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For Psychology Students

Professional and Student Psychologist Organizations
December 10, 2014
A comprehensive list of Psychologist and related professional and student organizations
Types of Psychologists
December 7, 2014
Sub-Specialties in Psychology


Undergraduate & Graduate Psychology Degrees



Psychology Education Topics

What can you do with a Psychology Degree?
Some top career choices for psychology majors.
Criminal Justice Careers with a Background in Psychology
December 10, 2014
The relationship between the study of Psychology and careers in the Criminal Justice field.

capella psychology

Articles of Interest

What can you do with a Psychology Degree?
Some top career choices for psychology majors.
Criminal Justice Careers with a Background in Psychology
December 10, 2014
The relationship between the study of Psychology and careers in the Criminal Justice field.
Psychologist versus Psychiatrist
What are the differences?
Telespsychology
December 17, 2013
The use of Skype and Other Telecommunications by Psychologists


A Psychology Major as Preparation for Criminology

Criminology is the study of crime, including those who perpetrate it and the conditions that encourage or discourage it. The College Board notes that the criminology major is not identical to the criminal justice major (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/social-sciences-criminology). Criminal justice focuses more on the criminal justice system and may offer career preparation for roles within the criminal justice system.

Criminology can be considered a branch of sociology. It draws heavily from both psychology and sociology.

Criminology, in the world beyond the classroom, is not focused on rehabilitating or punishing individual criminals. It affects the criminal justice system, but generally on a macro level. Still, it’s not all academic. That is to say, criminologists don't all work for academic institutions. Some work for organizations that set or shape policy. Among the employers posting for criminologists in 2014: the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of using public policy to make communities safer.

This represents a small sampling of the field. Criminologists can focus on different sub-disciplines such as community corrections (probation, parole), developmental criminology, international criminology, or women and crime. You can browse the website of the American Society of Criminology and its divisions to get a sense of the breadth of research. Published articles explore questions like "Does having a relationship with a significant adult reduce the risk of delinquency for maltreated children?" (http://www.dlccrim.org/?page_id=213).

Preparing for a Career in Criminology

Criminology can be considered a branch of sociology. It draws heavily from both psychology and sociology. A newer branch is neurocriminology. Neurocriminologists explore issues such as whether environmental contaminants promote violence or whether people are born with brains that predispose them to criminal activity. Neurocriminologists consider not only the minds of criminals, but the minds of those reading their research: How should information like this be used?

You can take coursework in criminology at the undergraduate level, and it can help you get a position that’s at least loosely related. It won’t necessarily make you a criminologist. To become an expert in criminology, you need what you need to become an expert in most other subjects: a lot of education. Most social science researchers have graduate degrees.

Can you begin by studying psychology? Sure! You may want to look ahead to see what graduate schools seek –even if grad school is still a few years off. Some, but by no means all, programs state preferences for students who did undergraduate work in fields related to criminology. The Penn State Department of Sociology & Criminology notes that all majors are welcome to apply to the PhD program, but that a majority of students have undergraduate degrees in the following fields: criminal justice, criminology, education, political science, psychology, or sociology (http://sociology.la.psu.edu/graduate/frequently-asked-questions).

You may consider programs in general psychology or social psychology. Psychology is both qualitative and quantitative. If you are going on to graduate study in a research field, you'll want some preparation in quantitative subjects. You'll need to understand statistics. It can be a good idea to have coursework in research methods and also some first-hand experience. Often the first place to turn is your own department.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers several Online Master's and Doctoral programs in Psychology including both clinical and non-clinical specializations. Capella University, also offers four online CACREP - accredited master's programs: MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MS in Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy, MS in School Counseling and PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.

Undergraduates can also compete for internships in the world beyond the university, as a recent posting for a criminal justice research/ administrative assistant in Yorba Linda, CA demonstrates. This particular position was open to sophomores and juniors. Among the qualifications: having had coursework in statistics and research methods.

Making Connections

You may also want to join a professional organization. You can join the American Society of Criminology during your student years (https://www.asc41.com/appform1.html). Student members can receive email mentoring. They also receive publications such as The Criminologist and Criminology and Public Policy .