Houston Criminology Graduate Programs

Criminology Graduate Programs teach ways to analyze and potentially prevent crime. To do this, programs first examine leading factors of crime. This could involve studying human behavior or law enforcement challenges to better predict criminal patterns.

Some programs may go a step further and help students design new policies and methods to address these issues and possibly reduce crime rates.

Criminology Graduate Programs

What Is Criminology?

Criminology is a branch of sociology that studies contributing factors of crime. More specifically, it looks into the circumstances that cause crime or how crime could affect a certain area. For example, studies in criminology could examine some of the following criminal factors.

  • Frequency
  • Location
  • Human Behavior
  • Economic
  • Political

This are only a sample of a few general factors criminology might look into. By studying these topics as part of graduate programs in criminology, you may develop your understanding of the different contributing causes that go into criminal activities. Additionally, classes may teach methods to combat or eliminate issues in these fields.

Masters in Criminology Programs

Masters in criminology programs develop students’ understanding of research methods and criminological theories. Specifically, students may study criminal behavior and how the criminal justice system functions, as well as the challenges it may face. Then, criminology masters students may have the chance to conduct their own research into ways to combat those same obstacles.

Most students earn their criminology masters degree in 1-2 years of full time study. The combination of criminal justice tactics and research knowledge could help students prepare for leadership roles within the criminology industry. A masters in criminology program may also act as a gateway to a PhD program. If this is your goal, you may wish to find a program with a strong research component or thesis option. This is because PhD in Criminology programs are often research heavy.

Applicants to a masters in criminology program may need a bachelors degree, minimum GPA and recommendations. Timelines and requirements vary by program and enrollment.

Potential Masters in Criminiology Courses

While earning your masters in criminology degree, you could have the chance to take some of the following classes.

  • Research Methods
  • Statistics for Criminal Justice Research
  • Criminological Theory
  • Disaster Planning
  • Human Behavior
  • Issues in Law Enforcement & Corrections

These are only a sample of topics you could cover in your criminology masters program. Some programs may also offer specialty areas or focus on particular areas of the law enforcement system. Intelligence, forensics and crime analysis are just a few examples. This may effect course offerings and requirements. Check with potential criminology schools for more curriculum details.

Graduate Certificate Criminology

Graduate certificates in criminology are designed to help professionals who are already working in the field. These programs could teach new methods to detect patterns in crime data to better serve a community. Since this program typically builds on existing criminology knowledge, curriculum is often more succinct.

Many of the courses focus on collecting and interpreting new criminal data. Courses could include some of the following.

  • Criminal Investigative Analysis
  • Criminal Intelligence
  • Criminal Law & Procedures

Classes may vary by school.

Additionally, certificate programs may also be offered for those new to criminology. In these cases, courses cover basic material so that students could have a firm foundation when moving into the field. This could be a great choice for students looking to move into law enforcement positions.

Doctorate in Criminology Programs

Doctorate in criminology programs are primarily focused on designing new, effective policies in criminology field. While the other programs may prepare students to jump into the industry, doctoral programs take a larger view. Classes cover ways to study trends, societal issues, and more from bigger perspectives.

For example, they could study crime in multiple urban areas as opposed to a single town. By conducting research and analyzing their findings, students could then potentially design new methods to enhance national criminal laws. To do this, students may study some of the following topics.

  • Crime & Policy
  • Research Methods & Statistics
  • Research Psychology
  • Political Theory
  • Policy Analysis

These are only a few samples of courses you could taking during your phd criminology program.

When applying to these courses, be aware that doctorate in criminology programs may requires students to have previously earned a related graduate degree. Typically, this means students may be required to have earned a masters in criminology degree.

Doctorate in Criminology Dissertation

It’s important to note that doctoral programs may require students to complete a dissertation to graduate. A dissertation usually involves students researching a facet of criminology and then using their data to construct possible solutions. Some may even go as far as to test the effectiveness of those solutions.

For example, you could study how a recent government policy is positively or negatively effecting crime in a certain area. Findings are then presented to department faculty. Dissertations typically take the place during one full semester. However every criminology school may design their programs differently. Therefore it's best to contact an advisor for details.

Criminology Graduate Programs Formats

Depending on your educational goals and personal schedule, some types of graduate programs in criminology might be better suited to your lifestyle. Different programs may provide more research opportunities or convenient class times. Below are few examples of potential graduate programs in criminology formats.

Graduate Criminology Schools

Pursuing a graduate program in criminology on campus could provide access to the latest trends in related technology. Some pieces of criminology equipment might be too expensive for students to purchase for themselves. But, many criminology schools provide campus technology labs to help students further their studies or research.

Students mainly interested in research might also want to attend a campus program because of the opportunities to work with professors. Many professors continue to conduct experiments while teaching on campus. During a semester, they may ask students to assist them in running experiments or collecting data. The real-world application of your knowledge might not only be a learning opportunity, but also a great addition to your resume.

Online Criminology Graduate Programs

Online graduate programs in criminology might be perfect for students who are also working professionally. Especially those currently pursuing a career in law enforcement. Positions in law enforcement may require both day and night shifts, so attending typical class times may be hard.i The online program might allow you to log into your classes as your time allows. For example, night shift officers may be able to attend their classes during the day when they have more available time.

Hybrid Criminology Graduate Programs

Hybrid graduate programs in criminology may have students complete the majority of their school work online, but then attend campus programs as part of a residency program. Residencies are typically structured like workshops where students interact with new criminology material.

This may be a great choice for students who want the flexibility of the online program, but also want in-class instruction. The campus portion of hybrid programs are often conveniently scheduled for the weekend, so that professionals may not miss work for their education.

What Could I Do with a Graduate Degree in Criminology?

Many students may choose to pursue a career as a criminologist after graduating. This is a specialization within sociology. Criminologists study the behavior of criminals and patterns in crime. This could include studying the social influences and human behavior that contribute to crime. Typically, these positions  require applicants to hold a masters in criminology or PhD degree for entry-level roles. Criminologist earned a median salary of $73,760 in 2015.ii 

Students who have earned a PhD in criminology might also consider teaching at the postsecondary level. These roles generally require applicants to hold a doctoral degree in criminology. Postsecondary teachers earned a median of $72,470 in 2015. And, these roles are projected to possibly increase by 13% from 2014 to 2024.iii

Next Steps for Graduate Programs for Criminology

By pursuing graduate programs in criminology, you could take your first steps to better understanding criminal causes. To continue your search, browse the list of programs on this page. Clicking a link provides you with a brief description about the program.

You could also request more information about the school while on this page. This could be a great way to find out important information like admissions deadlines, courses offered, and more. Or, you could further refine the list by selecting your preferred degree level (masters in criminology, phd criminology degree) or program type from the menus on this page.


[i] hbls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm#tab-3 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/sociologists.htm | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm

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