Virginia Criminal Justice Schools

  • 50 schools offering criminal justice degrees in Virginia are in our database. (see below)
  • 23 offer associate’s degrees or certificates, 19 of them offer bachelor’s degrees, 7 offer a mix of bachelor’s and master’s and 1 offer a PHD
  • We found no schools in Virginia ranked in US News and World Reports that have a criminal justice program
  • According to Kiplinger’s, Virginia has 1 university ranked in the top 100 for “Values in Public Colleges”; #94 Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA
  • 10 campus-based and online schools in Virginia are available for requesting information.

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  • B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration
  • B.S in Criminal Justice Administration/Cybercrimes
  • M.S. in Administration of Justice and Security
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Profiles of Well Known Schools

Virginia Commonwealth University: The School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University offers a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice as well as a Post-baccalaureate Graduate Certificate. The school has three research centers: the Center for Public Policy, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, and the Sustainable Communities Institute. Numerous faculty teach for the School of Government and Public Affairs, often contributing their expertise to multiple programs. Students can also pursue undergraduate and graduate degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Public Administration and Political Science.

George Mason University: The Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University has a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Arts and a PhD Program. There are five research centers with which the department is affiliated; the Center for Justice Leadership and Management; the Center for Justice, Law and Society; the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy; the Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence; and the Cochrane Collaboration College for Policy. The faculty are active researchers in the areas of criminal justice agencies, police behavior, terrorism, and homeland security. Students that want to add a unique specialization to their degree can earn a minor in Intelligence Analysis.

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Virginia Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Correctional Officers and Jailers 16,740 $39,320
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives 2,490 $85,980
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 3,620 $86,580
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers 17,970 $50,420

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

Respected leaders who have graduated from universities in Virginia

  • City of Richmond, VA Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr.- Virginia Union University
  • Arlington County, VA Sheriff Beth Arthur – Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Norfolk, VA Acting Chief of Police Sharon Chamberlin- University of Virginia, University of Richmond, George Washington University
  • Chesapeake, VA Chief of Police Colonel K. L. Wright- Tidewater Community College, Old Dominion University, St Leo University (FL), Troy University (AL)
Police Quote: I would suggest to young adults that education is very important and being truthful in every way and always be positive. I have been a gang detective for many years and was told in my early career that “if you ask a question during your investigation, and you don’t have the answer for it, your investigation is not complete.” -Gene Ballance, Vice President of the Virginia Gang Investigators Association

Virginia Criminal Justice Degrees

With unemployment levels below the national average and recognition as the best US state for businesses by Forbes in 2009, there are a wide array of career opportunities for criminal justice professionals in Virginia in both the public and private sector. With five distinct geographic regions, criminal justice graduates can pursue careers that are close to Virginia’s beautiful coastline or in the rugged Blue Ridge mountains, offering a variety of lifestyle options.

According to the Virginia Workforce Connection, in-demand jobs in the field of criminal justice include police detectives, police patrol officers, first line supervisors of police and detectives, police dispatchers, sheriffs, criminal investigators and special agents. Senior and managerial positions typically require a bachelors degree.

The Virginia Department of Public Safety, Department of State Police, Department of Corrections, and Department of Juvenile Justice are just a few of the state agencies seeking to recruit criminal justice graduates. Available jobs include surveillance officer, state police trooper, unit manager, corrections officer and others. For those seeking jobs in the private sector, demand for private detectives and investigators has been projected to grow and security guards are also in demand to protect personal and company property.

With its close proximity to Washington DC, many Northern Virginia residents are employed by federal government agencies, including the CIA and the Department of Defense, which both have a strong presence in the state. Criminal justice graduates can explore a wide array of career options with the Department of Homeland Security, CIA, FBI, Customs and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau, and others.

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Virginia Criminal Justice Salary

Criminal justice careers offer both an engaging work environment and attractive pay and benefits. The average annual salary for Virginia police officers is $50,870 1 while promotion to first-line supervisor will result in an average salary of $82,120 1 per year plus benefits including healthcare and pension. Correctional officers working in Virginia’s corrections system earn an average of $38,380 1 while the job of detective or criminal investigator averages a salary of $85,680 1 in the state. Paralegals who are employed by Virginia law firms and corporations earn an average annual salary of $49,900.1

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

At the start of 2012, Virginia’s unemployment is 6.2% and is growing back toward pre-Downturn employment levels by mid 2013. Government related employment, which is a good proxy for Virginia criminal justice jobs, has very good prospects with pre-Downturn levels already reached, and growth projected after a small pullback in 2013. Proximity to Washington DC helps in government related job prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ State Occupational Projections shows annual Virginia Criminal Justice job openings with Police and Sheriff Patrol (685 annual openings / 88% of individuals in these positions report having some college or a bachelor’s degree), Correctional Officers (555 annual openings / 60% of individuals in these positions report having some college or a bachelor’s degree) and Paralegals (290 annual openings / 88% of individuals in these positions report having some college or a bachelor’s degree). According to 24/7 Wall St, Virginia’s state budget has improved since the depths of the Downturn with tightening. The overall Virginia criminal justice job forecast looks very good in light of all factors researched and this makes an investment in a degree warranted with good hope of securing employment. We suggest requesting free information from several Virginia criminal justice schools to weigh options.

Online and Virginia Criminal Justice Schools

To learn more about earning a Virginia criminal justice degree, 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.

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University of Phoenix
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration
  • B.S in Criminal Justice Administration/Cybercrimes
  • M.S. in Administration of Justice and Security

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Grand Canyon University
Campuses: 1
Popular Degrees:

  • B.S. in Justice Studies
  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement

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Ohio Christian University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

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Kent State University
Campuses: 1Kent
Popular Degrees:

  • Master's - Criminology & Criminal Justice - Victimology
  • Master's - Criminology & Criminal Justice - Corrections
  • Master's - Criminology & Criminal Justice - Police

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Capella University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • MS - Criminal Justice
  • PhD - Criminal Justice
  • BS - Criminal Justice

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Colorado Technical University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Human Services
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Cybercrime and Security

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Colorado State University-Global Campus
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Master - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration

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Keiser University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Criminal Justice, AA (Online)
  • Criminal Justice, BA (Online)
  • Homeland Security, BA (Online)

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Bryant and Stratton College
Campuses: 1Hampton
Popular Degrees:

  • Criminal Justice-AAS
  • Criminal Justice-BS

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Kaplan University - KHE
Campuses: 1Hagerstown
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science: Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Applied Science: Criminal Justice


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 (Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Tennessee).

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Student Review: “I love that I am able to do my classwork within my own time frame. As a working Mother it is important that I am able to fulfill my family obligations. I love all the resources such as student workshops, free tutoring, people who are on my side when I need to get through a difficult time. I don’t like that some of the instructors are available for extremely limited time periods. With online classes you don’t have a normal classroom setting that allows you to ask a classmate for assistance if you need it. It is important to have access to your instructors for guidance.” -Amanda R., student at University of Phoenix
Student Review: “I attended a traditional Community College before ITT Tech in Richmond, VA. The most drastic difference I noticed at ITT was that their instructors give you a little bit more freedom when it comes to assignments and projects. Being a vocational school, they are flexible with due dates and attendance, but my favorite perk was the freedom to create. That being said, ITT Tech is all what you make it. Put in little work and you’ll get little out, but if you apply yourself, be yourself, and put your all into it you will be surprised at the results you get. I just wish their software was the current version.. instead of a few generations behind.” -Robert K., student at ITT Technical Institute

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Directory of Virginia Universities Offering Criminal Justice Degrees

Argosy University (Arlington, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Averett University (Danville, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Sociology/Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice/Sociology
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice/Sociology for Corrections Professionals
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice/Sociology for Law Enforcement Professionals
Bachelor of Science | Sociology/Criminal Justice

Blue Ridge Community College (Weyers Cave, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice | Corrections Specialization
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice | Law Enforcement Specialization
Career Studies Certificate | Applications in Corrections
Career Studies Certificate | Applications in Law Enforcement

Bluefield College (Bluefield, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Bryant & Stratton College (Richmond, VA; Virginia Beach, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Associate of Science | IT-Security
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | IT Security

Central Virginia Community College (Lynchburg, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate in Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Career Studies Certificate | Private Criminal Justice Professional
Certificate | Legal Assistant/Secretary

Centura College (Chesapeake, VA; Richmond, VA; Virginia Beach, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice (online program)
Certificate | Police Science
Certificate | Private Investigation Services
Certificate | Security

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College (Clifton Forge, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice | Forensic Science
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Forensic Science
Certificate | Law Enforcement

Danville Community College (Danville, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice | Corrections
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice | Law Enforcement
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice | Protective Services
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Protective Services

ECPI College of Technology (Virginia Beach, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online program)

Everest College (McLean, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Ferrum College (Ferrum, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice

Fortis Institute (Virginia Beach, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Career Training | Court Reporting

George Mason University (Fairfax, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Science | Administration of Justice
Doctor of Philosophy | Justice, Law, and Crime Policy
Graduate Certificate | Administration of Justice
Graduate Certificate | Forensic Nursing
Master of Arts | Justice, Law, and Crime Policy

Hampton University (Hampton, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice/Criminology

Student Review: “Living in Hampton, Virginia was extremely peaceful. I can honestly say I enjoyed myself. As for the school, it was not perfect. The dorms were not great. The water pressure varied depending on shower/floor. The furniture in the room was plain and somewhat outdated. The internet was slow and wired. Yes, no wifi! As for the food, it I think it didn’t taste great yet, I gained a bunch of weight. Hampton University loves to serve soul food. It is not the best food in the world but it works when you are hungry. I did enjoy my classes and teachers. The teachers come from all walks of life and bring different experiences. I met some of my best friends at Hampton University and for that, I am grateful.” -Melissa B., student at Hampton University

ITT Technical Institute (Chantilly, VA; Norfolk, VA; Richmond, VA; Springfield, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online program)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice-Cyber Security
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice-Cyber Security (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Information Systems Security

J Sargeant Reynolds Community College (Richmond, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Legal Office Technology

John Tyler Community College (Chester, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Criminology
Associate of Applied Science | Police Science
Certificate | Homeland Security

Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Student Review: “Liberty University is a great college for any Christian or non-Christian alike who is looking for a fantastic education. With over 60,000 enrolled students in their residential and online courses combined, it has a reputation of being a school where one can grow personally without feeling crowded or rushed. Established in beautiful Lynchburg, Virginia in 1971, the campus boasts magnificent amenities and ever-expanding academic facilities.” -Michael M., student at Liberty University

Longwood University (Farmville, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Criminology
Bachelor of Arts | Public Policy

Lord Fairfax Community College (Middletown, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Certificate | Office Legal Assistant

Marymount University (Arlington, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice and Forensics
Bachelor of Science | Information Technology: Forensic Computing
Certificate | Criminal Justice and Forensic Science
Certificate | Forensic Computing
Master of Arts | Forensic Psychology

Miller-Motte Technical College (Lynchburg, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice

Mountain Empire Community College (Big Stone Gap, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Police Science
Career Studies | Corrections Management and Supervision
Certificate | Administration of Justice

New River Community College (Dublin, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Forensic Science
Associate of Applied Science | Police Science

Norfolk State University (Norfolk, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Applied Sociology (Crime and Criminal Justice concentration)
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice

Northern Virginia Community College (Annandale, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Career Studies Certificate | Advanced Forensic Investigation
Career Studies Certificate | General Forensic Investigation
Career Studies Certificate | Security Management
Certificate | Administration of Justice

Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Master of Arts | Applied Sociology
PhD | Criminology and Criminal Justice

Student Review: “I attend Old Dominion University and am involved in the Criminal Justice and the Sociology program. My time studying here has made me very enthusiastic and passionate about the subject. My classes have been informative, well-paced, and an environment where I feel I can appropriately share my own thoughts and ideas. My professors have been knowledgeable and approachable. I always feel like I am in a place where I can ask questions and talk to a teacher one-on-one when needed, as they easily make themselves available to students. It seems like the professors and the program itself is very adamant on the students performing well and accommodating to each student’s needs.” -Olivia P., student at Old Dominion University

Patrick Henry Community College (Martinsville, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Legal Assistant

Paul D Camp Community College (Franklin, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate in Applied Science | Administration of Justice | Corrections Science
Associate in Applied Science | Administration of Justice | Police Science

Piedmont Virginia Community College (Charlottesville, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Police Science
Career Studies Certificate | Criminal Justice

Radford University (Radford, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Anthropology with a Forensic Anthropology Concentration
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Anthropology with a Forensic Anthropology Concentration
Minor | Forensic Science
Minor | Forensic Studies
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Criminal Justice
Certificate (post-baccalaureate) | Crime Analysis

Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)

Roanoke College (Salem, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice

Saint Paul’s College (Lawrenceville, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Sociology/Criminal Justice

Sanford Brown College (Vienna, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Shenandoah University (Winchester, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Southside Virginia Community College (Alberta, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate in Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Career Studies Certificate | Corrections
Career Studies Certificate | Law Enforcement
Career Studies Certificate | Private Investigations
Certificate | Administration of Justice

Southwest Virginia Community College (Richlands, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Legal Assistant

Strayer University (Newington, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor Degree | Forensics (online program)
Bachelor Degree | Homeland Security (online program)
Certificate | Homeland Security (online program)

Thomas Nelson Community College (Hampton, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Certificate | Legal Assistant

Tidewater Community College (Norfolk, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Emergency Management
Associate of Applied Science | Homeland Security

University of Phoenix (Reston, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice Administration
Bachelor of Science | Organizational Security and Management (online program)
Master of Science | Administration of Justice and Security (online program)
Masters Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)

University of Richmond (Richmond, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice

Student Review: “I thoroughly enjoyed my four years at the University of Richmond. From the moment I stepped on to campus, I felt like I was at a close-knit university with the advantages of a big school. I quickly met students from across the country and the world – all while enjoying a diverse academic program, ample opportunities for on-campus and off-campus employment, and numerous student activities and social events. The professors were engaging and truly cared about their students, and you really felt as though your fellow students cared about you. There were times that I felt that I knew everyone else; when I felt like that, all I had to do was drive off campus and experience the great city of Richmond. The only true downside of my experience was the cost; as a private school, it was substantially pricier than a state university. However, the school did a fantastic job in offering financial aid, student work programs, and scholarships to its students. At the end of the day, it was worth every penny!” -Amy M., student at University of Richmond

Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Homeland Security
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Biology
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Chemistry
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Crime Scene Investigation
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Science
Bachelor of Science | Justice
Certificate | Public Safety
MBA | Insurance and Risk Management
Master of Arts | Homeland Security (online program)
Master of Science | Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Forensic Science

Student Review: “The Criminal Justice program at Virginia Commonwealth University features a range of very knowledgeable professors, most of which have accumulated many hours out in the field. Through my four years in the program I have learned a great deal about how the internal workings of the United States’ Criminal Justice program, our correctional facilities, and in my opinion, most importantly the flaws in our current system and what we can do to improve upon it. Although intellectually I have definitely advanced throughout this program, the lack of hands on experiences and working with members in the field is disappointing. Our school is not even 90 miles away from Washington, DC which is headquarters to some of the most advanced institutions in the Criminal Justice field. It is a shame professors at Virginia Commonwealth University haven’t taken advantage of this prime educational gold mine.” -Chris D., student at Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Highlands Community College (Abingdon, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Police Science

Virginia Intermont College (Bristol, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Pre-Law | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Virginia State University (Petersburg, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Criminal Justice

Virginia Wesleyan College (Norfolk, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Virginia Western Community College (Roanoke, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Administration of Justice

Student Review: “The criminal justice program at Virginia Western Community College is stellar. From what I have seen, they not only go truly in-depth with course material, they also seem to take the time to ensure that the learning material sticks and all members of the program are effectively trained for the work that they will be doing in their job field. Many students enrolled in the program have stated that they chose Virginia Western solely for the criminal justice program, when they could possibly have gone to other schools which are more renowned and well known. Virginia Western may be one of the best criminal justice programs available in the whole state, if not the entire country.” -Mike M., student at Virginia Western Community College

Westwood College (Annandale, VA; Arlington, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Science | Information Technology: Systems Security (online program)
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor Degree | Criminal Justice (online program)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online program)

Wytheville Community College (Wytheville, VA)
Criminal Justice Degrees Offered:
Associate of Applied Science | Corrections Science
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Law Enforcement

Criminal Justice Student Interview – University of Richmond

1. Why did you choose the University of Richmond to pursue a criminal justice degree?

I chose the University of Richmond to pursue my criminal justice degree for several reasons. First, the University has only about 3,000 students, and the class sizes within the Criminal Justice discipline were fairly small (less than 20 students). I thought that a smaller class size would allow me to have more interaction with my professors and thus forge better connections in terms of internship and employment possibilities. Additionally, the campus is located in Virginia’s state capital; most of the statewide criminal justice agencies are headquartered in Richmond. I thought that the close proximity to so many different state and local agencies would provide me with more opportunities to gain hands-on experience in the field. Finally, the Criminal Justice program at the University of Richmond allows its students to receive elective credit for taking courses in other disciplines. It was important to me to be able to take classes outside of my academic major without feeling like I was “wasting” the credits.

2. What aspects of the criminal justice program at your school did you like the most and what did you like the least?

My favorite aspect of the Criminal Justice program at the University of Richmond was its multidisciplinary curriculum. I had to take core courses in psychology and sociology before being able to take more advanced level criminal justice theory classes. I also received elective credit for business and journalism courses. In short, the curriculum allowed me to become an academically diverse student. My least favorite thing about the program was beyond the program’s control; there were a high number of student athletes that majored in Criminal Justice. As a result, there were students with numerous (excused) absences, and it became difficult at times to find a study partner or someone to discuss the coursework with.

3. What were some notable aspects of the criminal justice program at the University of Richmond that you can share?

One of the nice things about the Criminal Justice program at the University of Richmond was that we frequently had guest speakers from different aspects of the profession. We had prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, probation officers, and policy makers come speak to us about their various roles and personal experiences within the discipline. Some of these speakers then hired students as temporary employees or interns. It allowed the students to get a first hand look at the different types of professions available within the discipline and ask questions to someone actually practicing in each respective field.

4. Can you describe the requirements you had to fulfill in order to earn your degree? (such as amount of study time, internships, required classes, thesis papers, etc.).

It has been some time since I completed my degree, so I can provide an overview of what I had to complete for it. I believe there were about 30 credits that a student had to complete for the major. Criminal Justice majors had to take introductory courses in Sociology and Psychology (which accounted for 6 credits). We then had 12 credits of electives, and we could fulfill those through selected courses in Psychology, Sociology, Business, and other academic disciplines. That left about 12 credits worth of advanced courses, 3 of which could be completed through a senior seminar. The senior seminar class was small (less than 10 students), and we covered a different topic in criminal justice each week. We often would have a speaker or reading assignment and would then be required to write a paper. We also had a 20-page thesis paper due at the end of the semester. Since I was a double-major in criminal justice and journalism, I wrote mine on the media’s portrayal on violence and how it affected juror expectations in criminal trials.

In terms of study time, the research required was demanding but interesting. Internships were not required but were encouraged. Many students took advantage of the connections they built through class speakers or professors and completed internships for academic credit. I worked in the Victim Services section at the State Attorney General’s Office when I was there; the only reason that I did not receive credit was that I had maxed out my internship credit in other disciplines.

5. What criminal justice courses did you find most and least valuable during your time as a student?

I thought the Sociology courses were most helpful to my criminal justice degree. There is no cookie cutter approach to dealing with crime, punishment, the rehabilitation of offenders, and the other issues that criminal justice professionals deal with on a daily basis. The baseline sociology courses helped me better understand how different socioeconomic constraints affect different members of the population. This helped me keep an open mind when brainstorming solutions to different problems that we would discuss and now that I deal with on a daily basis.

6. How has your criminal justice education helped prepare you for your current career?

My criminal justice degree has been invaluable to my current career. I used my experience working in Victim Services, and I quickly obtained a job in a local prosecutor’s office’s Victim Services section once I graduated from college. I worked there while I went to law school part-time; this job allowed me to see how the things I had studied affect real people every day. Once I completed my law degree (with a concentration in criminal law), I became a prosecutor and have been prosecuting in Virginia since. People often believe a prosecutor’s job is to lock up criminals and throw away the key; instead, a prosecutor’s job is to do the right thing for everyone: the victim, the community, and the offender. My criminal justice studies at the University of Richmond helped me develop the core knowledge needed to do my job fairly every day.

References:
(1) Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_VA.htm
(2) Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/lau/ see state on page for current unemployment rate
(3) USA TODAY/Moody’s Analytics/BLS: http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2009-02-06-new-jobs-growth-graphic_N.htm
(4) Bureau of Labor Statistics’ State Occupational Projections : http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
(5) 24/7 Wall Street http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/21/the-best-and-worst-run-states-in-america-a-survey-of-all-50-2/

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.