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South Carolina Criminal Justice Schools

There are numerous colleges and universities in South Carolina that offer criminal justice degree programs, from the associate’s through the doctoral level. Areas of study within criminal justice at these institutions include law enforcement, emergency services management, homeland security, and digital forensics. Several schools, including Anderson University, Charleston Southern University, and Claflin University, also offer criminal justice degree programs online. Continue reading to find out more about what South Carolina’s criminal justice programs have to offer.

Quick Facts

  • There are 35 schools offering criminal justice degrees in South Carolina (see below).1
  • 15 colleges and universities offer associate’s degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 18 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
  • 11 colleges and universities offer criminal justice degree programs online.*1
  • 2 schools 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.

Criminal Justice Degree Programs in South Carolina

Many police departments in South Carolina require at least an associate’s degree to be considered for an entry-level position; some advanced or federal positions require a bachelor’s degree and/or an associate’s with prior law enforcement experience. Starting salaries for police officers with college degrees are typically higher and many departments now offer educational pay incentives to attract college graduates. Nearly two-thirds of police detective candidates in South Carolina possess college degrees. Many other employers, including the South Carolina Department of Corrections and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, also strongly recommend or require applicants to have a college degree. As a result, it’s wise to earn your associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in order to become a competitive applicant. Having a degree can also lead to increased opportunities for promotion.

Top-Ranked Schools with Criminal Justice Programs in South Carolina

Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges 2018*

  • Clemson University (#31 in-state, #35 out-of-state)
  • University of South Carolina (#46 in-state, #50 out-of-state)

*Institution-wide ranking.

College Factual’s Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges 2018

  • Citadel Military College of South Carolina (#13)
  • University of South Carolina – Columbia (#82)

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in South Carolina

University of South Carolina: Regularly listed within the top 25 criminology graduate programs by the US News and World Report, the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina offers many valuable academic and professional experiences for its students. Individuals can pursue a BA/BS, a Minor, an MA or a PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice, the latter two of which are highly competitive for admission. The department offers four different scholarships for its undergraduate majors and paid assistantships for its graduate students. 13 professionals and instructors teach within the school, with many specializing in law enforcement and corrections.

South Carolina State University: The Department of Human Services houses the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program at South Carolina State University. The students and faculty often conduct research in partnership with the 1890 Research Program, a multidisciplinary center that is dedicated to identifying and solving social and environmental problems. Core criminal justice courses include Criminology and Penology, Juvenile Delinquency, and Introduction to Corrections. During their final semester, students can earn field experience course credit through working with a criminal justice agency.

Notable Alumni from South Carolina Universities

  • Charleston County, SC Sheriff James Alton Cannon, Jr. – College of Charleston, University of South Carolina
  • Richland County, SC Sheriff Leon Lott – University of South Carolina-Aiken, University of South Carolina-Columbia
  • Columbia, SC Police Chief Randy Scott – Limestone College
Police Quote: “One of the biggest skills I see lacking in young people wanting to get into law enforcement is their communication skills. If you’re going to get into the field of law enforcement, you need to talk to anybody, anytime, at any place. I see young officers coming in who are very uncomfortable talking to people and this is a people business. You have to have great communication skills. On the college side, there are some great programs under communications, to become good at it. If you’re a good communicator, no matter what job you do in law enforcement, you’re going to be very successful.” -Gary Killam, President of the Florida Gang Investigators Association

South Carolina Criminal Justice Careers

In-demand criminal justice occupations in South Carolina include police officers, detectives, and managers; criminal investigators and special agents; sheriffs and deputy sheriffs; firefighters; and immigration and customs inspectors. Candidates for law enforcement typically must be at least 21 years of age, possess a clean record (no felonies or DUIs), and a good credit history.

In addition to local agencies, criminal justice graduates can pursue careers with the state government. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety, Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation and the Department of Probation are just two examples of state agencies that hire professionals with degrees in criminal justice. Salaries and benefits with state agencies are often highly competitive and some require a college degree to qualify. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also employs criminal justice professionals in the state. Positions available through the DHS include criminal investigators, mission support specialists, and customs and border agents.

Criminal justice jobs in South Carolina offer attractive salary and benefits in addition to the intrinsic benefits of working in an exciting career. Police officers earn an average salary of $40,340 in South Carolina while a first-line supervisor earns an average of $56,680.6,8 In the role of detective or criminal investigator, the average salary is $60,950 in the state.7 Correctional officers earn an average of $32,990 in South Carolina.5 In the legal field, paralegals and legal assistants earn an average of $42,730.9

South Carolina Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Correctional Officers and Jailers6,940$32,990
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives1,710$56,680
Detectives and Criminal Investigators990$60,950
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers11,260$40,340

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.5,6,7,8

South Carolina’s Criminal Justice Employment Outlook

The May 2016 unemployment rate for South Carolina was 5.6%.9 While this was above the national average of 4.7%, it is well below the peak 10-year state unemployment rate of 11.9% from January 2010.10 Government-related employment is a good indicator of criminal justice jobs in South Carolina. Projections Central includes the following criminal justice job estimates for South Carolina:

  • Police and Sheriff Patrol: 420 annual openings; 46% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 24% holding an associate’s degree.11,12
  • Correctional Officers: 260 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: 350 annual openings; 4% in these positions report completing at least some college.11,15
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 160 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 these estimates project openings from both jobs growth and replacements.

The Mercatus Center is a conservative think tank that rated and analyzed each state government’s long-term solvency based on budget, cash/tax handling, and pensions. South Carolina was ranked 18th in the nation.17 This indicates that the state will most likely be able to fulfill its obligation to pay out employee pensions.

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

If you live in South Carolina, we recommend finding an accredited campus-based or online criminal justice programs for your associate’s, bachelor’s, and 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 (Georgia or North Carolina).

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.

Anderson University (Anderson)
Bachelor of Criminal Justice Degree (online)
Bachelor of Criminal Justice | Law Enforcement (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Criminal Justice | Homeland Security/Emergency Preparedness (online )
Bachelor of Emergency Management Services | Homeland Security Operations (online)
Bachelor of Emergency Management Services | Community Emergency Management (online)
Master Degree | Criminal Justice

Charleston Southern University (Charleston)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)

The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina (Charleston)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)

Student Review: “I loved the Criminal Justice Program at The Citadel. I gained knowledge that currently assists me in doing an effective job and knowledge which will allow me to advance in my career when the opportunity presents itself. I thoroughly enjoyed all of my classes, but I became frustrated at times because of the prices of books. I am no expert, but I felt many of the textbooks were overpriced. What’s worse is, sometimes a class only needed the text for a chapter or two. However, tuition was affordable, and the campus had a wealth of resources and technological advances to help students with their studies. My professors and instructors were not only patient but knowledgeable as well. They were able to provide pertinent content and job leads. Even though I was a “struggling” student, my professors never hesitated to assist me. Many times they worked with me outside of their office hours.” – Student at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina
stars-5

Claflin University (Orangeburg)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online)
Minor | Criminal Justice

Coker College (Hartsville)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminology (online or on-campus)
Master of Science | Applied Criminology (online)
Minor | Criminology

Columbia College (Columbia)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts | Disaster and Emergency Management: Fire Science (online)
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice (online)

Lander University (Greenwood)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Master of Science | Emergency Management (online or on-campus)

Limestone College (Gaffney)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)

Midlands Technical College (West Columbia)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Technology (online or on-campus)
Certificate | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)

Student Review: “I really enjoyed Midlands Technical College’s Criminal Justice program. The courses were exciting and fun but also packed full of knowledge. We learned a great deal about law enforcement and their tasks and expectations. We also spent time studying the court systems and how they run, as well as different laws and regulations. I really enjoyed learning about the duties of our law enforcers from the state and federal level. I also gained a greater respect for those that work in the active field. We participated in police ride-along programs as well as completed court evaluations. This program does a great job of getting students involved in local fields of criminal justice and allows you to build much needed connects for future careers. The only downsides of this program are the beginning courses. They are more on the educational aspect, while specialized classes give you the actual experiences that get you hooked on the learning and get you seeking to learn more.” – Student at Midlands Technical College
stars-4

North Greenville University (Tigerville)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online)

University of South Carolina-Upstate (Spartanburg)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Minor | Criminal Justice

Student Review: “I had an overall great experience as a Criminal Justice major at USC Update. Dr. Sarver and Dr. Covington especially contributed to my love of the major. Dr. Covington had previously been a female officer and was great at giving advice as to whether or not a job as an officer was for me. Dr. Covington also runs the Criminal Justice honor society, which is a great group to join. One of my favorite experiences was visiting the jail with Officer Peterson, who is also the Chief of Police at the school. Overall, the program is very hands-on and you learn a lot more than a book could ever teach you. Though I ended up being a Paralegal and not specifically in a Criminal Justice field, the knowledge I learned has greatly benefited me.” – Student at University of South Carolina-Upstate
stars-5

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.

Aiken Technical College (Graniteville)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice (transfer degree)

Benedict College (Columbia)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Corrections
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Court System
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement

Bob Jones University (Greenville)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Central Carolina Technical College (Sumter)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Technology
Certificate | Cybersecurity

Clemson University (Clemson)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: General Concentration
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Leadership Concentration
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: General Concentration
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Leadership Concentration

Denmark Technical College (Denmark)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Technology
Technical Certificate | Criminal Justice

Florence-Darlington Technical College (Florence)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Technology

Forrest Junior College (Anderson)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice

Greenville Technical College (Greenville)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Technology

Horry-Georgetown Technical College (Conway)
Associate of Applied Science | Crime Scene Investigations
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Technology
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement
Associate of Applied Science | Homeland Security
Associate of Applied Science | Public Service Administration
Certificate | Homicide Investigation
Certificate | Latent Print Collection and Classification

Morris College (Sumter)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice

Northeastern Technical College (Cheraw)
Associate of Applied Science | General Technology: Criminal Justice
Certificate | Criminal Justice

Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College (Orangeburg)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Certificate | Forensics
Certificate | Security

Piedmont Technical College (Greenwood)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice

Southern Wesleyan University (Central)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice Studies
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Science

Spartanburg Methodist College (Spartanburg)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice

Technical College of the Lowcountry (Beaufort)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Technology
Certificate | Correctional Office Administration
Certificate | Computer Forensics
Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Law Enforcement Psychology
Certificate | Correctional Training
Certificate | Criminal Justice & Law

Tri-County Technical College (Pendleton)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Technology
Certificate | Law Enforcement and Corrections Services

Trident Technical College (Charleston)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Technology
Associate of Applied Science | Homeland Security Management
Certificate | Corrections
Certificate | Law Enforcement
Certificate | Crime Scene Investigation
Certificate | Emergency Management and Protection

University of South Carolina-Columbia (Columbia)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminology and Criminal Justice
Master of Arts | Criminology and Criminal Justice
Master of Arts/Juris Doctor | Criminology and Criminal Justice/J.D. (dual degree program)
PhD | Criminology and Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminology and Criminal Justice

University of South Carolina-Lancaster (Lancaster)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice

Voorhees College (Denmark)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Emergency Management

York Technical College (Rock Hill)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice Technology
Certificate | Law Enforcement

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. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
10. Y Charts 10 Year Unemployment Chart: http://https://ycharts.com/indicators/south_carolina_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