Why Major in Criminology?

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Donald W. Tucker completed a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Sociology from the University of Iowa in 1961. He was one of the first Black Secret Service Agents and Federal Narcotics Agents in the United States. In a news release Tucker issued to promote his auto-biography, The Two-Edged Sword, he wrote, “This gritty, first-hand account tells what it was like to be black and work as an undercover agent for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now the DEA) and U.S. Secret Service during the civil rights movement and beyond”.

His successful career also includes serving as a U. S. Marshal in Arizona, as Chief of Court Security for the Federal Court system and starting his own private investigation agency (T.I.P.S.)

Has Tucker’s inspirational story got you curious about majoring in Criminology?

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Katherine Bement Davis (1860-1935) was a criminologist, social and civil rights advocate, prison system reformer and New York City’s first female Commissioner of Correction.

What does criminology mean?

Said to be one of the 20th century’s ‘most influential criminologists,’ Edwin H. Sutherland (1883-1950) defined criminology as, “…the body of knowledge regarding delinquency and crime as a social phenomena. It includes within its scope the process of making laws, breaking laws, and of reacting toward the breaking of laws.”

Criminology is often considered a branch of sociology that seeks to scientifically study why criminals do the things they do; it also seeks to analyze and help shape better ways of dealing with this behavior in terms of both prevention of and response to criminal acts.

What kind of courses will I take?

As part of a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology you will take courses like Intro to Sociology, the Criminal Justice System, Public Policy, Research Methods, Causes of Crime and Sociological Theories. You’ll also have a range of intriguing electives to choose from, from Gender & Crime, Capital Punishment and Juvenile Delinquency to Abnormal Behavior (Psychology), Forensic Anthropology and Wrongful Conviction.

What careers does it lead to?

After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology, a variety of careers await you in sectors such as government, social services, law enforcement, the justice system and research. Potential job titles include:

  • Parole/Probation Officer
  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Corrections Officer
  • FBI Special Agent
  • Correctional Treatment Specialist
  • Sociology/Criminology Research Assistant
  • Juvenile Court Worker
  • Victim’s Advocate
  • Legislative Assistant
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Court Clerk
  • Youth Advocate
  • Discrimination Investigator
  • Customs Agent
  • AND MORE!

(Note that some of the above careers may require certification or related work experience).

Those striving to advance their careers and specialize in research, consulting and teaching (as a professor), and earn the title ‘criminologist,’ complete their Master’s and Ph.D.

If you are interested in researching criminology degree programs, check out our schools by state page

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