How Long Does it Take to Get a Criminology Degree?

For most of us, the word ‘crime’ conjures up images of cheesy cop shows or badly written British villains in Hollywood blockbusters. Yet, there are those that make crime their life, either through unlawful means or via studying a criminology degree.

What is a Criminologist?

Criminologists are not detectives, rather students and theorists of crime that play a vital role in the criminal justice system. Through research into the social and psychological factors that lead people to commit crimes, a criminologist’s advice to law enforcement agencies is vital in investigations as to the reason behind the crime, or possible future crimes.

How long will a Degree take?

The question of time-based around a degree in Criminology really depends on the type of qualification and educational institution in question.

A traditional Bachelor’s Degree on a full-time University course should take 3-4 years.

If the student wishes to then study for a Masters, add another 2-3 years full time (depending on the school)

A PhD/Doctorate in Criminology will take between 4-5 years in normal cases.

These times are all based on full time studying, but there are part-time options for those who have prior commitments or who are working whilst they study the course. Depending on each school and course, a popular way to grade students is to have them write a criminology essay on various subjects and topics.
There are also online courses from virtual Universities, which are usually much cheaper and quicker in completion times, but are not as respected and do not offer as many job prospects post-graduation.

There are many different branches and sub-branches of criminology and many different reasons as to why students decide to study it. A keen interest in social justice, crime prevention and psychology are some of the most popular reasons for taking the course.

A criminologist student will study what is needed to prevent crimes before they take place. Through measures designed to influence society’s understanding of what leads someone to break the law, to remove the temptation or direct need to commit a crime, either through community programs or advise to legislators.

What Kind Of Jobs Can A Graduate Of Criminology Expect?

The career choices linked to the course are fairly flexible, depending on each student’s specific field of interest within criminology.

Graduates can become Governmental aides and advisors, it is possible to work from a low entry level Government job up the ladder into administration or managerial roles.

The route into law enforcement is fairly clear and well-trodden. (Detective, Probation Officer, Investigator.)

For those more interested in social justice, there are many jobs available, eg a court caseworker, working for a crime prevention agency, dealing with at-risk children or their families.
The course in Criminology also offers roles in education and rehabilitation. These jobs include a University/College professor, the rehabilitation of victims, or working with former offenders.

For those interested in studying criminology as a Degree, Masters, PhD, or all three, be aware that the course is not easy and requires a high level of commitment and perseverance. However, it seems as though those that do take the plunge into the world of criminology are driven by a sense of vocation or a strong belief in the criminal justice system.