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.

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.