What is a Criminologist?

Criminology is the study of crime and criminal behavior. Criminologists also study how crime affects society and how society responds to crime. Other aspects that criminologists study include evidence and investigation methods, the causes of criminal behavior, and the effectiveness of criminal punishment and rehabilitation.

Are you interested in studying crime? Read more about the exciting field of criminology. 

Have you ever wanted to be Sherlock Holmes or Gil Grissom from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation? You might be interested in the field of criminology.

What Do Criminologists Do?

Criminologists are professionals who study crime. They often work as instructors at universities, as profilers for law enforcement agencies, advisors to government legislators, and more. 

How Much Money Do Criminologists Make?

A career in criminology can be a great choice. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, criminologists and “other psychologists” make an average of $105,780 per year.

Criminologists with only a bachelor’s degree tend to only make thirty to forty thousand dollars per year, but those with masters degrees or higher make much more money.

What Environment Do Criminologists Work In?

There are many different environments that criminologists work in. These often include schools, universities, police departments, rehabilitation centers, and prisons.

A criminologist’s work is varied. Some work mostly in research facilities. Some are involved in community outreach and rehabilitation. Others are involved in state, local, and national policymaking.

Becoming a Criminologist

Criminology is a career field that typically requires at least a bachelor’s degree. There is a lot of work involved in obtaining a degree in criminology and just a few of the areas of study that are included are topics such as basic psychology, sociology, criminal justice and criminal law, juvenile delinquency, criminal theory, the constitution, and government.

Criminologists also take courses involving social work, especially if they plan to work with rehabilitation centers and prisons. A four-year bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement for criminology work, but most criminologists pursue advanced degrees. In addition to a master’s degree, criminologists who teach at universities are usually required to earn a PHD.

Are There Specific Specializations Within Criminology?

Yes, there are! Criminology is a field with an incredible variety of different specializations that one can pursue.

One way that criminologists specialize their degree is by focusing on specific age groups. This includes both criminals in that age group, and the way that that age group is affected by crime. Every age group from elementary school children to senior citizens commits crime and is affected by crime.

Another way that criminologists specialize in their field is by focusing on a specific type of crime. They might become experts in bank robbery, prostitution, sex crimes, or drug crimes. These criminologists study the people who commit these crimes, and the impact that these types of crimes have on society at large.

In addition to specializing in different types of crime, criminologists tend to have different professional specialties, such as crime scene investigation, rehabilitation, crime prevention, or the corrections industry.

Profiling is a very specialized area of criminology. Professional profilers use special advanced statistical analysis methods to make profiles of criminal elements or specific crimes. Profilers are often used to help investigate all sorts of crimes, but they are a staple of police procedural TV.

Criminology Programs

Despite being one of the most viable career options, criminology is a relatively uncommon major for undergraduate students to study. Instead, it is more common for undergraduate students to study an adjacent field such as psychology or sociology.

If you’re interested in studying criminology, here are some of the best programs in the United States:

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania has the longest continually running program for criminology students in the United States. They offer bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees in criminology.

Subjects the students in these programs study include crime prevention, data analytics, criminology, criminal justice, crime analysis, and policy analysis.

Florida State University

Florida State University offers a mix of undergrad, masters, and doctorate programs in criminology both on campus and online. Students here focus on statistics, research methods, as well as theories and studies involving criminology and criminal justice.

University of Maryland – College Park

Criminology is one of the most popular programs at University of Maryland – College Park. Students here can earn a combined master’s ; Juris Doctorate, as well as studying abroad in places such as Vietnam or China.

University of Southern California

With its high-tech focus on studying criminology, the University of Southern California at Los Angeles has one of the best criminology programs in the United States. Students here study topics such as criminology, criminal justice systems, criminal investigation, juvenile delinquency, and leadership in the field of criminal justice.

University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago has graduate programs in criminology that stand out for the concentrations they allow their students to choose. These include Gender ; Women’s Studies, Violence Studies, and Latin American ; Latino Studies.

Northeastern University

Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts has one of the oldest criminology programs in the United States. In addition to the main coursework, students here can take elective courses such as Global Criminology, Counterterrorism, Resilient Cities, and Immigration ; Crime.

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati has lots of options for aspiring criminologists. This school has undergrad, graduate, minors, and grad certificates in criminology. This school is among the best in terms of the variety of options that students have.

At University of Cincinnati, students focus on accurately gathering information to find solutions. Coursework at University of Cincinnati includes topics such as criminal justice, basic research methods, and applied statistics.


Are you interested in understanding what leads people to commit crimes? Do you want to help protect your community from crime? Are you interested in helping to rehabilitate career criminals or maybe in helping legislators make policy regarding crime and the treatment of criminals?

Criminology might be the field for you. If you’re thinking about becoming a criminologist yourself or are just curious to learn more about this fascinating field, read up on any of the fascinating subcategories within criminology.

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