What Is The Difference Between Criminology And Criminal Justice?

A picture of a crime scene with a police tape in foreground.

The terms criminal justice and criminology are often used interchangeably, which can be confusing for those seeking to pursue a career or education in either one of those fields. While there is certainly some crossover between the subjects, especially in education, the careers associated with them can be significantly different. Understanding the differences between the two, especially when choosing a college course that could define your professional future, is hugely important. So what are the differences between criminal justice and criminology?

Criminal Justice vs. Criminology

As a rule, criminal justice focuses on the procedural and policy aspects of the American legal system. This can include the study of policing practices, how the courts work, how incarceration and correctional facilities work and how sentencing is applied.


Criminology, on the other hand, often addresses the social and behavioural causes of crime, attempting to define what drives an individual to commit criminal acts and what social and legal measures can be put in place to prevent that from happening.

In Education

From the perspective of education, the subjects of criminal justice and criminology are inextricably linked, with the study of both providing a rounded picture of how crime and law enforcement interact. This being the case, courses that teach either criminal justice or criminology often have interchangeable areas of study while still focussing on a particular aspect of crime and the law.

As A Career

Qualifications in criminal justice and criminology are often used to access similar career options. The procedural and policy aspects of a criminal justice qualification make it ideal when applying for positions such as police officer, detective, criminal investigator, federal agent, corrections officer probation officer, parole officer, private investigator, and private security. While the social and outreach aspects of a criminology course lend themself to careers such as juvenile treatment worker, community correctional worker, corrections counselor and positions with outreach initiatives designed to isolate and combat the social causes of crime.


Join Our Criminal Justice School Today!

Qualifying from our Criminal Justice School puts you in an excellent position to access a variety of employment opportunities as you look for one that suits your skills and interests. At Northwest Career College, our Criminal Justice instructors include licensed, practicing attorneys and degree instructors able to teach, not only the law but also to guide our students in the many ways a criminal justice graduate integrates into a Las Vegas legal profession.


As part of our Criminal Justice Program, you’ll visit courts, jails, meditation centers and more to experience first-hand the law in action which will make your criminal justice training applicable to the Las Vegas legal system. Northwest offers a flexible blended program with all criminal justice classes Las Vegas law classes taught on campus by an attorney and general education courses offered online. Our experienced instructors are on-campus to review and support your learning experience at all times.


Call us at (702) 403-1592 to speak to one of our enrollment team about joining our Criminal Justice Program today!



Written by:

Lisa Myers, J.D., L.L.M.
Legal Studies Department Director
J.D. L.L.M. Campbell University
B.A. Corllins University    


Classes Start May 9th, 2022!

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