What Is Criminology?

CriminologyWhat is criminology? Criminology is a field of study that focuses on the cause, punishment and prevention of crime. Many people confuse criminology with criminal justice, but the two fields are distinct. Workers in the criminal justice field usually work with actual offenders, but criminology workers study crime from a sociological point of view.


One of the things that criminologists study is the cause of crime. Criminologist look for the root cause of the problem. Criminologists look at different types of criminals and try to figure out why they commit certain crime. Professionals in the criminology field do this on a large scale, instead of looking at just one person and one crime, they look at hundred or thousands of criminals and the crimes that they have committed. By looking at common traits between certain types of criminals, criminologists can find many factors that contribute to different types of criminal activity. For instance, they might find that children who were disciplined a certain way are more likely to commit crimes or that individuals living in urban areas are more or less likely to commit certain crimes than individuals in rural areas.


People asking what criminology is often don’t realize that criminologists don’t just study crime, they also study the legal system and how punishment affects criminals and society. This is an important part of the job, because some studies prove common sense wrong.  Criminology can also be used to study the effectiveness of punishments by looking to see if criminals with certain punishments have a higher likelihood of becoming repeat offenders. By seeing which punishments work best, criminology can help lower the overall crime rate and help criminal justice workers figure out how to rehabilitate inmates.


Some people who ask what criminology is think that the field is an unimportant one that can’t really benefit society, but this is far from true. Learning how to prevent people from becoming criminals is an important goal of criminology. Preventing crime isn’t an exact science,  but studying and applying criminology concepts can lead to a decreased crime rate.

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According to US News and World Report, there are many schools offering degrees in criminology. If criminology interests you, you might look into furthering your education in graduate school for criminology. Criminology can help people understand criminals, and even more importantly, how to help them. While many individuals don’t realize what criminology is or its role in society, it’s an important field that can help make the world a better place.