Criminology Vs. Criminal Justice: What’s the Difference?
Potential students looking for a career that helps protect society, prevent crime and help during times of crisis may be interested in pursuing a degree in criminal justice or criminology. Unfortunately, not knowing the differences between these two areas is a common issue. Though criminology and criminal justice share certain similarities, there are also distinctions between the subjects.
Understanding the difference between criminology and criminal justice can help potential students find the program that is right for them. Taking all of the nuances of each subject into consideration can help to determine whether to study criminology, criminal justice or a program that combines both areas.
Similarities Between Criminal Justice and Criminology
Comparing criminal justice and criminology shows that the two areas have a lot in common. In fact, some colleges and universities choose to combine the two areas into one program of study. Both subjects go over crime statistics, the relationship between police and society and how things like gender, race and class factor into crime.
Other similarities between these subjects include covering the legal system. From policy to constitutional law, students in criminal justice or criminology programs need to first understand how the legal system works.
Criminal Justice Explained
Criminal justice is often used in a broad sense to refer to anything regarding law enforcement, from police work to trials and everything in between. This field is a smart choice for people who are interested in working as a police officer, crime scene investigator, probation officer, customs agent, security guard or anything in this realm.
Criminal justice programs can be found at every education level. Choosing whether to enroll in an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree program in criminal justice depends on the specific career path a person is interested in. Some of these careers, like police officers, might also require additional training through a police academy or other institution.
Criminology relates more to studying the reasons behind a crime than solving the crime. This subject is a social science, so it closely examines the behaviors that lead to crime, the factors for rehabilitation of criminals and how to prevent crimes from occurring. Criminology involves a lot of research and analyzing why crimes have been committed and the reaction to these crimes within society.
Students who wish to work in education or research may want to focus on criminology. Teachers and subject matter experts come from this field, so it is common for higher education to be required. Criminology careers often require a master’s degree.
Choosing a Criminal Justice or Criminology Program
Since many schools choose to combine both of these subjects into a single area of study, it is important to keep that in mind when finding a program. If a person wants to become a professor and focus learning efforts into the study and theory behind criminal activity, finding a criminology-focused program may be best.
Conversely, if a student wants to learn a more skill-based role, like becoming a forensic scientist, this student might prefer a criminal justice program, perhaps one with a focus in forensic science. Whether a person chooses to study criminal justice, criminology or a combination of both, researching the college or university is an essential first step.