Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Criminology

Undergraduate Criminology

The Penn State Criminology Program consistently ranks in the top 10 programs in the United States. Majoring in Criminology will prepare you for a wide variety of criminal justice careers, law school or other graduate education programs.

At Penn State, we take a social science approach to the study of crime and the criminal justice system. Our curriculum conveys broad knowledge about crime, criminal justice, and social research methods.  The program promotes an understanding of crime and justice and how they are related to human behavior, social environments, and government policy.

What is Criminology?

Criminology is a broad and interdisciplinary field of study that promotes an understanding of crime and the criminal justice system and how they relate to human behavior, social environments, and government policy. Examples of topics studied in Criminology are below.

  • The causes and consequences of deviant and/or criminal behavior
  • The structure and functions of the criminal justice system
  • Societal and individual reactions to crimes and criminal justice processing
  • The spatial and geographical elements associated with crime and poverty
  • The dynamics of criminal justice policy making

Why Study Criminology?

You might like this program if:

  • you are interested in studying human behavior through an interdisciplinary lens;
  • you are fascinated with deviance and/or criminal behavior;
  • you would like to study the functioning of the criminal justice system;
  • you’re passionate about issues of social justice;
  • you would like to go to law school or graduate school; and/or
  • you want to pursue a career in policing, corrections or governmental organizations.

Potential Careers

There are opportunities for careers in criminology for everyone. Whether you like field work, working in a laboratory or working behind the scenes in research or administration, the chances are you’ll find a rewarding career. Majoring in Criminology will prepare you for a wide array of criminal justice careers such as:

  • Law enforcement (local, state, and federal)
  • Corrections and rehabilitation
  • Research analysis
  • Governmental and non-governmental organizations

Opportunities for Graduate Students

A degree in Criminology is suitable for students seeking entry-level positions in the criminal justice system and for students interested in graduate and law school.