Criminalistics degrees look at theories and investigation into these criminal activities. They are often part of the crime scene and determine how certain activities occur and motives behind them. In addition, they may provide additional information to fill out police or detective reports through observation or interrogation.
At a more advanced level, they may be part of implementing policy. By understanding theory on why criminal activity occurs, they can help reduce problems by eliminating them and improving problematic locations. At the psychology level, clinical capability is possible after years of experience and passing state licensure examination.
|Lindenwood University||Bachelor||BA Criminology and Criminal Justice||Website|
|Utica College||Bachelor||BS in Criminal Justice - Cyber Criminology and Policy||Website|
|Campbellsville University||Master||MS in Justice Studies: Criminology Track||Website|
|Carlow University||Bachelor||Bachelor of Arts in Criminology||Website|
|University of Saint Mary||Bachelor||Bachelor of Arts in Criminology||Website|
Criminal activity happens on a common basis in urban locations, be it through physical altercations or robbery from a household or store. Criminalistics, also known as criminology, looks into why these actions occur. Why do people resort to these situations and what affect does it have on them, their relatives, and the community in general?
Difference Between Criminalistics and Criminal Justice
Some degrees will feature both criminal justice and criminology in their discipline. Criminology, or criminalistics, focuses on the behavior and theory of crime. It looks into why individuals commit criminal acts, including environmental and relationship issues that may effect these outcomes.
Even if the program doesn't specifically designate criminology, there are likely core courses or electives that provide a look into these topics. Students can also consider psychology programs, including mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy. An opportunity may also exist to add a minor or dual-degree at the graduate level.
Are There Criminology Degrees Online?
Many criminal justice and criminology degrees are available with online opportunities. Some programs have their entire curriculum available with some or no on-campus requirements. Others may have some limitations, including less electives or concentration options.
Psychology and social work degrees may also play a role in criminology. These are also commonly available online across the country. For state licensure consideration, prospective students must review requirements to determine if their education satisfies set criteria.
In order to study criminology or criminal justice online, students must have proper computer and internet requirements. A modern computer system should be able to handle the demands of the university's learning management system (LMS). At least a high-speed broadband connection is recommended or required for the majority of programs.
Application needs will differ based on the university. Common needs include web browsing to access the LMS, Microsoft Office for writing and reporting, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Java. Zoom is a common webconferencing software to interact with faculty members and other students.
|Utica College||Bachelor||Bachelor's in Criminal Intelligence Analysis||Website|
|Utica College||Bachelor||BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation||Website|
|Michigan State University||Master||Master of Science in Criminal Justice||Website|
|Utica College||Master||MS in Cybersecurity - Computer Forensics||Website|
|Saint Joseph's University||Master||MS in Criminal Justice - Intelligence & Crime Analysis||Website|
Top Online Programs for Criminalistics
Saint Leo University
Students can pursue the online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a specialization in Criminalistics. Students learn how to analyze and process evidence from a crime scene. Faculty consists of experts that have worked on investigations and perform duties in lab sessions.
18 total credit hours are dedicated to the Criminalistics specialization. In addition to reviewing evidence, they learn how to write reports and develop cases. Other topics include the science of identification and evidence preservation.
24 credit hours revolve around core material in the Criminal Justice discipline. Required courses include Theories of Criminal Behavior, Law of Criminal Procedure, and Criminal Justice Ethics.
Between 6 to 15 credit hours are dedicated to an internship. Students may choose to complete forensic studies at the partnered Pasco-Hernando Police Academy. In total, 120 credit hours are needed in the degree.
The Bachelor of Criminal Justice features an emphasis in Criminalistics. Under this specialization, students focus on evidence analysis and how to prepare it for trial. Approximately four years are needed to complete the program with full-time enrollment.
Each of the three semesters features two courses. Incoming students have the ability to start the program at six different times throughout the year. Graduates have become fraud investigators, police officers, and intelligence analysts.
Topics explored within Criminalistics include evidence submitted to trial and communication with investigation. There is an emphasis on how evidence is stored and presented during court trials.
Students can transfer in a number of credits toward their degree. In order to qualify, a C grade or higher must be earned. Total time requirement to complete the degree varies on how many courses are needed after transferred credits are applied.
The College of Social Sciences and Humanities offers the Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice. This program emphasizes data analytics and provides advanced skills when compared to similar undergraduate majors. Students may complete the program in just one year with the online or on-campus experience.
Topics include criminal justice processes, statistical analysis, and research methods. Students have the ability to customize their electives within a certain sector. With faculty approval, graduate certifications may be applied that brings urban development and public policy into criminal justice topics.
Application requires unofficial transcripts, personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. An additional writing sample is needed to demonstrate reporting and documentation capability. No GRE scores are required in the admission process.
An option is available to add a Co-op Experience and Cybersecurity concentration. This adds important skills in identifying and protecting systems from cyber crime. The school helps students find placement at a co-op for a six-month period to apply skills in real-world situations.
St. Ambrose University
The exclusive online Master of Criminal Justice in the state of Iowa. 36 total credit are required across the curriculum. All courses are distributed in a convenient online format.
Example courses include Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice, Criminological Theory, and Leadership and Administration. In addition to management capabilities, communication and writing in a criminal justice setting are also offered.
Course distribution is in eight-week modules. The fall, spring, and summer semesters are each completed with two courses. Typical completion time is over two years with part-time enrollment.
Application process requires transcripts showing undergraduate degree completion. Personal goals should detail accomplishments at the professional level. Verification of skills and accomplishments through at least two letters of recommendation.
Up to six graduate transfer credits are accepted into the program. Credits are completed with a B grade or higher and earned within the last five years. Courses must be approved by faculty members and related to the criminal justice topic at hand.
Undergraduate Programs in Criminalistics
In many situations, a Bachelor’s degree with some professional criminal justice experience is needed to be a criminologist. It is important for these professionals to work with criminals to identify behaviors and patterns that influence behavior. They must also thoroughly understand the justice system process.
Associate degrees are limited to the foundational aspects of criminal justice, psychology, or social work. It is recommended that graduates from these programs transition to Bachelor’s degrees in a similar field to complete their education.
George Mason University
The College of Science offers a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science. Courses are geared for preparation into entry-level positions in various sectors or goes toward additional education. There is an opportunity to add a Master’s degree in the discipline for an additional year.
Students must complete required forensic and natural science courses in the curriculum. Examples of forensic courses include Introduction to Criminalistics, Crime Scene Investigation, and Forensic DNA Analysis. Topics range from general chemistry to college-level physics in natural science.
The Mason Core is an undergraduate curriculum required for all students. Students select certain courses from a various topics, including oral communication and quantitative reasoning. Certain courses fit better in disciplines, such as Introduction to Criminal Justice within Forensic Science.
74 to 77 credit hours are needed across these two subjects of the 120 total required. All coursework in the program must be completed with a 2.3 GPA or higher. Three or less courses are only accepted with a D grade.
La Roche College
The Criminal Justice and Criminology major blends together criminal behavior and the justice system. 55 total credits account for the core criminal justice topics with elective opportunities. 12 credit hours are geared toward criminal skill sets.
Many criminalistic courses are available with four needed to meet elective requirements. A general criminalistics course gives an overview of crime scene investigation, lab analysis, and writing detailed reports. Different behaviors and correction methods may also be considered.
11 credit hours are reserved for a foreign language. The college recommends taking another language in Spanish or Arabic. International students have this requirement waived if they are non-English speaking.
As an alternative, a Criminalistics certification may be earned through select majors. Topics are specifically available in criminal justice and forensic biology or chemistry. Adding the certification adds concepts in criminal law and investigation procedures. All courses and research project must be completed with a C grade or higher.
Graduate Programs in Criminalistics
Advanced research methods, evaluation, and theory are part of graduate-level degrees in criminology. Specific content will differ based on the school and discipline selected. Students should review if some or all of these courses are available exclusively on-campus or with the online experience if desired.
Clinical social work and psychology professions require state licensure. Programs will detail if their education is sufficient on the pathway to gaining these credentials. In many cases, individuals will need to complete numerous hours of post-graduate supervised work experience and complete examination prior to receiving their licensure.
Criminal Justice disciplines are the most popular for criminology-focused doctorate degrees. There is less flexibility for online education at this level. However, many PhD degrees offer assistantships that help pay for their college education.
Cal State University-Los Angeles
The Master of Science in Criminalistics explores advanced natural and physical sciences. 41 total credit hours are required to complete the program. A thesis project is available at the end of the program for individuals considering further education.
Prerequisites to get into the program include foundations in forensic science, general chemistry, and biostatistics. The majority of the curriculum require selected courses in various forensic topics. One elective option is required in a series of criminology topics.
The program requires the completion of a Forensic Science Assessment Test. Over 200 multiple choice questions are provided and the scoring system is based on the amount correct. This examination takes place in the second spring semester.
Admission requires an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Incoming students with less than the requirement may still qualify for conditional enrollment. A 3.0 GPA must be reflected across the first four courses to continue their education.
University of Toledo
The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice is available both on-campus and conveniently online. This degree is designed for established professionals with some field experience looking for advanced skills. Two courses are taken in each semester with average degree completion time at two years.
Half of the curriculum is dedicated to customized elective study. Example topics include societal impact with police, corrections policies, and mental illness within criminal justice. A limited set of electives are available online.
Up to six credit hours worth of electives are allowed outside of criminal justice electives. Students can complete all core course topics and final capstone project online. At least 30 total credit hours are needed with a final examination or thesis project.
The comprehensive test demonstrates competency in varius aspects of the criminal justice system and leadership positions in the field. Completing a thesis is generally recommended for those pursuing further studies at the doctorate level. An alternative to either of these options is an internship.
Texas State University
The College of Applied Arts offers a Doctorate of Philosophy in Criminal Justice. This is a campus-only program with no opportunities for online coursework. Graduate assistantships do exist with 10 or 20-hour workweeks that are paid over the course of the student’s education.
At least 51 credit hours are needed to complete the program. Example courses include Advanced Criminological Theory, Quantitative Research Methods, and Law and Behavioral Science. 12 credit hours worth of electives are needed and another 12 are dedicated to the dissertation.
The program is available for both full-time and part-time enrollment. Students focusing on the degree at full time can generally finish in three to four years. Length depends on prior education that may be transferable, including some Master’s degree coursework.
Courses are offered during the evening and weekend hours. Nine total credit hours count toward a full semester of education. Up to six credit hours with a B grade or higher are transferable into the program.
Multiple letters of recommendation should include professors that worked with applicants on their projects. This validates research capability for their eventual dissertation. Other applicant needs include official transcripts and personal statement.
Top Courses in Criminalistics
Discussion and analysis on criminal activity, including its influence and impact on communities. Reviews historical criminal activity in an effort to explain how these issues have transitioned to current day. May observe statistical studies that expand on trends in certain locations.
Looks into the reasoning behind why individuals commit criminal activity. Common reasons may include difficult environmental situations, relationship problems, or mental disorders. May explore techniques when interviewing suspects or those related or connected to the individual.
Crime Scene Investigation
Criminologists are part of the investigation process to determine motive or initiate conversations with suspects. Courses in CSI may touch upon communication with other crime workers and how to develop observational reports.
Scientific and Report Writing
In addition to high communication skills, being able to write reports is imperative to criminology success. Courses explore documentation methods and how to expand on statistical findings. May also include how to define and prepare evidence for a court of law.
Examines specific evidence to determine their impact in a criminal investigation. Criminologists are used to determine motive or confirm what is observed in a laboratory setting. May also offer skills in recognizing obscure evidence in crime scene investigation.
Advanced skills in criminal justice include using statistical reasoning to determine why these activities occur. They may look at criminal data to recognize larger problems in a community that could impact policy change for the better. Research may feature quantitative and/or qualitative methods.
Crime Policy Analysis
Courses focus on how public policy has impacted urban locations. Criminologists determine how these policies may influence criminal behavior and what changes may be needed. Courses may also touch on how policy is implemented and delivered to communities.
Focuses on substance abuse and toxins that have significant or deadly impact on the human body. The scientific analytical approach looks at specific toxin levels that induce behavior. This also includes alcohol levels that may have impacted suspects to commit violent or deadly acts against others.
General overview of cyber crime that examines relationship between the criminal justice system and prosecution. May explore recent examples and how policy has changed with the evolution of technology. Additional topics may go into security methods, engineering, programming, and ethics.
Students apply what they have learned in their program to real-world situations at crime scenes or in laboratory settings. Typically taken in the last portion of the program and enhances networking capability. May either be optional or required in the program depending on school.
What Can You Do With a Criminology Degree?
Forensic science technicians are a popular job positions for criminologists. They take part in analyzing crime scenes, reconstructing events that take place, and may take visual evidence through photography or sketches. In the lab sessions, they may be experts in toxicology, microscopy, or pathology.
Average pay for technicians is approximately $59,150 across the country according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the same average for professionals working in the local and state government. Within the top 10 percent, average salary is at $97,350.
The highest levels of employment are found in states like California, Florida, and Texas. Of all states, California provides the highest average salaries at an estimated $87,200 annually. Large metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth, hold some of the best potential for employment.
Criminology can also prepare individuals for mental health social worker positions. These professionals are responsible for identifying substance abuse problems and helping them transition to a healthier life. They can also provide input on motives for clients that are suspects in criminal activity.
On average according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers in mental health make a salary of $46,650 annually. This tends to be slightly lower than the general average for social health workers. Positions are higher paying within the state and local government, and some health care services.
Positions Based on College Degree
A Bachelor’s degree is needed for many of these positions. Clinical workers need to complete graduate education and supervised post-graduate work to receive their licensure. Requirements for this credential vary depending on the state being applied to. Continuous education is needed to renew the licensure.
There are other opportunities outside of clinical work to gain higher education. Gaining a Master’s degree leads to higher-paying opportunities in management and executive positions. Generally requires some professional experience in criminal justice or psychology before entering the program.
Some Master’s degrees offer the ability to complete various capstone projects. Final examinations are geared toward students entering a work field, and thesis projects are ideal for further education. Completing a thesis prepares individuals for further analytical study and theory for a doctorate degree. Doctorate degrees are good for professors and advanced clinical work.
All Schools with Forensic Science Programs
Alliant International University
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
California State University Fullerton
- Certificate in Crime and Intelligence Analysis
California State University Los Angeles
- Master of Science in Criminalistics
ITT Technical Institute
- Associate in Science in Criminal Justice
John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
- Doctor of Philosophy in Forensic Science
- Master of Science in Forensic Science
La Roche College
- Criminalistics Certificate
Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute
- Bachelor of Arts in Criminalistics/Forensic Biology
Metropolitan State College of Denver
- Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
- Criminalistics Minor
Pennsylvania State University
- Master of Science in Forensic Science
St. Ambrose University
- Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminalistics
University of New Haven
- Master of Science in Forensic Science