According to Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice, criminology “involves the study of criminal behaviour and the institutions and systems established to deal with criminal offenders.”
It examines behaviour, institutions and systems through a multidisciplinary lens. In this way, it looks into the fields of economics, sociology, psychology, public health and social work.
Criminology gives humans insight not only on crime and criminals but society as a whole. With knowledge gained through studying multiple fields and disciplines related to criminology, it is also able to contribute insight, ideas and development of those disciplines through identification of their relationship to criminology.
A significant number of institutions have general education requirements for most bachelor degree programs. General education courses include basic or introductory topics on sciences, history, mathematics, humanities and economics.
Most degree programs in criminology focus on topics related to deviance, criminal justice, forensic, law, and other special topics on relevant issues on crime.
In the latter years of the program, students may be required to undergo training or professional placement in order to apply what they have learned from the earlier years of the program. This allows students to develop practical skills that they will need if they choose to pursue careers in criminology.
Most universities provide specialisation options for their students, either through optional electives or as a mandatory part of the degree program. Availability of specialisations would also depend on the offerings of each university and the level of study.
Below is a short list of some specialisations offered by institutions:
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates.
Graduates of criminology degree programs can end up in different professional positions. As such, there is no universal licensing or certification that criminology graduates must obtain to be able to find a job in the field, although some of the jobs that can be pursued require a license in some states or countries. It is always recommended to look into licensing requirements of the state or country wherein a career or position will be pursued.
A degree in criminology can take up to four years of full-time study. The exact period of time would depend on the University of your choice, the country wherein it is located, and whether the professional placement is included in your course.
There are also various degrees available for criminology graduates at the master’s and doctorate level, involving intensive research, coursework and experience for candidates looking to deepen their knowledge of criminology and gain credentials.
Entrance into a criminology degree program varies depending on the institution. For first year applicants, some universities may set an entrance exam, while others will take into consideration national or standard exams. A number of universities also take into consideration advanced placement exams, while some consider transfer credits for post-secondary students or applicants.
Some criminology degree programs have a grade requirement, either from the entrance or standard exam, from previous courses taken in secondary school or sometimes even both. Various community-based and/or leadership experiences are also often taken into consideration. Some institutions also require a letter of intent or an application essay in addition to an interview.
For a precise list of requirements, you are advised to contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.
Graduates of criminology can choose to pursue a career in range of positions and fields. Typically, employers include the government, court, security agencies, NGOs, policing bodies, prison services, defense firms and organizations that work with youth offenders and victims of crime. Some positions that graduates of criminology have taken are community development worker, police officer, prison officer, social worker, social researcher and government analyst.
Those who choose to work in other fields can do so using the transferable skills that can be gained throughout criminology degree programs such as data evaluation, logical thinking and argumentation and report writing. Being multidisciplinary, criminology also produces graduates who have an increased awareness of psychology and politics.
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