Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in criminology are rarely offered in a fully-online format. However, Ph.D. programs in criminal justice or master's programs in criminology are available. Entrance into a master's degree program requires a bachelor's degree, which may need to be in criminal justice or sociology. These programs examine concepts in criminal justice, sociology, psychology and crime statistics. Thesis and non-thesis options are typically available.
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Master's Degree in Criminology
Master's degree programs in criminology may be completed online in two years, if a student chooses to pursue it full-time. Typically, classes are in cohort, or lockstep, format, meaning a group of students progress as a unit from one class to the next. Graduates can explore careers in various fields, including government, social services and education.
Program Information and Requirements
A bachelor's degree from an accredited school is typically a prerequisite for entrance to a master's program in criminology; some schools may require that the degree be in a related field, such as criminal justice or sociology. Students should have access to a computer with an Internet connection, as coursework is generally delivered and submitted online.
Classes may be taught by the instructor in a variety of ways, including text files, video feeds and audio clips. Students can connect with both the instructor and fellow classmates via e-mail, message boards and chat rooms through the school's online learning website.
Descriptions of Typical Courses
Criminology is the scientific study of crime and criminals from various perspectives. As such, most criminology degree programs include courses not only related to criminal justice, but also branch into psychology, sociology and anthropology.
This course is an introduction to the various legal institutions that have been implemented in the United States. The creation and development of law over time, as well as its methods of enforcement, are discussed. Different law theories will be presented and applied to current events.
Crime and Social Deviance
The focus of this class is identifying specific types of criminal and deviant behavior and activities. The role of this behavior within society, and various methods used to attempt to control it are also discussed.
Students will be asked to focus on a specific societal problem and examine it from various social and legal perspectives. As the course progresses, students will be asked to devise a potential solution and subsequent plan of action to either solve or minimize the impact of the chosen problem on society.
Statistical analysis and its role in criminology-related careers will be introduced. Various techniques will be utilized to explore topics in probability, multivariate analysis and significance testing.
Research Methods in Criminology
Understanding how to best approach a research project is an important skill for any graduate student. Appropriate methods for pursuing research goals are addressed in this course, as well as learning how to research legal and criminal subjects.
While career options can span through several fields, many master's degree program graduates go on to become sociologists, or criminologists, who focus solely on crime and its effects on society. Many sociologists with a graduate degree work in federal or state government agencies or with social services agencies. Education and research also draw in a large number of recent graduates with educational backgrounds in criminology.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for sociologists are expected to decline -1% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Those possessing a master's degree were expected to have better advancement opportunities than those with only a bachelor's degree. The median annual wage for sociologists as of May 2015 was $73,760, although those working in state government (OES Designation) earned an average of $63,300 as of May 2015.
Online doctoral programs related to criminology discuss legal institutions, criminal behavior, social issues and relevant research methods, preparing graduates for careers in the social or criminal sciences.