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Arizona Criminal Justice Schools

  • 18 schools offering criminal justice degrees in Arizona are in our database (see below).
  • Of the criminal justice programs in Arizona, 17 offer associate’s degrees or certificates, 4 offer bachelor’s degrees and above, and 3 offer master’s or doctoral degrees.
  • 2 schools offering online criminal justice degrees in Arizona ranked in US News & World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs: Arizona State University (#11), Northern Arizona University (#159).
  • 2 schools in Arizona are on Kiplinger’s Best College Values: Arizona State University-Tempe (#88 in-state, #78 out-of-state), University of Arizona (#97 in-state, #99 out-of-state).

Arizona is in need of good police officers. Arizona’s crime rates in 2006 were above the national average for violent crime, with the highest incidence of property crimes in the US after Washington DC. Arizona’s population is also projected to grow over the next 20 years; this can be expected to result in additional crime, creating strong demand for individuals with skills in handling criminal justice issues.


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 the demographic issues that make Arizona a place to find opportunities for criminal justice degree holders, Arizona has large areas of federal land as well as military installations which require additional federal law enforcement. Additionally, the 370-mile long border with Mexico leads to employment in 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 highly ranked by US News & World Report. Both the bachelor’s and master’s programs can be completed in person or online, offering education 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, master’s, and doctoral levels.

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

Arizona Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Correctional Officers and Jailers 13,750 $40,650
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives 2,620 $87,040
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 6,360 $74,840
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers 11,580 $60,700

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.4,5,6,7

Arizona Criminal Justice Degrees

Obtaining an Arizona criminal justice degree can prepare students for a highly rewarding and in-demand career. Numerous institutions of higher education serve residents of Arizona to offer a range of degrees from the associate’s level to PhD programs. Criminal justice programs work 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 Arizona police and patrol officers, who typically receive salary increases based on educational attainment, is $60,700.7 The US Border Patrol also grants advanced placement to bachelor’s and master’s degree holders.

Now is may be the time to begin a law enforcement-related career in Arizona. With the ongoing demand for criminal justice professionals, graduates of a degree program can enjoy excellent quality of life, supported by enhanced earning potential and 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

As of May 2016, Arizona’s unemployment rate was 5.6%, above the national average of 4.7%.8 This is well below the state’s peak unemployment rate of 10.8% from February of 2010, though above the unemployment low of 4.5% recorded in February 2008.8 Government-related employment is a good proxy for Arizona criminal justice jobs. According to Projections Central, there is an ongoing demand for jobs in the criminal justice field. The annual hiring outlooks for criminal justice jobs in Arizona include:

  • Police and Sheriff Patrol: 50 annual openings; 46% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 24% holding an associate’s degree.9,10
  • Correctional Officers: 40 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 15% holding a post-secondary certificate.9,11
  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators: 1 annual opening; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 21% holding an associate’s degree.9,12
  • Security Guards: 50 annual openings; 4% in these positions report completing at least some college.9,13
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 10 annual openings; 86% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 30% holding an associate’s degree and 44% holding a bachelor’s degree.9,14
  • Forensic Science Technicians: 40 annual openings; a bachelor’s degree is typically required.9

Available positions are a result of growth as well as replacements.

The Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank, analyzed, and rated the long-term solvency of each state government. After reviewing Arizona’s budgeting process, cash/tax collections, and the funding of pensions, it ranked Arizona 31st in the nation.8 This indicates that Arizona will likely be able to fulfill its obligation to state employees, but new hires should still pay attention to the state’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, or New Mexico).

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
stars-5
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
stars-4

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Directory of Arizona Universities Offering Criminal Justice Degrees

Arizona State University (Tempe)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice and Criminology
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice and Criminology (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice and Criminology (accelerated program)
Bachelor of Science | Forensics
Bachelor of Science | Justice Studies (accelerated program)
Bachelor of Arts | Justice Studies (accelerated program)
Bachelor of Science | Public Service and Public Policy (accelerated program)
Bachelor of Science | Public Service and Public Policy: Criminology (online program)
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice (online program)
Master of Arts | Emergency Management and Homeland Security (online program)
Master of Science | Criminology and Criminal Justice
Master Degree | Public Safety Leadership and Administration
Certificate | Homeland Security (online program)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Criminal Sentencing and Sentencing Advocacy (online program)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Corrections Management (online program)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Law Enforcement Administration (online program)

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
stars-4
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
stars-5

Arizona Western College (Yuma)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice Studies
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Training
Associate of Arts | Administration of Justice Studies
Associate of Arts | Customs and Border Protection Homeland Security
Associate of Arts | Homeland Security
Certificate | Computer Security
Certificate | Law Enforcement Training Academy

Central Arizona College (Coolidge)
Associate of Arts | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Administration of Justice

Chandler/Gilbert Community College (Chandler)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice Studies with Corrections Studies
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice Studies with Forensic Science
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice Studies with Homeland Security
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice Studies with Justice Studies
Certificate | Corrections
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)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Arts | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Intelligence Operations Studies
Associate of Applied Science | Intelligence Operations Studies (online program)

Coconino Community College (Flagstaff)
Associate of Arts | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Basic Detention Academy
Certificate | Forensics Investigations

Eastern Arizona College (Thatcher)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Arts | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Bachelor of Applied Science Track
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement Office Assistant
Certificate of Proficiency | Basic Peace Officer Academy
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement Technology

Estrella Mountain Community College (Avondale)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Certificate of Completion | Administration of Justice
Certificate of Completion | Evidence Technology

Mesa Community College (Mesa)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice Studies (online program)
Associate of Applied Science | Judicial Studies
Associate of Applied Science | Judicial Studies
Associate of Applied Science | Police Science
Certificate of Completion | Emergency Management (online program)
Certificate of Completion | Judicial Studies
Certificate of Completion | Judicial Studies (online program)
Certificate of Completion | Victimology
Certificate of Completion | Victimology (online program)
Certificate of Completion | Forensic Investigation
Certificate of Completion | Legal Studies
Certificate of Completion | Police Science

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
stars-5

Mohave Community College (Kingman)
Associate of Arts | Administration of Justice
Associate of Arts | Administration of Justice (online program)
Certificate | Administration of Justice: Corrections Officer
Certificate | Administration of Justice: Corrections Officer (online program)

Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff)
Bachelor of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Management
Bachelor of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Management (online program)
Bachelor of Applied Science | Emergency Management
Bachelor of Applied Science | Emergency Management (online program)
Bachelor of Applied Science | Intelligence Studies
Bachelor of Science | Criminology and Criminal Justice
Bachelor Degree | Justice Administration
Bachelor Degree | Justice Administration (online program)
Bachelor Degree | Justice Theory
Bachelor Degree | Justice Theory (online program)
Master of Science | Applied Criminology: Communities and Justice Emphasis
Master of Science | Applied Criminology: Law, Policy, and Social Change Emphasis
Master of Science | Applied Criminology: Transnational Crime and Justice Emphasis
Master of Administration | Administration: Justice Studies Emphasis (online program)
Minor | Emergency Management (online program)
Minor | Homeland Security (online program)
Minor | Intelligence Studies (online program)
Minor | Justice Studies (online program)
Undergraduate Certificate | Certified Police Manager (online program)
Undergraduate Certificate | Emergency Management (online program)
Undergraduate Certificate | Intelligence-Led Policing (online program)
Undergraduate Certificate | Homeland Security (online program)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Executive Police Leadership (online program)

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
stars-5

Ottawa University (Phoenix)
Bachelor of Arts | Sociology: Social Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Law Enforcement

Paradise Valley Community College (Phoenix)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Emergency Response and Operations
Certificate of Completion | Emergency Management

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.
stars-4

Phoenix College (Phoenix)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice (online program)
Associate of Applied Science | Forensic Technology
Associate of Applied Science | Emergency Response and Operations
Certificate of Completion | Administration of Justice: Fundamentals
Certificate of Completion | Administration of Justice: Comprehensive
Certificate of Completion | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate of Completion | Crime Scene Technology
Certificate of Completion | Crime and Accident Scene Photography
Certificate of Completion | Evidence Technology
Certificate of Completion | Fingerprint Classification and Identification
Certificate of Completion | Emergency Communications and Deployment

Pima Community College (Tucson)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Arts | Administration of Justice (transfer program)
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Crime Scene Management
Certificate | Law Enforcement Academy
Certificate | Fraud Examination
Certificate | Domestic Violence Intervention

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
stars-4

Rio Salado College (Tempe)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Technology (online program)
Associate of Applied Science | Military Leadership
Associate of Applied Science | Corrections
Associate of Applied Science | Detention Services
Bachelor of Science | Interdisciplinary Studies Administration of Justice Emphasis (Online Baccalaureate Program with Northern Arizona University)
Bachelor of Arts | Law Enforcement (Online Baccalaureate Program with Ottowa University)
Certificate of Completion | Administration of Justice
Certificate of Completion | Law Enforcement Technology
Certificate of Completion | Military Leadership

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
stars-4

Scottsdale Community College (Scottsdale)
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice Studies
Associate of Applied Science | Forensic Science: Crime Lab
Associate of Applied Science | Police Science
Certificate of Completion | Crime and Accident Scene Photography
Certificate of Completion | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate of Completion | Crime Scene Technology
Certificate of Completion | Fingerprint Classification and Identification
Certificate of Completion | Justice Studies
Certificate of Completion | Law Enforcement
Certificate of Completion | Police Academy Preparation Level I
Certificate of Completion | Police Science

University of Arizona (Tucson)
Bachelor of Applied Science | Administration Of Justice Emphasis
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice Studies
Bachelor of Arts | Global Studies: Human Rights, Justice & Social Movements Emphasis
Bachelor of Arts | Government & Public Service: Government, Law & Justice Emphasis
Bachelor of Arts | Government & Public Service: Intelligence & National Security Emphasis
Bachelor of Arts | Government & Public Service: International Security Emphasis
Master of Arts | International Security
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | International Security Studies

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.
stars-5

References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics: http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. US News & World Report, Best Online Programs: http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education
3. Kiplinger’s Best College Values: http://www.kiplinger.com/tool/college/T014-S001-kiplinger-s-best-values-in-public-colleges/index.php
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Correctional Officers and Jailers http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333012.htm
5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes331012.htm
6. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Detectives and Criminal Investigators: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm
7. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333051.htm
8. Y Charts 10 Year Unemployment Chart: https://ycharts.com/indicators/arizona_unemployment_rate
9. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
10. O*Net OnLine, Police Patrol Officers: http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/33-3051.01
11. O*Net OnLine, Correctional Officers and Jailers: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3012.00
12. O*Net OnLine, Police Detectives: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3021.01
13. O*Net OnLine, Security Guards: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-9032.00
14. O*Net OnLine, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/23-2011.00
15. Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition 2016 Edition: http://mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings
16. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Protective Service Occupations (Major Group): http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes330000.htm