Differences Between a Criminology and a Criminal Justice Degree?

There isn’t just one difference between a criminal justice and criminology degree. However, these two fields are often incorrectly presented in the media and misunderstood by the public. Despite the fact that they share certain characteristics, these two academic areas are quite different.

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The Major Differences

Criminology is the social science that formally studies crime. It shares strong scientific foundations and characteristics with sociology. Criminologists seek to:

  • understand the reasons behind crimes
  • learn what motivates criminals
  • determine how crimes can be prevented

Criminology activities involve:

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  • extensive research
  • statistical analysis
  • professional literature reviews

The goal of criminologists is to create better law enforcement responses and have more effective social controls on crime.

On the other hand, criminal justice-based professionals focus on:

  • how laws are made
  • how enforcement occurs
  • how punishment is carried out

It involves all the separate stages of the justice system. This includes:

  • initial crime detection
  • police response
  • court processes
  • correction administration
  • rehabilitation activities

It involves:

  • legal responses to crimes
  • law enforcement activities
  • how the legal system enforces laws
  • how offenders are punished
  • how victims are treated

Criminology Degrees

Criminology degrees are less popular because most students think that it will prevent them from working in the field with the public. Criminology is the fascinating study of crime as a social phenomenon. Earning a criminology degree is ideal for students who want to find a job:

  • in the legal system
  • public administration
  • academic research

For example, a student could focus on the theoretical debates about the administration of justice in the country.

Courses in this degree study the types, causes, and consequences of crime. Courses will explore criminal psychology and sociology. Students will learn about:

  • law
  • forensics
  • history
  • statistics
  • research
  • political science

There are many academic subdivisions within the field of criminology. This includes bio-criminology, which studies the biological foundations of criminal behavior, and criminalistics, which is the statistical study of crime detection. Feminist criminology focuses on women, penology studies the prison system, and comparative criminology studies crime across cultures.

Criminal Justice Degrees

This degree is best for anyone who wants to work for courts, corrections or law enforcement organizations. This degree studies the governmental institutions that maintain social control, manage the occurrences of crime and enforce consequences for violators. Unlike criminology, this degree is only concerned with directly confronting criminal behaviors in society. Students will learn about criminal administration, investigation and profiling. They will also learn about judicial processes, system reforms and organizations.

Anyone who graduates with this degree will have better career options. Some of the most common careers for these majors include police officer, deputy sheriff, parole officer, corrections counselor and probation officer. Some of the more difficult jobs to obtain with this degree include State trooper, AFT agent, Federal air marshal, FBI agent, Customs and Immigration officer.

Anyone who wants a coveted Criminal Justice job with a federal law enforcement agency can search job listings for organizations like the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), United States Marshals Service (USMS), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

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