What degree are you interested in?
Bachelors degrees in criminology are unusual, and you should keep in mind that these programs probably will not qualify you for a job in the field. Most people who enroll in bachelors degree programs in criminology do so in order to advance their careers in fields like law enforcement, where you often do not need a bachelors degree to qualify for a job.
A masters degree is required for criminologists to work in the field. Keep in mind that some schools call their criminology programs by a different name, such as criminal justice, law and society or crime and justice. You should look into the classes that these programs offer to see if they will prepare you for a job in criminology.
A doctorate in criminology will prepare you for an academic career, where you will be teaching university students and conducting scholarly research. Some schools also offer a combined doctorate in criminology and criminal justice. If you plan to work professionally as a criminologist, you probably do not need to pursue a PhD.
Select the degree level you are interested in
Online criminology doctorate programs are not recommended. Even if you do find a rare program for a criminology PhD online, it is not a good idea to pursue it. Doctorate programs in criminology are designed to prepare students to become professors at colleges and universities, but you will not get teaching experience through an online criminology PhD program. Finally, an online criminology program will not provide you with an opportunity to apply your research in the field.
Some schools require you to have a masters degree in criminology or criminal justice to be accepted into their doctorate program. However, many criminology schools will accept students if they have masters degrees in related fields like sociology. In addition, some schools also accept outstanding students with just a bachelors degree.
A doctorate in criminology qualifies you to teach criminology at a college or university. You will also be trained to conduct academic research.
The exact courses that you take while pursuing a doctorate in criminology will vary depending on your program, but you are likely to take classes that expand your knowledge of the advanced theories of criminology. For example, you may take classes about criminal justice policy, policing and the role of women and minorities in crime. You will also take classes about research methods and design that will probably include coursework on academic writing and statistical analysis.
Students will have to earn 60 to 90 credits to earn a doctorate in criminology. It usually takes 4 to 7 years to complete this level of study.
There is only 1 type of doctorate in criminology. A PhD in criminology will require you to complete intensive research that leads to writing a dissertation on a special topic in criminology. It prepares students to become professors and academic professionals.
You need to consider your career goals when you decide whether or not to earn an online bachelors degree in criminology. For instance, if you are pursuing this degree in order to advance your career in social work or law enforcement, earning a bachelors degree in criminology online is a viable option. For these careers, you do not need to develop lab skills or research methods, so an online program will provide you with valuable knowledge.
On the other hand, if your goal is to go to graduate school so that you can work as a criminologist, an online bachelors degree in criminology may not be a good idea. Masters degree programs in criminology are competitive and the best applicants have solid research skills and experience with applied sociology. If you want to go to graduate school in criminology, you should only pursue a bachelors degree in criminology online if the program includes an internship component where you can develop hands-on skills.
If you want to earn a bachelors degree in criminology or a combined degree in criminology and criminal justice, you should look for programs that offer internships. An internship will provide you with practical experience in the field, which may boost your career opportunities or enhance your graduate school prospects. And remember that you do not have to earn a bachelors degree in criminology in order to study it at the masters level. Most masters in criminology students earn their bachelors degrees in sociology or psychology.
You will probably not find a job working in criminology with only a bachelors degree, but you can find a job in a related field like criminal justice or social work. A bachelors degree would qualify you to work as a social worker, police officer, criminal investigator, corrections officer and corrections counselor. Keep in mind that most of these positions require additional training.
To earn a bachelors degree in criminology or criminology and criminal justice, you will take a number of social science classes in areas of study including sociology, psychology and social deviance. You will also take classes on subjects that will teach you about how the criminal justice system functions, like juvenile delinquency, victimology and the legal process. Finally, you are likely to take classes in research and investigative methods like statistics and forensic science.
A bachelors degree in criminology or a combined degree in criminology and criminal justice typically requires students to complete between 120 and 180 credit hours. It takes about 4 years to complete a bachelors degree in this field.
BACHELOR OF ARTS BA
A BA degree in criminology will allow you to explore other disciplines outside of sociology. A BA is a good choice for students who are not interested in pursuing criminological research at the graduate level.
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE BS
A BS degree in criminology offers more classes with a scientific and mathematical focus. You will spend time learning research methods and applied sociology. This option is best for students who want to pursue a graduate-level education that leads to a career in criminology.
An online criminology masters degree may be a good choice for you, but it depends on your academic and career goals. Some online criminology masters degrees do not require students to complete an internship, so you should consider whether an internship is important to you. Generally, professionals who are already working in a field related to criminology, like law enforcement or social work, do not need an internship to show them what real criminology work is like. If you are a professional in the field, earning your criminology masters degree online will help you to advance your career while you continue to work, so this route has few drawbacks.
However, if your goal is to attend graduate school so that you can pursue academic research or teach, an online criminology masters degree may not be a good choice. In general, an online degree is not recognized in the field of academia as a matriculated earned degree. However, this practice may vary from college to college. You should not enroll in a criminology masters program that does not require you to complete an internship. Degrees that are earned entirely online do not provide the same amount of applied research or professional experience that an offline program does, which will hurt your application to a doctorate program.
Therefore, if want to pursue a career in academia, be sure that your research of prospective colleges includes questions that pertain to the creation of professional opportunities in your chosen field.
You do not need a bachelors degree in criminology to get a masters in criminology, but you should have a degree in a related field. Many students who study criminology at the masters level hold bachelors degrees in subjects like sociology, psychology or criminal justice.
A masters degree in criminology will prepare you for most jobs in the field, including working as a criminologist or an FBI special agent, although the FBI requires additional specialized training. You will also be qualified for jobs in related fields like social work and law enforcement.
In a masters in criminology program, you will take classes that are designed to make you an expert in the social sciences, the criminal justice system and academic research methods. The exact courses that you will take vary by school, but you are likely to take classes in criminal psychology, criminal law, ethics and statistical analysis. You should also take electives like computer science, logic and writing to improve your analytical skills because many programs will also require you to complete a thesis.
A masters degree in criminal justice usually requires students to complete 30 to 45 credits, or 2 to 3 years of study. In addition to your classroom work requirements, you may be required to complete a thesis project or you can opt to take a comprehensive examination.