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Washington Criminal Justice Schools

  • 27 schools offering criminal justice degrees in Washington are in our database (see below).
  • Of the criminal justice programs in Washington, 18 offer associate’s degrees or certificates, 9 offer bachelor’s degrees and above, and 3 offer master’s or doctoral degrees.
  • 3 schools offering online criminal justice degrees in Washington ranked in US News & World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs: City University of Seattle (#27), Washington State University (#34), Central Washington University (#195).
  • 2 schools in Washington are on Kiplinger’s Best College Values: Western Washington University (#89 in-state, #85 out-of-state), University of Washington (#9 in-state, #20 out-of-state).


Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Washington

Washington State University: The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University offers a Minor, a Bachelor of Arts, a Master’s, and a PhD in Criminal Justice. This department is regularly top-ranked criminal justice programs by the Journal of Criminal Justice Education. There are five affiliate research institutes and centers that provide additional opportunities for students: the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, the Institute for the Study of Intercommunal Conflict, the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, the Washington State Institute for Community Oriented Policy (WSICOP), and the Western Institute for Community Oriented Public Safety (WRICOPS). Students have been placed in internships with over 50 different agencies and organizations, such as the Anti- Defamation League and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

Eastern Washington University: Eastern Washington University’s Department of Sociology and Justice Studies offers a minor and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. Nine full-time faculty teach for the department and have strong focuses on juvenile delinquency and criminal justices ethics. All criminal justice students are required to take three foundation courses: Foundations of Social and Behavioral Sciences Theory, Introductory Statistics for the Social Sciences, and Integrated Social Science Methods. Students can pursue one out of three different concentrations: Law Enforcement, Pre-Graduate Criminology, or Corrections.

University of Washington Tacoma: The Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree offered by the University of Washington, Tacoma takes a multidisciplinary approach to the understanding of crime and justice within the context of broader social processes. Students may complete the degree online or through traditional on-campus study. This innovative approach to criminal justice emphasizes social justice, diversity, community partnerships, systems thinking, and skill development. The social justice lens of the curriculum focuses on harm reduction and the rehabilitative and restorative approaches to crime and justice while sensitizing students to the human impact of crime, including deviating impacts across social identities and locations. Core courses in the major include Diversity and Social Justice in Criminology; Addictions and Mental Illness; American Criminal Courts; Corrections; and Senior Seminar: Professionalism and Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice. Students may complement their degree with required core electives including Terrorism; Human Trafficking; Criminal Evidence and Investigation; Federal Law Enforcement; Restorative Justice; and other options from a variety of disciplines.

Washington Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Correctional Officers and Jailers 6,470 $50,270
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives 2,290 $97,830
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 2,350 $81,130
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers 8,770 $74,170

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

Respected leaders who have graduated from universities in Washington

  • Seattle, WA Chief of Police John Diaz- University of Washington, Skyline College(CA), Boston University (MA)
  • Snohomish County, WA Sheriff John Lovick- Shoreline Community College (WA), Northwestern State College(LA)
  • Everett, WA Chief of Police Kathy Atwood- Seattle University
  • Kitsap County, WA Sheriff Steve Boyer- Central Washington University
Police Quote: “If you want to get into law enforcement do it because of the right reasons. Don’t look at law enforcement as a job.it’s a career, a way of life and especially in smaller agencies you are always on the job. You also have to remember that law enforcement is a civil service job. We are here to serve the public because that is who we work for. You will never get rich in this job but it is a great way to make a living.” -Frank Rogers, Sheriff of Okanogan County in Washington

Washington Criminal Justice Degrees

With strong population growth, Washington provides many career and employment opportunities for criminal justice graduates. According to the Washington State Employment Security agency, in-demand criminal justice jobs include correctional officers and jailers, police and sheriff’s patrol officers, paralegals, first line supervisors of police and detectives, and probation officers.

State agencies that hire criminal justice graduates include the Department of Corrections, State Patrol, and others. Many state agencies, such as the Department of Corrections, provide employees with generous benefits packages that include tuition reimbursement, educational incentives, flexible working schedules, and a wide array of retirement options.

In addition to local and state jobs, the US government also provides career opportunities for graduates of criminal justice programs. Federal agencies that employ Washington criminal justice professionals include the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI, and the Department of Justice (DoJ). Salaries for these positions are competitive and most require at least a bachelor’s degree.

In Spokane, police officer candidates must be at least 20 years of age to apply and have at least 30-semester credit course hours from an accredited college or university, including at least three-semester credit course hours of English. In addition, police officers receive regular salary increases based on their years of service.

Washington Criminal Justice Salary

The average annual salary for Washington police officers is $74,170 while first-line supervisors make an average salary of $97,830.5,7 Correctional officers in the state make an average salary of $50,270 per year and detectives and criminal investigators make an average of $81,130 per year.4,6 Paralegals working in law firms and government agencies earn an average of $57,230 per year.8

Washington State’s Criminal Justice Employment Outlook

As of May 2016, the unemployment rate for Washington State was 5.8%, above the national average of 4.7%.9 Washington’s 10-year unemployment rate peaked at 10.2% in March 2010, while the 10-year low was 4.8% in March 2008.9 Government-related employment is a good proxy for criminal justice jobs in Washington. Projections Central includes the following criminal justice job estimates for Washington:

  • Police and Sheriff Patrol: 430 annual openings; 46% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 24% holding an associate’s degree.10,11
  • Correctional Officers: 250 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 15% holding a post-secondary certificate.10,12
  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators: 80 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 21% holding an associate’s degree.10,13
  • Security Guards: 900 annual openings; 4% in these positions report completing at least some college.10,14
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 190 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.10,15

Estimates for open positions are based on expectations for jobs growth and replacements.

The Mercatus Center is a conservative think tank that rated and analyzed the long-term solvency of each state’s government. An analysis of the state’s budgeting process, cash and tax handling, and pensions ranked Washington 24th in the nation.16 This indicates that the state is relatively well-positioned to continue to pay out employee pensions.

Online and Washington Criminal Justice Schools

To learn more about earning a Washington 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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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 (Idaho or Oregon).


Student Review: “It’s definitely a private and for-profit college, I took the online classes because I can literally attend lectures and take notes at my own pace (pause button). Also for someone working full or part time while attending, it can be very convenient by working around your schedule. The classes went by very fast but I still retained a lot of what I learned. I would recommend it to anyone who is a self-starter (procrastination would kill you here), and especially ‘visual learners’ like myself. You also have to be good at writing, which is a must for business school in general – but particularly online because most of your communication will be written. As for campus life? Well, there’s obviously not much of that. There is basically a very modest office in Seattle with amenities for a handful of students, if you’re taking the few in person classes they offer. I wouldn’t do it myself, but perhaps for international students, etc, it could be useful.” -Roy W., student at University of Phoenix
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Student Review: “Arizona State University Online was a surprisingly great choice for me. I was initially hesitant about taking online courses, but with both the online and offline resources available on campus, my hesitations were gone and I knew that this was the perfect and most convenient route for me. What I personally liked about ASU Online was the fact that I could review all of the lecture materials online and not having to worry about not taking adequate notes in a live classroom. The only possible downside with this program is that human interaction is not required, and I believe that a bit of interaction is needed to get the most out of a classroom.” -Brittany J., student at Arizona State University Online
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Directory of Washington Universities Offering Criminal Justice Degrees

Bellevue College (Bellevue, WA)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice

Central Washington University (Ellensburg, WA)
Bachelor of Arts | Law and Justice
Master of Science | Law and Justice

Centralia College (Centralia)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice (online program)
Associate of Technical Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Technical Arts | Criminal Justice
Certificate of Proficiency | Crime Scene Investigation

City University of Seattle (Seattle)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (also online)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Cyber Forensic Investigation
Master of Science | Information Security

Columbia Basin College (Pasco)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Forensic Science
Associate of Applied Science | Cybersecurity
Bachelor of Applied Science | Cybersecurity

Edmonds Community College (Lynnwood)
Associate of Applied Science | Emergency Management and Business Continuity
Associate of Technical Arts | Information Security and Digital Forensics
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online program)
Certificate | Digital Forensics
Certificate of Completion | Computer Forensics
Certificate | Emergency Management and Business Continuity

Everett Community College (Everett)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice

Gonzaga University (Spokane)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice

Grays Harbor College (Aberdeen)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Certificate of Completion | Criminal Justice

Green River Community College (Auburn)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Forensic Technology
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Forensic and Fingerprint Technology

Highline Community College (Des Moines)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Homeland Security Emergency Management
Certificate | Introduction to Homeland Security
Certificate | Private Security Academy
Certificate | Fraud Investigation
Certificate | Maritime Security
Certificate | Business Crisis and Continuity Management

Lower Columbia College (Longview)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice

Olympic College (Bremerton)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Homeland Security/ Emergency Management
Certificate of Completion | Homeland Security/ Emergency Management

Pierce College (Lakewood; Puyallup)
Associate Degree | Criminal Justice
Associate Degree | Homeland Security Emergency Management (online program)
Certificate | Explorer/ Cadet Pre-Law Enforcement
Certificate | Forensic Technician
Certificate | Law Enforcement Officer
Certificate | Reserve Pre-Law Enforcement
Certificate | Homeland Security Emergency Management (online program)

Saint Martin’s University (Lacey)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice

Seattle University (Seattle)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Administration of Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Criminology and Criminal Justice Theory
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Forensic Psychology
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Forensic Science
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice: Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice: Victimology
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice: Investigative Criminology
Masters of Criminal Justice/Juris Doctor | Joint Degree program
Minor | Criminal Justice
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Crime Analysis

Shoreline Community College (Shoreline)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice (online program)
Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences | Criminal Justice (online program)
Certificate | Child Advocacy Studies

Skagit Valley College (Mount Vernon)
Associate of Technical Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Technical Arts | Parks Service and Protection
Associate of Technical Arts | Homeland Security Emergency Managment
Certificate | Parks Laws Enforcement Academy
Certificate | Homeland Security Emergency Management
Certificate | Basic Law Enforcement Reserve Academy
Certificate | Community Policing
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Investigative Techniques
Certificate | Legal Principles in Policing
Certificate | Private and Commercial Security
Certificate | Public Safety Communications
Certificate | Public Safety Information Officer

Spokane Community College (Spokane)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Law Enforcement

University of Washington (Seattle)
Bachelor of Arts | Law, Society, and Justice
Minor | Law, Society and Justice

Student Review: “Overall the criminal justice program at my school was very interesting! I learned a lot of information regarding the disparities in our legal system as well as the socioeconomic issues in the criminal justice system. For example my best class was learning about the war on drugs and the bias against minorities. However, I would suggest UW makes their criminal justice program a bit more interactive. Since the campus is so big it was difficult getting the best learning experience at times. It was especially nice having a professor who was previously a police officer who could speak in depth on the criminal justice system in Washington State.” -Krislyn H., student at University of Washington
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University of Washington, Tacoma (Tacoma)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online program)
Minor | Criminal Justice

Walla Walla Community College (Walla Walla)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice

Washington State University (Pullman)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online program)
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice (online program)
PhD | Criminal Justice and Criminology
Minor | Criminal Justice

Wenatchee Valley College (Wenatchee)
Associate of Technical Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (transfer degree)
Certificate | Corrections

Western Washington University (Bellingham)
Bachelor of Science | Sociology: Criminology and Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminology/Sociology of Law

Whatcom Community College (Bellingham)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Criminal Justice

Yakima Valley Community College (Yakima)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Communications/ Call Taker
Certificate | Correctional
Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate | Police Clerk/Support Specialist

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. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
9. Y Charts 10 Year Unemployment Chart: http://ycharts.com/indicators/washington_unemployment_rate
10. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
11. O*Net OnLine, Police Patrol Officers: http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/33-3051.01
12. O*Net OnLine, Correctional Officers and Jailers: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3012.00
13. O*Net OnLine, Police Detectives: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3021.01
14. O*Net OnLine, Security Guards: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-9032.00
15. O*Net OnLine, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/23-2011.00
16. Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition 2016 Edition: http://mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings