When you think about your future career path, what do you dream? Do you see yourself working on a forensics team, investigating murders, or keeping criminals in line in a prison? What about a career in criminal science where you study the psychology of criminals or investigate new theories and strategies for managing criminals behind bars? There are many things you can do with a career related to crime, and your choice between criminology and criminal justice is important.
If you see yourself in a police uniform or within the correctional system, you probably want to seek a degree in criminal justice. This field of study will immerse you in the practical and functional skills needed to handle crime in the real world. You will learn about the criminal justice system as it is today so that you can work within that system in some capacity.
This degree will prepare you to work as a police officer or corrections officer. It may also lead you into related fields such as loss prevention.
A Degree in Criminology
If you are more interested in criminal psychology or want to study the impact crime has on society, you are probably better suited to a criminology degree. This field of study does overlap with criminal justice quite a bit, but there is more emphasis on theory and research. You will learn about the criminal justice system with a heavy emphasis on the people committing crime, fighting crime and surviving crime.
Many criminology students have their hearts set on careers as criminologists, and most will obtain their master’s degree in a specific area of criminology in order to achieve their desired careers. A degree in criminology may also be used to gain employment in consultancy, research or social services.
Which Degree Do You Need?
Since there is considerable overlap between criminology and criminal justice degrees, there are many careers that can be gained through either of these degrees. Many students do not even realize there is a difference in these terms when they enroll in educational programs.
Think about the career you want to create for your life, and then analyze the courses offered in all programs available to you. Which program offers courses that will teach the skills that you will need for your desired career? Go with the program that you feel best fits the type of career you want to enjoy.