3 answers

Criminology major or education major?

Asked England, England, United Kingdom

If I major in criminology I want to minor in education and get endorsements for English as a second language and for special education. If I major in education I want to get both endorsements still and I would want to minor in criminology. Which way seems easier since they are both kind of big topics. #education #criminal-justice #criminology #special-education

3 answers

Christina Marie’s Answer

Updated Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


I can see that you're determined to make a change in this world and provide safety to students who are otherwise marginalized and left with no equal access to resources given their language barrier or disability. I congratulate you on your desire to pursue either career, where it be criminology or Education.

Currently there are a few routes you can take. For example, you could pursue a major in criminology and the average salary by the time you graduate would be $33,000 according to Criminal Justice USA website. Then, upon graduation you could apply for Teach for America and if selected, within two years you would have license as a teacher in your given state.

The other route you can pursue is attending a college with a state recognized Teacher preparation program. This is the route I selected because most schools and administrators want to assure that students are being taught by the most prepared teachers who understand the psych of the students and have been equipped with the best practices in education. If you choose this route, I would suggest that you major in either ESL or special education. Currently, ESL is of greater interest for future career employers. However, either stem of education will reap the average income of $55,000 a year upon graduation according to the nation wide survey. And the greatest part is that you can still major in criminology if that were your choice once you've entered the education program. A minor would be beneficial as well.

From my experience, I knew I wanted to empower those who are often marginalized and treated with little respect as mere humans, so I decided to major in Deaf/Elementary Education but also in Women and Gender Studies. This gave me the opportunity to pursue my dream of working with students in underprivileged settings while engaging in social justice topics with my other major. So as you can see, I was able to accomplish both at the same time and I even minored in Psychology which I plan on following up with later on in my career.

I hope this piece of advice helps you in your journey towards higher education. Please feel free to ask more questions if you need further advice. Best wishes on your future endeavors!

Rachel’s Answer

Updated Seymour, Connecticut

Many colleges provide incredible teaching programs. A few of the best in the nation are Johns Hopkins University, NYU, and UConn

Teaching involves a number of different skills and qualities. I would say the most important are:

  1. People skills - being friendly and working well with others. You will need to be personable, caring, kind, friendly, compassionate, and understanding. These qualities make a great teacher. But you also need to be stern and firm in your directions, rules, and discipline
  2. Public speaking - every day in your class you will need to be able to speak and present information to your students, practice speech, and practice fluency of language and talking in front of others
  3. The subject you plan to teach - become a master of the subject you plan to teach, make sure you know as much as possible and learn as much as you can about the subject you plan to teach. Take as many classes as possible in this subject and learn everything you can about it.
  4. Psychology & Human Development - start reading books and research articles on human development and psych. It will be helpful for you to know how people learn at different stages and the best ways to teach them at these stages (depending on stage of development and schema).

Michele’s Answer

Updated Chicago, Illinois

I actually completed my undergraduate studies in elementary education/special education and then went on to obtain a masters degree in English Language Learners.

While I appreciate the advice you received above regarding majoring in English as a Second Language (ESL), I would advise the opposite. There are online university programs (one of which I attended) where you can receive a dual major in special education and elementary education. While you did not mention teaching a general education grade school class, this is a great double certificate because you will automatically be graduating with the ability to teach either area allowing you more job opportunities. The program I completed allowed me to graduate with an LBS1 endorsement which is for special education grades prek-21. The reason I am suggesting you choose that as your major versus ESL is because it is very easy to get an ESL endorsement once you receive your teaching certificate. Some universities may even allow you to minor in ESL so you will graduate with the ability to teach in 3 separate areas - elem ed, spec ed, and ESL. Also, there is a shortage of special education teachers with an ESL endorsement. Three years ago I was one of only 3 teachers in the City of Chicago that had this combination thus affording me more job opportunities. Although I completed the program online, I did student teach in the public school system which gave me a good contact base when applying for jobs. If you choose to go online, just make sure that the school you are looking at is recognized by the State Board of Education in the state in which you live. While I also appreciate the efforts made with the Teach Across America program, I worked with a colleague that had become a teacher via that route. He ended up quitting because he felt he was ill prepared to handle the challenges of being in a classroom - - and this experience you get by student teaching.

I do think pursuing a criminal justice degree online or through a community college would be the most cost efficient for you. If you do pursue both, this may give you an opportunity to actually teach within the juvenile detention system (however this can be extremely stressful).

My overall advice is to sit down and map out the pros and cons of pursuing each profession. Which are you most passionate about? I would then pursue my education in that field first. Trying to pursue multiple degrees at one time - especially a teaching degree - can be overwhelming and may end up being too much to handle. I don't think either field is 'easier' and neither will make you a millionaire. Therefore, you have to be really passionate about what you are doing.

In summary, I would: find a program that allows you to graduate with teaching certification in both general education and special education with an endorsement in ESL. You will have the ability to wear many 'hats' within a school and will be highly marketable. I just finished my second masters in early childhood education as I wish to stay marketable myself! Hope this helps ... good luck!!