Match the Degree with the Desired Outcome!

Posted by Marita Malone

Students with criminal justice interests often wonder whether they should obtain a degree in Criminal Justice or a degree in Criminology. In fact, some students believe the two fields are the same, but they are not.

Criminology is the study of theory and behavior, just as other “-ology” subjects do. Similar to Sociology and Psychology, Criminology students will find a lot of their work based in science, theory, and the analysis of criminal behavior. Examples of courses to take are Theories of Crime, Crime Analysis, Psychology of the Criminal Mind, Children and Violence, Criminal Profiling, Decision Making and Problem Solving in Criminology, and Research Methodology.

Criminal Justice, on the other hand, is more of a study of procedures, processes, and structures of the criminal justice system. Examples of courses are Introduction to the Criminal Justice System, Constitutional Criminal Procedures and Issues, Criminal Law and Evidence, Criminal Investigations, Computer Crimes, and Introductions to Corrections, Courts, and Juvenile Justice System.

A BIG difference exists between the two degrees; know what you’re getting yourself into.

Which degree should you obtain? That depends on your proclivity. Do you want to be a researcher, college professor, correctional planner, or social worker (to name just a few options)? If so, go for the criminology degree. Do you want to work within the criminal justice system, social services, or private sector security? If so, go for the criminal justice degree. Decide what your initial career goals are, decide on a program that fits those needs, and pursue a program with an accredited university.

Some good questions to ask a university’s admissions team include: What courses are offered? Where have graduates found jobs after completing their degrees? Ask the right questions to ensure your degree matches your desired career!

Several online blogs allow for students to discuss their career questions and what programs are the best for what they wish to do. One of these, the Criminal Justice Online blog, gives students a place to ask questions. The author, a graduate of Boston University’s Masters in Criminal Justice, offers his opinions and tries to direct students with links to additional resources. He also offers a thread regarding the Criminal Justice or Criminology question.

When choosing Saint Louis University’s (SLU) School for Professional Studies (SPS) Criminal Justice and Security Management program, you are receiving not only a unique criminal justice/security education, but a degree from a university with a reputation for excellence. One of our professors notably stated that, in his business, “having a degree from SLU will get you noticed.” The faculty and staff at SPS work with students to learn about the students’ goals are, and they try to assist in creating connections to get students involved in the work they wish to be doing.

If you have questions regarding more differences as well as the styles of instruction, please visit the blog link in the previous paragraph or feel free to contact the Criminal Justice and Security Management program at

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