Bachelors In

Criminology Degrees

The complete guide on what you’ll learn, job prospects, university programs, and saving time and money.

Why We Love It

  • $79,620
    Potential Avg. Salary*

* Salary & growth data is based on the recent Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at for 33-3021 Detectives and criminal investigators 11/2021. Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.

With a bachelor of science in criminology, you’ll form a better understanding of the historical and contemporary applications of law enforcement, as well as the environments, behaviors, and influences that contribute to criminal acts and behavior.

You’ll be prepared to enter a career in law enforcement as a detective, in public administration as a social services provider, or in criminal law as a defense attorney.

What is a Degree in Criminology?

In a bachelor of science in criminology program, you’ll focus your studies on the psychology of crime. You’ll learn why criminals commit acts of crime, form an understanding of how the process of imprisonment discourages future criminal behavior, and learn to develop profiles that help catch individuals who’ve committed criminal acts.

You’ll study criminology and law to form a better understanding of the overall legal and justice systems in law enforcement and criminal sentencing.

A bachelor of science is a flexible degree that prepares you for work in a variety of law enforcement and judicial positions. Graduates may go into law enforcement, working as police officers, detectives, and crime scene investigators.

With additional education, they may also find work later in their careers as criminal psychologists, defense attorneys and prosecutors, corrections counselors, or judges. They may also focus on criminal profiling, working for government agencies like the FBI or CIA.

Recommended Schools

What Courses Would I Take For a Major in Criminology?

  • Introduction to Criminology
  • Sociology of Law
  • Social Problems
  • Sociology of Violence
  • Elite and Organized Crime
  • Social Psychology
  • Drugs and Society
  • Juvenile Delinquency

What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Criminology?

Professionals in the forensic science and criminal profiling fields are becoming increasingly necessary in identifying and capturing criminals who’ve left little evidence when committing crimes.

As such, experienced criminologists are expected to be more in demand to assist with criminal investigations and criminal trials, the application of law enforcement, and in criminal and correctional counseling roles. Criminology majors should be competitive for open roles in federal agencies and as forensic scientists.

How Long does it take?

A bachelors in Criminology will have a typical length of 4 years in a full time schedule. That said, there are many ways to speed up the timeframe by either taking more units via online coursework, community college, or taking free classes at that could transfer to universities in the US.

Online Criminology Degree

Criminology is not a popular degree for college students but it may be attractive for students who have the curiosity and passion for knowledge. Students need to complete around 120 credit hours to earn a bachelor’s degree.

It is also common to study criminology as an associate degree by adult students working in a related field as criminal investigations or criminal justice. Some of the subjects studied in criminology degree programs can be transferred to other related degree programs.

What Can You Do With a Criminology Degree?

Criminology is a branch of behavioral and social sciences that deals with crime and deviant behavior. Topics studied in criminology include the nature of crimes and criminals, the origin and development of criminal law, the motives to crimes, the response of society to crimes and the performance of law enforcement authorities and penal institutes.

The study of criminology uses several theories as the labeling theory, the traitor theory, the rational choice theory, the routine activity theory and the biosocial theory.

What does a criminology student learn?

Criminology integrates knowledge from various disciplines to understand all aspects related to crimes. This may include topics from sociology, psychology, philosophy, biology, social anthropology and law. This integrated study provides comprehensive knowledge about the causes, effects and responses to crimes in addition to ways of preventing crimes. The following list shows the courses commonly offered in criminology degree programs:

  1. Introduction to criminology: this is a fundamental course to the program that introduces the students to topics such as theories explaining crime, psychological determinants of crimes, methods of punishment and policing, criminal justice reform and prevention of crimes.
  2. Juvenile delinquency and justice: this course introduces the origin of criminal behavior during childhood and adolescence in addition to discussing the juvenile justice system.
  3. Police and society: the course focuses on the relationship between the police authorities and the community including topics such as diversity, media and perception of police and studying police as a unionized workforce.
  4. Criminological theory: this course introduces criminological paradigms and theories including labeling, differential association, deterrence, feminist, classical, positivist and social disorganization theories.
  5. Conflict resolution: this course presents the methods for conflict resolution, mediation and negotiation. It also introduces the factors controlling conflict escalation and de-escalation. This course helps students, particularly for jobs in counseling and conflict management.
  6. Statistics: it is common to study statistics in criminology degree programs as a research tool essential to reach valid conclusions and theories. Behavior analysis depends mainly on observing behavior trends in a large number of people who are subject to similar conditions.

Now I have a criminology degree…where can I work after graduating?

A criminology degree is not a favorable choice for students who are seeking to start new jobs. Criminal justice systems may prefer other types of degrees other than criminology for their employees. Accordingly, earning a degree in criminology qualifies graduates for a limited number of careers; however, this situation can be improved if it is coupled to another more specialized degree.

The following list shows a number of career options available for criminology graduates:

  1. Law enforcement: you can work in law enforcement authorities as a criminal investigator, detective, immigration inspector, FBI agent or air marshal. Your knowledge of crime motives, psychology or other aspects of criminology is useful for identifying criminals and predicting their behavior.
  2. Private investigation: you can work as a freelancer investigator to help people seeking additional support other than the official authorities.
  3. Academia: subjects of criminology are common to a variety of programs in law, sociology and psychology and this offers an opportunity for criminology graduates to work in teaching in colleges and schools.

Should I choose a criminology science degree?

Criminology is an interesting field of study as it relates directly to human behavior and ways to change unacceptable behaviors. It is not financially rewarding compared to other degrees but it can help you develop a number of skills useful for your life in general:

  1. Understanding behavioral patterns and human nature: this is probably the most important benefit of studying criminology on a personal level. You will improve your ability to understand the people you are dealing with and differentiate between lies or facts.
  2. Mathematics, computer science and statistics skills: statistics and mathematical models are essential parts of analyzing the data that build the theories used in criminology.
  3. Observation of fine details: criminologists should not miss small details related to the life and behavior of criminals. Single events or actions may be useful in explaining the origin of some crimes.
  4. Communication skills: studying criminology will help you understand human behavior and communicate effectively with people. You also need to have excellent written communication skills to report and explain your findings or observations regarding criminals, crimes or penal institutes.
  5. Analytical skills: you should have the ability to carefully analyze the data and observations to reach valid and reasonable conclusions.

Recommended Schools

Best Jobs for Criminology Degrees

Criminology takes a scientific approach to addressing and preventing crime, using the principles of forensics, sociology, and psychology. While a criminology degree can prepare individuals for a career in law enforcement, it is more often a starting point for a career in criminal investigations, criminal defense or prosecution, or criminal counseling.

They may work as detectives, as FBI or CIA agents, or as defense attorneys or prosecutors.

How to save time and money

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