Major: Criminology

What colleges offer a Major in Criminology?

Our obsession with crime and punishment is reflected in fact and fiction television programs about on-the-lam killers, petty criminals, and white-collar crime. Today, as much as ever, we are fascinated by questions about crime: Why do people commit crimes? Is there such a thing as a born killer? Is a completely crime-free society possible? 

Criminology is the search for answers to questions like these. Our understanding of who commits crimes and why has a direct influence on the criminal-justice system. As a criminology student, you may come up with new theories that lead to better responses to crime and its causes.

Students of criminology study the nature and causes of crime, the behavior of criminals, and the criminal-justice system.

Did You Know?

Criminology programs differ from programs in criminal justice, which focus more on the criminal-justice system itself and often offer training for particular careers.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Complete an internship
  • Look for meaning in facts and figures
  • Learn research methods
  • Analyze case studies (detailed descriptions of particular examples)
  • Understand criminal law and policy
  • Learn theories of crime
  • Study psychology

It Helps To Be...

Interested in psychology, sociology, and the law. You should also be able to read and process a lot of information. 

College Checklist

  • Does the program lead to a major in criminology or is it a specialization within sociology, criminal justice, or another major?
  • Does the program focus more on psychological and sociological theory or on the practical applications of these fields in criminal justice?
  • Will the program prepare you for graduate study in forensic psychology, law, social work, or another related field?
  • Will the program prepare you for the work world? Will it help you find work after graduation?

Did You Know?

Graduates of criminology programs are well prepared for careers in youth counseling, substance abuse counseling, law enforcement, criminal investigation, corrections, and probation.

Course Spotlight

Internships and field experiences make up an important part of many criminology majors. You might work with a local police department, intern in a public defender’s office or a juvenile court, or provide counseling support in a prison prerelease program.

Your work experience will add to your understanding of the theory and principles of criminology you’ve acquired in readings, discussions, and lectures. You might be required to keep a daily log of your work activities and complete a term paper that brings together what you’ve learned in class with your experiences in the field.