Criminology literally means the study of crime. Criminal behavior, criminal law, motivation, and the effects of crime are studied by criminologists. They analyze criminal behavior patterns and criminal laws, and provide possible explanations for crime and criminal behavior. Criminologists are involved in studying the physical, biological, mental, psychological, and emotional workings of the criminal and the victim.
If you want to become a criminologist, then you should have a master's degree in criminology. However, criminologists who teach criminology at universities typically have a doctorate degree. The classical school and the positivist school are the two major schools of thought in criminology.
An inquisitive mind, perseverance to collect information, and ability to analyze all of the details before arriving at an answer are the major qualities required for a criminologist.
Criminologists undergo training in police administration and policy, juvenile justice and delinquency, corrections, correctional administration and policy, drug addiction, models of criminal behavior, radical criminology, theoretical criminology, and the study of victims. You can choose to specialize in any one course.
The opportunities to practice as a criminologist are wide and varied. You can work with law enforcement agencies to develop crime prevention programs and work in the correctional systems. You can also choose to work as FBI agents, medical examiners, or police officers. Teaching and research are other career options for criminologists.
A good criminologist is sought after in many areas of criminal justice. The annual salary for a criminologist with a bachelor's degree is expected to be around $30,000, while that of a criminologist with a master's degree is about $55,000 per annum. If you are interested in being a criminologist, then you are in for an exciting and interesting career.
The cost of pursuing a degree in criminology varies from school to school and also depends on the program you choose. The cost of a bachelor's program is around $16,500 per year and that of a master's and doctoral program is about $23,000 per year. A course in criminology through distance/online mode costs around $250 per credit. You can also go in for a three day course that charges about $350.
You can choose to enroll in an online/distance learning course or a full time course. Online courses are offered by American Public University, University of North Alabama and ITT Technical Institute. University of Florida, University of Texas at Dallas, and San Jose State University proffer various full time courses in criminology.
Testing & Preparation
Most of the online/distance learning courses and all full-time courses culminating in a bachelor's degree require a Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) score. Masters and doctoral programs require the applicant to submit a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score. A subject GRE test is an added advantage when applying to doctoral programs. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test is expected to be undertaken by students who are non-native English speakers.
Sources of funding for students include availing student loans from organizations such as Federal Direct Loans, US Bank, Sallie Mae, and Federal Work Study (FWS) program. Information about parent loans is available at Parent PLUS Loan. University of Texas at Dallas offers Criminology Undergraduate Awarded Scholarship to meritorious students.