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In the past decade, we’ve been bombarded with all sorts of law or crime-related programs, and they all seem to deal with criminal justice or criminology of some sort. They’ve also been learning experiences for many viewers who didn’t fully understand the different criminal justice fields. Individuals who inspire to work in law enforcement positions often wonder if criminal justice and criminology are the same things. While they do have some similarities, they are two different things.

See our ranking of the  50 Best Value Colleges for a Criminal Justice Degree .

Criminology vs. Criminal Justice

Criminology and criminal justice both deal with criminals and law enforcement. That is almost where they’re similarities end. Criminal justice deals with all aspects of a crime from the time the crime is committed right up until the criminal is found guilty and sent to prison. Criminal justice covers all areas of the American justice system.

Criminology deals not so much with the actual crime but rather on why it happened. What made the criminal do what he or she did? Criminology is very similar to sociology in that it focuses on researching criminal’s minds to learn what makes them commit crimes and how to prevent them in the future. Criminal justice just deals with what to do after the crime is committed.

Degree Programs for Criminal Justice

One of the things that makes a criminal justice degree so unique and so popular is that it typically offers various areas of specialization. Criminal justice degree programs are typically offered at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. Students in a criminal justice program generally have courses like ethical behavior in criminal justice, criminal investigation, criminal justice, correctional administration, and drug crimes. The programs also require internships and field work to obtain real-time experience.

Degree Programs for Criminology

Degree programs in criminology are slightly different than criminal justice programs in that they focus more on sociology and why certain crimes are committed and how to stop the pattern. Preventing crimes is a big part of criminology. Courses in a criminology program may include sociology, crimes against humanity, violence against women, sociological theory, juvenile delinquency, societal law, risk and governance, deviant behavior and sociology in courts.

Criminology programs also have the student completing a lot of research. The  U.S. News & World Report  states that there are various colleges that offer criminology and criminal justice programs through distance learning.

Career Possibilities For Both

Criminal justice and criminology are both fields that offer many job opportunities. Despite their difference, graduates of each of these degrees may find similar job opportunities. Candidates who earn degrees in criminal justice may find the following career opportunities.

  • Correctional officer
  • Police Officer
  • Deputy
  • Dispatcher
  • Sheriff
  • DEA Agent
  • Parole Officer
  • Homicide Detective
  • U.S. Marshal

One interesting fact about these two fields is that graduates of criminal just programs generally seek work closer to criminal justice than criminology; however, graduates of criminology may find work in the areas of criminal justice or criminology. Candidates who earn degrees in criminology may find positions in the following areas.

  • Criminal investigator
  • Corrections
  • Criminologist
  • Intervention programming
  • Psychopathology specialist
  • Sociologist
  • Forensic scientist
  • Crime scene investigator
  • Police officer

There are various career opportunities for individuals interested in working with law enforcement. Whether they choose a criminal justice or a criminology degree, the end result will be the same. They’ll be part of a special group of professionals working to make our country a safer place to live.

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