Virginia Tech® home

Criminology Major

What is a Major in Criminology?

Criminology is the study of the origins, extent, causes, and effects of crime on societies. You'll learn the history and practice of crime control, as well as gain the research skills to draw larger conclusions about the nature and effects of crime.

Why Study Criminology at Virginia Tech?

Your major in criminology will prepare you for a career as a federal law enforcement agent or analyst, a police officer, a corrections officer, a probation and parole official, a victim services counselor, or a social justice activist. The major also provides a strong foundation for graduate study in criminology, criminal justice, and law. With classes such as Social Problems, Juvenile Delinquency, Sociological Theory, Cybercriminology, Women and Crime, and a plethora of others, you are able to learn about the experiences people have and how that affects their decision-making, as well as reasons for deviant behavior. 

Books Published by Faculty

Faculty Members Dedicated to Teaching

In-major Electives

Careers and Further Study

What can you do with a major in Criminology?

Jobs Held by Our Graduates

  • Police officer
  • U.S. Marshal
  • Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent
  • Probation/parole officer
  • Juvenile probation officer
  • Victim services specialist
  • Mediation specialist
  • Attorney
  • Corrections counselor
  • Private security/background investigation
  • FBI analyst

Criminology vs. Criminal Justice

What's the difference between a degree in criminology and a degree in criminal justice?


Criminology is a branch of sociology that provides a broad academic education and research skills to prepare you for graduate school, law school, and analytical careers. Criminologists are qualified to enter the same fields as criminal justice majors, and many do pursue jobs in law enforcement. But they also graduate with the skills necessary for a broader range of careers, such as researchers, analysts, legal assistants, victims-rights advocates, mediation experts, conflict management specialists, rehabilitation workers, and governmental researchers.

Criminal Justice

Criminal justice is a professional degree that specifically focuses on methods for detecting crime, detaining criminals, and criminal prosecution and punishment. It's designed to prepare you for entering a career in the criminal justice system, such as law enforcement, the courts, and corrections.

Beyond the Classroom

Experiential Learning

Get Experience

Internships are a popular way to gain experience in the field. Our students often intern at a residential facility for juvenile delinquents or with the Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, or Christiansburg police departments. Other local agencies that host our students in internships include law offices, free clinics, the Raft Crisis Hotline, the Head Start program, and the YMCA.

Contact our internship coordinator, Donna Sedgwick, to talk about internship opportunities.

Faculty Mentorship

Our students conduct undergraduate research with faculty in our Center for Race and Social Policy, Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, and Laboratory for the Study of Youth Inequality and Justice. You can design your own project with a faculty mentor and study topics that interest you. Some recent topics include:

  • Policing and urban social control
  • Youth violence and juvenile justice
  • Race and criminal justice
  • Terrorism
  • White-collar crime 
Strong Community 

Join social or cultural student organizations, where you learn about the roles individual and group identities play in society.  



Our professors have a reputation not just for their scholarship, but also for being friendly, caring, and passionate about making the world a better place. They’ve won local and national awards for both research and teaching.


Bachelor of Science in Sociology Degree

Criminology Major Requirements

  • Introductory Sociology
  • Social Inequality
  • Sociological Theory
  • Social Research Methods
  • Senior Seminar
  • Statistics for the Social Sciences

Minor and Elective Hours

Our program gives you the opportunity to build knowledge in another area by pursuing a minor, double major, or cognate.

120 hrs
B.S. Sociology

45 hrs
General Education

43 hrs
Major Requirements

32 hrs


Campus Life

Virtual Tour

Explore the university through either a guided or self-guided virtual tour

Campus Life

Discover all that Virginia Tech has to offer inside and outside of the classroom. Our campus life aims to build communities, promote holistic education, and cultivate environments that offer opportunities for leadership, innovation, and service.