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Kentucky Criminal Justice Schools

Whether you’re just beginning your education at the undergraduate level or are looking for an advanced degree or certificate, Kentucky is a great state in which to earn the education that launches your criminal justice career. Kentucky’s colleges and universities offer a diverse array of majors in the criminal justice field, such as security and loss prevention, police studies, and intelligence studies. A number of Kentucky schools also offer online criminal justice degrees, including Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Louisville.

Quick Facts

  • There are 32 schools offering criminal justice degrees in Kentucky (see below).1
  • 22 colleges and universities offer associate’s degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 16 colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 5 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
  • 3 schools ranked in College Factual’s Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges in 2018.3
  • 3 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.

Top-Ranked Schools with Criminal Justice Programs in California

Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges 2018*

  • University of Louisville (#73 in-state, #74 out-of-state)

*Institution-wide ranking.

College Factual’s Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges 2018

  • University of Louisville (#59)
  • Bellarmine University (#140)
  • Thomas More College (#180)

Criminal Justice Degree Schools Best Online Bachelor’s Programs 2018

  • Campbellsville University
  • Eastern Kentucky University
  • University of the Cumberlands

US News Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs 2018

  • University of the Cumberlands (#6)
  • Western Kentucky University (#12)
  • University of Louisville (#14 tie)

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Kentucky

University of Louisville: The University of Louisville has a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Administration of Justice, as well as a Doctor of Philosophy in Justice Administration. The Department of Justice Administration offers both face-to-face and fully online undergraduate and graduate programs, perfect for working professionals who wish to advance in the field. The department has spent years cultivating relationships with law enforcement agencies throughout the world, so students have the option to study aboard in Romania, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Hungary, Turkey, Belize, and Botswana. The 23 full-time and part-time faculty are current and former professionals in a variety of specialties, but particular emphasis is given to computer forensics, capital punishment, criminal justice management, and research design.

Eastern Kentucky University: The Department of Criminal Justice at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU)has both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice as well as an Associate of Arts and a Bachelor of Science of Police Studies. The department also has seven online degree programs including the BS in Correctional and Juvenile Justice Studies and the Correctional Intervention Strategies Certification. This school is home to two research centers, the Center for Crime and Built Environment and the Institute for Global Justice and Security. With over 30 criminal justice faculty, students have an outlet for exploring various research focuses. The customized degree and certificate programs at EKU enable graduates to become top experts in their fields.

Kentucky Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Correctional Officers and Jailers6,600$32,420
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives1,490$64,320
Detectives and Criminal Investigators700$65,900
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers6,930$42,030

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.5,6,7,8

Notable Alumni from Kentucky Universities

  • Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin – University of Kentucky
  • Jefferson County Sheriff John Aubrey – University of Louisville
Police Quote “Stay out of the rumor mill. Do what is expected of you and a little more. Consistent improvement, support of organizational goals, and positive interactions with coworkers and the public is what I’m looking for.” -Sheriff Lynn Nelson

Kentucky Criminal Justice Degrees

Kentucky is an excellent state for criminal justice majors. It offers some of the country’s least expensive housing with a below-average cost of living. A criminal justice position in Kentucky offers both strong income levels and comprehensive benefits. Kentucky has one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the nation, thanks in part to the effectiveness of federal and local law enforcement agencies.

As the birthplace of bourbon, it stands to reason that Kentucky has a history of federal government involvement through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). In addition to ATF and other regular government criminal justice agencies, Kentucky has five different Bureau of Prisons facilities, including two penitentiaries. As a comparison, Tennessee has two, North Carolina has three, and Virginia has two. Federal correctional institutions are consistently hiring and frequently give preference to criminal justice degree holders. Criminal justice graduates can apply to attend the Kentucky Criminal Justice Training Center to attain additional training for law enforcement positions in Kentucky.

Kentucky pays correctional sergeants a starting salary of $25,677.60.9 Although the position typically requires experience, that experience is waived for holders of a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or related fields. The Kentucky State police receive an annual salary of $37,886 with generous benefits after graduation from the academy.10 Applicants must have at least 60 college credits, or an associate’s degree, or two years’ experience. These credits also make it possible to receive a promotion to senior trooper after three years, instead of the typical five years. Protective service professionals across all state agencies, including police and patrol officers working in the state of Kentucky, earned an average annual salary of $34,220 as of May 2015.11

Kentucky’s Criminal Justice Employment Outlook

The May 2016 unemployment rate for Kentucky was 5.1%.11 This is well below the state’s peak unemployment rate of 11.1% in August 2009 and below the May 2016 national average of 4.7%.12 Government-related jobs are a good proxy for criminal justice employment in Kentucky. Projections Central includes the following estimates for criminal justice jobs in Kentucky:

  • Police and Sheriff Patrol: 400 annual openings; 46% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 24% holding an associate’s degree.13,14
  • Correctional Officers: 230 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 15% holding a post-secondary certificate.13,15
  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators: 20 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 21% holding an associate’s degree.13,16
  • Security Guards: 280 annual openings; 4% in these positions report completing at least some college.13,17
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 120 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.13,18

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

The Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank, rated and analyzed the long-term solvency of each state government. After an analysis of the state’s budgeting, cash/tax collection, and pensions, Kentucky was ranked 46th in the nation.19 This indicates that new hires should pay close attention to Kentucky’s ability to fulfill its obligations to state employees.

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Directory of Kentucky Universities Offering Campus-based and Online Criminal Justice Degrees

To earn a criminal justice degree in Kentucky, we recommend an accredited campus-based or online program for pursuing your 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 (Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, or Tennessee).

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.

Bluegrass Community and Technical College (Lexington)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Peace and Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Corrections (online)
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement (online)
Associate of Applied Science | Security and Loss Prevention (online)
Associate of Applied Science | Homeland Security/ Emergency Management
Pre-Major | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Computer Forensics
Certificate | Criminal Justice Core
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Security and Loss Prevention
Certificate | Advanced Law Enforcement
Certificate | Homeland Security/ Emergency Management Specialist
Certificate | Digital Forensics

Campbellsville University (Campbellsville)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice (online)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice Administration (online or on-campus)
Minor | Homeland Security

Eastern Kentucky University (Richmond)
Associate of General Studies | Homeland Security (online)
Associate of General Studies | Security Management (online)
Associate of Arts | Police Studies (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Police Studies (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Corrections and Juvenile Justice Studies (online)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Science, Chemistry
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Science, Biology
Bachelor of Science | Homeland Security (online)
Master of Science | Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Safety, Security & Emergency Management
Master of Science | Safety, Security & Emergency Management: Homeland Security (online or on-campus)
Master of Science | Safety, Security & Emergency Management: Emergency Management (online or on-campus)
Master of Science | Criminology & Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Safety, Security, and Emergency Management: Occupational Safety
Master of Science | Safety, Security, and Emergency Management: School Safety
Master of Science | Safety, Security, and Emergency Management: Fire and Emergency Services
Certificate | Correctional Intervention Strategies
Certificate | Youth Studies
Certificate | Intelligence Studies (online)
Certificate | Homeland Security (online)
Certificate | Emergency Management (online)
Certificate | Intelligence and Security Operations (online)

Student Review: “EKU is located just 20 minutes outside of Lexington, Kentucky. The state university has an enrollment of about 15,000 which was just big enough to feel like college but not be so big that it is overwhelming. The campus itself is aesthetically pleasing and has a fairly simple layout so that navigating the campus is easy. I lived in the dorms for my first year and found the experience a bit displeasing, but better than I thought it would be. I lucked out and was assigned a good, clean roommate that was a lot like myself. However, living quarters were small and cramped and the proximity to other students made it hard to sleep sometimes. There are tons of educational opportunities, but the school is most known for its enormous Justice & Safety Department which provides unique education in areas such as criminal justice, fire science, industrial safety, and homeland security. I enjoyed the ‘college town’ atmosphere that Richmond offered and the opportunities that being in a fraternity offered. However, the local police in the city are very strict and frightening.” -Earnest C., student at Eastern Kentucky University
stars-5

Hopkinsville Community College (Hopkinsville)
Associate of Applied Science | Corrections (online or on-campus)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement (online or on-campus)
Associate of Applied Science | Security and Loss Prevention (online or on-campus)
Associate of Applied Science | Homeland Security/ Emergency Management
Associate of Applied Science | Homeland Security/ Emergency Management: Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Homeland Security/ Emergency Management: Security Management
Associate of Applied Science | Homeland Security/ Emergency Management: Homeland Security/ Emergency Management Specialist
Certificate | Advanced Law Enforcement
Certificate | Computer Forensics
Certificate | Criminal Justice Core
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Security and Loss Prevention
Certificate | Digital Forensics

Kentucky State University (Frankfort)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Minor | Criminal Justice
Program | Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC)

Kentucky Wesleyan College (Owensboro)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice and Criminology (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Criminology
Minor | Forensic Science

Lindsey Wilson College (Columbia)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice (online)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement (online)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice: Legal (online)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Courts
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Corrections
Minor | Criminal Justice

Midway University (Midway)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Minor | Criminal Justice

Northern Kentucky University (Highland Heights)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Chemistry: Forensics
Master of Public Administration | Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Minor | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminalistics
Minor | Computer Forensics
Minor | Information Security
Certificate | Cybersecurity
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Corporate Information Security

Union College (Barbourville)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate | Chemical Dependency Counselor (online)

University of the Cumberlands (Williamsburg)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice (online)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Management
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice/Criminal Profiling
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice/Forensics
Master of Science | Justice Administration (online)
Minor | Criminal Justice

University of Louisville (Louisville)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Minor | Criminal Justice
Minor | Social Change
Minor | Forensic Anthropology
Certificate | Police Executive Leadership Development
Certificate | Peace, Justice & Conflict Transformation
Program | Army ROTC

Student Review: “I enjoyed the University of Louisville so much I not only completed my undergraduate and Master’s degrees, I am also completing my doctorate. As an undergraduate, the campus is quite accommodating whether you want to live in the dorms or if you prefer to commute. Thankfully, the food choices have expanded tremendously over the past five years so even as a vegetarian I can find plenty of food. UofL offers degrees across a wide range of disciplines and all levels of academic involvement. In my experience studying psychology (in the College of Arts and Sciences), professors were always willing to help even in the larger classes. I have greatly enjoyed my time there as a graduate student as well. Lastly, you can’t forget the amazing sports!” -Catherine R., student at University of Louisville
stars-5
Student Review: “The major flaw of the program is the lack of statistical education. There are formally two statistic classes, but the professor is terrible and never actually teaches statistics but lectures and makes promises that over the course of the class there will be lots of hands-on experience and will cover lots of different techniques, but none of that ever actually happens. The faculty aren’t very helpful in career seeking. There need to be more opportunities for hands-on experience. There should be more collaboration with local entities, such as the police department, DOC, and the local research agency. If they’re going to offer a part-time student route, they need to assure that these students have the same opportunities as full-time students to work with faculty, publish, and do research.” -Student at University of Louisville
stars-2

Western Kentucky University (Bowling Green)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminology (online)
Bachelor of Science | Military Leadership
Bachelor of Science | Social Psychology
Bachelor of Science | Systems Management: Criminology Systems
Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies | Social Justice and Equity Studies
Master of Arts | Criminology (online)
Master of Science | Homeland Security Sciences
Minor | Criminology (online)
Minor | Military Science
Minor | Citizenship & Social Justice

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.

Bellarmine University (Louisville)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice

Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (Elizabethtown)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Corrections
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Security and Loss Prevention
Certificate | Computer Forensics
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Criminal Justice Core
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Security Loss Prevention

Gateway Community and Technical College (Covington)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Criminal Justice Core
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Computer Forensics

Jefferson Community and Technical College (Louisville)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Corrections
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Security & Loss Prevention
Certificate | Criminal Justice

Madisonville Community College (Madisonville)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Computer Forensics
Certificate | Criminal Justice Core
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Program | ROTC

Morehead State University (Morehead)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminology and Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminology
Minor | Chemical Dependency Counseling
Certificate | Intelligence Collection and Analysis
Certificate | Threat Specialist

Murray State University (Murray)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Chemistry: Forensics
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Forensics
Bachelor of Science/ Bachelor of Arts | Wildlife and Conservation Biology/ Conservation Law Enforcement
Master of Science | Human Development and Leadership: Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders
Program | Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC)

Owensboro Community and Technical College (Owensboro)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Corrections
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Security & Loss Prevention
Certificate | Computer Forensics

Pikeville College (Pikeville)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts/ Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Saint Catharine College (Saint Catharine)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice

Somerset Community College (Somerset)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Corrections
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Security & Loss Prevention
Certificate | Criminal Justice Core
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Security and Loss Prevention
Certificate | Computer Forensics
Certificate | Advanced Law Enforcement

Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (Cumberland)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Corrections
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Security & Loss Prevention
Certificate | Criminal Justice Core
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Security and Loss Prevention

Student Review: “I have attended Southeast Community and Technical College for two years now and my experience has not been so great. The financial aid representatives are nearly impossible to get in contact with any time you have a financial related question or problem. Even though their business hours say they’re supposed to be in their office, they never are. The educators are often times very unprofessional in regards to accurately posting work on BlackBoard when they are supposed to. This makes taking classes online a disaster, as you never know when assignments are due, and getting a grade back often seems like an impossible feat. Overall, this school has some nice potential considering the convenience that it provides for thousands of students across this area, but as of now, potential is about as far as it goes.” -Joey W., student at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College

Thomas More College (Crestview Hills)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Elected Studies | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Biology
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Chemistry

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 Graduate Criminal Justice Programs: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/criminal-justice/rankings
5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Correctional Officers and Jailers https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333012.htm
6. 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
7. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Detectives and Criminal Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm
8. 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
9. Kentucky Department of Corrections: https://corrections.ky.gov/about/Pages/Careers.aspx
10. Kentucky State Police: http://www.kentuckystatepolice.org/recruit/benefits.htm
11. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Protective Service Occupations (Major Group): https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes330000.htm
12. Y Charts 10 Year Unemployment Chart: http://https://ycharts.com/indicators/kentucky_unemployment_rate
13. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
14. O*Net OnLine, Police Patrol Officers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/details/33-3051.01
15. O*Net OnLine, Correctional Officers and Jailers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3012.00
16. O*Net OnLine, Police Detectives: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3021.01
17. O*Net OnLine, Security Guards: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-9032.00
18. O*Net OnLine, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/23-2011.00
19. Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition 2016 Edition: https://www.mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings