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What's the Difference Between Criminology and Criminal Justice

crime scene investigator
Alliant International University
Published 07/07/2017
3 minutes read
The content of this page is only for informational purposes and is not intended, expressly or by implication, as a guarantee of employment or salary, which vary based on many factors including but not limited to education, credentials, and experience. Alliant International University explicitly makes no representations or guarantees about the accuracy of the information provided by any prospective employer or any other website. Salary information available on the internet may not reflect the typical experience of Alliant graduates. Alliant does not guarantee that any graduate will be placed with a particular employer or in any specific employment position.

“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. 

The California School of Forensic Studies (CSFS) at Alliant International University is 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?

Advance your career

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 at CSFS 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.2

Within the field of criminology, there are various specialty areas. For instance, at CSFS, students in our PhD in Law and Public Policy online program may select concentrations in Criminal Behavior, Conflict Resolution, and Crisis Management. 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.

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.3

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 about our CSFS programs, contact us today.


  1. “Forensic Science Technicians : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed November 23, 2021.…;
  2. “Criminology.” Criminology - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. Accessed November 23, 2021.…;
  3. Criminal justice vs. criminology. Accessed November 23, 2021.…;

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