Criminology programs are designed to teach about crime, criminal behavior and the justice system, and their impacts on individuals and society. A criminologist should possess a diverse academic and professional background to effectively address social and behavioral problems. For employment, criminologists are required to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in criminology, sociology or psychology. Most certainly, a Ph.D. or master’s degree in one of the behavioral sciences will enhance both your academic and professional credentials as a qualified criminologist.
Criminology qualifies both as a theoretical, academic and applied subject. As a broad field, criminology borrows from different disciplines such as psychology, statistics, sociology, communication studies, law and criminal justice to determine and analyze criminal patterns in the society. A course in criminology focuses on theoretical aspects of criminal theory, medical investigation, private investigation, and legal processes. Such courses are designed to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to understand the nature and impact of social and behavioral problems, and ways of addressing them.
Sociology studies provide students with knowledge required to understand the potential links between how social interactions are structured in the society in relation to crime and criminal behavior. A sociology degree program offers a number of deviance/ criminology concentrations in subjects such as theories of crime, criminal behavior, criminal law, technical writing, law enforcement and human behavior. Such classes equip would-be criminologists with skills important for a criminologist position.
Most colleges and universities offer psychology courses, often with a considerable focus on criminal science. The diverse curriculum covers key areas such as cognitive psychology, criminal theory, developmental psychology, forensic psychology, and criminal psychology. A curriculum in psychology also provides classes in research methods relevant to criminology, victimology, criminal justice system and strategic policing. On completion of a degree, a psychology graduate not only understands societal trends but also possesses strong analytical, problem-solving and critical thinking skills to pursue a career in criminology.
In addition to undergraduate training, pursuing a two-year master’s degree program in the field or a related field from a recognized institution can enhance your career prospects. Practical criminology experience can also be gained by working as an intern in the criminal justice field or other related area. To gain employment, qualified criminologists should be individuals with high integrity, often with most employers demanding a clean record of no criminal history and substance abuse. Although licensing requirements for criminologists vary from one state to another, receiving professional licensing will lead to a long, rewarding career.
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