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Alabama Criminal Justice Schools

The colleges and universities in Alabama offer a wide variety of criminal justice programs to choose from, ranging from associate’s degrees to PhDs. The information on this page is designed to help you learn more about your options as you research programs that fit your personal and career goals. In addition to traditional on-campus programs, several schools in Alabama offer online criminal justice degrees, including Auburn University at Montgomery and Jacksonville State University.

Quick Facts

  • There are 31 schools offering criminal justice degrees in Alabama (see below).1
  • 9 colleges and universities offer associate’s degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 20 colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 8 colleges and universities offer master’s or doctoral degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 7 colleges and universities offer criminal justice degree programs online.*1
  • 1 school ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018.2
  • 2 schools ranked in College Factual’s Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges in 2018.3
  • No schools ranked in Criminal Justice Degree Schools Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2018.4
  • 3 schools ranked in US News Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs in 2018.5

*For not-for-profit colleges and universities with criminal justice degree programs.

Criminal Justice Degree Programs in Alabama

Alabama’s criminal justice schools offer degrees at all levels in both traditional, on-campus formats and in online formats. There are several online criminal justice degree programs in Alabama that offer the benefit of flexible scheduling for working professionals. A growing number of criminal justice employers are requiring a college degree or giving preference to applicants who hold a degree, making education an important consideration when planning your career. Depending on your chosen career track, a criminal justice degree can result in an increase in your starting salary. A criminal justice degree can also qualify you for supervisory or management positions, expanding your opportunities for promotion.

Top-Ranked Schools with Criminal Justice Programs in Alabama

Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges 2018*

  • University of Alabama (#48 in-state, #59 out-of-state

*Institution-wide ranking.

College Factual’s Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges 2018

  • University of Alabama (#47)
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham (#126)

US News Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs 2018

  • Faulkner University (#19 tie)
  • Jacksonville State University (#57-#67)
  • Troy University (#57-#67)

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Alabama

University of Alabama: The University of Alabama’s Department of Criminal Justice, housed within the College of Arts and Sciences, offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. The master’s course of study provides students with the option of pursuing a career-oriented track, choosing from specializations in criminal justice/criminology, law, or social sciences. While department research interests vary greatly, the faculty are world-renowned specialists in terrorism, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence. This university has four student organizations for those pursuing a degree in criminal justice as well as numerous internship opportunities with both state and federal agencies.

Jacksonville State University: Criminal justice students at Jacksonville State University have access to top quality resources; the campus is regularly top-ranked in the Southern Association of Institutional Research (SAIR) Best Publication Category. Individuals interested in professional criminal justice careers can pursue a Bachelor of Science or a Master of Science. Undergraduates can choose from four different concentrations (corrections, forensic investigations, law enforcement, and security administration/ loss prevention) to better prepare themselves for their specialized objectives. Additionally, the department has a long-standing internship program for its majors that connects them to the agencies that best fit their concentrations. Jacksonville State University provides financial assistance for its criminal justice majors with various different scholarships such as the Criminal Justice Alumni Association Scholarship.

Notable Alumni from Alabama Universities

  • Morgan County Alabama Sheriff Ana Franklin – Jacksonville State University
  • Calhoun County Alabama Sheriff Larry Amerson – Jacksonville State University
  • Blount County Sheriff Loyd Arrington – Troy State University
  • Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper – University of Alabama-Birmingham
Police Quote “It is important to get a college education for a couple reasons. First, people watching TV often get the wrong idea of law enforcement. People don’t always last in this career and so a fallback is good to have just in case. For those staying, the education can help them be more effective in the job. I need someone who can do a good job of writing logically laid out reports – you have to be articulate in doing police work. Note these benefits from education benefit both the patrol and corrections side. I need dependable people who can do a good, reliable job. In getting an advanced degree, I know the requisite skills are covered well.” -Sheriff Glenn Palmer

Alabama Criminal Justice Careers

In addition to state positions, jobs are available for criminal justice graduates with a number of city police and county sheriff’s departments throughout Alabama. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers in Alabama earn an annual average salary of $48,990.8 Many departments offer educational incentive pay and/or tuition reimbursement, including the Birmingham Police Department and the Montgomery Police Department. The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) consistently adds to its current roster of approximately 3,000 correctional officers and offers a full benefits package that includes 27 leave days per year as well as 12 paid holidays.19 A bachelor’s degree increases the starting pay rate for a correctional officer with the ADOC by almost $3,000 per year.19

There are also opportunities to pursue federal criminal justice careers in Alabama. The Redstone Arsenal, near Huntsville, employs civilians as well as career military personnel in logistical, security, and information systems positions. The US Marshals Service maintains offices in Montgomery, Mobile, and Huntsville. US Customs and Border Protection also employs agents at the Port of Mobile.

Alabama Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Correctional Officers and Jailers5,400$35,730
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives1,200$63,930
Detectives and Criminal Investigators1,200$60,570
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers10,440$42,400

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.6,7,8,9

Alabama’s Criminal Justice Employment Outlook

In May 2016, Alabama’s unemployment rate was 6.1%, which was above the national average of 4.7% but well below the state’s unemployment peak of 10.5% in January of 2010.10 The 10-year unemployment low for Alabama was 3.9%, in January of 2008.10 According to Projections Central, the criminal justice hiring outlook in Alabama includes:

  • Police and Sheriff Patrol: 430 annual openings; 46% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 24% holding an associate’s degree.11,12
  • Correctional Officers: 180 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 15% holding a post-secondary certificate.11,13
  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators: 30 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 21% holding an associate’s degree.11,14
  • Security Guards: 290 annual openings; 4% in these positions report completing at least some college.11,15
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 80 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.11,16

Note that annual openings include openings from growth as well as replacements.

The Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank, analyzed and ranked the long-term solvency of state governments. Based in part on Alabama’s budgeting process, cash/tax collection, and funding of pensions, it ranked Alabama 15th in the US for long-term solvency, suggesting sound management practices that should allow it to continue to fulfill its obligations to those employed by the state.17

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Directory of Not-for-Profit Alabama Universities Offering Campus-based and Online Criminal Justice Degrees

If you live in Alabama, we recommend requesting information from an accredited campus-based or online program for pursuing associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees or certificates in the field of 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 (Mississippi, Tennessee, or Florida).

Schools with Online and On-Campus Criminal Justice Programs

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.

Auburn University at Montgomery (Montgomery)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Justice and Public Safety
Bachelor of Science | Justice and Public Safety: Legal Studies
Master of Science | Justice and Public Safety (online or on-campus)
Master of Science | Justice and Public Safety: Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Homeland Security & Emergency Management (online or on-campus)
Minor | Criminal Justice/ Corrections
Minor | Criminal Justice/ Juvenile Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice/ Law Enforcement

Student Review: “Auburn University is a place you instantly fall in love with. A large research university with about 25,000 students that is set in a classic southern college town it provides the complete college experience. Socially the students are friendly and almost like family, while the bar scene is vibrant and varied. Educationally speaking the college of business is superb with a complete financial trading room that teaches the true fundamentals of business. Aside from the sister cities of Auburn and Opelika the surrounding area others beautiful countryside, fantastic swimming holes, and excellent wildlife viewing if your an outdoor enthusiast like myself.”Wesley D., student at Auburn University
4 star review

Faulkner University (Montgomery)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Science | Criminalistics
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (hybrid or online)
Master of Science | Justice Administration (online)

Jacksonville State University (Jacksonville)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice | Corrections
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice | Forensic Investigations
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice | Law Enforcement
Bachelor of Science | Emergency Management with Minor in Homeland Security (online)
Bachelor of Science | Emergency Management with Minor in Public Safety Telecommunications (online)
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Investigation | Criminal Investigations (hybrid online)
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Investigation | Forensic Laboratory/Technician (hybrid online)
Minor | Criminal Justice
Minor | Corrections
Minor | Forensic Investigations
Minor | Law Enforcement
Master of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Master of Public Administration | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Master of Public Administration | Emergency Management (online)
Master of Science | Computer Systems/ Software Design: Information Security/ Assurance (online)
Master of Science | Emergency Management (online)
Master of Science | Nursing – Community Health: Emergency Management (online)
Doctor of Science | Emergency Management (online)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Emergency Management (online)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Emergency Preparedness: Nurse Coordinator

Judson College (Marion)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Minor | Criminal Justice

Troy University (Troy)
Associate of Science in General Education | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice – Digital Forensics (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice – Homeland Security (online or on-campus)
Master of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Certificate | Criminal Justice – Digital Forensics
Certificate | Cybersecurity (online or on-campus)

Student Review: “I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the Troy University Criminal Justice program. All of my professors were veteran police officers or criminology experts with many years under their belts. I have taken my experience and used it in my current career which is Forensic Pathology and Autopsy. What I learned in my studies have provided me with a firm understanding and basis for evidence intake and chain of custody that prepares me for fulfilling the policy and procedures set forth by the Department of Forensics of Alabama but also equips me to better prepare for any court room appearances I may have to make in the future. The only complaint that i had during the program was the lack of specific forensic studies. The program revolved a basic understanding of all the criminal Justice disciplines and only had a specialization in Homeland Defense. Overall, my experience was a great one and I still highly encourage anyone to go to Troy University and through the program. The professors are all great and well educated and experienced individuals and will provide an excellent learning experience to their students.” – Student at Troy University
5 star review

University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Honors Program
Master of Science | Forensic Science
Master of Science | Criminal Justice: Thesis Track (online or on-campus)
Master of Science | Criminal Justice: Non-Thesis Track (online or on-campus)
Master of Science | Computer Forensics and Security Management
Master of Science | Dual Degree: Criminal Justice/Public Administration
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Computer Forensics
Minor | Criminal Justice

Student Review: “I attended UAB early in the 2000’s. My intention was to enroll in their “5th year program” which allowed for a Masters in secondary education depending on your bachelor’s field. I took several prerequisite classes in order to become a secondary teacher in social sciences. The campus is large and is all but completely in a downtown urban environment. This made for an exciting and bustling campus. The campus comprises many cultures, ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities, which I found very stimulating. I attended a small school for undergrad, so I was worried about “becoming just another number” in a large, dissociated classroom, but my experience was completely opposite. Even in some 100 and 200 level classes, the teachers and students were engaged and the class size was surprisingly manageable. The buildings are kept up very well, and the resources were good (e.g., several food service locations, many study areas, good library resources, online information easy to find, etc.). I lived off campus, so parking could be tricky, but I was generally able to get close enough. Recent additions of green spaces have made the campus more attractive.”Cari O., student at University of Alabama – Birmingham
5 star review
Student Review: “I really enjoyed the criminal justice program at the University of Alabama. They offered a wide selection of electives to go along with the required courses. This allowed me to choose the courses I needed to specialize in the field of criminal justice that I was most interested in. The courses were challenging but provided the education needed to compete for jobs in the field and to do the work in a competent and effective manner. The professors were, for the most part, very good and helpful. They had extensive expertise in the field and were widely published in journals. They took a hands on approach with us and were available to meet with us when we had questions or issues. The practicums provided real world experiences that have proven most helpful. My classmates were great to work with on various group projects. I highly recommend this university and program for those interested in criminal justice studies.” -Kanise W., student at University of Alabama
4 star rating

University of North Alabama (Florence)
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Master of Professional Services | Security and Safety Leadership
Minor | Criminal Justice
Minor | Crime Scene Investigation
Minor | Security and Emergency Management
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Security and Emergency Management

Schools with On-Campus Criminal Justice Programs Only

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.

Alabama A&M University (Normal)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice

Student Review: “At Alabama A&M University I pursued my undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice initially to pursue a career in law enforcement. During my junior year, however, my fate would be changed when during the Fall semester I enrolled into Intro to Corrections. Learning about the corrections system greatly intrigued me and with the recommendation of my professor I was granted an internship with the Madison County Jail the following summer. My undergraduate degree not only gave me the skills and knowledge of the degree I earned, but it also afforded me lifelong business contacts and through this I was able to find employment immediately after graduation. I believe my journey would not have landed me where I am presently if I had not got my degree at Alabama A&M University.” -Student at Alabama A&M University
4 star review

Alabama State University (Montgomery)
Bachelor of Science | Corrections
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Juvenile Justice
Bachelor of Science | Law Enforcement
Master of Science | Forensic Science
Minor | Criminal Justice

Athens State University (Athens)
Bachelor of Science | Computer Science: Information Security Option
Bachelor of Arts | Justice Studies
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Juvenile Justice Studies Option
Minor | Criminal Justice

Calhoun Community College (Tanner)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Security

Faulkner State Community College (Bay Minette)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice

Gadsden State Community College (Gadsden)
Associate of Applied Science | Public Safety Telecommunications
Associate of Arts/ Associate of Sciences | Criminal Justice

Jefferson State Community College (Birmingham)
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Law Enforcement

Lawson State Community College (Birmingham)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice

Miles College (Fairfield)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice

Northwest-Shoals Community College (Muscle Shoals)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Science | Pre-Criminal Justice

Samford University (Birmingham)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Transfer Completer Degree

Shelton State Community College (Tuscaloosa)
Associate of Arts/ Associate of Science | Criminal Justice

University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice
Minor | Cyber Criminology

Student Review: “The criminal justice program at the University of Alabama is one that I thoroughly enjoy and am currently taking a part in in my course of study. Although many lower level classes in many fields are considered mundane, all that I have taken have been relevant and interesting. Professors in my upper division classes have all had significant, real-world experience and ethos in the criminal justice system, and have have been able to make the courses much more exciting as a consequence. I feel that I have and continue to take a great deal from my school’s department and that the courses I’ve taken will help me gain a greater understanding of this field once I graduate.” -John M., student at University of Alabama
4 star review
Student Review: “The University of Alabama is located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The campus is beautiful and very historical. The school is academically superb. It is ranked on Princeton Review’s top 100. The city is not very metropolitan but there is always something to do. Most students and visitors enjoy spending their spare time on the strip located on campus or the quad. The biggest attraction at the University of Alabama is football season. The university has 14 national titles under its belt. Games are held at Bryant Denny Stadium. Bryant Denny stadium holds up to 90,000 visitors. Games are an experience of a lifetime. The fans are crazy. At Alabama football isn’t just a sport it’s a lifestyle. All in all the University prides itself on tradition, you will see die heart fans and alumni wear houndstooth in remembrance of Paul Bear-Bryant. There’s something for everyone at Alabama. You will get a great education and have a great time while doing it. Roll Tide.” -Kanise W., student at University of Alabama
5 star rating

University of South Alabama (Mobile)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Master of Public Administration | Geographical Information Technology
Minor | Criminal Justice

Wallace Community College (Dothan)
Associate of Art/Science | Criminal Justice
AAS in Criminal Justice | Forensic Investigations
AAS in Criminal Justice | Law Enforcement
AAS in Criminal Justice | Cyber Security/ Computer Forensics

Wallace Community College-Selma (Selma)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Criminal Justice

References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges: https://www.kiplinger.com/tool/college/T014-S001-kiplinger-s-best-values-in-public-colleges/index.php
3. College Factual Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges: https://www.collegefactual.com/majors/protective-security-safety-services/criminal-justice-and-corrections/rankings/top-ranked/
4. US News Best Online Bachelor’s Programs: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/bachelors/search?program=bachelors&school-name=
5. US News Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/criminal-justice/rankings
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Correctional Officers and Jailers https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333012.htm
7. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes331012.htm
8. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Detectives and Criminal Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm
9. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333051.htm
10. Y Charts 10 Year Unemployment Chart: https://ycharts.com/indicators/california_unemployment_rate
11. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
12. O*Net OnLine, Police Patrol Officers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/details/33-3051.01
13. O*Net OnLine, Correctional Officers and Jailers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3012.00
14. O*Net OnLine, Police Detectives: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3021.01
15. O*Net OnLine, Security Guards: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-9032.00
16. O*Net OnLine, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/23-2011.00
17. Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition 2016 Edition: https://www.mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings
18. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Protective Service Occupations (Major Group): https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes330000.htm
19. Alabama Department of Corrections: http://www.doc.state.al.us/employment