What is Criminology?

Criminology is the scientific study of crime and criminals. Those who work in the field of Criminology take interest in understanding the root causes of crime and the effects that crime has on society. Some specific areas that the field of criminology focuses on are:

  • Frequency, location, causes, and types of crimes
  • Societal and individual consequences of crimes
  • Societal and individual reactions to crimes


What is a Criminologist?

A criminologist is a social scientist who specializes in the study of crime and criminals.  Criminologists are not in the field catching criminals like police officers, but rather, criminologists use data and statistics about crime to identify patterns about criminal behavior.  They then use this information to derive theories explaining the causes and effects of criminal behavior in the hopes of preventing as many crimes as possible.

Careers in criminology can be grouped into three categories:

Law Enforcement Criminologists

Criminologists who work in law enforcement use data and statistics to try to identify behavior patterns in order to create criminal profiles. Typically, these criminologists work for local and state police but they are also able to work for federal agencies such as the FBI or CIA.

Social Workers and Correctional Officers

Social workers assist people who are struggling with problems such as abuse or addiction and connect them to social services that are available to help them. This may include working with recently released offenders looking to assimilate back into society or working with agencies such as Child Protective Services.

University Professors and Academic Researchers

Criminologists who go on to pursue a doctorate in the field are able to teach criminology courses to college students. These classes can be taught to students who are pursuing degrees in fields such as criminology, sociology, criminal justice, and psychology. Many professors also spend time conducting research and publishing papers in the field of criminology.

What are the educational requirements to be a criminologist?

In most cases, students will need to obtain at least a master’s degree in order to work in the field as a criminologist. While not all jobs require a graduate degree, those jobs are typically extremely competitive and traditionally very difficult to get.

What is the outlook for jobs in criminology?

The field of criminology is specialized field often linked with sociology. The field of sociology itself is continuing to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for sociologists are expected to increase 22% by 2018. The most sought after criminologists have the potential to make a six-figure salary. A degree in Applied Criminology will make students more competitive to be hired and promoted in their field.

How can the California School of Forensic Studies get me started?

At CSFS, we offer a master’s degree program in Applied Criminology. This is a two-year, 40-unit program offered online and is designed to enhance the skill set and employability of those interested in entering–or currently working in–the fields of criminology and criminal justice. In the program, three concentrations are offered so you can customize the program based on your interests or what is most relevant to your career:

  • Criminal Behavior
  • Conflict Resolution and Crisis Management
  • Victimology