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Best Criminal Justice Schools of 2019

Criminal Justice Degree Schools Welcomes You

CJDS's goal is to be the most thorough and trusted career and education guide for those interested in exploring, entering, or advancing in the criminal justice and paralegal fields. On our site, you will find information and resources on the best criminal justice schools by state, undergraduate schools by best value, and undergraduate and graduate schools by best program rankings. You can also learn about criminal justice degrees as well as find profiles on 80+ criminal justice careers. This site also contains information on paralegal careers and paralegal degrees.

Online & Campus Criminal Justice Schools by State

Many criminal justice schools offer online degrees and training programs, with many programs available that are designed specifically for working professionals. The online schools listed on our site provide specialized training and education at your fingertips – complete your classes online, at your own pace, and graduate with the knowledge you need to begin your job search or advance your career. We feature only accredited criminal justice colleges, schools, and universities and have created helpful resource sections like paralegal schools by state.

Best Value Criminal Justice Schools with On-Campus Programs

To help you find the best program, we have researched the top schools with undergraduate criminal justice majors in the US that have a graduation rate of 70% or greater with a net price less than $20,000 per year. A high graduation rate is a traditional marker of student success at a given college or university, while affordability is an important consideration when weighing the investment a four-year degree represents. We also included other quality markers in the table below to help you see how these programs compare. Clicking on a school name will bring you to a profile of that school's program(s).

School Grad Rate1 Retention Rate*1 Transfer Out Rate**1 Student Loan Default Rate1 % Tenured Faculty2 US News National Rank3 US News Regional Rank4 Net Price1
University of Washington-Seattle Campus 84% 94% N.Av. 2.5% 51% #59 N/A $9,443
Appalachian State University 73% 89% 11% 4.2% 39% N/A #8 $10,473
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 91% 96% 3% 1.5% 43% #30 tie N/A $11,100
Indiana University-Bloomington 77% 91% 11% 3.9% 42% #89 tie N/A $12,488
Truman State University 75% 86% N.Av. 3% 52% N/A #9 $12,512
Brigham Young University-Provo 83% 90% N.Av. 1.3% 46% #66 tie N/A $12,979
San Diego State University 74% 89% 3% 2.8% 33% #127 tie N/A $13,363
College of the Ozarks 72% 74% 19% N.Av. 4% N/A #3 $13,498
University of Central Florida 70% 90% 7% 4.5% 43% #165 tie N/A $15,341
SUNY Oneonta 71% 85% 25% 2.1% 33% N/A #55 tie $15,687
University of Georgia 85% 95% 6% 2.4% 54% #46 tie N/A $15,934
Rutgers University-New Brunswick 80% 94% 10% 3.6% 26% #56 tie N/A $16,016
St. Joseph's College-New York 71% 82% 22% 4.3% 45% N/A #62 $16,126
Florida State University^ 80% 94% 7% 3.4% 43% #70 tie N/A $16,450
Michigan State University 79% 91% 12% 2.9% 50% #85 tie N/A $16,684
Citadel Military College of South Carolina 73% 85% 18% 2.4% 41% N/A #3 $17,017
University of Maryland-College Park 85% 96% 5% 2.1% 44% #165 tie N/A $17,241
St. Joseph's College-Long Island 72% 80% 21% N.Av. N.Av. NR NR $17,945
George Mason University 71% 88% 16% 2.3% 27% #136 tie N/A $18,629
West Chester University of Pennsylvania 73% 85% 20% 4.1% 40% N/A #68 tie $19,348

Table Notes and References:
*The retention rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who continued to a second year of study at the same institution.
**The transfer out rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who transferred their credits to another institution within 150% of the normal time to complete their degree.
^Florida State University is also ranked on CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools' top-ranked schools with an online criminal justice degree.

1. National Center for Education Statistics:
2. College Factual:
3. US News & World Report National University Rankings:
4. US News & World Report Regional University Rankings:

Best Schools for Criminal Justice & Corrections

College Factual ranks the top schools with criminal justice and corrections programs based on factors such as graduate earnings, the percentage of students at the college in criminal justice majors overall, and overall college quality. According to this ranking, the best 15 schools in the US for undergraduate criminal justice majors are:

1. George Mason University – Fairfax, VA: George Mason University's Department of Criminology, Law, and Society (CLS) offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Criminology, Law, and Society. The department also offers a Criminology, Law, and Society minor for those majoring in other subjects and a minor in Intelligence Analysis that can be paired with the major or another subject. Graduate students may be interested in the school's master's programs in Criminology, Law, and Society or Criminal Justice, as well as its PhD program in Criminology, Law, and Society. Both undergraduate and graduate students may have opportunities to participate in research through the three centers affiliated with the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society: the Center for Justice Leadership and Management, the Center for Evidence-based Crime Policy, and the Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence. The CLS department's faculty are widely respected and frequently recognized for their contributions to research and practice.

2. George Washington University – Washington, DC: The Department of Sociology at George Washington University (GWU) offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. In addition to university requirements, the major includes six credit hours of prerequisites, 21 credit hours of required core courses, and 15 credit hours of criminal justice-related electives. The program is competitive and requires students to earn a grade of C- or better in all major courses. During the senior year, all criminal justice majors take an advanced seminar course that centers on coursework and an internship in a criminal justice agency. Students may elect to add a minor in Law and Society, which requires 18 credit hours and a minimum GPA of 3.3. Students with a final GPA of 3.5 or higher who complete an independent study based on a thesis may qualify for Special Honors in Criminal Justice. Graduate students may be interested in GWU's Master of Arts in Criminology and/or PhD in Public Policy and Public Administration programs. GWU also offers several combined BA/MA programs.

3. University at Albany, SUNY – Albany, NY: The School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany, State University of New York offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice that covers all aspects of crime and provides students with an understanding of justice theory. The major requires 36 credit hours to complete and includes courses in criminology, law, statistics, and research methods. 16 to 18 credit hours counted towards the major must be in upper division (300- or 400-level) courses. Admission to the major is competitive; students must have completed 56 credit hours of college work (30 of which must be at the University of Albany) with a GPA of 3.2 or higher to be unconditionally accepted. Students who complete the program are prepared for graduate work, including the University at Albany's master's and PhD programs in criminal justice. The University at Albany also offers a combined BA/MA program in that comprises a total of 141 credit hours. Students interested in this program should apply during their junior year of study.

4. Rutgers University-Newark – Newark, NJ: Rutgers University-Newark offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice that dedicates 42 credit hours to the study of crime's causes, contexts, and challenges. Students in the program are exposed to the history and purpose of criminal justice institutions, theory, and policies. Courses offered in the program include Cutting Edge of Criminology; Police and Society; Reducing Local Crime; and Criminal Justice Research Methods. Courses in the major are underpinned by learning in five major areas: substantive knowledge, critical thinking, effective communication, research skills, and cultural literacy. All students are required to complete a second concentration, which can be met by a second major, a minor, completing an Honors College Program, or pursuing a dual bachelor's-to-master's program. The School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University-Newark also offers an accelerated BS/MA program that can be completed in five years with full-time study, as well as a fellowship-funded PhD program that is designed to be completed within four years.

5. Northeastern University – Boston, MA: The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Northeastern University is focused on preparing students for professional careers and careers in research. The multidisciplinary program focuses on public policy and urban communities with an emphasis on experiential learning. In addition to university requirements, 59 credit hours are devoted to study in criminal justice and related topics. Electives offered include Human Trafficking; Global Criminology; Policing a Democratic Society; and Gender, Crime, and Justice. Undergraduates can participate in research alongside faculty and graduate students or pursue a research practicum or independent research project for departmental honors. Pre-sequenced double majors are also offered, pairing criminal justice with Computer Science, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Cybersecurity, and Human Services. Northeastern University also offers various graduate programs, including a Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice and a PhD in Criminology and Justice Policy.

6. American University – Washington, DC: American University's Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology, which is housed within the School of Public Affairs, offers a Bachelor of Arts in Justice and Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society. Both programs blend study from disciplines including humanities, law, and social sciences with the study of criminal justice and criminology. A competitive, three-year bachelor's program is offered through the Politics, Policy, and Law Scholars program; students in this cohort can major in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government or Legal Studies. Graduate programs offered through the school include a Master of Science in Justice, Law, and Criminology; a Master of Science in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy; and a PhD in Justice, Law, and Criminology. The school also offers bachelor's-to-master's dual degree programs in these areas. The faculty in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology are regularly recognized for their contributions to research and policy and include some of the nation's leading experts in national security.

7. Pace University – New York, NY: The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Pace University emphasizes analytical skills throughout a course of study that includes coursework in criminology, investigation, law, community policing, and terrorism, among other related topics. Students can expect to take courses such as Crime and Public Policy, Criminal Law, Terrorism and Society, and Constitutional Issues in Criminal Justice. A major specialization, which includes three courses totaling nine credit hours in a single discipline that is designed to promote career options following graduation, is required. Students are also encouraged to pursue a formal minor in such areas as psychology, foreign languages, Information Assurance, or Homeland Security. Those pursuing the BS are regularly advised by teaching faculty and have plentiful opportunities to develop professional relationships with the program's professors. Pace University also offers a Master of Arts in Management for Public Safety and Homeland Security Professionals and a combined BS in Criminal Justice/JD in Law program.

8. University of Cincinnati – Cincinnati, OH: The University of Cincinnati offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice that can be completed on campus or online. The program emphasizes the criminal justice process and the factors behind criminal offenses. Major courses include Criminal Justice Research Methods, Criminal Justice Statistics, Corrections in America, and Criminal Procedure. Undergraduate CJ students must declare a focus area, minor, or certificate that comprises six courses (18 credit hours) in an approved discipline to compliment the CJ major. A field placement in a criminal justice agency, which is typically completed during the senior year, is also required. Interested students may participate in the undergraduate Criminal Justice Society, which offers networking and professional development opportunities. The University of Cincinnati also offers a bachelor's in Paralegal Studies, minors in Criminal Justice and Paralegal Studies, and undergraduate certificates in Forensic Populations, Cybersecurity, and Correctional Rehabilitation. Graduate programs offered include a Master of Science in Criminal Justice that can be completed online or on campus and a PhD in Criminal Justice. The University of Cincinnati is ranked on CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools' top online criminal justice programs.

9. Florida State University – Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University (FSU) offers an online bachelor's in criminology and criminal justice as well as on-campus bachelor's programs in criminology and cyber criminology. To earn a bachelor's from the FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice students must complete between 36 and 52 credit hours in the area of their major. Undergraduates are typically required to maintain a GPA of 2.0 or above and must meet minimum grades in core courses to continue study. Common courses for undergraduate majors include Victimology, Criminal Justice and Public Policy, Corrections, and Law Enforcement. FSU also offers a Bachelor of Science to Master of Science in Criminology program, traditional, online, and accelerated master's in criminology programs, and a PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice. A 3+3 bachelor's to JD program is also available. The FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice emphasizes research, collaboration, and leadership and is regularly recognized for its research productivity and academic quality. Florida State is also ranked on CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools' top online criminal justice programs and best value criminal justice programs.

10. University of Massachusetts-Lowell – Lowell, MA: The School of Criminology and Justice Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell focuses on the study of emerging issues in the criminal justice system in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The school's Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology allows students to choose from one of five degree concentrations: Police, Corrections, Violence, Crime & Mental Health, or Homeland Security. All concentration tracks emphasize critical thinking, communication, and the conceptualization of ideas. Typical courses include Crime Mapping, Criminal Justice Data Analysis, and Criminal Justice Research Methods. An accelerated BS to MA is available to students planning to pursue graduate study while still earning their bachelor's degree. Other graduate criminal justice programs offered at UMass Lowell include a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology, a Master of Arts in Security Studies, a Master of Science in Security Studies, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

11. University of Illinois at Chicago – Chicago, IL: The Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, Law, and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) provides students with a broad background in the causes of crime, the impacts of crime, and societal and justice system reactions to crime. The core curriculum is based on courses such as Law and Society, Principles of Criminal Law, Criminal Justice Organizations, Criminology, and Research Methods. A variety of elective courses, including internships and independent study, are also offered. In total, students take at least 33 credit hours of major-related courses to meet major requirements. Program graduates are prepared for a variety of careers as well as for advanced study. Those who achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and a GPA of 3.5 or above may receive Departmental Distinction on their diplomas. UIC also offers a master's and a PhD program in Criminology, Law, and Justice. Graduate students and faculty collaborate with practitioners and policymakers through the university's research-oriented Center for Research in Law and Justice.

12. Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI: The Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, which is offered through the School of Criminal Justice, emphasizes the patterns and causes of crime as well as the challenges of balancing crime control with the preservation of civil liberties. Students take courses such as Investigation Procedure; Leadership and Professional Development in Criminal Justice; Policing; and Crime Mass Media, and Society. Independent study and practicum courses are also available that can count for credit towards the major. All students are required to complete an interdisciplinary minor such as Leadership of Organizations, International Development, or Law, Justice, and Public Policy. Michigan State University's School of Criminal Justice has a long history of cutting-edge research and contributions to policy. On-campus and online graduate programs are also offered, including master's in Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysis, and Judicial Administration, as well as a PhD in Criminal Justice.

13. Molloy College – Rockville Centre, NY: Molloy College is home to a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice that promotes community involvement while developing students' understanding of the complex American justice system. Courses in the major include Theories of Crime, Criminal Procedure, and Critical Issues in Criminal Justice. Many courses include a civic engagement and/or service learning component that promotes active participation in the greater community, and all students are expected to complete a field internship. Related minors include Forensic Studies and Legal Studies; Legal Studies minors also earn a paralegal studies certificate. Undergraduates with a GPA of 3.2 or above may be interested in joining the school's Zeta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Criminal Justice Honor Society. A five-year Bachelor of Science to Master of Science in Criminal Justice is also available, which can be completed with an optional emphasis in forensics. Molloy College is conveniently located one hour from Manhattan, which allows students to network and pursue professional development opportunities in the New York City community while studying for their degrees.

14. West Chester University of Pennsylvania – West Chester, PA: The Department of Criminal Justice at West Chester University was founded in 1974 and was one of the first academics-focused criminal justice programs established on the east coast. True to the department's history, its Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice emphasizes academic study while providing practical experience and promoting the development of critical thinking and communication skills. The core curriculum includes courses such as Theories of Crime and Delinquency, Corrections, Policing in America, and Criminal Procedure. Students must earn at least a C in all eight core courses to continue in the major. Students will also complete 27 credit hours in criminal justice electives. For those interested in graduate study, the school's Bachelor of Science to Master of Science in Criminal Justice accelerated program allows academically competitive students to complete both a bachelor's and a master's in four years of study. A traditional Master of Science in Criminal Justice is also available.

15. Washington State University – Pullman, WA: Washington State University's Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, which is the oldest academic criminal justice department in the US, emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding criminal justice institutions and processes in both theory and practice. To be accepted to the school's Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice program, students must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and have completed at least 24 credit hours. Once accepted, students take courses such as Realizing Justice in a Multicultural Society, Introduction to Criminological Theory, and Crime Control Policies. Students must also take a course in either research methods or quantitative methods as well as a course in political science. Washington State University also offers a Master of Arts and a PhD in Criminal Justice and Criminology. The faculty representing the department are regularly recognized for problem-driven scholarship and involvement as practitioners in the community. CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools has ranked Washington State University's online criminal justice program as one of the best in the US.

Top-Ranked Online Criminal Justice Colleges

As students enroll in online classes in increasing numbers, colleges and universities are launching fully online criminal justice degree programs to meet demand. To help you find the most reputable online programs, Criminal Justice Degree Schools has ranked the best online criminal justice bachelor's degrees in the US. Visit our ranking of the top criminal justice schools to see the full list with profiles of selected programs.

  1. University of Florida – Gainesville, FL
  2. Florida State University – Tallahassee, FL
  3. Ohio University – Athens, OH
  4. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus – State College, PA
  5. University of Massachusetts-Amherst – Amherst, MA
  6. Colorado State University Global Campus – Fort Collins, CO
  7. Western Carolina University – Cullowhee, NC
  8. Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ
  9. University of Cincinnati – Cincinnati, OH
  10. Washington State University – Pullman, WA

Top-Ranked Graduate Criminal Justice Schools

According to US News & World Report, which ranks criminal justice programs based on a survey of faculty at 36 criminal justice schools, the top schools in the country for graduate criminal justice programs are:1

1. University of Maryland College Park – College Park, MD: The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland has one of the top graduate programs in the nation according to the US News & World Report. So sought after is this school that they enforce a cap on undergraduate enrollment. In addition to a bachelor's program, the department has traditional master's, joint Master of Arts/Juris Doctor, and PhD programs. The internationally-known faculty are current and former officers of the American Society of Criminology as well as editors for almost every major related publication in the field. The department website has an updated list of various internships, fellowships, and grant opportunities for both students and professors.

2. University at Albany SUNY – Albany, NY: The School of Criminal Justice at the University of Albany- SUNY has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, a minor, a Master of Arts, and a doctorate. The graduate program at this university ranks second in the nation among schools with graduate criminology degrees, according to US News & World Report. Both the MA and PhD programs offer an Information Technology Concentration, a useful option for those who wish to further develop their expertise in quantitative research and data analysis. The superstar faculty are innovative researchers who supervise many collaborative projects within one or more of the current seven department research centers: Adolescent Work and Crime, Capital Jury Project, Capital Punishment Research Initiative, Incarceration and Life Outcomes, Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS), Service Outcomes Action Research (SOAR), and Utilization of Criminal Justice Statistics.

3 (tie). University of California Irvine – Irvine, CA: The Department of Criminology, Law, and Society at the University of California-Irvine offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, Law, and Society, master's programs in criminology, law, and society and legal and forensic psychology, a Master's of Advanced Study, and a PhD in Criminology, Law, and Society. The graduate programs, according to US News & World Report, are third-ranked in the US among criminology educational programs. The faculty includes former presidents of the American Society of Criminology, the Law and Society Association, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the American Psychology-Law Society. There are six research centers with which the department is affiliated: the Center for Evidence-Based Corrections; the Center for Inequality and Social Justice; the Center in Law, Society, and Culture; the Center for Organizational Research; the Center for Psychology and Law; and the Newkirk Center for Science and Society. The Master of Advanced Study programs are online graduate programs designed for working and experienced professionals.

3 (tie). University of Cincinnati – Cincinnati, OH: The School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati has one of the top graduate programs in the country according to the US News & World Report. Students can pursue a BS, MS (with a fully-online option), or PhD. The school has two centers, the Institute of Crime Science and the Center of Criminal Justice Research, where students and faculty pursue their own projects. There are also three journals published by the School of Criminal Justice; Policing: An International Journal of the Police Strategies & Management, the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, and Security Journal.

5 (tie). Arizona State University – Phoenix, AZ: Arizona State University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice is nationally recognized for its research productivity and positive impacts in the field of criminal justice. Graduate programs offered through the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice include a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice (MACJ), a Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice (MSCCJ), and a PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The MACJ is offered as an online program and is geared towards professionals who are already working in criminal justice agencies, with a focus on practical skills and analysis. The on-campus MSCCJ is a research-oriented degree program that emphasizes theoretical and empirical knowledge and provides career-based research skills as well as preparation for doctoral programs. The PhD program is highly competitive and leads graduates to career paths in agency research and administration as well as academia. The school also offers graduate certificates in Corrections Management and Law Enforcement Administration. Arizona State University is ranked on CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools' list of top online criminal justice programs.

5 (tie). Florida State University – Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University has a College of Criminology and Criminal Justice where students can pursue anything from a certificate to a doctorate. Those who wish to jump straight from undergraduate to graduate study can enroll in the combined Bachelor of Science to Master of Science (BS to MS) degree program. FSU also offers fully online bachelor's and master's degree programs for qualified students who are unable to attend face-to-face classes. The college has three affiliated publications to which both faculty and students contribute articles: Criminology and Public Policy, Journal of Drug Issues, and Social Problems. Florida State is world-renowned for its criminal justice programs and is ranked fifth by US News & World Report for graduate study in criminology and is also ranked on CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools' top online criminal justice programs and best value criminal justice programs.

5 (tie). Pennsylvania State University University Park – University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University-University Park offers a Bachelor of Arts/Science in Criminology, a Master of Arts in Criminology, and a PhD in Criminology through the Department of Sociology and Crime, Law, and Justice. The undergraduate program has over 650 majors and the graduate program has been ranked fifth in the nation among criminal justice and criminology programs by US News & World Report. The department has eight affiliate research programs and centers: the Population Research Institute, the Justice Center for Research, the Social Science Research Institute, the Center for Healthy Aging, the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission, the Social Thought Program, the Association of Religious Data Archives, and the World in Conservation Project. Numerous expert faculty members teach in the criminology programs, many of whom have research interests in how demographics relate to crime. Pennsylvania State University is recognized on CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools' ranking of top online criminal justice programs.

5 (tie). University of Missouri St. Louis – St. Louis, MO: The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMLS) has a Bachelor of Science in Criminology, a Master's in Criminology and Criminal Justice, and a PhD program. This school currently has six grant-funded research projects including “Understanding the Crime Drop in New York” and “A Multi-method, Multi-site Study of Gang Desistance.” Over two dozen part-time and full-time faculty teach within the department with research emphasizing prisoner reentry, youth violence and gangs, terrorism, victimization, and crime control policy. UMLS hosts a guest speaker series every year for its students with guests coming from other universities and government agencies.

9. Rutgers University-Newark – Newark, NJ: The Rutgers School of Criminal Justice was founded in 1974 and is led by accomplished faculty and scholars with deep experience in criminal justice. Graduate programs offered include a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and a PhD in Criminal Justice. The MA program aims to provide students with leadership skills in a criminal justice context, with a focus on career paths in government and non-profits. The program also includes advanced training in research and methods to prepare graduates for study at the doctoral level. The Rutgers PhD in Criminal Justice focuses on criminological theory, research, and policy with the opportunity to pursue areas of specialization embedded in the program. To graduate, doctoral candidates must demonstrate high-level proficiency in independent scholarship and research. Students must also actively participate in professional development activities including seminars, colloquia, and professional conferences.

10. Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University's School of Criminal Justice is the oldest program of its kind in the United States. Degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels are available with a long list of specializations and tracks such as security management, judicial administration, and the CJ Master's Online. The School of Criminal Justice also has a forensic science master's as well as a law enforcement intelligence and analysis master's program. Seven different graduate certificate programs are currently offered, with Conservation Criminology and Homeland Security being among the most sought after. The faculty hold a wide range of research focuses including corrections, policing, youth deviance, and victimization.

What to Expect as a Criminal Justice Major

Criminal justice is a broad field, and those who major in criminal justice have an accordingly wide number of programs and career paths from which to choose. Many programs offer general majors as well as specialty majors like counterterrorism and homeland security, emergency management, and forensic science. Read more below about how to pick the right school for your plans, and visit our degree and career guides for more information on specific paths for criminal justice majors.

Typical Courses at Criminal Justice Schools

Some typical courses that can be found in the curriculum of a criminal justice program include:

    criminal justice schools
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Policing
  • Criminological Theory
  • Criminal Law
  • Sociology of Deviance
  • Drugs and Society
  • Community Policing
  • Sentencing and Punishment
  • Crime Prevention Planning
  • Principles of Criminal Investigation

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary by school and may include a high school diploma and specified prerequisite college coursework for admission into an undergraduate program. Competitive criminal justice programs at the undergraduate level frequently require ACT or SAT scores and a minimum GPA for high school work and any college work already completed. Requirements for admission to a master's program (MCJ) may include letters of recommendation, a strong undergraduate GPA, and sufficient GRE or GMAT exam scores.

Tuition and Cost

Tuition will vary depending on whether the program is a bachelor's- or graduate-level degree, an online or on-campus program, a public or private school, and on whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student. An example is the John Jay College of Criminal of Justice at The City University in New York which has a tuition of $3,165 per semester for undergraduate students who are residents of New York, while out-of-state residents pay $560 per credit hour or about twice as much in tuition.3 Full-time graduate students will pay $5,065 per semester for in-state tuition while out-of-state residents pay $780 per credit hour.4 The University of Cincinnati, ranked third in the country for graduate criminology degrees by US News & World Report, offers an online master's in criminal justice with a tuition of $739 per credit hour for out-of-state students.5 Whether on-campus or online, in addition to tuition, there are other costs such as textbooks, school fees, and travel, as well as room and board to consider.

Criminal Justice Degree Program Reviews

We have gathered over 350 school reviews from past students of criminal justice programs across the United States. These can be found extensively on our state school pages. You can read reviews of criminal justice programs in your area by clicking on your state in the list above. Below are selected example reviews.

Note: Student Reviews are based on the experiences of a few individuals and it is unlikely that you will have similar results. Please review the “Data, Student Reviews and Other Information” section in our Terms of Use and Disclaimers.
Student Review: “During my time at Michigan State University, I had my share of ups and downs. For the most part, it was a positive experience. I did not know exactly what I wanted to study when I came to the university but I found my niche within the criminal justice department. Michigan State is such an enormous school that if you are unable to find a place to mesh, you may be lost in the numbers. My first couple semesters I felt like I was just my student ID number and I had no identity to any of the professors. Luckily, when I began taking classes within my major, I felt the unity I had been missing.” -Student at Michigan State University
Student Review: “When I started the criminology program I was excited to learn that the major was 5th best in the United States for graduate school. I knew from that the classes will be highly informative and professors will be well trained in what they teach. In the course catalog, the program offers a wide variety of interesting classes that I wanted to take. Unfortunately, a lot of those classes that I wanted were not offered during the time I was there. I was hoping the program would offer more hand on experience classes, instead of just reading different theories in a book. Each class got highly repetitive which was good and bad. It was beneficial as I would not lose the information after the class was over, but bad because it became boring to sit through lectures. My experience was not all bad though. A lot of my professors were really entertaining and had a lot of knowledge in the field. Some professors had guest lecturers that had careers in law enforcement and they shared their insights into it. My dream job is to be a juvenile probation officer. I feel well prepared after graduating from UCI.” -Danielle A., student at University of California, Irvine
Student Review: “My experience at SUNY Albany was definitely a positive one. I transferred into UAlbany junior year from a very large public university in Florida and the staff helped me transfer in easily. The main uptown campus is beautiful in the spring and fall months. Winters in Albany can definitely be harsh at times but the tunnels in the podium help keep the students out of the weather. I studied Criminal Justice, which is one of the best programs in the country. My classes averaged at 30 students so it was easy to make friends and get personal time with the professor if needed. Many of my professors were very helpful and always available to meet if needed. Social life at UAlbany is definitely one of the highlights; there are so many different clubs and organizations to join. I pledged a sorority while I was there and it was one of the best decisions of my life. One major complaint I had was the food. The food in the cafeterias are not great at all and the hours do not accommodate students well.” -Gina P., student at SUNY-Albany
Student Review: “I am a criminal justice major and currently attend Rutgers through their communiversity program. This program has been very beneficial. The main perk is the class size is small, about 39 students per class as compared to big lecture halls. The Communiversity program that I go to is located off the main campus at a building much smaller than a big campus. They have many night classes which is great for me because I work during the day. The main thing that I disliked is that there are not many online classes offered for criminal justice. I feel that every other major is online except criminal justice. Another thing I really like about my program is the consistency of professors. You see the same professors throughout your entire program while bigger campuses have many professors. I like to know what to expect from my professors and I find comfort in that consistency.” -Beth P., student at Rutgers University
Student Review: “Western Carolina University was a great experience that is largely tailored to students working full time and seeking to further their education. While they also offer a traditional and residential setting, the online program is largely what sets them apart from other universities. Their Forensic Science course is cutting edge and also offer many options from a social perspective. Many students who graduated from the criminal justice program with me were already employed in law enforcement, but were seeking a career change in the same field and gained valuable experience and job-related skills. Western Carolina also spares no expense in ensuring that they keep up with this constantly changing field as new technology comes available. The advisors are also rated very high and keep every student up to date with graduation requirements, which most people with any experience in college understand can be a hassle. I would not recommend the online program to anyone who has novice computer skills. Regular communication is required including: sending and receiving emails several times daily, replying to message boards, using several Microsoft programs, blackboard, and occasional installation of codecs or java for viewing streaming seminars and classes.” – student at Western Carolina University

Criminal Justice Employment Outlook By State

The CJDS Employment Outlook by state index has been moved to the Criminal Justice Careers page.

1. College Factual 2019 Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges in the US:
2. US News & World Report Best Grad Schools in Criminology:
3. John Jay College of Criminal of Justice: Undergraduate Tuition and Fees
4. John Jay College of Criminal of Justice: Graduate Tuition and Fees:
5. University of Cincinnati, Tuition and Fees:

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