Criminology Degrees Online: An Overview
Criminology, a branch of sociology, is the study of crime and criminal behaviors. Criminology is an interdisciplinary field that draws on disciplines including psychology, economics, political science, and more. Students of criminology learn about why people commit crimes and dive deep into relevant concepts, such as criminal justice, law enforcement, and sociological factors that influence crime.
An online bachelor's degree in criminology typically takes four years to complete at a full-time pace. Students may have to demonstrate a certain minimum GPA and pass an entrance exam, like the SAT or ACT, in order to be admitted into an online criminology program.
Is Criminology a Hard Major?
Criminology is an interdisciplinary major that requires students to read texts, write essays, and analyze various sources and statistics. Criminology may have less stringent requirements than some more technical fields, but it can still be a challenging major.
What Is the Difference Between BA and BS in Criminology?
A Bachelor of Arts in Criminology means that the curriculum requires more coursework that's focused on the humanities. This may include more writing projects and ethics classes, for example. A Bachelor of Science in Criminology, meanwhile, focuses more on the science and mathematics involved in this field.
In general, these are interchangeable degrees, with schools generally offering one or the other. However, a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology is often more common,as criminology is considered a socialscience.
Is Criminal Justice and Criminology the Same?
Criminology and criminal justice are very similar, but there are a few important differences. Students who study criminal justice typically focus more narrowly on law enforcement, while those who study criminology focus more broadly on the sociological and psychological factors that influence crime.
Students majoring in criminology will gain exposure to a wide variety of disciplines, including sociology, psychology, history, and economics. Courses will focus on the study of crime and criminals, approaches to reducing crime, criminal justice legislation and reform, and why people commit crimes.
Introduction to Criminology
Faculty introduce students to foundational concepts in criminology, including the study of crime, the history of criminal justice, and why/how crime occurs. Students gain exposure to theories and methods behind the study of criminology as well as current and historical trends in the field.
Criminology and Public Policy
Students explore the intersection of the study of criminology with current policy and legislation in this course. Students may also learn about how policy at the local, state, and federal level can affect crime, including how policies may positively or negatively affect the rate of crime and the behavior of individuals.
Quantitative Methods for Sociologists
As a branch of sociology, the study of criminology can involve quantitative research. This class introduces criminology students to quantitative research methods: experiments, observation, surveys, secondary data analysis, and more. This course enables students to more accurately gather and analyze sociological data as it relates to the study of criminology.
An introductory law course exposes students to the relationship between criminology and the legal system. Students learn about the origin and development of the American legal system, including how laws affect crime, social justice, and the legal system.
Contemporary Issues in Criminology
During this course, students are exposed to the latest trends and developments in this field, such as new explanations for crime, current criticisms of criminology, criminal justice reform, social justice, wrongful convictions, the death penalty, contemporary criminal law, and the difference between crime and social harm. Students gain a robust understanding of the current state of the study of criminology.
Criminologists study how and why crimes occur, taking a sociological approach to the issue of crime. However, criminology can prepare students for a wide variety of other careers in the criminal justice field. Students may choose to pursue careers as criminologists who study and research crime. They may also pursue other related career paths, such as law enforcement or public policy.
Below we've listed a few career options for graduates of a criminology major, including salary and job growth data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
Annual Median Salary: $92,910
Job Outlook: 5%
Criminologists are specific kinds of sociologists that study the sociology of crime. Criminologists are sometimes also known as penologists because they analyze the penal system. They may use both quantitative and qualitative methods when researching the cause and effects of crime. Demand for this position is expected to grow at a slower-than-average rate over the next decade.
Annual Median Salary: $66,020
Job Outlook: 3%
Law enforcement officers, like police officers and detectives, are responsible for protecting property and solving crimes. Law enforcement jobs are projected to grow at an average rate over the next ten years.
Annual Median Salary: $59,380
Job Outlook: 6%
In addition to working as a member of law enforcement, students with a degree in criminology may also choose to pursue a career as a private detective or investigator. Private detectives are hired by citizens to conduct investigations into personal, legal, and financial issues. Demand for this job is growing faster than the U.S. average of 8%, at a projected rate of 13% over the next decade.
Annual Median Salary: $61,930
Job Outlook: 11%
Forensic science technicians are responsible for collecting and analyzing evidence related to criminal investigations. In addition to a bachelor's degree in criminology, students may also want to pursue hands-on training related to lab work and evidence analysis in order to qualify for this position. The BLS projects that demand for jobs in this field will grow at a steady rate that's double the current U.S. average across all occupations.
How Much Do Criminologists Make?
Sociologists, including criminologists, make an average of $92,910, as indicated by the BLS statistics listed above. Some of the factors that can affect a criminologist's salary include where they live and how many years of experience they have.
Is Criminology aGood Major for the FBI?
If you plan to pursue a career with the FBI, a degree in criminology can help prepare you. Majoring in criminology will expose you to the study of crime, and most positions with the FBI require at least a bachelor's degree. That said, criminology isn't the only major that students interested in working for the FBI should consider. It may be the case that degrees in criminal justice, computer science, or forensic science may be a better fit for your career goals.
Is a Bachelor's in Criminology Worth It?
A bachelor's degree in criminology may be worth it for students who intend to pursue careers in law enforcement as criminologists or related endeavors. Studying criminology exposes students to crime, criminal law, and more, preparing them for a wide range of positions in the field of criminal justice.
That said, an online bachelor's degree in criminology may not be worth it for all students. Some positions in this field may not require a bachelor's degree, for example, while others may accept students with a wide variety of undergraduate majors.
Carefully consider the following pros and consof getting your online degree in criminology:
A bachelor's degree in criminology can prepare students for careers in criminal justice. Obtaining an undergraduate degree in criminology can help students qualify for jobs either in criminal justice or law enforcement agencies.
Criminologists usually earn high salaries. According to the BLS, criminologists can earn about $92,000, depending on their experience and location, putting them well above the national average.
An online criminology degree is a good fit for students with other responsibilities. Studying criminology online provides flexibility for students who may have other work or family commitments.
A criminology degree may not be necessary to pursue a career in this field. While a bachelor's degree in criminology can aid students in getting a job in the criminal justice field, this major isn't necessarily required for entry-level positions – any bachelor's degree may suffice.
An online criminology degree can be expensive. While studying criminology can prepare students for well-paying careers, the degree itself can be expensive, and students may have to take out student loans in order to afford it, even if they receive scholarships or other forms of financial aid.
Online degrees may limit students' opportunities to gain real-world experience. Online degrees provide flexibility for students, but they may have drawbacks when it comes to hands-on learning opportunities.
For students looking to study crime or pursue careers in the criminal justice field, a degree in criminology can be a suitable choice. This interdisciplinary course of study helps students develop the skills they need to understand and analyze crime. Students may go on to work as criminologists, researchers, and even social workers.
For students graduating with a bachelor's degree in criminology looking to further their education, a master's degree in criminal justice or a master's degree in homeland security could be helpful next steps.