What’s the Difference Between Criminal Justice and Criminology?

I got another email today asking for help with a very tricky question. Mark from Minnesota asked me: what’s the difference between Criminal Justice and Criminology? He says he hears it used interchangeably and feels that there is an actual difference. Mark’s right, there sure is.

Criminal Justice vs. Criminology

Conventionally, Criminal Justice refers to the universal and policy aspects of the field, including the exploration of policing, courts, corrections, and other worldly applications. Criminology is regarded more as a behavioral, or social science, that scrutinizes the causes of criminal behavior and the social response to crime.

Many people believe that the two areas of study are one and the same. In essence, they are very related. Frequently, Criminal Justice and Criminology degree programs use courses from each area of study interchangeably. So, you could be striving for a Criminal Justice degree, but you may have a number of Criminology classes incorporated into the program.

Criminal Justice and Criminology Career Options

Criminal Justice and Criminology majors can carry on to an assortment of careers in the Law Enforcement field, including: police officer, detective, criminal investigator, federal agent, corrections officer, corrections counselor, juvenile treatment worker, community correctional worker, probation officer, parole officer, private investigator, and private security. Many of these professions will call for supplemental training and skills specific to the agency or departmental requirements.

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.

82 comments… add one
  • Melissa

    Can you tell me the if there is a difference between Administration of Justice and Criminal Justice? I am getting ready to sign up for the winter courses and I am trying to do the research so I can make a final decision. Thanks

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Administration of Justice is basically the same as Criminal Justice, but can be different at some schools. Both program types will focus on criminal justice, law enforcement, and judicial matters.

      The word “administration” may mean that you are going to administer justice – for example: as a police officer – usually similar to Criminal Justice.


      that you will be looking at the CJ field from an administrative point of view – as in managerial duties of a Sargent or a Captain. I know there may be some schools who will title their program Administration of Justice in reference to Law Enforcement administrative matters – usually these would be Master’s degree programs or above.

      My best advice is to visit the departmental site of each college or university you are considering and find out exactly what they mean by Administration of Justice. Even Criminal Justice programs differ in course programming from school to school. Hope this helps. Good luck with everything.

  • Cassey

    I am thinking of a career as a forensics psychologist but I have read that you need a criminology what is the difference if I take criminal justice?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      First off, I think you should strive for a degree in Forensic Psychology as it is really more pertinent. As you may have read, the Criminology option would be better than the Criminal Justice option as you’re studying behavioral, or social science, that scrutinizes the causes of criminal behavior and the social response to crime. I know this has some relevance to the field of Psychology. So yes, in theory, a Criminology degree program is a good alternative to a Forensic Psychology degree program, but does not guarantee that you’ll become a Forensic Psychologist. Hope this makes sense.

      • shauna

        SO if you may or may not get a degree with a masters forensic psychology degree, what else can you do with it? what are ones career options with that degree? Also what are specific jobs that one may get with a bachelors degree in psychology with a concentration in criminal Justice? I am making the decision to go back to school. and I know that the description fits what area I want to be in, however I am unsure if there is enough careers within the degree to allow me to find a job. I would like to just obtain my bachelors in psychology with the concentration in CJ, what would you recommend for a 30yr old single mother?

  • Bernie

    Hi, I’m am confused as to what path to take, I would like to be in the F.B.I., and I want to know what would be better, Criminal Justice or Criminology?, and what schools are at a good educational level in California? Thank you very much, I will be waiting for your response.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Both degrees can be useful, but it depends on your preference and FBI’s needs. Be aware that the FBI also likes people from other educational backgrounds. Run a search for “FBI” on my site to see some other articles that may help. For the most part, the University of California and the California State University system are great choices. Some of the best schools in the U.S. are from the family of these public universities. You should utilize usnews.com to help you once you pick a group of schools that are of interest to you. Good luck.

  • Megan H.

    Hi, i could REALLY use some help. I am pursuing in becoming an Animal Cruelty Investigative Officer. (like the cops on animal precinct). My question to you is would a degree in criminal justice or criminology be better?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Certain organizations have different criteria about what course of study they prefer. If you know where it is you would like to work (ie. Houston ASPCA) you can then contact their human resources staff or visit their website for educational requirements and/or preferences. In my opinion, either degree can present you with great opportunities.

  • Carole W.


    I have a B.S in Marketing and did not enjoy business. My daughter is entering K this year so I want to go back to school online for a Master in Criminology. Do you think they hired 40 y/o with no experience? I do live in DC so there are a lot of agencies.

    I have narrowed it down to two schools, University of Cincinnati and Boston U, Cincinnati offers a M.S in criminology whereas BU offers a Master in Criminal Justice. Why is BU not a M.S? Does it make a difference, is one better than the other? Do you know what agencies prefer? I personally prefer the BU program because the issues seem current ” terrorism” “Juvenile Youth Crimes” while UC concentrates more on theories, statistics etc..

    I know it’s a lot of questions, I really appreciate your time and input.

    Many thanks


    • Radek M. Gadek

      Be aware that it’s much tougher getting a law enforcement position after the age of 36/37.

      Both schools are great and I mean GREAT! University of Cincinnati has a very good program and is very highly regarded in Criminal Justice academia. Having a master’s degree from there, in Criminal Justice or Criminology, is exceptionally good to have. Boston University is one of the best schools in the World (overall). Its Criminal Justice program is awesome and it seems a little bit more current than UCs, but doesn’t have such a high acclaim in the world of Criminal Justice education. And, BU also somewhat focuses on theories and statistics – it’s true : ) … I’ve heard that University of Cincinnati program may seem boring on paper, but it may be far from that in class.

      I am pretty sure that employers will love a candidate that is well educated and both of these Criminal Justice colleges are top notch to list on your resume. Both degrees are a Master’s level, even though UC has Master of Science, so no worries there.

  • Agnieszka

    I am actually a Forensic Psychology major and found out that in order to be submitted to MS in Forensic Psychology student has a choice of obtaining BS in either Criminal Justice or Psychology. I am in a process of getting my Bachelor Degree in USCSB. You are so very right, USC and UCR have by far the best and most respected quotas of all on-line Universities.

  • MJ

    I am in the process of getting my bachelors degree in interdisciplinary studies. But I want a masters in either forensic psychology or criminology. By reading a little more online I read that it would be best to get a degree in criminology because the pay is higher and the jobs are more open. However, I want to know if it matters what I have my bachelors degree in?? And what can I do NOW that will help me later when trying to get a job in these fields? Also I live in Texas and I heard Sam Houston University was a good school. I want to be able to work as a teacher while I am doing my masters however…….are there any real good online schools? Or would you recommend going to an actual university for me since I do not have a bachelors in this field.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      It shouldn’t matter too much what you have your Bachelor’s in, but yes, a Bachelor’s in Psychology or Criminology would have been optimal.

      NOW you should really get educated in the topics you would like to take on in grad school. Criminology, as intuitive of a subject it is, is not an easy one. Rent books, read journals, and see if you can get into some sort of internship that deals with crime at a psychological/sociological capacity – this last one can be a deal breaker when applying to top notch schools, but if you can’t do it, you can’t.

      It’s hard for me to tell you go on-campus or go online, but when you mention Sam Houston State University – one of the best Criminology universities in the country – you would make my choice easier. If you have to work while in school please try to get into schools I mentioned in my recent article: Top Criminal Justice Schools in America – I think at least half have online programs and out of that half you should find a handful of Criminology programs.

  • Bob Ondrick

    I want to become a CSI (Crime Scene Investigator) and am confused about whether to take/obtain my masters degree in Criminal Justice or Criminology. Could someone please help me out here? The schools haven’t been of much help. Maybe someone with some insight/knowledge would be able to point me in the right direction. Thanks very much to anyone who can help me make this decision ASAP…since I have to attend school almost immediately.

  • Michael Scott

    I have a BS and MS in CRIM and an MA in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Peacebuilding. I too am older, having just turned 57. I thought I was going to teach community college, but that may not happen for many reasons e.g., lack of need, budgetary, etc.

    Anyway, I chose this discipline (CRIM) because I wanted to “make a difference” after 9/11, and thought I was going to be a “counselor” in corrections or work with juveniles.

    The problem is that I do not have experience in any field concerning law enforcement, corrections, or the courts. Zero teaching experience, never been a cop, only one psyche course in college. You need a psychology or counseling degree to “counsel.” You need experience to get hired. I was just turned down as a loss prevention agent in a Macy’s because I didn’t have at least one year of experience (forget that I had an MS in CRIM degree!). Soon after graduation (’08), I applied for fingerprint analyst, intelligence analyst, social scientist, and social worker positions, but was not even granted an interview since I lacked the requisite experience.

    As a former business owner (therein lies my “experience”) who turned to academia, what the heck am I expected to do? I am tens of thousands of dollars in debt with student loans. Fortunately, I do not have a mortgage but I do have a car payment. I would also like to mediate but I would have to spend a couple thousand on training, spend a week away from family, plus hotel, food, clothes, etc. Being unemployed, I cannot afford this either.

    I want to do something but what?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Hey Michael,

      I see you’re in a little bit of a “pickle” — between a rock and a hard place — age vs. current economy

      You know very well that nearly all law enforcement positions are out of a question.

      But, did you consider applying to online colleges to teach. They are always in need of instructors. The obstacles that may stand in the way is education — you don’t have a terminal degree, like: PhD or JD — and no related job experience. I still would try anyway. But on the other note, you may qualify to teach Business related courses, especially those that are related to your Master’s. Your business experience may play a good role in getting hired. I don’t know if that’s something you would want to do.

      You’ve basically covered all angles here yourself. I think that you should dig deeper / elsewhere if you’re open to moving. There are careers out there, but they may not be in your immediate area.

      If anyone can help Michael, please leave a reply to his comment.

      Good luck, Michael

    • Adela

      I find myself in the same situation. I am 35 years old and have a BS in Criminal Justice. I plan to attend UC for my masters but I won’t begin that program until I have a position in the criminal justice field so that I have experience. This is what I am lacking. I have always had entry level positions and non in the criminal justice field. They keep telling me to network but at this time that has not helped. As Mr. Gadek expressed you may have to find elsewhere. Their are no jobs in CJ field where I live so I have been applying to nearby states. If anyone can give advice please do so. I need all the assistance I can get to land a job.


  • Mindy

    Hello, I want to have a career in Criminology and was wondering if anyone knows of any live in school colleges in southern California for Criminal Justice? Unfortunately I’ve just now decided what I want to do with my life and I’m already 23 so I’m afraid I might be a little too late to really jump in the band wagon. Any information or advice would be much appreciative, thank you!! :)

    • Radek M. Gadek

      California is huge, but I know that University of California at Irvine is one of the best ranked Criminal Justice programs in the country. It’s in Southern California. You should also check out the “Schools by State” section in the upper navigation. Schools with Criminal Justice degree or similar programs are listed along with the website information for each school – click through to get more info from the criminal justice schools you would want to consider attending. Good luck.

  • Derek

    I have a BS in CJ-Law Enforcement and have almost a year of experience as a peace officer so far. I enjoy what I do but am looking to apply with a Federal agency (preferrably the F.B.I. or U.S. Marshals) after a few more years of work experience and hopefully a Master’s Degree. My question to you is whether or not you would recommend obtaining or Criminology/CJ Masters, or try to get something a little more broad such as sociology.

    Either way, between full time work and an upcoming deployment with the National Guard, it would be necessary for me to take the courses through an online program. What schools would you recommend that have accredited programs and can be completed online?

    Thank you in advance for your help


    • Radek M. Gadek

      Good questions, Derek.

      First, I can’t tell you which programs are truly best for FBI or the Marshal Service. As a military man, you know that some positions are not made with a “cookie cutter” effect in mind. Thus, it’s highly probable that either one of those will be a good fit, or they may not be — ie. FBI is looking to hire Special Agents with a Forensic background. I know certain Federal LE Agencies prefer a Criminal Justice degree — DEA is one of them — BUT they also take law degree grads, sociology degrees, psychology wizards, English majors, and biology buffs to name a few.

      As for an online school, please — whatever you do — make sure to pick a regionally accredited institution that is preferably not a for-profit university. See one of my most recent posts “Top Criminal Justice Schools in America” (should be on the home page or please search for it using the search feature). It has a list of wonderful schools I recommend personally, like: University of Cincinnati, Pennsylvania State University, and Michigan State University. These schools are highly respected and offer online Master’s degrees in as little as 12 months and as long as several years, depending on the school.

      Hope this helps and I wish you great things in your upcoming endeavors. Don’t forget to get in touch and tell us how things are going for ya.

  • john

    If i want to become an FBI Agent does it matter if i study criminology or criminal justice?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      It can matter, depending on the needs of the FBI at the time, but I’ve heard of people with either one of those getting on. I highly recommend you speak with an FBI recruiter, or at the very least, go to the FBI site for the most current info. Also, search for “FBI” on this site to see some useful articles and comments from readers regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation careers.

  • Melissa

    Hello I will be graduating hopefully this May and I am going to start the process of applying to graduate schools. I live in the west part of texas and the closest school I’ve read about was Arizona State. I also considered Sam Houston as well as a few schools a bit further away. Both of the schools I mentioned have masters degrees in “Criminology and Criminal Justice.” I want to lean more toward the criminology degree because I would love to be a criminal investigator, a criminologist, get a government job, or work with juvenile delinquents. However, some of the other schools offer programs such as just criminal justice or criminology and the law. Which do you think would be a better program for the careers I would like to get into?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I get your drift. It’s hard to gauge if one program type, or both combined, are better or worse from one another. Take it as you will, both of the schools you name dropped are some of the best Criminology/Criminal Justice schools in the nation.

      As for the program type, I would request information from all the schools you have interest in and compare their academic philosophies / methodologies throughout their programming. A great start is to go to their websites and start the process (which you already have done anyway). I used to print out such info and compare it side by side. If things were ambiguous, I would pick up the phone and call the department directly to inquire about their program (usually, this is of the most help).

      From what you’ve asked, I can deduce that the Criminal Justice/Criminology route can be of value in your career endeavors.

      As for law, that’s a totally different “animal” altogether and is quite different from Criminal Justice and Criminology.

  • Malida

    So, here’s my story. I’ll be 30 this thanksgiving. I just graduated this past May with a dual BS in Psychology and Criminal Jusice. I’m currently pursuing a MS in Criminology at IUP. The only experience I have is a 200 hour internship I did with a local Sheriffs Deptartment. I orginally thought I wanted to teach so that’s why I choose to pursue my master’s but what I really want a chance to do is be a crime scene technician or evidence technician. I’m having a terrible time getting a break for any kind of cj job so that I can gain more experience because I have none. Should I continue racking up loans with my Masters in Criminology or just go get my crime scene tech certification and get out there sooner? I’m just not sure what’s in my best interest. I do know, though, that I can’t spend too much longer working on degrees and not on experience especially when I need to provide for husband and future family.

    Confused and worried in Pittsburgh, PA

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Malida, this advice is open to interpretation, and ultimately, it is you that has to balance the advantages and disadvantages in order to make the final decision.

      I love learning new things constantly. College is like a Starbucks for me: fun to sit around in and great for people watching while reading an interesting book, however it can become an expensive habit.

      From what it sounds like, in your life, you are looking to be more in Forensics rather than Criminal Justice – generally speaking. I think your degrees can be of immense help when you consider upgrading your career status in the future, but for now, try inquire more about the Crime Scene Technician position, unless you do have time to catch a few grad classes that are Forensic Science centric (great time to consider online learning).

      The results are more “instantaneous” than compared with a Master’s degree, but they aren’t always desirable (lack of positions in your area, lower salary than expected, not what you thought it would be). Speak with people in the industry (consider your contacts from the Sheriff’s Office) about the pluses and minuses of your decision.

      Given the urgency, in order to provide for your family, I would still keep the grad school option on the table despite my recommendation — perhaps even consider jumping back on the academic bandwagon to complete your master’s while employed by a law enforcement agency (bonus: you may qualify for up to a full tuition stipend from the law enforcement dept you would be an employee of).

      If you would like to add more or need clarification please reply.

  • Chloe

    im just wondering about my future major.
    umm i want to be a profiler in the future . so which major do you prefer most? whether criminology or criminal justice or general psycology
    please answer me! and it would be really helpful to me to decide my future major! thanks:>

  • Annel

    Hi my name is Annel,
    Ive been undecided on my major, but I really like sociology and psychology but I do not want to be a regular psychologist or sociologists, so I was looking into criminology because it seems there are a variety of jobs. I was wondering if all the jobs that say are applicable with a criminology are true or if I need to specify in something to be a detective or a corrections counselor or all the other jobs you mentioned. I was also wondering if you believe that this is a growing job field.

    • Radek M. Gadek


      Criminology and Criminal Justice are growing fields, and I think they will be, since they are in the “Security Sector” – America and its cities won’t compromise too much on security, which also means that the Criminal Justice field provides “job security.”

      Some positions require a degree, sometimes a more specific than others. To be a detective, almost any degree will due and sometimes you wont need one at all. For corrections counselor career track I would recommend a more specialized degree.

      It’s always wise to speak with your college counselor about your career aspirations. Good luck.

  • Rockie

    I am trying to go into some kind of law enforcement field. Right now i am a criminology and biology major, and im looking to me: criminologist, forensic psychologist, forensic tech something along those lines. i was wondering what is the difference between criminology and criminalistics/ criminal science? and i was hoping you could direct me or advise me on some schools that have a good criminology program in the state of Georgia. Currently i attend University of West Georgia.

    Thank you ! :)

  • mary livadas

    im getting my criminology degree next year. im interested in working as a CSI. what masters do u suggest i do?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Probably one rooted in Crime Scene Investigation: Forensic Science is a good start.

  • Patrick Fitzgerald

    Hello sir,

    I am wanting to be a DEA Agent, but I’m stuck between 2 majors; criminal justice and criminology. Which major would I choose for college, that would help me get into the Drug Enforcement Agency?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Either or should be fine. I wrote an article on DEA’s preferred major: Criminal Justice. Use the search on this site: DEA + Criminal Justice. In reality, there are other great majors you can choose and Criminology is an excellent major, too.

  • Luke

    Hi, I am currently studying in Criminal Justice for my honors bachelor degree. However, I would like to get into criminal profiling/criminology; become a profiler. Does it make a difference that I am in the Criminal Justice program as my major? or should I switch into Criminology major or take Criminology as my masters??

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Criminology is probably what you want to pursue as a future profiler. I think there are benefits to having a Criminal Justice as an undergrad major, but Criminology focuses on the intricacies of criminal behavior. If you’re planning to take a Master’s in Criminology, then I wouldn’t worry to much about changing majors. Ultimately, the choice lies in your hands.

  • kAtIe

    i was wodering, if i wanted to be a police detective, would it be better to get a criminology degree or criminal justice?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Both are great options, but Criminology is more suitable — in my opinion. However, in order to become a detective on a police force you must first be a police officer (in most cases).

  • Ciomara

    Hi my name is Ciomara,
    im currently in my junior year of high school, but my school is pushing us towards picking a college and a back up college for senior year. i was hoping you could help me with telling me if criminology is anything close to being a crime scene investigator, and what degree should i head for

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Not really that close, although there are some parts that both disciplines incorporate. Check out the “Careers” section to see what a CSI does. And for Criminology, think of careers like Detective or FBI Profiler; adding, of course, what you’ve read in this post. It’s basically being adept at the way criminals think (Criminology) vs. evidence collection after the crime (CSI, Forensic Science). It’s a layman’s explanation, but I hope it works.

  • Mary

    I am interested in doing a Masters in Criminal Justice with a concentration in crime analysis. What is your opinion about this program?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Worth a try, especially if you like analyzing crimes. Good luck!

  • Matthew Thompson

    Yes I am wanting to pursue a career in maybe a government agency or investigator. Computer Forensics is what i like. I would like to be a computer forensics specialist in one of those two. The problem is Criminal Justice or Criminology or should i just Computer Science? Please Help!!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Probably neither Criminal Justice nor Criminology. Computer Science or Computer Forensics (Computer Forensic Science) is what you want as a degree program based on your stated aspirations.

      • Matthew Thompson

        Thanks I appreciate it!

  • Victor Calonje

    I just acquired my Bachelors in Criminal Justice. What degree to you recommend besides law school that will compliment this degree. Is a degree in Public Administration a good option?


    • Radek M. Gadek

      Sure. Other possible choices include: Criminology, Forensic Science, Political Science, Homeland Security, and Emergency Preparedness to name a few. Also a law degree is a really good one.

  • Ro

    Hi, I want to become a detective/ criminal investigator, but which course is better to take, criminology or criminal justice?
    Also is their a difference between detective and criminal investigator?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Both degree options are fine. There usually is no significant difference between a detective and a criminal investigator, but I recently wrote an article on the difference between a detective and a crime scene investigator; where, most often, there are differences.

    • shallice david

      Hi, i just seen your question and was wondering the same thing. i also would like to do one of the to that you mentioned but i do not know which one is better to take? criminology or criminal justice. Have you found out? or have you decided which one you wanted to go with and why?

  • Mike

    Hi, I am currently enrolled in a four year college with a major in Criminology and a minor in Business. I am seriously considering becoming a state trooper somewhere in the North-East. I was wondering if this major/minor combination would be something state police departments would be interested in. Also, I was wondering how difficult it may be to apply for a state trooper position right after graduating from college. I am hoping for an internship with a state police barrack, and I think that might help my chances of being considered for a position.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Definitely! a Criminology major with a business minor is pretty much what I would recommend above even a Criminal Justice degree. The business aspect is often highly desired.

      As for difficulty, one can have it easier/harder than others. Current state of affairs in the region, at the agency, and other factors play a big role in the number of openings available, types of recruits they will be looking for, and more. You just have to apply and see for yourself. BTW, internships are a great way of “getting your foot in the door” :-)

  • Robert

    would studying both be any better then just one ?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      You should get a taste of both by taking any of the programs, but there are those that focus on both at the same time, or those who do one as their undergrad and one as their graduate degree.

  • Jennifer


    I have a BS in Criminology and was looking to start on my MS soon. While researching I noticed a “new” degree and that is one in Homeland Security. What is the difference in this degree and would it benefit anything to change direction and obtain a secondary degree in Homeland Security? My long term goal is to work on the federal level and I am unsure if this degree is a better choice.

  • will

    I about to get my Associates degree and looking for a good major in law enforcement. I already work for the TSA so my foot is in the door. which degree is better criminal justice or criminology

  • Georgin Georson

    Which courses would you recommend to be a police detective? will a bachelors degree in law help? would i have to learn anything more to join special agencies like the Scotland yard? If yes do i learn them while working as a cop?

  • Donnietella David

    Hi, I’m on my last year of high school and I’m only a couple months away from applying to University I am so confused right now and I’m starting to doubt things because I’ve been told by older people that a degree in Criminology or Criminal Justice is very limited when it comes to finding a good job and it’s useless in the “real world” what is your opinion on this?.

    I had 3 options handy when i get out of University just to have something to fall back on just in case things didn’t go the way i wanted it too. 1. Law Enforcement (policing) 2. Foreign Services/Immigration Officer 2. Go to law school

  • Angie C.

    I want to study to become a criminal investigator. I need help . How do i start ? What should i study criminal justice or criminology what will help me more? and so far with the research i’ve done it says i need to become a police officer first do i have to study something else to start with that.. I need some help from someone that knows. Help please

  • Emily

    if i want to become a criminologist do i need to major in criminology or can i still become one with a major in criminal justice?

  • Tyler

    Can I take criminal justice in community college and transfer to a school that only offers criminology?

  • nick

    My daughter has cerebral palsy. Only her two legs are affected (spastic diplegia) She can walk and uses her wheelchair a lot. She will be graduating from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN in 2013. Her major is Sociology with a minor in Criminal Deviance. Her goal is to become an investigator at crime scenes. She has no desire to posses a firearm and fully understands that she would not be able to be a “beat cop”. She has a brilliant mind and a burning desire to get into the criminal justice system. Any advice?

  • sussie mutahi

    hi, is there a difference between criminal justice and criminal intelligence

  • Andrea

    Hello I’m wondering if i want to be a Marshal then what degree should i get? Criminal justice or criminology?

  • Brittney

    I was wanting to do something in the Behavior Analysis Unit in the FBI, kind of like on Criminal Minds, but was wondering what I should actually major in. Would Criminology or Psychology be better? Or something entirely different?

  • Daisy

    do i have to start off as a police officer in order to be a criminologist?

  • Melvin

    Would a criminal justice or criminology major be better with a minor in sociology if I want to be a detective ? What do you recommend?

  • Deja Patrick

    Hello, I am confused as to what occupation of Criminal Justice I should join. Some jobs that seem interesting to me are working as a Forensic Psychologist, a Detective, a Crime Scene Investigator or anything that has to do with Behavioral Sciences. I’m still in high school, but I’ve decided to start deciding now. Would I have to have a Criminal Justice or a Criminology Degree for these jobs?
    Does anyone know if I would have to have a Masters degree for these occupations? Where would I most likely get these types of jobs? Your help is very appreciated :)

  • Louis

    Hello, I am 49 years old. I have a masters degree in Criminal Justice. However I have been a high school teacher for over 20 years. I am now interested in pursuing a Federal Law Enforcement Career, even as I am thinking of doing a Phd. in Criminology or Criminal justice. My question is, Am I too old for a federal law enforcement job? Also if so what options may I have?

    • Radek Gadek

      Unfortunately you chances of obtaining work in federal law enforcement look bleak. You missed it by about 12 years.

      There may be [very few] local/regional law enforcement agencies that have laxed or extended age limits. Many of those take candidates up to 40 years old. Depending on your location now, you would probably have to move as most LE agencies cut off at around the age of 37.

  • Robyn

    I am a senior in high school this year and am interested in majoring in criminal justice/criminology. My issue at this point is deciding if these two majors are considered separate entities. My top schools at this point are the University of Alabama, which offers a BS in criminal justice, and the University of South Carolina, which offers a BA in criminology and criminal justice. Is there a big difference with USC offering both and Alabama just offering one? I am striving to work in the FBI or any federal government agency and am concerned with which major they prefer you study. Thank you so much for your time and I await your response!

  • H.S

    Hello, I’m 20 and currently a sophomore. I was considering being a Criminology or CJ major (I’m double majoring – other major is information technology and is almost finished). I’m also a minor in anthropology that is finished. Here’s the issue: I’m partially physically disabled, but I am fine with using a regular computer or laptop. Do you think there is any future in Criminology/CJ for me? Even for private security? Maybe for security surveillance or something from a computer? It cannot be something that requires a lot of driving around or manual labor so that’s my limitation. Any advise?

    great blog you have here btw – I have been reading it for couple weeks

  • Sherrona


    I was wondering if Criminology and Criminal Psychology are the same thing. Or is there such a subject as Criminal Psychology in America or just Criminology? Also, is there a profession such as a Criminal Psychologist in America?

    Thanks in advance for your time!

  • Andreia la torre

    Hi I am looking to go back to school to get degree so I can get a better jobs.
    I am really interesting in get job at the airport as a immigration officer or something like that.
    I don’t know what kind field I should take.
    Please help me

  • Kiara Serrano

    Hello, I have been reading your articles, and Im interested in becoming a member for FBI. Though, my major is going to be in Criminology, but I just barely starting my associates. What should I do, in order to advance my career in this major? What are other extra alternatives should I do, in order to improve my knowledge for this degree, (besides working on my AA. bache. and PhD. degree)? My point is that I dont want to just be working on my AA for now, I want to also get a headstart. Thank you for your time, and effort! I will be waiting for your respond. Have a good day! :)

  • Denise

    Hi, Just wondering something…I am wanting to work with law enforcement in a type of counseling/consultant position (not employed by the law enforcement agency, but working free lance). I have a master’s in psychology and really have no foot in the door to enter into the law enforcement field, but have always wanted to work with law enforcement in some capacity. What I am wondering…to help me with understanding what they go through day to day, whether I should take criminology or criminal justice classes?

  • Tammy Bush

    Hello, I am interested in working for the FBI or other government agency but have no relevant work experience. I received my BS in forensics, MS in criminal justice, and now working on my phd in criminal justice. I want to work either in a crime lab or in government but am unsure whether all of my education will stand for itself. Please advise!

  • John

    What are some similarities between a federal agent and a criminologist?

  • Rich

    Hi there,

    I recently turned 31 and I am currently in the process of picking a Master’s program for the fall of 2015. I received my undergrad from Arizona State in Film & Media Studies. I live in LA but I will be moving back to AZ to attend school. I always had a strong drive to work for a federal agency either as an agent or another profession in that particular field. Entertainment had me burnt out. The lack of job security, benefits and financial stability was horrendous. So I am changing gears and going for something I feel at home with. ASU offers an MA in Criminal Justice and an MS in Criminology & Criminal Justice. I will be heading there this week to gain more knowledge, but I wanted to ask you personally (since I have no background in law enforcement, criminal justice, etc.) if these programs will greatly benefit me to work or intern in the agencies? I understand that having a background in finance/accounting or language is a huge plus for the FBI, which I don’t have. I did however have a temp job at MGM Studios as a finance assistant, but I don’t think that will cut it! From your experience, what could I do on top of a Master’s to stand out as well? Also, which agencies are the most “competitive”? I appreciate all your advice!

    Thank you kindly,


Leave a Comment