How Long Does it Take to Get a Criminology Degree?

I get this question a lot: how long does it take to get a Criminology degree? Truthfully, that depends on which degree level you want to pursue. Is it an Associates, a Bachelors, a Masters, or a PhD in Criminology? Are you taking Criminology at a traditional campus university or college? Or, is the Criminology degree from an online school?

Answer based on an average of the expected completion time:

Associates Degree in Criminology

  • Traditional
    • 1 and 1/2 years with a maxed-out class load – super-full-time: at or above 16 credits
    • 2 years is the norm – usually full time: 12 credits or more
    • 2 and 1/2 years, or more – usually part time: below 12 credits
  • Online
    • 1 to 2 years depending on the school – usually one cannot manipulate the program to go faster or slower – but, there are exceptions to this general rule

Bachelors Degree in Criminology

  • Traditional
    • 3 to 3 and 1/2 years with a maxed-out class load – super-full-time: at or above 16 credits
    • 4 years is the norm – usually full time: 12 credits or more
    • 4 and 1/2 to 5 and 1/2 years, or more – usually part time: below 12 credits
  • Online
    • 2 and 1/2 to 4 years depending on the school – usually one cannot manipulate the program to go faster or slower – but, there are exceptions to this general rule

Masters Degree in Criminology

  • Traditional
    • 1 and 1/2 to 2 years with a maxed-out class load – super-full-time: may depend on the school, prior permission may be required
    • 2 to 3 years is the norm – usually full time: may depend on the school
    • 3 and 1/2 to 5 years , or more – usually part time: may depend on the school, prior permission may be required
  • Online
    • 1 to 2 and 1/2 years depending on the school – usually one cannot manipulate the program to go faster or slower – but, there are exceptions to this general rule

PhD / Doctorate Degree in Criminology

  • Traditional
    • 2 and 1/2 to 3 and 1/2 – with a Masters degree in Criminal Justice/Criminology or prior permission to take on higher class load, usually the former expedites the doctorate.
    • 4 to 5 years is the norm – usually full time: the length of the degree may depend on the school
    • 5 to 6 years, or more – usually part time or a class a time: colleges and universities often cap their PhD program at 5 years, prior permission may be required
  • Online
    • 2 and 1/2 to 4 years depending on the school – usually one cannot manipulate the program to go faster or slower -but, there are exceptions to this general rule

I hope this helps. Be aware that you can shorten or lengthen the journey to your degree. Usually it takes a little initiative, but it pays dividends down the road. Good luck!

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Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

7 comments… add one
  • leslie

    If i have a degree in criminal justice how many more hours would i need to get a degree in criminology

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Good question. I think that if you want to do a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, and double major in Criminology as well, it should take you about one more year on top of your original major (this in an average estimate).

  • ashley

    I am currently in college and pursuing an associates degree in Psychology. I became fascinated when I learned more about Criminology so my goal is to pursue criminology and earn my doctorate for it. The only problem is that I have no idea where to start and I would hate to waste my time taking other classes that will be worthless at the end. So my question is, what would your recommendation be in order to accomplish my goal?

    • n favers

      I think you are in the same boat My Daughter is in so she is going to major in criminology and minor in psychology and then go to grad school for her phd in psychology good luck and God bless you I’ll keep you in my prayers

  • Peyton

    I am currently in high-school and i was wondering what types of classes i should be taking in order to better prepare myself for college. I am wanting to be a criminal profiler, would i want to major in criminology and minor in psychology? And what types of classes should I be looking to take?

    • Paola

      Hi Peyton,
      I’m a high school junior thinking of doing the same career as you. I’m pretty sure there’s only one class you can take that can link to understanding criminal profiling which is Psychology. If you want to take a college level class and earn college credit by taking the AP Exam, take AP Psychology. I am currently taking that class and although it really has no specific teaching of criminal profiling, you will find some studies interesting enough to link it to how human mind or even a criminal’s mind works. In college, you should major in criminology and minoring really doesn’t matter if it’s similar to your major but minoring in psychology is a smart choice. I plan on majoring in criminology and minoring in political science and getting my PhD in criminology and later earning a Law degree. You can create your path however you want, good luck!

  • Kevin Pedraza

    I want to be a researcher in the field of Criminology. I understand that I need to get a Ph.D. or other graduate degree. However as I research I see that the chances of getting a career is quite slim. I don’t know the salary of a criminology researcher and it is very difficult to find a career in anything else. People are just suggesting to get a degree in computer science, business but I find that uninteresting. I don’t know what to do.

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