How hard is it to gain admission to brick-and-mortar or online graduate programs in criminology?
While admission into any graduate program is competitive, even the best criminology graduate programs have reasonable admission requirements. Programs offered by the most notable schools require excellent references and moderately high GPAs and GRE scores, although some schools will accept lower GPAs in lieu of work experience or transferable masters level courses in criminal justice.
In the 3 top criminology graduate programs, each college requires an admission packet, including reference letters, GRE scores and official transcripts. Most of the time only 10 to 20 students are admitted as masters students and even less into the doctoral program, so it is crucial to have an application that stands out.
To have a truly competitive application packet, make sure you have excellent test scores, work experience in a related field and an accredited undergraduate degree. Schools are looking for a combined verbal and quantitative score of 297 on the GRE, a GPA of 3.0 or better and excellent references from professors and colleagues. Additionally, an undergraduate degree in a social science is beneficial as some schools require undergraduate coursework related to criminology or research methodology.
There are a number of criminology online graduate programs that are very easy to enroll in, but an accredited online degree will have the same basic requirements as a conventional degree. Make sure that you check with the U.S. Department of Education’s database of accredited secondary schools to ensure that your program is valid.
What are the average salaries for criminology degree graduates?
Some students stop at an associates and bachelors degree in criminology, but if you attend a criminology graduate school, you will find that you are much more marketable and your wages should increase dramatically. There are several professions where a graduate degree in criminology makes a huge difference in the overall pay scale.
Students who only get a bachelors degree in criminal justice may be able to work as a correctional officer, which has an annual salary of between $31,000 and $82,000 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, you may only be able to reach the high end of that scale by getting a job as a prison warden, federal police officer or probation officer, and these often require a traditional or online masters in criminology.
There are jobs available only to people who pursue a higher degree in criminology. College professors of criminal justice are usually required to have a PhD in criminology and make a median of over $62,000 per year.
Although entry-level forensic scientists often only need a bachelors degree to work with governmental agencies like the FBI or CIA, you must complete at least some graduate level work. These jobs can make up to $95,000 per year, which is a significant increase from local forensics jobs, which start at just over $50,000 yearly.
If I am interested in pursuing a graduate degree in criminology, what related graduate programs should I consider?
If you are interested in criminology, you might also be interested in criminal psychology. While criminologists focus on the correctional side of criminal behavior, criminal psychologists focus on the establishment of these behaviors as a part of the mental, emotional and genetic makeup of the criminal.
Although some accredited criminology graduate schools will offer a glimpse into this course of study through abnormal psychology requirements, a full graduate program for criminal psychology requires extensive job training, an internship and a research project.
Another related field is criminal law. Students with criminal law degrees represent governmental agencies in court cases where individuals and companies violate the law. While criminology graduate students might find themselves working on a criminal law case, or at a facility where criminals are incarcerated, a criminal law student learns how to defend or prosecute a criminal after a crime has been committed. These degrees require a 3-year masters program in addition to passing the bar examination.
For those who are interested in forensic criminology, a graduate degree in chemistry is an interesting related field. Like forensic criminology, chemistry grad students will learn about chemical substances and their reactions, the effects of outside influences to determine time lapse and an array of current testing and research methods. Chemistry graduate students diverge to focus on experimental research and product generation for private companies, while forensic criminology graduate students learn basic chemical processes to help provide data about criminal investigations.
Are there any iPhone or iPad apps that would benefit me while I am completing my on-campus or online criminology graduate degree?
Criminology is an iPhone app provided by Macworld that gives a comprehensive database of criminology vocabulary. This is a helpful app for students in criminology grad schools who are having a hard time memorizing the extensive criminal and anatomical terminology and related laws.
The I Was There forensic photography app is perfect if you want evidence to prove you were where you claimed the night before. This app lets you take a photo of yourself from your iPhone, then it encrypts and time stamps it so that you can use the picture as evidence of your location. As a student of criminology, it is a great way to document research for your thesis or for use in your future career if you are planning on using your degree to go into investigation.
If you are pursuing your graduate degree to get a job as a prison administrator, there is no better way to learn than on the job training, even if all your inmates happen to be cartoons. Prison Mayhem is an iPad app that lets you be a mini-warden of your own tiny penitentiary. This game is a fun, interactive way for you to learn time management and coping skills, which are essential for graduate programs in criminology.