Criminology vs. Criminal Justice: What’s the Difference?

Criminology vs. Criminal Justice: What’s the Difference?

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” debuted on television in 2000, introducing many people to the unique field of forensics. Although it eventually left the air a decade and a half later (while spawning several spinoffs), the savvy investigators featured on the show left a mark on many viewers. It is projected that through the year 2024, the field of forensic science will grow by 20%–27% higher than the average growth of other industries.

The California School of Forensic Studies (CSFS) at Alliant International University is among the first of its kind—uniquely targeted toward training students in the field of forensics in criminology and criminal justice.

However, this leaves many students to wonder, what’s the difference between criminology and criminal justice degrees and career paths?

What is Criminology?

Are criminology and criminal justice the same? Not exactly. Criminology covers the study of crime and the “why” behind it.

Students enrolled in Alliant’s Applied Criminology Master’s Program receive in-depth training in theory, research, and practical techniques used to better understand why crimes are committed and how to prevent them from occurring in the future. This field is similar to sociology, because in addition to studying the act itself, it strives to understand the social impact that crime has on victims and communities. Criminology also delves into many other fields, such as psychology, law, and political science.

Within the field of criminology, there are various specialty areas. For instance, at CSFS, students may select concentrations in Criminal Behavior, Conflict Resolution and Crisis Management, and Victimology. Those who study criminology may pursue careers in a variety of settings, including law enforcement training and education, consulting, security training, public policy, and corrections.

What is Criminal Justice?

Rather than focusing on why crime happens, criminal justice looks at what to do about it.

Criminal justice studies both the micro and macro levels of the American justice system. Students enrolled in the Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree Program will become familiar with all aspects of the U.S. justice system, including law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. They learn about the logistics of the justice system, from the moment a crime is reported until the suspect is apprehended, tried in a court of law, and put behind bars.

Since Alliant’s criminal justice program is an undergraduate degree, students may carry on with advanced education at the master’s or doctorate level. Or, they may enjoy career paths in all levels of law enforcement, crime scene investigation, forensic science, child protective services, victim services, and forensic psychology among others.

Of course, real-life jobs often aren’t often as glamorous as those portrayed on TV, but getting undergraduate training in criminal justice or pursuing graduate training in criminology can position you to make a real difference in understanding and combating crime in America.

Courses taught at Alliant International University’s California School of Forensic Studies are facilitated by faculty with advanced expertise in criminology and criminal justice. Upon program completion, students are prepared to enter promising careers that truly make an impact on the lives of victims, families, and society as a whole.

For more information, read more about what you can do with a criminal justice degree, or further explore our criminal justice and criminology programs by contacting us today.