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Study criminology

The focus of the criminology course is on research into the Causes and manifestations of crime. The various mechanisms and backgrounds of criminal offenses are conveyed within the course. This is a predominantly theoretical course that does not or only little deals with relevant practical examples.

However, criminology is one interdisciplinary field of studywhich is closely related to sociology, psychology and law. Accordingly, this course of study is assigned to the Faculty of Law at most universities. In addition, criminology is a frequently offered elective in general law studies.

  1. Education
  2. areas of expertise
  3. Admission
  4. Study locations
  5. Distance learning
  6. Bachelor
  7. master
  8. Alternatives
  9. Career prospects

1. The criminology course

The criminology degree program mainly deals with psychological, educational, economic, social and cultural causes for crime. Accordingly, this means that during your studies you will deal with the basic social backgrounds of criminal offenses and not solve any individual criminal cases. Various methods and findings from other subjects are used for this purpose.

At the beginning of the course there is usually a general basic scientific training:

  • Research methods
  • statistics
  • mathematics

Only later does the Deepening:

  • Specialization in one subject area
  • Ethics courses

Ethics is offered primarily because criminology comes into contact with many sensitive areas of society and the graduates must be expected to behave appropriately.

2. Specialties in criminology

Within Germany, the criminology owns three main areas of focusthat must be taught at every university. These are applied criminology, critical criminology and criminal policy criminology.

1. Applied criminology

Within the applied criminology the theoretical foundations of the department are processed and made usable in practice. Accordingly, so-called "crime prognoses" are created and analyzed in this specialist field so that you can prepare them yourself, interpret them or explain them to other people in practice. A crime prognosis assesses the extent to which a certain person poses a threat to himself or to other people and whether this person will (again) commit a crime.

2. Critical criminology

The critical criminology however, it is much more oriented towards social science. In this department, students learn that criminal tendencies are not innate. An attempt is made to find a cause for a criminal's criminal career in the living conditions and social disadvantages of his life. Accordingly, the question of what crime actually means is dealt with in this department.

3. Criminal policy criminology

In the criminal policy criminology the focus is primarily on how to prevent criminal offenses and prevent them in advance. Accordingly, attempts are made to derive recommendations for action in order to prevent the causes of crime. Therefore, this discipline also has a great influence on political decisions that define the framework conditions for social life.

3. Previous knowledge and admission requirements

Important prior knowledge are:

  • Interest in societal and social framework conditions that trigger criminal activity
  • mathematics
  • Statistical analysis methods

The admission requirements for studying criminology differ from university to university, but can be summarized as follows:

  • Work experience (in the police, social work or Judiciary)
  • Numerus Clausus (about 2.1)

The subject of criminology is usually provided with a numerus clausus, which varies greatly from university to university depending on the number of applicants.

4. Study criminology at German universities

The courses offered at the various universities differ greatly in some cases. Most of the main differences exist in the profiles and fields of study offered. Depending on the university, for example, the focus of the entire criminology course can be on violence research, dealing with murder cases or white-collar crime.

University of Hamburg

A particularly large and respected provider of the criminology course is University of Hamburg. There is currently the postgraduate master’s course in criminology offered with a Master of Arts degree. The specialized study International criminology the university also offers.

University of Greifswald

If you would rather specialize in the administration of criminal justice, this is the one for you Greifswald University for the study of criminology. There you will get after successfully completing the course Criminology and Criminal Justice holds a Master of Laws degree and mainly deals with criminal law.

Ruhr-University Bochum

In Bochum you can find the RUB The degree course Criminology and Police Science. The University of Regensburg: Here you can Criminology and Violence Research to study.

School of Criminal Investigation & Forensic Science

The School of Criminal Investigation & Forensic Science (School CIFoS) offers a further specialization with its Master of Arts in criminalistics. This course of study is particularly practice-oriented and prepares you directly for employment with organs of executive power.

5. Distance learning criminology

Since a bachelor's degree is required as a prerequisite for the various courses in criminology, as well as professional experience, you may find yourself in the middle of professional life. Distance learning gives you the opportunity not to have to move or leave your previous job behind.

Ruhr-University Bochum

One provider for the criminology course is the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. She offers the courses Criminology and Police Science, as well as the English-language course Criminal Justice, Governance and Police Science. For these courses, a letter of motivation is required in addition to the application. The duration of the course is 24 months, i.e. the usual 4 semesters for a master’s course.

Laudius Academy for Distance Learning

The Laudius Academy for Distance Learning also offers a criminology course, which only lasts 6 months. After this, however, you have no master's or bachelor's degree, you just get a certificate. So it is more to be understood as further training.

The Open University

The Open University offers the major Social Policy and Criminology as a bachelor's program in distance learning. This has a duration of 36 months, i.e. 6 semesters. Since this is a UK university, this subject is very suitable for your international skills to strengthen.

6. The Criminology Bachelor

First things first: The criminology course can be done in Germany only as a postgraduate master’s degree be occupied. It is not possible to study the course with a bachelor's degree. Accordingly, a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject is required for the criminology degree. The most important basis for studying criminology is an undergraduate degree in law, social sciences or psychology.

On the other hand, you can study criminology as a Bachelor abroad without any problemssuch as at The Open University mentioned above. However, you can face additional costs and difficult selection processes.

7. Course of the Criminology Masters

Only after completing your bachelor's degree can you delve into the subject of criminology over two to four semesters and do one Master of Laws or one Master of Arts gain.

Studies usually begin in the winter semester. Belong in the course itself both practical and theoretical courses to the timetable. In the lectures and seminars, concepts are developed and further research questions are considered. The theses can then be empirically checked in a scientific project.

Since criminology is offered exclusively as a master’s course, are mostly no compulsory internships prescribed by default in the course of studies. Often, however, there is the option of voluntarily choosing an additional internship in order to gain further professional experience during your studies. A semester abroad at most universities is also a purely voluntary option. Since the exchange is only possible with selected universities, you should inquire at the responsible student advisory service at the university at which universities you can spend a semester abroad.

8. Criminology alternatives

Have you come to the conclusion that criminology might not be right for you after all? Or do you just want a little extra knowledge before you start your studies? Also for that There are alternatives to studying criminology:

Particularly popular alternatives

9. Career prospects for criminology students

A common myth is that criminologists are directly concerned with Solve criminal cases. This job description applies more to the profiler and is therefore reserved for graduates of the psychology course. Due to the almost negligible crime rate in Germany, criminologists rarely solve criminal cases, but rather only work on behavior and case analyzes. Despite the dwindling crime rate, job prospects are good: Since there are very diverse areas of work for criminologists, most graduates will soon find a job.


With a degree in criminology, the graduate can work in many different fields. Research is particularly popular with graduates. This usually takes place at universities, but can also be carried out by crime-fighting authorities. As part of such research projects, for example, the conditions of the prison system are examined or possible preventive measures are developed. In order to work at a university in the field of criminology, a doctorate is essential.

Public service

On the other hand, it is a bit more practical Area of ​​application in court or probation assistance. Furthermore, the judicial administration often hires criminologists for vacancies in the administration of justice. There you will work for both executive and legislative bodies. These fields of activity are particularly interesting for graduates who are interested in maintaining public order. In the public service you are paid according to the collective agreement, which means that the average salary is between € 3,900 and € 4,500 gross is.

Freelance and Free Economy

Sometimes criminologists go too a freelance work to. This can be done, for example, as an expert on criminological topics. As your own boss, you set the salary yourself.

Entry into the private sector is also a good option for a criminologist. The salary in this is mainly dependent on the size of the company and the negotiating skills of the criminologist, as well as his skills. However, you can also here with a salary of € 2,900 to € 4,000 gross calculate in the month.

Related job profiles

Obvious job profiles for a criminologist include:

  • Detective
  • Policewoman
  • Legal clerk


Are you looking for your first full-time job? Or do you want to start a part-time job alongside your studies?

In the UNICUM career center, attractive employers across Germany and from home and abroad offer you numerous exciting job offers - as a student of the criminology guaranteed to find what you are looking for. Not least because you are looking for, for example Occupational fields or Companies can filter.