What are the Different Types of Criminology Programs?

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  • Written By: Brenda Scott
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 January 2019
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A criminologist is a person who applies scientific research and methods to the study of crime, criminal behavior, law enforcement and criminal justice. Criminology programs usually fall under the category of forensic sciences, and offer a well-rounded basis for numerous careers. Degrees in criminology are offered at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels. While the bachelor programs are usually broadbased, they may also be directly tied to a career field such as law enforcement or forensics. Upper level degrees are more focused on specialties within the field.

Most baccalaureate criminology programs contain common elements of study: sociology, criminal behavior, criminal law, statistical analysis, penology, and various aspects of the law enforcement and justice systems. Students are generally required to participate in an internship in some related field, and often engage in field work with various law enforcement agencies. This is a good program for someone interested in a career in law enforcement, criminal justice, policy making or forensics.


A bachelor degree is usually sufficient to work in law enforcement, corrections, security, juvenile case work and many sociology-related careers. If a person desires to enter one of these fields, he should look at criminology programs with his desired career emphasis. Colleges offer a wide range of degree specialties. Some of these options include forensic behavioral sciences, corrections, law enforcement, juvenile justice, homeland security, and crime scene investigation. Several Internet directories exist which can provide quick access to the programs offered at schools around the world.

Pursing an upper level degree in criminology does not necessarily require a bachelor’s degree in that field. Many criminology programs will accept students with an undergraduate degree in a variety of disciplines. As with any master or doctorate level program, each school will have requirements for a minimum level of prior academic achievement or grade point average, and may require a minimum score on a standardized test.

Master's and Doctoral criminology programs are much more specialized, and should be chosen to match the area of expertise the student wishes to pursue. Some programs focus primarily on studying the behavior that causes or predicts criminal behavior, and how to use this knowledge in crime prevention or rehabilitation. The goal of these programs is to provide research that can influence public policy. Criminology programs with this emphasis help prepare a student for a career as a policy advisor, community corrections specialist, research officer, or a victim or consumer advocate.

A student desiring a job in juvenile justice or crime intelligence should choose an upper-level course of study tailored to these areas. Other criminology programs place more emphasis on the scientific study and the analysis of crime and evidence. These schools offer significant training in forensics. This is the type of program a person seeking a career in crime intelligence or crime scene analysis should consider.

With the world-wide increase in terrorist activities, job availability in law enforcement and security at both local and national levels has increased. Many jurisdictions are also concerned with increased prison populations and the associated costs. Opportunities exist for people who can develop effective programs to divert or rehabilitate people caught up in the system. Anyone who is interested in helping form public policies in these areas should consider enrolling in one of the many criminology programs.



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