Online Schools with Criminology Degree Programs
Explore the difference between criminology and criminal justice, and find out what degree programs you could pursue online in the criminology field. Find out how online programs work. Review the typical curriculum for bachelor's and master's degree programs in criminology.
Criminology degree programs can be easily found through distance learning at both the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. Take a look at this article to understand all of your education options, including program availability, coursework, and online learning requirements.
Is a Degree in Criminology the Same as a Degree in Criminal Justice?
Although criminal justice and criminology are related, there are some basic differences. Sometimes seen as a specialization of criminal justice, criminology is a social science dealing with patterns and statistics of criminal behavior. Criminal justice deals with the justice system, which includes corrections, the courts and police. The College Board describes criminal justice degree programs as often being oriented toward career training (www.collegeboard.com). According to the Princeton Review, criminologists don't necessarily have to major in criminology, but might major in sociology or psychology as well (www.princetonreview.com).
What Degrees are Offered?
The two most common criminology degrees available online are bachelor's and master's degrees. Master's degrees awarded in this field are typically a Master of Science or a Master of Advanced Study. One school with an online master's program in criminology awards the degree as a Master of Arts.
Bachelor's degree programs in criminology are sometimes presented as degree completion programs for students with a criminal justice associate degree. The most common degree available at this level is a Bachelor of Science. In some cases, the major is in criminology and criminal justice, not criminology alone. One school offers a major in criminology, law and society.
Which Schools Offer Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Criminology?
Bachelor's degree programs in criminology are available online or in a hybrid format at various colleges and universities, including:
- Southern New Hampshire University provides an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Criminology degree program
- Indiana State University has a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree program available online
- Arizona State University delivers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree program
Which Schools Offer Online Master's Degree Programs in Criminology?
You can find master's degree programs in criminology online at many different schools. Some examples are:
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania hosts an online Master of Art in Criminology degree program
- University of California, Irvine houses a Master of Advanced Study in Criminology, Law and Society degree program in a hybrid format
- Western Kentucky University has an online Master of Art in Criminology degree program
What Will I Learn?
At the bachelor's degree level, courses typically focus more on foundational topics like introduction to criminology, basic research methods, basic crime theory, American court systems and introduction to criminal law. Some of these programs also include an internship that can be carried out at local police departments, and cannot be completed online. Elective class topics can include gang behavior, DNA analysis, gender and crime, criminal rehabilitation and criminal justice. One school with an online criminology bachelor's degree also requires students to take a core curriculum required of all undergraduate students, including courses in drug education.
Classes in online criminology master's degree programs usually amount to about two full years of coursework. Most schools require a thesis or final project for these programs, but other final requirements may apply at some schools. For example, one school with an online criminology master's program requires students to take a class in law and policy in order to graduate. Common class topics in a master's degree program include:
- Social deviance
- Applied statistics
- Crime sentencing
- Legal system organization
- Forensic investigation
- Quantitative analysis of criminology statistics
How do Online Schools Present These Programs?
Criminology degree programs are often presented by a school's department of criminology and criminal justice. Most of the schools offering these programs online are public schools that are part of a state university system. Sometimes, faculty and staff of multiple schools in the same university system present the online program. In this case, students can decide which school they want to apply to, and this will be the school from which their degree is earned.
In most cases, all coursework in these programs can be completed online. Some schools even have their orientations online, making it possible for students to complete the entire program at home. There are some on-campus course requirements for certain programs. For example, one school requires students to take an intensive 5-day introductory course on-campus before beginning online coursework.
Courses can be delivered online through a variety of methods, including video conferencing and online courseware software like Blackboard. Some online criminology programs mail DVDs of course materials to students, meaning that the coursework isn't entirely online, but is completed in a distance learning format.
In the field of criminology, students have a few options for online education at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. Bachelor's degree programs will allow students to gain general knowledge and experience in the field preparing them for a career, while a master's degree program will provide more specialized knowledge and help advance a professional career.