dcsimg

Criminal Justice Schools

Article Sources
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed Sept. 29, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  • Florida State University, http://criminology.fsu.edu/degrees/undergraduate-programs/majors/
  • Grossmont College, http://www.grossmont.edu/academics/programs-departments/aoj/default.aspx
  • San Diego Miramar College, http://www.sdmiramar.edu/academics/pgms/ADJU
  • Santa Fe Community College, https://www.sfcollege.edu/programs/1131
  • Scottsdale Community College, http://www.scottsdalecc.edu/academics/departments/applied-sciences/administration-justice
  • Southwestern College, http://www.swccd.edu/index.aspx?page=782
  • The University of Arkansas at Monticello, http://www.uamont.edu/pages/academics/degree-programs/
  • The University of Texas at Brownsville, http://www.utb.edu/vpaa/cla/cj/Pages/ProgramsofStudy.aspx
  • The University of Wyoming, http://www.uwyo.edu/cj/major/
  • Washburn University, http://www.washburn.edu/academics/college-schools/applied-studies/departments/criminal-justice-legal-studies/degrees.html
  • Criminology: College, Degree and Major Information, Big Future by the College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/social-sciences-criminology
  • Criminal Justice: College, Degree and Major Information, Big Future by the College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/security-protective-services-criminal-justice-corrections-criminal-justice
  • Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm
  • Police and Detectives, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm
  • Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm
  • Projections Central, Long-Term Projections, https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  • Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm
X

Criminal justice schools do more than prepare students to wear a badge and pound a beat. Those who enroll in a criminal justice program typically study many aspects of criminal law. Course work generally includes case studies, so students can learn from real-life situations. Some programs will include internships as well to give students hands-on,real-world experience. Students may also learn about sociology and psychology, specifically as it relates to criminal behavior and substance abuse.

Expert Insight

"You get to help people every day in a meaningful way. Capturing bad people and preventing people from getting hurt feels good." Read the full interview with Andrew Costello from New York Institute of Technology's College of Arts and Sciences.

Use these links to easily jump to the following sections on this page:

Criminal Justice Schools

Top Criminal Justice Schools

An individual pursuing a career in criminal justice needs a high-quality degree program with a robust curricula and experienced faculty. These programs prepare future police officers, corrections officers, detectives and investigators for the rigors of the job. Prospective students are faced with the often daunting task of finding the best criminal justice schools. The following ranking has done much of the heavy-lifting for you, offering a look at five of the top four-year schools in the country and five of the top two-year schools in the country that offer both distance education and on-campus programs in criminal justice.

Top 4-Year Criminal Justice Schools

1
University of Arkansas at Monticello

This school ranked first by virtue of its strong admissions rate and relative affordability. It also had a high number of students participating in its distance education programs, an indication that this college is ready to invest in its online learners. Students can pursue an Associate of Applied Science in Crime Scene Investigation or Law Enforcement Administration, or a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. The criminal justice degree covers the role of police officers in modern society and an analysis of ethical standards for criminal justice professionals.

  • Location: Monticello, Arkansas
  • Total enrollment: 3,854
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $6,446
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in criminal justice: 9
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in criminal justice:0
2
Washburn University

Ranking high in the areas of in-state tuition, admissions rate, and academic support, Washburn University came in second overall with a clear commitment to affordability and accessibility. It also ranked high for the number of students who participate in distance education. The school offers two associate degrees in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, and a master's degree in Criminal Justice. Course content covers both the theoretical and practical aspects of law enforcement.

  • Location: Topeka, Kansas
  • Total enrollment: 6,722
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $6,350
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in criminal justice: 6
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in criminal justice:3
3
Florida State University

Low in-state tuition and high ranks for institutional grants put Florida State University's criminal justice program in third place. This university also boasts high retention rates compared to similar universities. Students can major in Criminology, which introduces students to a wide range of subjects and skills within the field, or Computer Criminology, which focuses specifically on fighting cyber crime. The school also offers online bachelor's and master's degrees in Criminology.

  • Location: Tallahassee, Florida
  • Total enrollment: 41,226
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $6,507
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in criminal justice: 6
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in criminal justice:1
4
The University of Texas at Brownsville

This state university ranks high for affordability (both in terms of tuition and also school supplies, such as books) and also for the rate at which it admits students. Students can work towards one of three degree options: The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice allows students to concentrate in either law enforcement, corrections or forensics. The Bachelor of Arts in Law and Justice Studies is intended for students pursuing the field of law. Students can also pursue an online bachelor's in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

  • Location: Brownsville, Texas
  • Total enrollment: 11,943
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $4,398
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in criminal justice: 4
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in criminal justice:1
5
The University of Wyoming

Not only does the University of Wyoming offer some of the lowest in-state tuition prices, but it also offers a high amount of instructional spending per student. This may be why it ranked 24th out of 334 for its graduation rate. Students can work towards either their bachelor's or master's in Criminal Justice. A pre-law concentration is available for students who wish to focus on the legal side of the subject. The university also offers a robust internship and practicum program in order for students to gain practical experience in the field.

  • Location: Laramie, Wyoming
  • Total enrollment: 12,820
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $4,892
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in criminal justice: 1
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in criminal justice:0

Top 2-Year Criminal Justice Schools

1
San Diego Miramar College

This college offers low in-state tuition and ranked well for the number of institutional grants divided by enrollment. It also ranked 6th out of 591 schools for its graduation rate. San Diego Miramar students can pursue their associate degree in Administration of Justice, and use that degree to either enter the field or continue on to pursue a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. The school makes an effort to accommodate the schedules of students by offering weekend, morning, afternoon, night classes or online classes.

  • Location: San Diego, California
  • Total enrollment: 11,876
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $1,142
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in criminal justice: 7
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in criminal justice:0
2
Santa Fe Community College

Ranking high for affordability and instructional spending per student, Santa Fe Community College shows their committment to helping students attain their career goals in the field of Criminal Justice. Their associate degree in Criminal Justice introduces students to the governmental systems that uphold social control, mitigate crime, and enforce penalties. The focus of this degree is on preparing students to transfer to a four-year college where students can pursue their bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice.

  • Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Total enrollment: 5,475
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $1,854
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in criminal justice: 6
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in criminal justice:0
3
Scottsdale Community College

Our ranking data shows that this community college focuses on making their degrees affordable, but also ensuring that instructional spending per student remains at a high level. Their associate degree in Administration of Justice Studies is intended to either prepare students for a four-year program, enhance the skills of those already working in the field, or offer enrichment opportunities for non-criminal justice students.

  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Total enrollment: 9,863
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $2,046
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in criminal justice: 6
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in criminal justice:1
4
Grossmont College

High retention rates, low in-state tuition, and a strong offering of institutional grants brought Grossmont College into our list of 10 best criminal justice schools. The college's Administration of Justice department offers degrees and certificates in Law Enforcement, Corrections, Legal Systems and Court Management, Forensic Technology, and Security Management. A strong relationship between department faculty and local law enforcement agencies and crime labs allows for rich internship opportunities for students.

  • Location: El Cajon, California
  • Total enrollment: 18,040
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $1,388
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in criminal justice: 8
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in criminal justice:0
5
Southwestern College

This two-year college ranked 27th out of 591 for its in-state tuition and also boasted strong retention rates for its students. The college offers Administration of Justice and Criminal Justice associate degrees that introduce students to the theories, concepts, and methodologies of our criminal justice system. The college also hosts a police academy for students wishing to pursue a career as a police officer.

  • Location: Chula Vista, California
  • Total enrollment: 19,000
  • In-state tuition and fees 2015-2016: $1,336
  • Total number of undergraduate programs offered in criminal justice: 7
  • Total number of undergraduate distance education programs offered in criminal justice:0

Criminal Justice Specializations

There are a number of paths an education and  career in criminal justice can take. While many who attend in criminal justice schools will go on to a career in law enforcement or corrections, others may pursue careers in counseling or use their criminal justice education as a springboard to a law degree. Take a look at the options below to get a sense of which career focus may be the right one for you.

Law Enforcement

Police and detectives may make up the bulk of law enforcement jobs, however with education and experience, it is possible to specialize even within local and state police departments. For example, you may specialize in working with juveniles or narcotics. You can also pursue a career at the federal level such as:

  • FBI
  • Homeland Security
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Requirements for federal jobs are likely to include a bachelor's or master's degree, work experience, and additional training. Some may also require security clearance.

Probation and Corrections

Another common career path within criminal justice involves working with the corrections system. These include:

  • Probation officers
  • Parole officers
  • Case managers
  • Pretrial service officers

Counseling

Criminal justice schools can also be a pathway into the field of counseling. Mental health, substance abuse and behavioral counselors work both in private practice and within the justice system.

Law

Criminal justice schools can be an entry way into the legal field as well. And, some with a background in criminal justice go on to pursue training as a paralegal or enter law school.

Criminal Justice Certifications and Degrees

Not everyone who works in criminal justice is required to have a bachelor's degree. State and local departments may accept police academy training, though many do require some college. Many departments will also support continuing education on the job. Jobs at the federal level will require a bachelor's degree and some will require a master's as well. Additional training and certifications may be necessary depending on your job, like cyber-security or forensics.

Generally, correctional treatment specialists and probation officers are required to have a bachelor's degree. Certain jobs and certain states will also require certification. Certifications may be state-specific or through national associations including the American Correctional Association.

Requirements for counseling positions vary by state. The lowest threshold is a high school diploma and passing a state exam. Many positions will require at least a bachelor's or a master's degree. A bachelor's degree is required for private practice. Visit the National Board for Certified Counselors and Affiliates for information about your state's certification requirements for private practice.

How to Become a Criminal Justice Professional

Entering the criminal justice field usually requires some type of education and/or on-the-job training, depending on the specific career of interest. Steps for consideration typically include the following:

  • Complete your high school diploma or GED. Many vocational schools, community colleges and other types of schools require students to have a high school education. It also is required of many employees. A high school diploma or GED may also be necessary to seek enrollment in a police academy.
  • Enroll in a college criminal justice program. A certificate or associate degree in criminal justice may be helpful to obtaining a job or being accepted into an academy program to become a police officer, state trooper or corrections officer. You can find programs specifically focused on criminal justice or related to crime scene investigation or criminology and can learn about crime analysis, judicial administration, correctional systems, and more.
  • Apply for an academy program. Many, but not all careers, in the criminal justice field require completion of a police academy. Requirements will vary by local, state and federal level. Some will have no college education requirements while others may require an associate degree. These academy programs also can vary in length, depending on the requirements set by the specific jurisdiction.
  • Obtain certification. You may decide to seek certification if it is available in your specific field, such as for Certified Corrections Officers (CCO) or Certified Corrections Supervisor (CCS). Other certifications may be offered through public safety departments.
  • Continue your education. Advancing your education is optional, but may be helpful to obtaining a more supervisory position. Some schools offer bridge programs from two-year to four-year degrees, while masters and even doctoral level programs can be found in criminal justice, criminology and science related fields, like crime scene investigation and forensic science.

Expert Q&A on Criminal Justice Schools and Careers

To learn more about the path to entering the criminal justice field in the U.S., we spoke with Andrew Costello. He is an assistant professor of behavioral science in New York Institute of Technology's College of Arts & Sciences and a retired Deputy Inspector of Police serving more than 26 years with the New York Police Department.

About The Expert
Andrew Costello is an assistant professor of behavioral science in New York Institute of Technology's College of Arts and Sciences.

What is the typical educational path needed to enter the criminal justice field?

For most police agencies, 64 credits of college is needed by appointment to the agency and entry into their academy. Generally, students take civil service exams while attending a college to get the required credits. By the time they are called for employment, they typically are so far along in their degree, they complete it.

Most large municipal police agencies will require a bachelor's degree for their first level supervisor's position. There is no requirement for what field the degree is in, but a criminal justice degree will help in subject matter related to promotional exams over other degrees. Having a completed bachelor's prior to entry will also allow for more effort in practice specialization within law enforcement while going up the supervisory ranks.

Also, most federal law enforcement agencies require a bachelor's degree for employment. Prosecutors will need a J.D. A criminal justice degree is a good foundation for a prosecutor. Parole and probation generally require a bachelor's degree. Some require experience in social work. Most crime scene technician positions (who collect evidence in the field) require a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or forensic science. As a warning, people interested in forensic analysis (working in the lab) need a science degree either in biology or chemistry.

How long does it typically take to complete education/degree/certification for a job?

A bachelor's degree can be completed in four years, but plan on five if you plan to do an internship. Current municipal police academies and State Police Academies are three to six months. Professional certifications usually require either a bachelor's degree or direct work experience. There are several certifications, so this is a very broad answer.

Why would you encourage someone to pursue this career? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

First, you get to help people every day in a meaningful way. (Capturing bad people and preventing people from getting hurt feels good.) As a general rule, the pay is adequate to very good and the benefits (medical, dental, optical) are exceptional in the current market (compared to the private sector). In most cases, a fixed pension is available immediately upon 20 years of service. The disadvantages are hard work, difficult hours, not having days off, being called in on your days off, getting injured, and reduced time with your family.

Do you have any advice for young people who are just starting out in this career?

Enjoy the ride. You just got a grand stand ticket for the best show on earth. Save your money and contribute to your deferred compensation program.

Top School Ranking Methodology

We ranked a set of schools offering undergraduate programs in criminal justice on several criteria pertaining to cost, program availability, and student success, among other factors, using the following data points and the weights specified.

  1. In-state undergraduate tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015: 25%
  2. Estimated cost of books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015: 5%
  3. Total number of degree and certificate programs in criminal justice offered at the bachelor’s level or below, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015: 15%
  4. Admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  5. Total institutional grants relative to enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 5%
  6. Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 7.5%
  7. Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 5%
  8. Graduation rate in 200 percent time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014:7.5%
  9. Flexibility, based on the following seven factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014 and 2015:
  • 20% Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
  • Whether the school offers credit for life experience
  • Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
  • Whether the school offers remedial services
  • Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
  • Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
  • Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
Article Sources
Criminal Justice Schools
Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
 
Results:  10
Matching School Ads
B.S. in Justice Studies
  • Interested in enhancing your skills and knowledge in the criminal justice field? Learn more at GCU!
  • GCU promotes interdisciplinary studies and research while developing valued skills in the justice workplace.
  • Develop collaborative and analytical skills through a rigorous educational environment and Christian worldview.
  • GCU's master's and bachelor's degrees prepare students to change lives, enhance communities and ensure the fair treatment of community members.
  • Gain the analytical skills and legal expertise needed to evaluate individuals and take charge in a professional legal setting.
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Criminal Justice (MS)
  • Online Bachelor's programs include BBA, Criminal Justice, Psychology, IT, Healthcare Management & Public Health
  • Over 115 years of delivering quality education and personalized attention to students
  • Provide a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services
  • Give students and alumni access to career assistants who help with resumes, cover letters, job hunting, and more.
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Allows students to transfer credits from non-U.S. colleges and universities after evaluation.
  • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
  • Its main campus is located in Fort Lauderdale, with campuses located throughout the State of Florida and internationally. 
  • Provides a Department of Student Services and Resources that assists students with résumé preparation, interviewing skills coaching, mock interviewing, professional development workshops, and more.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
B.S. in Criminal Justice
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
  • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
  • Online courses help make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 24 months and a master’s degree in 12-18 months.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Criminal Justice - Associate of Applied Science
  • Part of the Delta Career Education Corporation.
  • Each campus features a public spa and/or salon where students can gain real-world experience.
  • 17 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent colleges and Schools (ACICS), with programmatic accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
  • Originally founded in 1916 in Wilmington, North Carolina by Judge Leon Motte.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
Criminal Justice (Doctorate) - Online
  • For the 12th consecutive year, Cal U was named one for the best schools in the Northeast by The Princeton Review 
  • Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017
  • Quality Online courses at Cal U have the same objectives, content and learning outcomes as campus-based programs and are taught by the same expert professors.
  • Offers private school amenities at a public school cost. Student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1
  • CAL U online programs complete an annual assessment of student learning to ensure outcomes are focused on your success in career entry, advancement or enhancement!
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Criminal Justice (BS) (Online)
  • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs®.
  • Each program is designed to instill the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills of professional practice and to foster values of social responsibility.
  • Offers several flexible learning options, including a blended format that combines campus and online learning.
  • Several scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify.
  • Features a competency-based MBA program that allows students to test out of subjects based on prior professional experience.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
MS in Criminal Justice - General Track

Saint Joseph’s University is a comprehensive, regionally accredited university. Our national rankings and AACSB accreditation in the Haub School indicate the high quality of our undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs both online and on campus.

  • Online Courses
Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Ranked among the 2015 Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Designated as a Military Friendly School every year since 2012 by Victory Media.
  • Offers credit for prior learning and experience through assessment tests.
  • Provides a short term Leadership Certification program in partnership with EQUIP®.
  • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Degree - Criminal Justice: Corrections
  • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
  • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid