What is Criminology?

Criminology is the study of criminals and crime. It is also the study of the criminal justice system and law enforcement itself. However, to really understand the answer to the question “what is criminology?” you need to go back and look at the history of criminology.

History of Criminology

Crime has been around as long as mankind has been alive. In the earliest days, victims of crime enacted their own punishment or revenge which often led to blood wars that went on for generations. The earliest laws were written to define what crimes actually were and to determine a proper punishment as a response. The goal of these laws was to help contain crime and eliminate the blood feuds that often escalated the problem. The Code of Hammurabi is one of the earliest attempts to set a scale of punishment for various crimes.

Fast forward to today and the study of crime and criminals has evolved into a science in the field of sociology. In fact, criminology has roots in sociology, biology, and psychology. These are all believed to be components of crime and play a role in why criminals do the things that they do.

Careers in Criminology

The field of criminology is vast and has many different career opportunities. A short list of possible careers includes:
– Police Officer
– Corrections Officer
– Criminal Science Technician
– Forensic Laboratory Technician
– Security Professionals

All of these career choices require an education beyond high school, such as a bachelor degree in criminology or a related field.

Criminology Degree

Anyone interested in pursuing a career in criminology should pursue a criminology degree through an accredited criminology degree program. A criminology major includes studies in natural sciences such as biology, chemistry, or physics depending on which career you want to pursue. In addition, studies in social studies and psychology are important because criminologists consider crime a social problem.

Advanced Criminology Degrees

Many times a bachelor degree will not be enough to get you into the exact career you want in criminology. Most of the most exciting careers need advanced degrees such as a master’s program or a doctorate degree. Following is a short list of some of the career paths that will require advanced degrees.
– Forensic Pathologist
– Environmental Criminologist
– Criminal Profiler
– Prison Psychologist
– Jury Consultant
– Psychological Investigative Services

Advantages to a Career in Criminology

The first advantage most people list to a career in criminology is a desire to help other people. Working with victims of crime to help bring the perpetrator to justice is a rewarding feeling. In addition, the pay scale for careers in criminology can be rewarding as well.


Criminology is the study of crime and criminals. The career choices in this vast field of study are numerous as are the opportunities to serve the community. If you find the study of crime interesting and wonder about the reason why criminals act the way they do, perhaps the study of criminology is a field you should pursue.