Balancing the Scales: Pursue a Career in Criminology

When most people think about careers in criminology, their thoughts immediately turn to law enforcement and crime scene professionals. While people with degrees in criminology do work in those fields, people who graduate with a criminology degree are able to work in a variety of fields, such as psychology, law, social work and more.

Why do we need more African American criminologists? 

There’s no doubt that our country’s criminal justice systems are flawed, consistently failing to provide fair treatment for the most underserved people and communities among us, particularly the black community. There’s a need for reform across our legal system, and criminologists have a unique ability to spark change at the most fundamental level. Criminologists examine the factors that affect crime and seek ways in which the systems that address crime can improve.

Jarvis Christian College Criminal Justice badge

Jarvis Christian College

Why should you go into criminology?  

Criminal justice careers give you the ability to play to your strengths and use your specific skills for a greater good, whether through helping victims of crime as a victims’ advocate, helping profile criminals as a forensic psychologist, or overseeing the progress of someone on parole or probation, as a probation, parole or community control officer.

Many jobs in criminal justice and criminology offer an almost unmatchable level of job security and stability. If you have the fortitude to stick it out, you will likely enjoy a long career that is relatively immune to the ebbs and flows of the private sector job market. 

If you find that you can’t narrow down your interests to a single subject, studying criminology may be a great way to bring several disciplines into your studies. Criminology involves psychology, sociology, law and more.

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Preparing for Success

If you do decide on studying criminology, there are steps you can take to help you succeed. In high school, hone your reading and writing skills in your English and history classes to prepare yourself for the fair amount of reading required in the field. Take AP psychology if your school offers it, which can be helpful with the large amount of time conducting research, reading court cases and analyzing what you learn. 

Building at Lane College

Lane College

As you explore criminology programs at different colleges, organize some questions: Does the school offer a bachelor of arts, a bachelor of science or both? Some offer criminology as a major; other universities allow it just as a concentration within a sociology or criminal justice degree. Does the degree offered focus on the parts of the discipline that interest you? Can you specialize in your particular area of interest? Where have students interned in the past? Will the department support you in getting an internship? Does the department offer opportunities outside of class? How does the school support them in getting where they want to go? 

UNCF Schools to Check Out

Several UNCF schools offer degrees in criminology. Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, TX, offers both a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science in criminal justice, as well as a minor. Students can pursue a major or minor in criminal justice through the Division of Business and Behavior and Social Science at Lane College in Tennessee. The Division of Religion, Humanities and Social Sciences at Morris College in Sumter, SC, offers both major and minor degree programs in criminal justice.

Scholarships and Programs

A solid financial footing is a great way to begin your journey to a successful career in criminology. Fortunately, there are scholarships available through UNCF. The UNCF General Scholarship Awards are an excellent opportunity for any student going to a UNCF-member college, regardless of their major. The UNCF/Koch Scholars Program offers scholarships, mentorship, academic support and networking opportunities to undergraduate African American students. Students in Massachusetts may want to check out the Liberty Mutual Insurance LEADA@Liberty Scholarship. Another scholarship opportunity is the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship Program.

A career in criminology can offer tremendous opportunities and some of the best training available. Every day on the job comes with its own new and unique rewards. 

As you explore all the different places a criminology major can take you, you may feel the need to reach out for some guidance. You’re not alone! Submit a major interest form on our website to get the ball rolling. And to keep the updates coming, make sure to follow us on UNCF social media channels. This way, you can be the first to hear about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!