Montana is home to several schools offering criminal justice programs, including accredited, not-for-profit online degree options. Criminal justice education options available for students attending Montana campuses range from certification programs all the way to master’s and doctoral degrees, in concentrations as diverse as forensic anthropology, private security, and cybersecurity. Schools offering online criminal justice degrees include Dawson Community College, Montana State University, and the University of Great Falls. Continue reading to learn more about your options for earning a criminal justice degree in Montana.
*For not-for-profit colleges and universities with criminal justice degree programs.
Criminal Justice Degree Programs in Montana
There are several schools in Montana offering criminal justice programs that can provide you with a strong foundation for your career. Montana has major college communities in Missoula and Bozeman, as well as a Law Enforcement Academy for officer training. Earning your criminal justice degree can make you more competitive in the job market while providing increased opportunities for career advancement as well as the potential for higher salaries. Additionally, it is becoming more common for employers to require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree for entry-level employment.
Featured Online Programs
Explore program formats, transfer requirements, financial aid packages, and more by contacting the schools below.
Profiles of Well-Known Schools
The University of Montana: Through the Department of Sociology at the University of Montana, students can pursue a BA or MA in Sociology with a Criminology Emphasis. The department has established networks to pair majors with juvenile justice internships, better preparing them for graduation. Bachelor’s students are required to complete criminology option courses that include Sociology of Corrections, Juvenile Justice System, and Addiction Studies, while master’s students dedicate the majority of their time to theory and methodology courses. To better network and take part in field seminars and activities, criminology students can join the department’s Criminology Club.
Montana State University: Students at Montana State University can pursue a BS in Sociology with the Criminology Option through the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Common courses that students with this concentration take include Criminology, Principles of Criminal Law and Procedure, Occupational or Corporate Crime, and Family Violence. The department has 10 full-time faculty and those teaching criminology courses specialize in family issues and juvenile delinquency. Being a land-grant campus, Montana State University is a hub for innovative research and currently holds 81 patents and 200 license agreements.
Notable Alumni from Montana Universities
- Missoula, MT Police Chief Mark Muir – University of Montana
- Helena, MT Police Chief Troy Mcgee – Carroll College
- Lewis and Clark County, MT Sheriff Leo C. Dutton – University of Montana College of Technology
- Great Falls, MT Police Chief David Bowen – University of Great Falls
Police Quote: “Of course, you can have a successful career in patrol or corrections without a degree, but it definitely helps. Even if these people don’t aspire to management, a bachelor’s degree should still be the goal because it helps in so many ways – even with simple life skills.”Sheriff Gary Raney
Montana Criminal Justice Careers
Local, state, and federal government agencies represent one of the largest employer groups in the criminal justice field. In Montana, law enforcement offices within the state’s Department of Justice include the Montana Highway Patrol, State Crime Lab Forensic Science Division, and Division of Criminal Investigation. Federal agencies that employ criminal justice majors include the Department of Justice, US Marshals Service, DEA, FBI, and Secret Service.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes most criminal justice jobs under protective services and community and social services, reflecting the various roles that are fundamental to these occupations. Mean annual salaries within this field depend to a great extent on the level of training required. The average salary for all protective service occupations in Montana was $39,770 as of May 2015.5 During the same time period, police officers in Montana earned an average of $49,630 per year and first-line supervisors of police earned an average of $69,750.6,7 Corrections officers were paid an average of $35,840 while detectives earned an average salary of $75,130.8,9
Montana Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Correctional Officers and Jailers||1,210||$35,840|
|First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives||230||$69,750|
|Detectives and Criminal Investigators||450||$75,130|
|Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers||1,520||$49,630|
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.6,7,8,9
Montana’s Criminal Justice Employment Outlook
As of May 2016 Montana’s unemployment rate was 4.2%, quite close to the 10-year low unemployment rate of 4% seen in March 2015.10 The 10-year peak unemployment rate was 6.9% in August 2010.10 Government-related employment is a good indicator of criminal justice jobs in Montana. Projections Central includes the following criminal justice job estimates for the state:
- Police and Sheriff Patrol: 70 annual openings; 46% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 24% holding an associate’s degree.11,12
- Correctional Officers: 50 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: 10 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 21% holding an associate’s degree.11,14
- Security Guards: 60 annual openings; 4% in these positions report completing at least some college.11,15/sup>
- Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 40 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 positions are based on projections for both jobs growth and replacements.
The Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank, ranked and analyzed the long-term solvency of each state government. The center analyzed the budgeting process, tax/cash collections, and pensions for each state and ranked Montana 10th in the nation.17 This shows sound employment and budgeting practices, and new hires can be confident that the state will likely be able to fulfill its pension obligations.
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Directory of Montana Universities Offering Campus-based and Online Criminal Justice Degrees
If you live in Montana, we recommend finding 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.
Schools with Online and On-Campus Criminal Justice Programs
Dawson Community College (Glendive)
Associate of Arts | Chemical Dependency Counseling
Associate of Arts/ Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement: Peace Officer (online or on-campus)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement: Private Security (online or on-campus)
Certificate | Correctional Officer
Montana State University-Northern (Havre)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Minor | Criminal Justice
University of Montana (Montana)
Bachelor of Arts | Anthropology: Forensic Anthropology
Bachelor of Arts | Sociology: Criminology
Bachelor of Arts | Sociology: Inequality and Social Justice
Bachelor of Science | Chemistry: Forensic Chemistry
Master of Arts | Forensic Anthropology
Master of Arts | Sociology: Criminology
Master of Arts | Sociology: Inequality and Social Justice
Minor | Military Studies
Certificate | Cybersecurity (online)
Certificate | Forensic Studies (online or on-campus)
Certificate | Geographic Information Systems Sciences & Technologies
Certificate | Network & Info Security
University of Great Falls (Great Falls)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts | Addictions Counseling (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Corrections
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Resource Enforcement
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Forensic Investigation
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Biology
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Chemistry
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Science
Master of Science | Organizational Management: Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Minor | Forensic Science
Certificate | Addictions Counseling
University of Providence (Great Falls)
Bachelor of Arts: Criminal Justice: Corrections (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts: Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts: Criminal Justice: Forensic Investigation (online or on-campus)
Bachelor of Arts: Criminal Justice: Natural Resource Management (online or on-campus)
Schools with On-Campus Criminal Justice Programs Only
Blackfeet Community College (Browning)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Flathead Valley Community College (Kalispell)
Associate of Arts | Forensic Science
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Associate of Arts | Human Services
Associate of Arts | Substance Abuse Counseling
Associate of Science | Forensic Science
Associate of Science | Human Services (transfer degree)
Associate of Science | Criminal Justice (transfer degree)
Associate of Science | Substance Abuse Counseling
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Emergency Management
Associate of Applied Science | Human Services
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (2+2 program with the University of Great Falls)
Certificate | Emergency Dispatch
Certificate | Firearms Technologies
Montana State University (Bozeman)
Bachelor of Science | Sociology / Criminology
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, Protective Service Occupations (Major Group): https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes330000.htm
6. 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
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, Correctional Officers and Jailers https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333012.htm
9. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Detectives and Criminal Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm
10. Y Charts 10 Year Unemployment Chart: http://https://ycharts.com/indicators/montana_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
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