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2022 Criminology Degree Guide

Criminology is a major within the field of sociology that explores the behavior of criminals, causes of crime, and the criminal justice system that is in place today. Students who study this major gain a better understanding of why people choose to commit crimes, and what we can do to prevent and lower crime rates. Crime in our society, criminal psychology, and probation and the parole system are some subjects that will be discussed in class.

Classes you can expect to see while studying Criminology include: probation and parole; women and crime; social research; deviance; sociology; punishment; law; youth and crime; research methods; gender, crime, and justice; and policing society. You may have the opportunity to choose a concentration in Demography and Population studies.

A Spike in Criminology Degrees

#82 Most Popular Major
10.2k Degrees Awarded
6.1% Increase in Graduates

Criminology was the 82nd most popular major in the 2019-2020 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 10,182 degrees in this year alone. This represents a 6.1% increase in criminology degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 9,560.

The United States has 213 different schools where you can get a degree in criminology. This year's Best Criminology Schools ranking compares 154 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of criminology programs later in this article.

Best Criminology Schools by Degree

Featured Criminology Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.


Criminology Degree Requirements

This major involves classes in the subjects of law, psychology, and society. The goal is for students to gain an understanding of criminal laws and policy. You will be required to study course cases, analyze data and utilize various research methods. Be prepared to work with your peers on group projects and presentations. Strong communication skills will help you succeed.

Critical thinking, reading, and writing skills will help you read, retain and report vast amounts of data and information. You will spend time writing research papers as well as applying theories learned from class to real life situations. Your writing and presentation skills should be clear and detailed. Many colleges will require you to complete an internship in the field before graduation.

Criminology Degree Program Entry Requirements

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Specific criminology careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Types of Criminology Degrees

There are many different criminology degree levels. You can spend many years getting as high as a in criminology to something that takes less time like a . Different criminology degrees vary in how long they take.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to criminology, with approximately 46.2% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for criminology workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 47.5%
Master’s Degree 26.3%
Doctoral Degree 14.3%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 4.4%
Post-Secondary Certificate 2.2%

90.8% of criminology workers have at least a bachelor's. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in criminology careers have.


This of course varies depending on which criminology career you choose.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Criminology Graduate

Average Number of Jobs
$32.6k Average Starting Salary
8% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Criminologists study crime and social behaviors and deviations from social norms. Within criminology you can work in corrections, counseling, criminal investigation, diversion programming, teaching, research and policy studies, intervention programs, and private investigation. Many criminologists have a minimum of a Master's Degree.

Growth Projected for Criminology Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your criminology degree? Criminology careers are expected to grow 8.0% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to criminology.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Managers 1,071,700 8.0%
Sociologists 3,500 0.0%

Criminology Degree Salary Potential

Recently graduated criminology students earned an average of $32,583 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $17,600 to as high as $62,300. As you might expect, salaries for criminology graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Criminology Majors

Salaries for criminology graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top highest paying careers criminology grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Managers $115,590
Sociologists $90,290

Getting Your Criminology Degree

With over 384 different criminology degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased criminology school rankings to help you with this.

Related Programs

Learn about other programs related to Criminology that might interest you.


One of 12 majors within the Social Sciences area of study, Criminology has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Economics 48,831
Political Science & Government 48,597
Sociology 37,807
General Social Sciences 19,742
International Relations & National Security 14,762

View All Criminology Related Majors >


More about our data sources and methodologies.

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