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What is Criminology?

Criminology is a subdiscipline of sociology that focuses on the scientific study of the non-legal aspects of crime and criminal behavior.  Criminological research often merges psychological understandings of crime (i.e., the “criminal mind”) with sociological understandings of crime (i.e., the socioeconomic conditions that produce opportunities to commit crimes).  For this reason, many (but not all) students concentrating in criminology often minor in psychology.  Regardless of substantive focus, social science is used systematically to develop understandings of crime and deviance so law enforcement agencies, the military, and political leaders can develop scientifically informed policies or directives to reduce or prevent crime in society.

Criminologists also critically assess the functions and dysfunctions of crime and the institutions responsible for responding to crime.  Criminologists find value in understanding cultural aspects of crime as well.  This includes understanding how primary and secondary groups, culture, identity, and lived experiences contribute to the socialization processes behind deviance and criminal behavior. The way law enforcement institutions socialize members, and the cultures they create are also a point of focus, especially when understanding the consequences of inequality in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Although criminology is a subdiscipline of sociology, it has grown and developed several specializations, including comparative criminology, crime prevention, crime statistics, domestic violence, deviant behavior, juvenile delinquency, sociology of law, victimology, terrorism, hate crimes, and penology. Our B.S. in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology can prepare you for a Master’s degree in one of these specialized fields or for entry-level positions in criminology careers.  Apply today!