Criminal Justice vs. Criminology

Everything you need to know
27 Jan 2015

Criminal Justice vs. Criminology – Everything you need to know

If you’re secretly Googling this on your phone right now while your fellow classmates are asking if you’re studying criminology or criminal justice, then you’re in the right place. “Umm aren’t those the same thing?” Well the short story is they’re under the same umbrella but have separate applications. Read below to wow your classmates (and maybe even your professors) with how criminal justice and criminology are different. They’ll never know you had to Google it. 

Criminal Justice vs. Criminology

Here’s The Rundown

Criminology and criminal justice both address crime in society. Although they’re related, the two terms are separate and should not be used interchangeably. The difference is the criminology field studies and analyzes criminal behavior, whereas criminal justice enforces criminal actions based on laws. Think of it this way: criminal justice encompasses the entire justice system from police arresting suspects, to correctional officers overseeing them and to lawyers defending or prosecuting the suspects in trial. Criminologists typically do not work directly with suspects, but rather study their behavior in a sociology-type setting. They research crime statistics and draw conclusions of trends. It’s the scientific study of crime prevention, causes and response.

Some Examples

If you’re majoring in criminology, some of your classes would be white collar crimes, public policy, crime and media, capitol punishment and human behavior. Your education would prepare you to become a criminologist and work at a college such as the Pennsylvania State University or a public agency such as the New York City Criminal Justice Agency.

If you’re majoring in criminal justice, some of your classes would be criminal law, crisis intervention, management in criminal justice organizations and juvenile justice. Your target jobs after graduation would be border patrol agent, police officer, state trooper, security guard, detective, paralegal or lawyer. Here’s a more detailed look at law enforcement and criminal law.

The Takeaway

Truth is, there’s a lot of overlap between the two fields. Professionals in criminology and criminal justice work together to keep our communities safer. Some of the classes will be repeated in both majors such as sociology, juvenile justice and administration.  You can likely apply your criminology degree to traditional enforcement jobs and vice versa with your criminal justice degree. But if you’re planning ahead, you should be as knowledgeable as possible because a specific degree will better prepare you for that dream job.

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