What You Should Know About This Degree
The fields of criminology and criminal justice are distinct fields, and there are differences between them. Criminology researches social behaviors as they relate to crime, and it’s a subset of sociology. Criminal justice looks at the actual systems of courts, law enforcement, and corrections more directly. Criminal justice is the more traditional path for individuals who want to become police officers, although some criminology students ultimately do pursue that career path.
While a Master’s in Criminology is an advanced degree, many people who complete this type of program continue academic studies and earn a PhD. A PhD further develops the research skills learned in a master’s program, and the doctoral degree is required for many research and college-level teaching positions.
After completing a Master’s in Criminology, a law degree is another viable option. A criminology degree and a law degree paired together is solid preparation for work in criminal law.
A significant number of criminology positions, including both officer positions and research positions, require passing a background check. Minor infractions can often be overlooked, but a significant felony conviction from the past could preclude you from securing certain jobs.
Consider these two questions as you evaluate Master’s in Criminology degree programs:
- Am I eligible for this program? Master’s degrees commonly require an undergraduate degree. Some of these master’s programs will accept any bachelor’s degree, while others want applicants to have a bachelor’s in criminology or a related field. Find out what a program’s academic requirements are for admittance, and make sure you meet them prior to applying.
- What licensing or certifications are required? Working as a criminologist doesn’t require any specific license or certification. Instead, an individuals’s research in the field is usually used to established credentials.
When you identify programs of interest, find out what the admissions process entails. You can learn about admissions materials and deadlines on a program’s website or by contacting the school directly.
Also consider the cost of attending a program. Talk with programs about financial aid, stipends, and scholarships that they offer. You might also be able to get tuition reimbursement from an employer.