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Criminology Overview

Criminology is a major within the field of sociology that explores the behavior of criminals, causes of crime, and the criminal justice system that is in place today. Students who study this major gain a better understanding of why people choose to commit crimes, and what we can do to prevent and lower crime rates. Crime in our society, criminal psychology, and probation and the parole system are some subjects that will be discussed in class.

Classes you can expect to see while studying Criminology include: probation and parole; women and crime; social research; deviance; sociology; punishment; law; youth and crime; research methods; gender, crime, and justice; and policing society. You may have the opportunity to choose a concentration in Demography and Population studies.

Required Skills

This major involves classes in the subjects of law, psychology, and society. The goal is for students to gain an understanding of criminal laws and policy. You will be required to study course cases, analyze data and utilize various research methods. Be prepared to work with your peers on group projects and presentations. Strong communication skills will help you succeed.

Critical thinking, reading, and writing skills will help you read, retain and report vast amounts of data and information. You will spend time writing research papers as well as applying theories learned from class to real life situations. Your writing and presentation skills should be clear and detailed. Many colleges will require you to complete an internship in the field before graduation.


Criminologists study crime and social behaviors and deviations from social norms. Within criminology you can work in corrections, counseling, criminal investigation, diversion programming, teaching, research and policy studies, intervention programs, and private investigation. Many criminologists have a minimum of a Master's Degree.

Graduates with a degree in Criminology average $35,269 as a starting salary with a mid-career salary of $59,940.

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Example Careers

Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in Criminology might open up.

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Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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