Criminology in India: Definition, Courses, Scope

It has become nearly impossible to take a walk down the street and come back home without overhearing at least one conversation about a crime. Especially if you are a resident of one of those thickly populated Indian cities, it is hard to keep your ears away from news related to crime. Yes, crimes are eating up this world. Be it your newspaper, tv or radio, you are greeted with a new crime story every day along with your morning coffee. 

But why are crime rates increasing at such a rapid rate? Why do people commit crimes? How do criminals get punished? If you are keen on understanding such patterns and are interested in learning more about criminal behavior, I would suggest you take up criminology. In a world filled with crimes, this academic discipline holds a lot of importance today. This article intends to shed some light on ‘criminology in India’.

What is criminology?

Let’s start with a valid definition of this academic field. According to the National Institute of Criminology, it is “the integrated, multidisciplinary study of the causes, predictions, and control of crime and other harmful behavior constituting a breach of societal norms at a local, national, or international level.” Criminology is a branch of sociology that intends to study anti-social behavioral patterns in a society. As an academic field, it is basically the scientific study of crime or criminal behavior. The field looks into the nature of the crime, its extent, law enforcement, management, control, etc.

Criminology in India: Who is a criminologist?

Now, let me tell you who criminologists are. Those who have watched the popular series ‘Mindhunter’ can skip this part. They are the practitioners of criminology. They study crime and criminal behavioral patterns by collecting and analyzing evidence. Their area of work includes the study of criminals, the causes of crime, punishment for crime, etc. Using the available resources, they come up with ways to prevent or predict crime, effective investigation procedures, repress criminal behaviors, etc.

Criminology in India: Branches

Criminology is a vast field. It covers various subjects related to crimes such as criminal behavior, genetic factors that affect crime, punishment for crime, gender and crime, criminalistics, etc. Let me give you a brief of a few sub-topics that comes under criminology before moving forward.


You know what happens when you commit a crime. In an ideal case, you will be punished. The type and severity of punishment will be different in different societies. In India, the Indian judicial system is in charge of deciding the punishment. Penology is the study of practices different societies use as punishment to repress crimes. This includes the study of punishment methods, prison systems, and prison management. 


We all know that genetics and our biological roots play a major role in determining what we are. But what about crimes? Does it have something to do with our genetic makeup and biological roots? Biocriminology is the study of the relationship between biological factors and crime.

Feminist criminology

As the name suggests, it’s about bringing in gender equality while dealing with crime. Different societies have different practices and theories to deal with crime and criminal behavior. But do they give equal importance to crime against men and women? Feminist criminology intends to study the gender biases involved in dealing with crime and criminal behavior.


Any detective movie fans here? They must be knowing what criminalistics is. Do you remember those movie scenes in which the detective looks for fingerprints or any other physical evidence in a crime scene? Criminalistics is the application of scientific methods to collect, preserve and analyze physical evidence from a crime scene. Let’s say it’s forensic science.

Criminal law

This one is self-explanatory. It is the study of laws related to crime. It can be either country-specific or global, according to your choice of university or country. 

Criminology in India: How to become a criminologist?

It’s time to get to the part you were looking for. How to become a criminologist? The most popular route is by taking up an undergraduate or postgraduate course in criminology. Although criminology is not a very popular academic field in India, you will find more than a few reputed institutions that offer criminology programs. Now, let’s take a look at the academic pathway towards becoming a criminologist.


Let’s start with your HSE education. Criminology is the scientific study of criminal behavior patterns in a society. It is both scientific and societal. Criminology aspirants in India choose either science or humanities branches for their HSE. If you are planning to opt for science subjects such as  BSc criminology or forensic science for your bachelors, it is mandatory to go with the science stream. But if it is BA or MA programs in criminology, the Humanities stream will be the better choice.

BA/BSc criminology in India

In an Indian context, the next step after your HSE is to join an undergraduate program. As I mentioned earlier, criminology is not yet a well developed academic field in India. Thus, the number of institutions that offer undergraduate programs in criminology is just a handful.  Institute of distance education, University of Madras and Karuna Institute of technology and sciences are among the few institutions that offer BA criminology programs in India.

Most students who wish to take up a career in the field of criminology won’t stop with an undergraduate degree. So, it’s not uncommon to take up more general subjects for your undergraduate program and then go for criminology during the post-graduation. Students who are planning to go for masters programs later, usually opt for courses such as forensic science, sociology, psychology, sociology, etc for their undergraduate program.

Many reputed institutions in the country also have criminology as a paper for BSc forensic science programs. Usually, the syllabus for undergraduate programs in criminology consists of papers such as police administration, introduction to the criminal justice system, psychology, criminal law, theories of Criminology, etc

Post-graduation in criminology in India

Unlike BA or BSc criminology, postgraduate courses in criminology are actually popular. Many reputed institutions in the country offer postgraduate programs in criminology. Both MA and MSc programs are available. Institute of Forensic Science & Criminology, Punjab University, Gujarat forensic sciences university, Lok Nayak Jayaprakash National Institute of Criminology & Forensic Science,  Tata Institute of Social Sciences are some of the best institutes for criminology in India. The syllabus covers subjects such as crime and criminology, criminal intelligence and combat mechanism, crime in India, crime and corruption, global terrorism. 

Study Criminology abroad

As I mentioned earlier, criminology as an academic field is not a well-developed discipline in India. Only a few reputed institutions here offer criminology courses. Though students of subjects such as sociology, forensic science, and law, study papers in criminology, you won’t find many choices when it comes to specialization. So, if you are really into it and wish to go deeper into the subject, I would recommend you to go abroad for further studies. 

In countries like the United States or the United Kingdom, it is already a well-developed academic discipline. So, the resources available to someone who is going to take up those courses there are more. Especially if you are going for research. 

The US is the best choice for criminology studies. I think it is not a surprise considering the post-war history of the great North American country. The University of Maryland, University of Pennsylvania, University of Florida, etc are among the top universities in the world for studying criminology. Unlike India, you will have enough resources for your studies. With the London School of Economics and political science, and the University of Sheffield, Britain comes next when it comes to the best colleges for criminology studies. 

Scope of criminology in India

Criminology courses can open up a world of opportunities to you. From working closely with our judicial system or directly becoming part of investigation or research related to crimes, you will have plenty of options to choose from. The areas where criminologists can work include legislative bodies, law enforcement agencies like the police, judicial institutions, correctional systems like prisons, educational institutions, private and public social service organizations, etc. The job roles criminologists take up include Detective, Police officer, Prison officer, Probation officer, Criminal Intelligence Analyst, Community development worker, etc.


Criminology is the study of crime or criminal behavior. The subject looks into the causes of crime, its effects and attempts to prevent crime. As an academic discipline, criminology is still in it’s growing phase in India. Only a few reputed institutions in the country offer undergraduate programs in criminology. Though plenty of institutions offer papers in criminology as a part of forensic science or sociology, this growing field still lacks enough resources. For those who are planning to continue studies in criminology even after masters, it’s recommended to look for reputed institutions abroad. We hope the illustrated analysis has powered up your insights and widened your perspectives about criminology courses in India. Always remember that you make your own destiny. Make sure that you invest time and thought before making your life-changing decisions.

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