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Colorado Criminal Justice Schools

Colorado’s colleges and universities are home to a wide variety of programs that can help you start or advance your career in criminal justice. Whether you are seeking a general criminal justice degree or are looking to specialize in such fields as corrections, law enforcement, or forensics, chances are good that Colorado is home to a program that meets your needs. Many Colorado schools, including Regis University and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, also offer online criminal justice programs that can afford additional flexibility for students who are in the workforce or who have other commitments.

Quick Facts

  • There are 26 schools offering criminal justice degrees in Colorado (see below).1
  • 15 colleges and universities offer associate’s degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 12 colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 6 colleges and universities offer master’s or doctoral degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 9 colleges and universities offer criminal justice degree programs online.*1
  • 1 school ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018.2
  • 3 schools ranked in College Factual’s Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges in 2018.3
  • 1 school ranked in Criminal Justice Degree Schools Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2018.4
  • 4 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 Colorado

Colorado’s colleges and universities offer options to earn degrees in criminal justice at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree levels. Criminal justice degree programs in Colorado can be found both on-campus and online from accredited schools that have national reputations for academic excellence. It is becoming more common for criminal justice employers to require at least an associate’s degree, or give preference to applicants who have college experience. For example, the Boulder County Sheriff prefers applicants who have a degree in criminal justice, psychology, or the social sciences. Similarly, many federal positions hold a bachelor’s degree as an entry-level requirement. Earning your degree can give you an advantage in your criminal justice career by making you a more competitive applicant for open positions and positioning you for promotional opportunities.

Top-Ranked Schools with Criminal Justice Programs in Colorado

Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges 2018*

  • University of Colorado Boulder (#68 in-state, #94 out-of-state)

*Institution-wide ranking.

College Factual’s Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges 2018

  • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (#197)
  • University of Colorado Denver (#89)
  • University of Northern Colorado (#170)

Criminal Justice Degree Schools Best Online Bachelor’s Programs 2018

  • Colorado State University-Global Campus

US News Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs 2018

  • Colorado State University-Global Campus (#13)
  • University of Colorado Denver (#19 tie)
  • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (#34 tie)
  • Regis University (#51-#67)

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Colorado

University of Colorado Denver: The University of Colorado Denver offers a Master of Criminal Justice degree that can be completed entirely online. The program, which takes 36 semester hours to complete, is designed to fit the needs of those looking for career advancement or continuing education following undergraduate study. Required core courses include CJ Systems, Policies & Practices; Criminological Theory; and Research Methods. Students may elect to complete program requirements through a thesis or field-based capstone project. The School of Public Affairs, which administers the criminal justice program, has been recognized as one of the top schools in the US offering online graduate programs in criminology and criminal justice by US News & World Report. Discounted non-resident tuition is offered for out-of-state students attending all courses online. Various forms of financial aid, including scholarships and graduate assistantships, are also available.

Metropolitan State College Denver: A Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology is offered at Metropolitan State College-Denver. The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology pursued Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) certification in 2006 and the standards of the certification have been applied to both the curriculum and the hiring of new faculty. Students can enhance their academic experience by becoming involved in one or more of the department student organizations: Delta Phi Omega, Delta Gamma Xi, and the Cold Case Club. Department majors are also able to pursue internships and apply for financial aid through the James E. Weir Endowed Memorial Scholarship. The university prides itself on having one of the lowest tuition rates among the major campuses in Colorado.

University of Colorado at Boulder: Within the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder is the Graduate Program in Criminology and Deviance. The department hosts five different graduate seminars: Theories of Crime and Justice, Patterns of Criminal Behavior, Institutions of Social Control, Social Reactions to Crime, and Special Topics Seminars. Student and faculty pursue their research projects through affiliated research centers such as the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS), Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CRC), and the Social Science Data Lab. There are eight full-time faculty dedicated to the Graduate Program in Criminology and Deviance who specialize in gender violence, policing democracies, youth violence, policing democracies, sentencing reforms, and drug use.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs: The criminal justice programs at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs reside in the School of Public Affairs where both undergraduate and graduate students can follow their ambitions. The Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, the Master’s of Science in Criminal Justice, and the Criminal Justice Graduate Certificate all prepare students to draw from the multiple disciplines to study the behaviors and environments that contribute to criminal activity. The department also has the Supervisory Institute, a training program for Colorado peace officers funded by the County Sheriff of Colorado’s Office and the Colorado Association of Chiefs and Police. Also unique to UCCS are its small class sizes, with the average undergraduate roster at 22 students and 11 for graduate courses.

Notable Alumni from Colorado Universities

  • Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey – University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • Arapahoe County Sheriff J. Grayson Robinson – University of Colorado
  • Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink – University of Northern Colorado
Police Quote: “Don’t park your patrol car on the successes of today. There are plenty of other bad guys out there that need to go to jail.” -Steve Conner, Vice President of the Colorado Homicide Investigators Association

Colorado Criminal Justice Careers

Located where the West and Midwest meet, Colorado is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. It has a strong mix of local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies that generate demand for criminal justice degree holders. The quality of the criminal justice community in Colorado has contributed to the lowest violent crime rate of any Western state.

The state’s Department of Corrections is currently hiring correction officers at a number of locations throughout the state. The average salary for police and patrol officers in Colorado is $65,700.9 For many law enforcement positions, a criminal justice degree will give the applicant preferential consideration through the hiring process.

The federal government has a large presence in Colorado, which is the home of the Air Force Academy. The Secret Service hires criminal investigators and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs the Supermax facility in Florence, Colorado, often seeks new hires, and offers significant benefits for people who hold a degree in criminal justice. In addition, there is a need for federal law enforcement to patrol the large areas of federally-controlled land throughout Colorado.

Colorado Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Correctional Officers and Jailers6,860$46,440
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives1,520$91,080
Detectives and Criminal Investigators1,680$83,110
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers9,380$65,700

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

Colorado’s Criminal Justice Employment Outlook

As of May 2016, Colorado’s unemployment rate was 3.4%.10 This is well below the national average of 4.7%, and below the state peak unemployment rate of 9% in December 2010 as well as lower than the previously recorded unemployment low of 6.3% in December of 2008.10 Government-related employment is a good proxy for Colorado criminal justice jobs. According to Projections Central, there is a fairly high demand for criminal justice jobs in Colorado. The annual hiring outlook for criminal justice jobs in Colorado include:

  • Police and Sheriff Patrol: 460 annual openings; 46% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 24% holding an associate’s degree.11,12
  • Correctional Officers: 350 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: 60 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 21% holding an associate’s degree.11,14
  • Security Guards: 560 annual openings; 4% in these positions report completing at least some college.11,15
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 270 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
  • Forensic Science Technicians: 20 annual openings; the majority of positions require a bachelor’s degree.11

Note that projected openings are based on both jobs growth and replacements.

The Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank, analyzed and rated the long-term solvency for state governments. After reviewing the state’s budgeting process, cash/tax collections, and funding of pensions, it ranked Colorado 22nd in the nation.17 This indicates sound employment practices, and that Colorado will be likely to fulfill its ongoing obligations to state employees.

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

If you are interested in pursuing a Colorado criminal justice degree, we recommend searching for an accredited campus-based or online program for your associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree.

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 (Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, or Arizona).

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.

Adams State University (Alamosa)
Bachelor of Arts | Sociology: Criminology Emphasis (online)

Colorado Christian University (Lakewood)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Master of Science | Criminal Justice (online)
Undergraduate Certificate | Criminal Justice (online)

Colorado State University-Global Campus (Online Campus)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online)
Master of Science | Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration (online)
Graduate Certificate | Cybersecurity (online)
Graduate Certificate | Criminal Justice Leadership (online)
Undergraduate Certificate | Cybersecurity (online)
Undergraduate Certificate | Criminal Forensics (online)
Undergraduate Certificate | Criminal Justice Management (online)
Undergraduate Certificate | Criminology (online)
Undergraduate Certificate | Emergency Management (online)

Community College of Aurora (Aurora)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Certificate | Basic Law Enforcement Training
Certificate | Criminal Justice Community Policing (online or on-campus)
Certificate | Criminal Justice Law
Certificate | Criminal Justice Operations (online or on-campus)
Certificate | Criminal Justice Systems (online or on-campus)
Certificate | Homeland Security: Tactical Operations

Pikes Peak Community College (Colorado Springs)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Associate of Applied Science | Homeland Security Emergency Management
Certificate | Behavior Studies
Certificate | Basic Criminology
Certificate | Basic Investigations
Certificate | Criminal Justice Basic
Certificate | Homeland Security Emergency Management
Certificate | Pikes Peak Regional Law Enforcement Academy

Regis University (Denver)
Bachelor of Arts | Peace and Justice Studies
Bachelor of Science | Criminology (online or on-campus)
Master of Science | Criminology (online or on-campus)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Cybersecurity (online)
Certificate | Information System Security (online)
Certificate | Homeland Security (online)
Certificate | Social Violence (online or on-campus)

Student Review: “Attending Regis University was an interesting and rewarding experience. One of the things which drew me to this school was the fact that they offered many online programs. This made it feasible for a professional adult to continue working full time while still obtaining their degree. In general, the course facilitators were helpful, available, and were able to pass on real-world knowledge since many of them worked full time in the fields in which they taught at the university. If I had the ability to change anything at the university, it would be to upgrade the technology the bookstore used, so it was easier to find and order textbooks and to lower the price of the courses, which were rather expensive. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Regis University and would recommend it to nearly anyone, but especially to those who want to attend school while continuing to work full time.” -Teri R., student at Regis University
stars-4

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Corrections (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Family Violence (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Forensic Studies (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Law (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Public Policy (online or on-campus)
Master of Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Master of Public Administration/Master of Criminal Justice degrees | Dual Degree
Master of Arts | Counseling and Human Services: Addictions
Minor | Criminal Justice
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Criminal Justice (online)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Homeland Defense (online)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Security Intelligence (online)

Student Review:“My experience with the University of Colorado-Colorado Spring’s Criminal Justice program has been great. The University offers several different Criminal Justice options so that students are able to get a degree more specific to their career choice. Personally, I have selected the Forensic Science Option. The class sizes at UCCS are rather small, only twenty to thirty students, so it is much easier to get to know the professors. Interacting with the professors in smaller classes is very beneficial as it is far easier to ask questions and get feedback on assignments. All of my professors are also very friendly and open to questions and concerns. Overall, I am greatly enjoying my experiences with the CJ program and am looking forward to the next three years studying at UCCS.” -Lorelei B., student at University of Colorado-Colorado Springs
stars-4

University of Colorado (Denver)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Master of Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Master of Criminal Justice | Gender-Based Violence
Master of Criminal Justice | Crime Analyst
Master of Criminal Justice | Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Master of Engineering | Geomatics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Master of Science | Civil Engineering: Geomatics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (online or on-campus)
Master of Science | Media Forensics (online or on-campus)
Master of Public Administration | Gender-Based Violence (online or on-campus)
Master of Public Administration | Emergency Management and Homeland Security (online or on-campus)
Master of Social Science | Social Justice
Master of Public Administration/Master of Criminal Justice | Dual Degree
Minor | Criminal Justice
Minor | Social Justice
Certificate | Family and Social Welfare
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Crime Analyst
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Gender-Based Violence
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Interpersonal Violence and Health Care
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Geomatics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

University of Northern Colorado (Greeley)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Chemistry: Forensic Science Emphasis
Bachelor of Arts | Geography: Geographic Information Science Emphasis
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice (hybrid online or on-campus)
Minor | Criminal Justice
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Applied Behavior Analysis
Certificate | Criminal Investigation

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.

Aims Community College (Greeley)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Police Studies
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Peace Officer Academy
Certificate | Criminal Justice: Forensic Criminology
Certificate | Criminal Justice: Criminal Justice Pathways Basic, Level I
Certificate | Criminal Justice: Criminal Justice Pathways Basic, Level II

Arapahoe Community College (Littleton)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Criminal Justice: Emergency Dispatch
Certificate | Law Enforcement Academy

Colorado Mountain College (Glenwood Springs)
Certificate of Occupational Proficiency | Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy
Certificate of Occupational Proficiency | Information Security Specialist
Certificate of Occupational Proficiency | Fire Investigation
Certificate of Occupational Proficiency | Fire Prevention Code Enforcement

Colorado State University (Fort Collins)
Bachelor of Arts | Sociology: Criminology and Criminal Justice Concentration

Community College of Denver (Denver)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Homeland Security

Front Range Community College (Westminster)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice (online program)
Certificate | Cybersecurity
Certificate | Cybersecurity (online program)
Certificate | Advanced Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Certificate | Foundations of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Certificate | Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Johnson & Wales University (Denver)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Mesa State College (Grand Junction)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Post Academy
Bachelor of Applied Science | Public Administration/Public Safety
Minor | Addiction Studies
Minor | Criminal Justice
Minor | Forensics
Technical Certificate | Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)
Professional Certificate | Emergency Management and Disaster Planning

Metropolitan State College of Denver (Denver)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice and Criminology
Bachelor of Science | Chemistry: Criminalistics
Minor | Criminal Justice and Criminology
Minor | Criminalistics

Otero Junior College (La Junta)
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Law Enforcement

Pueblo Community College (Pueblo)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Academy
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of General Studies | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Forensic Computing
Certificate | Law Enforcement Academy
Certificate | Forensic Computing
Certificate | Corrections/Adult
Certificate | Corrections/Juvenile
Certificate | Criminal Justice Core
Certificate | Criminal Justice Process
Certificate | Criminal Justice System
Advanced Certificate | Information Assurance
Basic Certificate | Information Assurance

Red Rocks Community College (Lakewood)
Associate of Arts | Victimology
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement
Associate of Applied Science | Emergency Management & Planning
Certificate | Emergency Management and Planning
Certificate | Fundamentals of Emergency Management
Certificate | Basic Law Enforcement Academy (P.O.S.T. Certification)

Trinidad State Junior College (Trinidad)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Addictions Counseling
Associate of Applied Science | Basic Law Enforcement
Certificate | Addictions Counseling Level I (Certified)
Certificate | Addictions Counseling Level II (Certified)
Certificate | Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy (CLETA)
Certificate | Gunsmithing
Certificate | Gunsmithing Fine Arts
Certificate | Gunsmithing Technician
Certificate | NRA Firearms Safety Instructor

University of Denver (Denver)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminology
Master Degree | Security Management: Emergency Planning & Response
Master Degree | Security Management: Information Security
Master Degree | Security Management: Organizational Security
Minor | Criminology
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Emergency Planning & Response
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Information Security
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Organizational Security

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/colorado_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