If you’re interested in the motives behind criminal activity, then a master’s degree in criminology is an education path that might appeal to you. Graduate students in the field of criminology delve deep into how and why people commit crimes. By understanding the reasons that lead to illegal activities, criminologists and other professionals in the field of criminal justice can make a big difference as they work to avert and reduce crime.

Studying Criminology

A master’s degree in criminology is a graduate-level program that focuses on crime. Criminology is often considered an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary science due to the many disciplines and perspectives that the study draws from in order to explore all facets of criminal behavior. Psychological and sociological aspects of crime, patterns of crime, crime statistics and criminal justice policy are all important parts of the study of criminology, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The core curriculum of a master’s degree in criminology is a blend of criminal justice subjects and research and analysis topics. Students might take classes such as legal institutions and society, crime and justice policy, correctional theory and practice, the court system, organizational perspectives on the legal system, justice administration, research methods, analysis and statistics, leadership and crime and social problems. Some graduate programs in criminology offer optional coursework in subjects such as neighborhoods and crime, corporate crime, hate crimes, forensics, probation and parole, law enforcement, global terrorism and criminal profiling.

Careers in Criminology

While your own natural curiosity might be a driving force behind your decision to study criminology, this is one field in which you don’t have to choose between a major that interests you and one that is marketable in the real world. It’s very possible to get a job in this and related fields. A master’s degree in criminology is great preparation for any number of careers in criminal justice, government and law enforcement. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, some criminal justice roles, like private detective and investigator, currently are experiencing rapid job growth.

On the less lucrative end of the spectrum are jobs such as corrections officer and deputy sheriff. The greater your job responsibilities are, the more your earning potential is likely to rise. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers earn median wages of $45,000 per year, according to U.S. News & World Report. Graduates of criminology programs who go on to become postsecondary instructors, managers of correctional officers and criminologists earn median salaries in the range of $47,000. Detectives typically earn more money – $52,000 per year for private investigators and $55,000 for police detectives. At the high end of the spectrum are deputy chiefs of police departments. They earn a median annual wage of $79,000, according to U.S. News & World Report.

As both a field of study and a career path, criminology is a smart choice for students who have a fascination with crime and punishment. A master’s degree in criminology is one particularly interesting path into work within the criminal justice system.