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Arizona Criminal Justice Schools

  • 28 schools offering criminal justice degrees in Arizona are in our database. (see below)
  • 15 offer associate’s degrees or certificates, and 13 of them offer bachelor’s degrees and above.
  • We found 2 schools in Arizona ranked in US News and World Reports that have criminal justice programs: #59 University of Arizona — Tuscon, AZ; #65 Arizona State University — Tempe AZ;
  • We found 1 doctorate program ranked by The Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice: #25 Arizona State University-Tempe.
  • According to Kiplinger’s, Arizona has one university ranked in the top 100 for “Values in Public Colleges”, The University of Arizona, Tuscon.  For value, it is ranked 100th nationwide.
  • 10 campus-based and online schools in Arizona are available for requesting information.

Now, more than ever, Arizona is in need of good police officers. Arizona’s crime rates in 2006 were above the national average for violent crime and has the highest incidence of property crimes in the US besides Washington D.C. Arizona’s population is projected to grow at triple the rate of the rest of the US over the next 20 years. This alone is expected to result in an additional 61% more crime over that period, creating strong demand for individuals with skills in handling criminal justice issues. Note also that these crime and growth projections do not take into account the recent housing crisis which has hit Arizona extremely hard, leading to increased poverty.

Police Quote: “Many police officers make excellent investigators, however there are additional assets that are required to be a excellent gang investigator. A good gang investigator will understand and be empathetic on why people join gangs. Good gang investigators will be able to understand what motivates a gang member to join a gang and understand why they may commit a gang crime. A person that is interested in becoming a gang investigator should contact several gang investigators and ask many questions. Gang investigators are often required to work long hours, weekends, holidays. Gang investigators must also be able to multi-task on a regular basis.” -Chuck Schoville, President of the Arizona Gang Investigators Association

In addition to all of the demographic issues that make Arizona home to significant opportunities for Criminal Justice degree holders, there are two geographic factors that also make it more attractive. Arizona has a large quantity of federal land and of military installations which require additional federal law enforcement. Additionally, the 370-mile long border with Mexico also demands people for border patrol jobs.

Profiles of Well Known Schools in Arizona

Arizona State University: The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University is one of the fastest growing criminal justice schools in the country and has a graduate program that is ranked twelfth in the nation by US News and World Report. Both the bachelors and masters programs can be completed in person or online, offering an educational opportunity to even the busiest of individuals. While many departments and centers have relatively narrow scopes in research, ASU focus areas range from sentencing policy to institutional corrections, from fraud victimization to juvenile court. Criminal Justice students can enhance their learning experience with internships at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels.

Northern Arizona University: Northern Arizona University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers three different undergraduate degrees and a Masters of Science in Applied Criminology. Majors can pursue a Bachelors of Applied Science in Criminal Justice online. The faculty are world renowned scholars and professionals in immigration, human rights, Native America justice issues, white collar crime, and genocide. The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice is also associated with the organizations Arizona Innocence Project and the National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative, through which both students and faculty can conduct research.

Northcentral University (Online): The online criminal justice programs of Northcentral University are offered through the School of Business and Technology Management. Criminal Justice is given as a specialization for a Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Business Administration, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration. All four degree programs also offer specializations in Homeland Security, Public Administration, and Homeland Security Leadership and Policy. The school under which these programs fall is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business School and Programs (ACBSP).

Arizona Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Correctional Officers and Jailers 13,240 $40,130
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives 2,680 $86,580
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 5,980 $78,510
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers 11,750 $58,590

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

Arizona Criminal Justice Degrees

Obtaining an Arizona criminal justice degree can prepare students for a highly rewarding and highly demanded job. Countless institutions of higher education serve residents of Arizona to offer a range of degrees from associate’s level to Ph.D. All of these courses work together to give the student a strong foundation in all aspects of the criminal justice system, and should significantly increase the opportunities that are available for a degree holder.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety is currently hiring for a number of positions and a criminal justice degree is either a requirement, or an enhancement (waiving experience requirements) for a number of positions with the state. The average annual wage of police and patrol officers in Arizona is $59,330.1 The US Border Patrol grants advanced placement to Bachelor’s and Master’s degree holders.

Now is clearly the time to begin a law enforcement-related career in Arizona. Between the ongoing demand for Criminal Justice professionals and the desirable lifestyle, graduates of a degree program can enjoy excellent quality of life, supported by enhanced earning potential and great job security.

Respected leaders who have graduated from universities in Arizona

  • Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead – University of Phoenix, AZ
  • Pima County Arizona Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik – University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ
  • Tuscon Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor – Northern Arizona University, AZ
  • Phoenix Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia – Sam Houston State University, TX

Arizona’s Criminal Justice Employment Outlook 2, 3, 4, 5

As of September 2014, Arizona’s unemployment rate is 6.9%, which is above the national average of 5.8%. This is well below the state’s peak unemployment rate of 10.8% from February of 2010, and still above the unemployment low of 4.5% recorded in February 2008. Government related employment is a good proxy for Arizona criminal justice jobs. According to Projection Central, there is an ongoing demand for jobs in the criminal justice field. Annual openings in this field primarily due to growth, and replacement. The annual hiring outlooks for criminal justice jobs in Arizona include:

  • Police and Sheriff Patrol: 460 annual openings/88% in positions report some college or bachelor’s degree
  • Correctional Officers: 510 annual openings/60% in positions report some college, or bachelor’s degree
  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators: 160 annual openings
  • Security Guards: 890 annual openings
  • Paralegals: 230 annual openings/88% in positions report some college, or bachelor’s degree
  • Forensic Science Technicians: 40 annual openings

Available positions are a result of growth and replacement.

The Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank, analyzed, and rated the long-term solvency of each state government. After reviewing the Arizona’s budgeting process, cash/tax collections, and the funding of pensions, it ranked Arizona 22nd in the nation. This indicates that Arizona will likely be able to fulfill its obligation to state employees, but new hires should still pay attention to Arizona’s ability to fund its ongoing pension obligations.

Online and Arizona Criminal Justice Schools

If you live in Arizona, we recommend the following accredited campus-based and online criminal justice programs for students interested in pursuing associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the growing field of criminal justice.

Searching for Schools...

Tip: If you don’t live near a campus-based school that offers a program of interest, consider an online degree or a university in an adjacent state (California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico).

Student Review:“I had a great learning experience with Arizona State University’s online courses. I took online courses previously at a few local community colleges and found them to be rather difficult to gain any value knowledge due to their poor structuring. Arizona State University’s online classes had the structure that others were missing. Instead of just placing many different materials to read through, some message boards and tests, ASU designed the courses to be as close to the traditional classroom as possible in an online forum. I had access to campus hours to see my professors, I was assigned group projects, online meetings, discussion boards with specific meeting times, etc. I had great correspondence from the program directors about many different internships, workshops, colloquiums, etc. I feel that ASU has a great program to gain the in-depth knowledge needed to be successful in the real world.” -Lisa L., student at Arizona State University Online
Student Review: “My experience at Grand Canyon University was incredible. I was able to watch the school expand from a small school into one of the fastest growing schools in the country. The campus improved dramatically during my time as a student. It is located in the middle of Phoenix, Arizona so the weather was usually very nice. I had incredible access to sporting events, both on and off campus. The brand new basketball arena is state-of-the-art. Grand Canyon’s campus is very close to professional basketball, baseball, football and hockey. The dorms are brand new and very well made. My favorite part of campus was “Thunder Alley”, which housed several dining options as well as a bowling alley.” -Rainer F., student at Grand Canyon University
Student Review “University of Phoenix Axia campus is an ideal learning environment. With the help available from my academic councilor and Financial Advisor, scheduling and financing have yet to present a problem. Each week, there are five discussion questions and one assignment due per class. The discussion starters and feedback from instructors is most excellent, my drive to achieve academic excellence and succeed in finding work is greater than before. The rigorous academic schedule combined with a full time job are manageable yet because I am blind I must give myself extra time to complete assignments. My experience with University of Phoenix faculty is par excellence.” -Christopher S., student at University of Washington

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Directory of Arizona Universities Offering Criminal Justice Degrees

Argosy University (Phoenix, AZ)
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Criminal Justice
Ph.D. | Criminal Justice

Student Review “One of my favorite aspects of the ASU Criminal Justice program was the personal experience, insight, and insider perspective that professors were able to provide. Many of my instructors actually held jobs as criminal defenders, social workers, or police officers and were able to bring those experiences into the classroom. Rather than giving the textbook, academic answers, these professors explained how scenarios actually play out, included ethical issues and the norms and cultural expectations surrounding them. I felt like this more adequately prepared me for entering into the workforce with an idea of what to realistically expect. Professors who did not have this expertise often brought in guest speakers who DID possess experience in the field, or incorporated projects that required students to get involved in their community and learn firsthand. This hands-on approach to education was incredibly beneficial in helping me make the best career decisions for me. In this mission to provide a realistic experience, ASU’s Criminal Justice program never sacrificed academic rigor. Classes held high but reasonable expectations, and professors worked beyond what was necessary to make sure students learn and are able to incorporate academic material into applied situations. All in all, I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a realistic understanding of what they will encounter in the course of their career.” -student at Arizona State University

Arizona Western College (Yuma, AZ)
Bachelor of Arts | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Law Enforcement

Brown Mackie College (Phoenix, AZ; Tucson, AZ)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies

Central Arizona College (Coolidge, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice

Chandler/Gilbert Community College (Chandler, AZ)
Certificate | Crime Intelligence Analysis
Certificate | Forensic Science
Certificate | Homeland Security
Certificate | Justice Studies
Certificate | Law Enforcement Training Academy

Student Review: “The courses I took at Chandler/Gilbert Community College were online courses. While the school did not offer a wide variety of online courses compared to the other community colleges in the county, the instructors were excellent. The blackboard website through which I was suppose to have access to course material was also one of the best I have worked with. Announcements made by the instructor were easy to find, and one of the best features was that the program mapped out assignment due dates for all the test, quizzes, and homework for me. Overall, I am very satisfied with Chandler/Gilbert Community College and hope to register for classes the following fall.” -Mariela C., student at Chandler/Gilbert Community College
4 star review

Cochise College (Douglas, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Intelligence Operations Studies
Associate of Arts | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Public Safety Communications Officer I

Coconino Community College (Flagstaff, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Basic Detention Academy
Certificate | Basic Emergency Dispatch Academy

East Valley Institute of Technology (Mesa, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Law
Associate of Applied Science | Public Safety
Associate of Applied Science | Security

Eastern Arizona College (Thatcher, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Arts | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Police Academy

Estrella Mountain Community College (Avondale, AZ)
Bachelor of Science | Forensics
Bachelor of Science | Law Enforcement

Everest College (Phoenix, AZ)
Associate Degree | Criminal Investigations (online program)
Associate Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Associate Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online program)

Everest College-Phoenix (Mesa, AZ)
Associate of Justice | Criminal Justice (online program)
Associate of Science | Criminal Investications (online program)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online program)

Fortis College (Phoenix, AZ)
Certificate | Court Reporting

Grand Canyon University (Phoenix, AZ)
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Justice Studies
Master of Science | Criminal Justice
Masters Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)

ITT Technical Institute (Phoenix, AZ; Tempe, AZ; Tucson, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Information Systems Security

Mesa Community College (Mesa, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Forensic Studies

Student Review: “Mesa Community College (MCC) is part of a group of community colleges found throughout Maricopa County. These colleges are all excellent in their own right but, having attended different ones for different classes, I found that MCC was truly excellent. As an EMT student, I was pleased that the classes were not huge, which made it much easier for my teachers to get to know me. My professors were also excellent, showing a great desire to teach and help out their students in any way possible. The campus is also smaller, meaning that it was very easy to navigate and I could move between classes very quickly. The EMT program at MCC is truly excellent and has been emulated by a number of other programs throughout the state. MCC is also a great school when it comes to general studies but for a much cheaper tuition. As for the campus itself, it was clean and, due to its location, had plenty of places to eat and relax readily available. Overall, my experience at MCC was excellent and I would definitely recommend it.” -Chris B., student at Mesa Community College

Mohave Community College (Kingman, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Corrections Officer
Associate of Applied Science | Evidcence & Crime Scene Investigation

Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ)
Bachelor of Applied Sciences | Justice Systems Policy and Planning
Bachelor of Science | Criminology and Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Applied Criminology

Student Review: “My experience in the Criminal Justice program at Northern Arizona University was absolutely fantastic. The professors were very current and up to date and provided enjoyable learning environments. We were able to take theories and apply them to real-life cases and also to movies. The professors were very professional and approachable and were always willing to help me understand the material in any way they could, be it through office hours or email. The knowledge I have gained in the Criminal Justice field will help me to start off strong with a career in this field and has molded me into a person suitable for professional, accurate, and excellent work.” -Meaghan M., student at Northern Arizona University

Ottawa University (Phoenix, AZ)
Bachelor Degree | Human Services | Corrections (online program)

Paradise Valley Community College (Phoenix, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice

Student Review: “Going to Paradise Valley Community College was an overall great experience for me. When I first enrolled at PVCC I was unsure as to what my major area of study was going to be, but soon chose Psychology as my major with the help of the wonderful Advising staff that is there. The campus is somewhat small, which pleased me because my classes were easy to find and the class size did not exceed 30 students so there was the opportunity for professor/student interaction. I also enjoyed the up-to-date computer lab and learning center which allowed for free personal tutoring in a wide array of subjects. Going to PVCC helped me to experience college life and prepared me for entering a University in the future.” -Shauuna C.

Penn Foster College (Scottsdale, AZ)
Associate Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)

Phoenix College (Phoenix, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Forensic Science
Certificate | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Crime and Accident Scene Photography
Certificate | Evidence Technology
Certificate | Fingerprinting

Pima Community College (Tucson, AZ)
Associate of Arts | Administration of Justice Studies
Certificate | Crime Scene Management
Certificate | Fraud Examination

Student Review: “Very easily accessible to Tucson citizens from Downtown to Oro Valley, with several different campuses across town, Pima Community College has a great faculty which made it stand out especially for me. I can recall many classes I took at Pima which were as informative, interesting and enriching to me as nearly any that I took at the prestigious University of Arizona. Only one or two out of dozens of instructors I encountered at Pima were less than competent. Rather, the teachers at Pima are by and large passionate for their course subject. Another positive aspect of PCC is the wonderful downtown campus. Although not the school’s first, or even largest, campus, I found taking classes there to be very pleasant. There is a beautiful, expansive courtyard section in the middle of campus with fresh grass and shaded tables to do work or eat lunch at. The only criticism of Pima I have is that I found it difficult to deal with their employees who field telephone questions about courses and advising. I found that many times they either were rude and uncaring, or simply incompetent. Overall, though, as far as community colleges are concerned, Pima has got to be in the top tier.” -David D., student at Pima Community College

Rio Salado College (Tempe, AZ)
Associate Degree | Law Enforcement Technology (online program)
Certificate | Law Enforcement Technology

Student Review: “Rio Salado is almost entirely online, but some of the classes require you to go to a physical location to take your tests. The classes start on a rolling schedule, so you don’t have to worry about missing enrollment. For example, if the class you wanted to take already started, there will most likely be another one starting in two weeks. One thing to note is that not every class works well online. All of my English classes were great and I learned a lot. But I also tried taking a Japanese class. I don’t recommend taking language classes online. You miss out on a lot by not having interaction with your classmates and teacher, and when you don’t have a teacher right there to help if you don’t understand something, it’s really hard to do your work. I had to drop out of the class because I was failing, but when I took it again in person, I got an A. So when you’re looking at online classes, think carefully to decide if you’ll really have a good experience online or not. Overall, this is a good way to get some classes taken care of on a flexible schedule.” -Ashley B., student at Rio Salado College

Scottsdale Community College (Scottsdale, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate | Crime Scene Technology
Certificate | Justice Studies
Certificate | Police Academy Prep

University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)
Bachelor of Science in Public Administration | Criminal Justice

Student Review: “I graduated from the University of Arizona in 1998 having completed a Master’s degree in Information Resources and Library Science. During the five years I was in the program, I saw it expand from having only a few evening classes (something that created real problems for someone working a full-time job 8-5 Monday through Friday) to a program with many more evening classes and online course opportunities. The department definitely responded to student needs and comments. I would rate the School of Library Science as an excellent preparation for a career. The university as a whole is generally responsive to student needs, and has excellent facilities including amazing libraries. I loved going to school there!” -Jamie T.

University of Phoenix (Phoenix, AZ; Tucson, AZ)
Associate Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Organizational Security and Management (online program)
Master of Science | Administration of Justice
Master of Science | Administration of Justice and Security (online program)
Masters Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)

Western international University (Phoenix, AZ)
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Behavior

(1) Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_AZ.htm
(2) Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/lau/ see state on page for current unemployment rate
(3)Bureau of Labor Statistics’ State Occupational Projections: http://https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm.htm
(4) Y Charts 10 Year Unemployment Chart: http://http://ycharts.com/indicators/arizona_unemployment_rate
(5) Mercatus Center State Fiscal Condition: http://mercatus.org/publication/state-fiscal-condition-ranking-50-states

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.