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Arkansas Criminal Justice Schools

While not every position in the criminal justice industry requires a two- or four-year college degree, many hiring managers will give preference to a candidate who holds a degree. The colleges and universities in Arkansas offer a variety of criminal justice programs that can help you build your career; options include criminal justice administration, emergency services, and homeland security. Schools in Arkansas that offer online criminal justice programs include NorthWest Arkansas Community College and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Quick Facts

  • There are 34 schools offering criminal justice degrees in Arkansas (see below).1
  • 27 colleges and universities offer associate’s degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 14 colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 3 colleges and universities offer master’s or doctoral degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 12 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
  • No 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.

Top-Ranked Schools with Criminal Justice Programs in Arkansas

Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges 2018*

  • University of Arkansas (#59 in-state, #57 out-of-state)

*Institution-wide ranking.

College Factual’s Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges 2018

  • University of Arkansas (#146)
  • Harding University (#163)

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Arkansas

University of Arkansas at Little Rock
The Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers avenues for individuals to receive an education in criminal justice at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels. Within the department are four centers geared towards specific research focuses: the Arkansas Victim Assistance Academy (AVAA), Environmental Criminology, Juvenile Justice, and Senior Justice. The teaching and mentoring faculty publish a wide array of scholarly pieces and are actively involved with the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, the American Society of Criminology, and the Environmental Crime and Crime Analysis Association. Undergraduates are introduced to a curriculum of both theory and practice. Master’s and doctoral candidates are supervised throughout the course of their individual research projects.

University of Arkansas (Main Campus)
The University of Arkansas offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice as well as a Criminal Justice Honors program through the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Unique to this university is the Terrorism Research Center (TRC) which has hosted the oldest research project on terrorism in the United States since 2003, called the American Terrorism Study (ATS). The Department also has the Community and Family Institute (CFI), which holds a special focus on community and family issues affecting Northwestern Arkansas. Through classroom instruction, internships, and researching centers, both undergraduate and graduate students can pursue their unique individual interests and career goals.

Arkansas Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Correctional Officers and Jailers5,160$33,100
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives1,280$52,530
Detectives and Criminal Investigators470$56,590
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers5,710$37,330

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

Notable Alumni from Arkansas Universities

  • Admiral Vern E. Clark, Chief of Naval Operations, United States Navy – University of Arkansas
  • General Carlton D. Everhart II, Commander, Air Mobility Command – University of Arkansas
  • Greg Tabor, Chief of Police, Fayetteville Police Department – North Arkansas Community College

Arkansas Criminal Justice Degrees

As the population of Arkansas grows, qualified individuals will be needed to ensure the safety of citizens. Advances in technology require a highly educated police force to more effectively reduce crime in local neighborhoods. There are numerous career paths that you can take with a general criminal justice degree, or you can take a specialized program that will prepare you for a specific job like forensic science technician or paralegal. In Arkansas you can find traditional degree programs at a college campus as well as online programs that you can complete from home.

For the applicant interested in becoming an Arkansas police officer, a criminal justice degree can improve your chances of getting hired. Both Little Rock and North Little Rock’s police departments offer positions for new officers. The City of Fayetteville’s police department is another employer. Correctional opportunities, such as a correctional sergeant, typically have an experience requirement, although academic work in the field of criminal justice can sometimes be substituted. The average yearly wage for Arkansas police and patrol officers is $37,330.9 Other employers include the Transportation Security Administration as well as private security firms.

Arkansas Criminal Justice Employment Outlook

As of May 2015, Arkansas’s unemployment rate was 3.8%, below the national average of 4.7%.10 This is also well below the state peak unemployment rate of 8.1% in November 2010.10 Government-related employment is a good proxy for Arkansas criminal justice jobs. According to Projections Central, there will be high demand for jobs in the criminal justice field in the state. The annual hiring outlooks for criminal justice jobs in Arkansas include:

  • Police and Sheriff Patrol: 270 annual openings; 46% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 24% holding an associate’s degree.11,12
  • Correctional Officers: 210 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: 20 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 21% holding an associate’s degree.11,14
  • Security Guards: 140 annual openings; 4% in these positions report completing at least some college.11,15
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 50 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

These openings are projected based on both replacements and jobs growth.

The Mercatus Center is a conservative think tank that analyzed and rated the long-term solvency of state governments. After reviewing Arkansas’s budgeting process, cash/tax collections, and funding of pensions, it ranked Arkansas 28th in the nation.17 This indicates that Arkansas will likely be able to fulfill its obligations to state employees, but new hires will still want to pay attention to Arkansas’s ability to fund its ongoing pension obligations.

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

If you live in Arkansas, we recommend an accredited campus-based or online program if interested pursuing an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in the growing 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 (Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, or Texas).

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.

Arkansas Northeastern College (Blytheville)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Associate of Science | Criminology (online or on-campus)
Certificate of Proficiency | Criminal Justice

Arkansas State University (Jonesboro)
Associate of Science | Crime Scene Investigations
Associate of Applied Science | Disaster Preparedness/Emergency Management
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Administration
Bachelor of Science | Disaster Preparedness/Emergency Management
Bachelor of Arts | Criminology (online or on-campus)
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Disaster Preparedness/ Emergency Management
Minor | Criminology
Minor | Homeland Security and Disaster Preparedness

Arkansas State University-Newport (Newport)
Associate of Applied Science | Crime Scene Investigation (online or on-campus)
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Administration (online or on-campus)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Certificate of Proficiency | Crime Scene Investigation (online or on-campus)
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement Management (online or on-campus)
Technical Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation (online or on-campus)
Technical Certificate | Law Enforcement Management (online or on-campus)

Arkansas Tech University (Russellville)
Bachelor of Science | Emergency Management
Bachelor of Professional Studies | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Minor | Criminal Justice

College of the Ouachitas (Malvern)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online)
Certificate of Proficiency | Criminal Correction Specialist
Certificate of Proficiency | Criminal Justice
Technical Certificate | Criminal Correction Specialist
Technical Certificate | Criminal Justice

National Park College (Hot Springs)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Certificate of Proficiency | Criminal Justice
Certificate of Proficiency | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement Administration
Technical Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation
Technical Certificate | Law Enforcement Administration

NorthWest Arkansas Community College (Bentonville)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Prevention and Corrections
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Forensic Sciences
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Child Advocacy
Associate of Applied Science | Safety Health & Hazardous Materials (online program)
Technical Certificate | Criminal Justice
Technical Certificate | Child Advocacy Studies
Certificate of Proficiency | Criminal Justice
Certificate of Proficiency | Forensic Science
Certificate of Proficiency | Prevention and Corrections
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement
Certificate of Proficiency | Child Advocacy Studies

Philander Smith College (Little Rock)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)

Southern Arkansas University Tech (Camden)
Associate of Arts | General Education: Criminal Justice (online)
Associate of Professional Studies | Law Enforcement
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement
Technical Certificate | Law Enforcement

University of Arkansas at Little Rock (Little Rock)
Associate of Science | Law Enforcement
Bachelor of Professional Studies | Information Assurance
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Criminal Justice (online)
PhD | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate | Law Enforcement Administration
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Conflict Mediation

Student Review: “The criminal justice program at University of Arkansas at Little Rock was perfect for my schedule. I took online classes mostly because I do work full time, and the classes were well planned and easy to follow. I felt challenged but not overwhelmed. I feel like they were very good about working with today’s working students while still making sure that they get the most out of their education. I would suggest they offer more hands on programs to better prepare us for getting out into the criminal justice system. I feel like I would have benefited from being able to apply what I learned in a more realistic situation than a discussion.” – Student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock
stars-4
Student Review: “The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Criminal Justice MS program was a great way for me to increase my knowledge, advance my skills, and provide a means for future career advancement. The program was entirely online. Even so, I found that most of the instructors were friendly, knowledgeable, and had a sincere interest in their students’ success and were reachable by email, chat, or even telephone call. Online learning obviously isn’t for everyone, however this program provided me with the opportunity to learn from CJ professionals in my spare time. The instructors were supportive and recognized that most of the people in the program are have part- or full-time jobs and so the class requirements were structured in a way that you had plenty of time to get them done. As far as the overall coursework, I found the work to be manageable and finished the program with a high GPA. Some of my classmates reported lower grades, but I suspect they didn’t put as much effort into the program as I. Overall? I highly recommend the program.” – Student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock
stars-3
Student Review: “I am in the Online Criminal Justice program at UALR. I attend class through the Blackboard Learning System. In an average week, I have little to no actual contact with my professors. I receive some feedback on my assignments, but little advice on how to improve. I have to come to the campus at least once a semester to get advised. The Criminal Justice Department is located in an older building and can be hard to find anyone in their office. The staff comes off as pretentious at times and has little to no to respect for those of us who are already in Law Enforcement. The classes are easy, and most assignments consist of multiple choice questions given on blackboard or 2 to 3 page papers. They do compare all papers to a national database. There is no consistency on what writing style should be used, as some require MLA and others APA. Overall, I enjoy the program.” – Student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock
stars-4

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith (Fort Smith)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Minor | Criminal Justice

Williams Baptist College (Walnut Ridge)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online)

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.

Arkansas State University-Beebe (Beebe)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Corrections
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Forensics
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Wildlife Enforcement Officer
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Law Enforcement Administration
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Forensics
Certificate | Wildlife Enforcement Officer
Certificate of Proficiency | K9 Assisted Drug and Explosive Detection

Black River Technical College (Pocahontas)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Administration
Associate of Applied Science | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate of Proficiency | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate | Basic Police Training
Technical Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation

Harding University (Searcy)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice

Ozarka College (Melbourne)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice and Corrections
Certificate of Proficiency | Corrections and Criminal Justice

Pulaski Technical College (North Little Rock)
Associate of Applied Science | Crime Scene Investigation
Associate of Applied Science | Military Technologies
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Administration
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement Administration
Certificate of Proficiency | Crime Scene Investigation
Technical Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation
Technical Certificate | Law Enforcement Administration

SouthArk Community College (El Dorado)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice (transfer degree)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Administration
Certificate of Proficiency | Criminal Justice
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement

Southeast Arkansas College (Pine Bluff)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Technology
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Crime Scene Investigation
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Administration
Technical Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation
Technical Certificate | Law Enforcement Administration
Certificate of Proficiency | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement Administration

Southern Arkansas University (Magnolia)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Chemistry: Forensic Science option
Minor | Criminal Justice
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement Administration
Certificate of Proficiency | Crime Scene Investigation

University of Arkansas (Fayetteville)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice (online program)

Student Review: “The University of Arkansas is a wonderful university. With over 23,199 students, the U of A offers all of the opportunities of a large state institution yet it also a place where a student can receive the attention they would at a smaller school. Nearly 40% of students study abroad and the honors college received one of the largest endowments for a public institution. Fayetteville is one of the top ten college towns in the country according to Forbes magazine and they are correct. Dickson street offers a lot of nightlight and live music. Students are passionate about razorback athletics and compete in the SEC, America’s toughest conference. The higher education program is wonderful and the business, engineering and architecture schools are highly rated as well. As any student would say, parking could improve.” – Jesse T.
stars-5

University of Arkansas at Monticello (Monticello)
Associate of Applied Science | Crime Scene Investigation
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Administration
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice
Technical Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation
Technical Certificate | Law Enforcement Administration
Certificate of Proficiency | Correctional Law Enforcement
Certificate of Proficiency | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement Administration

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (Pine Bluff)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice Studies

University of Arkansas Community College-Batesville (Batesville)
Associate of Applied Science | Crime Scene Investigation
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Administration
Technical Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation
Technical Certificate | Law Enforcement Administration
Certificate of Proficiency | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement Administration

University of Arkansas Community College-Hope (Hope)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice

University of Arkansas Community College-Morrilton (Morrilton)
Associate of Applied Science | Crime Scene Investigation
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Administration
Certificate of Proficiency | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate of Proficiency | Law Enforcement Administration
Technical Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation
Technical Certificate | Law Enforcement Administration

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. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Correctional Officers and Jailers https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333012.htm
7. US 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. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Detectives and Criminal Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm
9. US 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/arkansas_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