Earning a criminology degree starts with showing an interest in the field as early as possible. Though there is still time for a student to change his or her mind before declaring a major, those who have a good idea if they want to pursue that degree path would do well to start in high school with some appropriate elective courses. Those who wait until college before becoming interested in the field are still not too far behind, however.
Though it is not necessary to take high school courses in the area of study to earn a criminology degree, it can provide a good background. Those students still in high school will often have elective choices in criminal justice, law and psychology. All of those play important roles in criminology, which is the science of criminal behavior and law enforcement. Therefore, getting good backgrounds in all of them will help lay a good foundation for the more in-depth courses offered in college.
For those entering college, declaring a major in criminology as early in the process as possible is a good way to begin. There will be some prerequisite courses that can be handled in the general education portion of the coursework. This is generally done during the first two years. Getting these courses completed during this time will help expedite the process of getting into the core curriculum for criminology training.
There are a number of different courses that will be needed for a criminology degree. These include history of law enforcement, criminal investigations, forensic science as applied to law enforcement, and other civic and psychological courses. These courses will not be named the same way at every school, so be careful to choose classes accordingly. For questions, consult an academic adviser. Choosing electives in the area of civics and psychology, even if not required to complete the major, may also be very helpful to the student as well.
A criminology degree will also likely require an internship of some sort. There are many career fields to choose from, including the basic law enforcement careers, such as being a police officer. In addition, an individual with a criminology degree may become a crime analyst, or even a public policy adviser, informing lawmakers of how best to write laws for certain situations. Some also work for as lobbyists for various agencies. The student should do some research to find out which career interests them the most and then pursue internships in those areas.
In addition to earning a criminology degree at a traditional college, the degrees are also available online. For those who have a non-traditional schedule, this may offer a good option. There are many criminology colleges that offer a full degree program online, so finding an option that fits a student's needs may not be difficult.