A criminology major studies the science behind crimes.

Criminologists are more concerned with why a crime was committed, rather than how the laws that are enforced. Even though there is a strong connection between criminology and criminal justice, they are entirely separate fields of study. Criminology majors consider the social factors that lead to criminal behavior. They are concerned with what causes criminal behavior and possible ways to prevent it from happening. Criminologists research individual criminal behaviors and the end effect of this behavior on society as a whole. Criminology majors also study psychology, criminal law, and law enforcement statistics.

A major in criminology attracts individuals who want to develop creative thinking skills when identifying patterns in criminal behavior. In this article, we will cover the basic requirements for a Criminology career, job options, and various degrees offered.


Basic Requirements for a Criminology Career

Anyone considering a career in criminology should express an interest in a wide range of subjects that include sociology, psychology, law, biology, and investigative techniques.

There are many specialized areas associated with criminology. A prospective criminology major will be interested in exploring many other subjects such as criminal behavior analysis. fingerprinting, or ballistics analysis. Prior to enrolling in courses in criminology, a student should have a high school diploma or a GED. Some high schools offer some preliminary classes in criminal justice for students with an interest in the field before they earn their high school diploma. Once you make the decision to work in public service, it is time to explore the various career paths based on academic requirements. Many criminologist positions require a four-year college degree and some require more advanced education degrees. Many other careers in the criminal justice system require only a two-year college program.


Associate Degree in Criminology

Many colleges require certain prerequisites before a student can be considered for enrollment in an associate program in criminology. You must be a high school graduate or must have passed a GED exam prior to enrollment. The student must profess a desire to study criminology, possess a grade no lower than a C in English in high school, and take and pass an English Proficiency Test. The criminology program also requires a student to pass a physical exam prior to admission. This undergraduate degree requires two or three years to complete, and qualifies students for an entry level job in criminal justice. Students who want to attend classes on a part-time basis may require longer than two or three years to complete. Opportunities abound for these graduates with careers in private security, law, and police academy as an entry level job in law enforcement.


Criminology Positions Requiring a Bachelor’s Degree

An Associate degree is usually sufficient for applying for an entry-level job in law enforcement, but a bachelor’s degree is required to work in corrections or in social work. It also prepares you to pursue more advanced positions in criminology. Most police and sheriff’s departments are now requiring a degree in criminal justice. FBI agents, probation officers, and computer forensic specialists are required to have a degree in criminal justice or criminology.


Forensic Science Technician

The job of forensic science technician requires a four-year degree in science, biology, natural science, or molecular science with an emphasis on criminology. Some advanced supervisory positions require a master’s degree in criminology or criminal justice technology. This highly trained technician can earn up to $61,220 in some states, but in high demand states like Illinois and California, the average salary can be as much as $82,000. This specialized science technician may work in a lab, hospital, courtroom or other places where they use clues to analyze criminal events.


Courses Required for a Criminology Degree

Anyone considering becoming a criminologist should be prepared to study a broad range of subjects that are designed to help students learn more about the criminal justice system. The objective behind the criminology curriculum to familiarize students with learning how to solve crimes based on the scientific method.

……..Culture and Crime

……..Psychology of Criminal Behavior

……..Crime Analysis

……..Criminal Procedures and Evidence

……..Punishment and Corrections

……..Criminal Investigations

……..Juvenile Delinquency

……..Criminal Justice Systems

……..Social Order Theories

……..Homeland Security


Job Opportunities for Criminology Majors

Criminology is a field for those who want to make a difference in the criminal justice system. Those with a degree in criminology can work in a variety of jobs in all social environments. Colleges and universities hire criminologists to teach courses in criminal justice and criminology. State and federal legislatures hire them in advisory positions to help establish public policy and to improve security procedures for all citizens. Many jobs only require a two-year degree, but others require a four-year degree or a master’s degree.



……..Private Investigators

……..Security Consultants for Private Companies

……..Investigators for Insurance Fraud Claims

……..Loss Prevention Consultants in Industry

……..Homeland Security


Job Opportunities for Criminal Justice Majors

A criminal justice degree offers many exciting job opportunities. If you major in criminal justice, you will be taking courses related to how the criminal justice system works in regard to criminal behavior and how it is prosecuted and punished. Most jobs in criminal justice, but not all, require at least a four-year degree in criminal justice. Those without a degree are far less likely to receive promotions in these jobs.

……..Police Officers

……..Probation Officers

……..Corrections Officers

……..Specialists in Loss Prevention


Criminology Master Programs

If you are a student who wants to pursue more specialized training in criminology, you will want to enroll in a masters degree program. Graduates of an advanced master’s degree in criminology typically qualify for the highest paying jobs. This degree provides its students with a more thorough understanding of the criminal justice system. They take courses in criminal psychology and advanced research techniques. The courses are designed to promote critical thinking skills and to teach students about the history of criminal behavior and how it applies in modern times.


Years Required to Complete a Masters Degree Program

It depends on whether you attend classes on a part-time or full-time basis as to the amount of time it will take to complete the program. Most students take two academic years, but there are exceptions. Some programs require students to submit a thesis or complete an internship in addition to successfully passing all courses. These additional requirements add to the time needed to complete the program. The average salary for a criminologist ranges from about $42,000 to $82,000 depending on years of experience and position held.