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Why Criminology?

The FBI crime statistics of 2015 reported an estimated 15,696 murders, 90,185 reported rapes and 1.2 million violent crimes. More optimistically, the murder rate for 2016 was 6 percent lower than a decade ago, while the violent crime rate for 2016 was 18 percent below the 2007 tally. Through the study of criminology, you can affect these figures with the knowledge and expertise to deter criminal behavior. Coursework at the undergraduate level goes beyond general behaviors and causes of crime to focus on specific issues, such as juvenile crime, violence in the workplace and terrorism.

Degree Options

The courses you will encounter while researching criminology degree colleges vary as much as there are colleges offering the degree. There is the choice of a Bachelor of Arts or Science in Criminology. We will outline some of the courses offered in each to show the differences. In addition, if you Google criminology degrees, you will see that many schools show their degree in Criminal Justice. There is a distinct difference between the two. Both areas are ideally suited for those with backgrounds or interests in law enforcement, criminal behavior, forensic sciences, counseling, social work, sociology or psychology, to name a few.

Criminology is the study of criminal behaviors, ethics, leadership, and crime causes. Criminal Justice is the study of all aspects of the justice system on a national and international scale. This includes the study of police, court, and prison systems. For the purpose of this article, we will not elaborate further on the differences.

Bachelor of Science

One online Bachelor of Science program in Criminology requires a total of 45 credit hours in core studies and an additional 15 credit hours of elective classes. You can expect courses to involve an analysis of crime. Samples of this entail titles such as Crime Analysis, Victimology, Psychology of Crime, Research Methods, and Problem Solving in Criminology. Most programs will expose you to Homeland Security terminology and concepts, as well as the review of various First Responder agencies (FEMA, Secret Service, and Police). You may also explore topics of Terrorism. For example, the current and historical sociological, political, and religious climates contributing to acts of terrorism.

The Bachelor of Science degree provides the opportunity for depth by allowing students to develop a stronger foundation in research methods, quantification, and the sciences as a basis for the study of crime and the criminal justice and legal systems. Whereas the Bachelor of Arts degree allows students to pursue more traditional liberal arts courses by providing a breadth of knowledge in languages, arts, humanities, social sciences and other cultures. In support of this premise, an Arts program may have more electives. Examples of choices from one school’s Department of Sociology and Criminology are Policing in America, Sociology of Deviance, Sexual and Domestic Violence, Women and the Criminal Justice System, and the American Court System.

Bachelor of Arts

There are B.A. degrees in Criminology that mirror coursework found in Criminal Justice programs. Meaning there are more courses devoted to the criminal justice system than the analysis of crime. For example, this type of coursework may include a critical look at aspects such as police, courts, prisons, diversion programs, criminal laws, and restorative justice practices. However, this coursework would still include subjects as the Statistical Analysis in Criminology, Victims of Crime, Criminal Mind and Criminality, and Criminological Theories. Students study the court system in law-related classes. Examples are Procedural Criminal Law, Mechanics of the Courtroom, and the Jury System.

Master’s Degree

The primary focus of a master’s program is the preparation of criminologists by emphasizing systematic training in theory and research methodology. To meet this objective, coursework may include theoretical criminology, social statistics, juvenile justice, social deviance, law and the legal process. The degree prepares students to work in various areas of the criminal justice system including, but not limited to, field positions, administration, organizational management, and social services. These are offered as both a Master of Arts and Master of Science. And you can take a typical 36 credit hours curriculum online.

Additional Choices

Individuals interested in the legal aspect as well as criminology can find schools offering a major in Criminology and Law Studies. This major combines the causes and prevention of criminal behavior, as well as the meaning and application of the legal process, law enforcement, court management, and correctional treatment. One program in this combined major begins with Introduction to Criminology courses in your Freshman year. In your Junior year, you study the Criminal Court Process, Corrections, and Methods of Criminological Research. By the third year, the classes involve Police Organization, Social Statistics, and Liberal Arts. The Senior year has a Criminology Internship or elective. Undergraduates with this major are widely sought after because of their ability to assess how race, social class, gender, and age affect our laws and legal systems.

There are schools that immerse you further in the field of criminology by providing voluntary organizations, such as a Criminology and Law Society. The group organizes guest speaker visits for people currently working in the criminal justice field. The students meet about once a month during the school year and discuss topics concerning criminology and law. Another example is a Criminology Club open to all undergraduates interested in this subject. Students meet to discuss current issues relating to crime, criminal behavior, the legal system, and law enforcement.