positions for student volunteers.
Another volunteer option that can bolster your online bachelor degree in criminology is writing articles for the websites or newsletters of professional associations. Check the organization’s guidelines or contact the editor to pitch ideas. If this does not work out, start writing book or movie reviews of the latest crime stories and create your own blog.
Students at colleges for criminology online often find volunteer opportunities with state, local or tribal governments. In some cases, volunteering abroad may be possible through the U.S. Interpol Office, particularly for students with strong writing skills or computer savvy.