Understanding crime and other deviant behavior is an important step towards
solving it. Criminology and criminal justice programs consider many aspects
of crime, from the theoretical to the practical.
To find out what causes crime, criminology looks at crime from a social
and a scientific point of view. Students will learn about forms of crime
and the causes and consequences of those crimes.
Criminology is an interdisciplinary field because crime can be complicated.
For example, society and the government react to crime, so students usually
take courses in sociology and political science. Students explore the law
and the psychology, philosophy and sociology related to legal issues.
"It is an extremely diverse and exciting program," says Gail S. Anderson.
She is a university professor of criminology.
Criminal justice students can expect to learn about the ins and outs of
the justice system. Criminal justice is the study of practical and technical
policing skills, such as preventing crime, detecting crime and dealing with
criminals. This is combined with the theories of criminology.
Criminology and criminal justice degrees are offered at the undergraduate
and graduate levels. Many entry-level jobs in the field require a four-year
undergraduate degree. Those with master's degrees usually find higher-level
jobs and promotions come faster.
Many programs offer field placements. These give excellent real-life
experience for students.
"The job market in criminal justice is excellent and labor market projections
in law enforcement and corrections show that there will continue to be a great
need to fill these positions," says Jacqueline Helfgott. She is a professor
and chair of the criminal justice department at Seattle University.
Graduates can find jobs in more areas than just law enforcement and
corrections. Jobs also exist in crime prevention, law and law reform,
research and policy analysis with government departments and agencies, restorative
justice, and forensic science. There are opportunities in community programs,
group homes, security and victim services.
If your goal is to work for a police force, you must also be a police officer.
Further training is required to become a police officer.
Most programs are competitive to enter, so having high grades will be
important. Check admission requirements carefully, as they differ from
school to school.
High school courses in law, math, data management and statistics will
"If the student is interested in a career where they will be working with
the public, some volunteering in the community would be good experience too,"
says Joanna Pozzulo. She is an associate professor at a university.
Textbooks can be a major expense, so budget up to $1,000 per year. There
might be a lab fee if you take forensic science. Most students have laptops
or PCs, although there are computer labs available for students to use.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to Criminology and Criminal Justice
Programs, see: Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
For more information related to this field of study, see: Police
National Sherrif's Association
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