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Criminology - Overview


Criminology programs teach people about crime and criminal behavior. Students learn about different types of crime, the criminal justice system, and how the public responds to crime. They also learn about criminal laws and the penal system.

Crime and criminals are an endless source of inspiration for popular entertainment. Movies, TV shows, and even cartoons are centered around mobsters, murder investigations, and court cases. In some cases, you even want the "bad guys" to get away with it! Yet in real life, crime is a serious thing. Often the people who commit crimes have not had an easy life. And of course, most crimes have victims. No one would argue that we'd be better off if there were no crime in the first place. How can we achieve that goal? Criminology, the study of crime, seeks to answer that question.

In criminology programs, you take courses from many areas, including sociology, psychology, and statistics. You learn theories about why crimes occur and why people commit them. You study the brain patterns and behavior of "criminal minds." In addition, you learn about the different parts of the criminal justice system. You learn how courts and prisons work. You also learn about the police, parole, and probation systems. Moreover, you learn about different ways to deal with criminals besides imprisonment, including rehabilitation and education. Perhaps the most important aspect of your studies is learning about ways to prevent crime from occurring in the first place.

About 90 four-year schools offer bachelor's degrees in criminology. Many also offer graduate degree programs. Typically you receive a bachelor's degree in criminology in four years. Most community colleges offer two-year programs in criminology that can be transferred to a four-year college or university. Graduate programs take from two to five years after you finish your bachelor's degree. Most people with graduate degrees become high-level administrators, criminologists, or professors.

With a degree in criminology, you can work as an entry-level court administrator, security officer, social worker, or parole officer. You can work at prisons and other types of correctional facilities. Because of the need for increased security at public places after the events of 9/11, you can work at hospitals, airports, and at other high-traffic places. In addition, many people get degrees in criminology before they study to become police officers.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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