Exploring the Differences Between Criminology and Criminal Justice


Within the realm of criminal justice studies and careers, there’s often confusion when it comes to specific titles. Although many professional designations feature overlapping roles and responsibilities, every position and area of study features unique concentrations. In order to truly understand the difference between criminal justice and criminology, you should take some time to review the training requirements and other elements that truly differentiates these professions.

Criminology – A General Overview

Perhaps one of the best ways to describe criminology is it’s the scientific study of crime. Typically, coursework within this sect of criminal justice studies crime within the realms of it being a social phenomenon. Generally, a degree in criminology is the ideal choice for those who wish to enter the legal industry with a unique understanding of crime or those who are contemplating going to law school. Those interested in law enforcement also find criminology degrees beneficial as it offers a unique viewpoint into criminal behavior and crimes. In fact, many professionals liken criminology on the same level as a sociologist.

Throughout your training, you’ll be attend lectures regarding the theoretical administration of legal justice within the United States. You’ll generally explore various criminal cases and explore the consequences for such crime. Students within this degree program also spend a great deal of time exploring the sociological nature of criminal behavior, which generally leads into criminal psychology coursework. In order to truly succeed within this degree program, you’ll spend a great deal of time exploring psychology, forensics, political science, communication skills and general legal studies.

Criminal Justice – A General Overview

In the most general sense, criminal justice refers to the entire legal system that involves corrections, law enforcement and the legal court system. This differs from criminology, which studies the more psychological aspect of crime, and instead delves into the more administrative role within the criminal justice system. It is important to explore the facts about how to become a police officer and other law enforcement roles before you enroll in a criminal justice program.

Students within a criminal justice degree program will explore a variety of topics. Some of which typically include the reformation of criminal justice, the judicial process, criminal profiling, constitutional law and criminal investigation. Although criminal psychology is lightly touched on throughout your coursework, it’s not the primary focus. In order to truly succeed within this degree program, you must hold powerful analytical skills, be observant and possess accurate and unwavering judgment of others and situations.

Earning a degree in criminal justice is typically required for those who wish to work in law enforcement or corrections. Some of the most common careers graduates go after include: police officers, conservation officers, parole officer, corrections counselor, paralegal and other branches of law enforcement.

An Exploration of Career Options for Criminal Justice Graduates


Unlike the common belief that earning a degree in criminal justice limits your potential job options, the reality is much different. Those who decide to major in criminal justice have a wide array of career options outside of the standard options of corrections and law enforcement jobs. In fact, the private sector, local, state and federal agencies all call upon criminal justice graduates to fill a variety of professions.

If you’re interested in earning a criminal justice degree, but are wary of limited career options, take a moment to explore some of the lesser-known careers open to you upon graduation. If one of these options interests you, spend time delving into the unique requirements for that job. It’s important to note some careers require advanced degrees or specialty certifications alongside a standard criminal justice degree.

Career #1 – Anti-Laundering Operations Agent

This is perhaps one of the most unique career opportunities for those with a criminal justice degree. These professionals work according to the Financial Services Authority guidelines and are primarily responsible for minimizing the various opportunities for persons to launder money. These experts within their field are tasked with a wide variety of roles and responsibilities, such as monitoring sales and marketing activities.

In order to work as an Anti-Money Laundering Operations Agent you will generally be required to hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. On average, these professionals earn anywhere from $55,000 to $60,000 per year.

Career #2 – Background Screening Agent

Have you ever wondered who actually performs background checks? Background screening agents are tasked with the role of personally investigating persons to see if they’ve been convicted of criminal activity or involved in any unsavory scenarios. These professionals conduct a wide array of research into the personal and professional life of candidates. As a background screening agent, you can be called in as a witness in court hearings and your job duties play a pivotal role in the hiring process for upper-level employees.

To work as a Background Screening Agent you must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. The average salary for this career ranges from $60,000 to $65,000 per year.

Career #3 – Classification Officer

Have you ever wondered what goes into the sentencing of a convicted criminal? While there are many variables associated with determining this task, one of the most integral persons involved is a classification officer. These professionals are trained in psychology and utilize their understanding of criminal activity. The goal of this profession is to ensure the sentencing of a criminal is appropriate based upon their history and conviction.

To work as a Classification Officer you should earn an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. The typical salary for this profession ranges from $40,000 to $45,000 per year.

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Degree Overview and Information


If you’re interested in working within the criminal justice industry, but aren’t sure what degree level is right for you, then you should investigate the offerings of a bachelor’s degree. While this level of training isn’t required for many careers within the criminal justice industry, obtaining such a degree can position you for upper level management positions as well as further solidify yourself as an expert and authority within the industry.

Although as Your Police Career and others points out, the specifics of a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice can vary based upon the training institution as well as the specializations you choose, there are several universal qualities that bleed throughout the United States. The following information is considered essential to help you further understand what’s to be expected during this four-year degree program.

Essential Information for Prospective Students

When you obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice, you’re gaining preparation to work as a professional within the criminal justice industry. Upon graduation, you’ll be given the opportunity to continue your studies via a graduate certificate or a Master’s degree. Within this program you’re often given an opportunity to intern within a business, organization or agency that resonates with your ultimate career goals.

To enroll in most Bachelor of Science criminal justice degree programs you must hold a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. If you’ve obtained an associate’s degree from an accredited community college or vocational school, you may be able to transfer your credits. Doing so can shorten the total number of semester hours you must complete to graduate. Like with many bachelor degree programs, it is possible to earn this degree online through distance learning programs.

Generally, this degree program offers various specializations. Students may choose to concentrate their studies within specific branches of the criminal justice industry, such as: legal process, juvenile justice, loss prevention, crime and justice, as we all as corrections – just to name a few.

The entire purpose of this degree program is to give you a broad understanding of the many aspects that make up the criminal justice system. While you’re able to select a concentration, the training is still on a broader sense. If you’d wish to expand your training within a specific concentration, then you may want to enroll in a graduate certificate program or a Master’s degree program upon graduation.

Common coursework within this bachelor’s degree program typically includes: security/police administration, juvenile justice system, gender in criminal justice, ethics in criminal justice and criminology.