The disciplines of political science and criminal justice are areas of social science that provide students a broad array of knowledge. There is also some overlap between the fields of study.
The study of political science focuses on politics and government and allows students to target a specific area of interest, such as international affairs, constitutional law or public policy.
A criminal justice degree is sometimes considered a narrow, career-focused discipline, but like political science, criminal justice is a social science. The focus of the study of criminal justice is criminal behavior.
Criminal justice and political science studies each teach critical thinking and analytical skills.
Some colleges offer two-year degrees (associate’s degrees) in criminal justice, which help prepare students for beginning careers in law enforcement. A political science degree generally requires four years of study.
Deciding between a major in criminal justice or political science will ultimately depend on a person’s career interests. A criminal justice degree is the best option for someone committed to a career in law enforcement.
Because political science and criminal justice studies are often part of many universities’ social science programs, it is possible to major in one field and count classes in the other toward degree requirements.
Shane Hall is a writer and research analyst with more than 20 years of experience. His work has appeared in "Brookings Papers on Education Policy," "Population and Development" and various Texas newspapers. Hall has a Doctor of Philosophy in political economy and is a former college instructor of economics and political science.