Colleges in North Carolina for Criminal Justice

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Updated May 31, 2024

There are several reputable colleges in North Carolina for criminal justice majors. Explore top options, plus their curricula, costs, aid, and more.

CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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North Carolina has 98 nonprofit colleges and universities that offer criminal justice certificates and degrees, making the state a solid education choice for students interested in a criminal justice career.

Some colleges in North Carolina for criminal justice majors offer degree concentrations like crime analytics, law enforcement, and homeland security. These options can open the doors to various careers in the field, including forensic science technicians, court reporters, and private investigators.

Learn what you can expect from a criminal justice school in the Tar Heel State.

Quick Facts

  • As of May 2023, North Carolina employed more than 16,000 lawyers.
  • The North Carolina Department of Justice (DOJ) has a dedicated online job search portal for criminal justice professionals.
  • Since 2017, the NC DOJ has helped consumers who endured fraud scams or fraud win more than $2.5 billion.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Overview of Criminal Justice Education in North Carolina

Higher Education in North Carolina

129
Total nonprofit postsecondary schools

98
Schools that offer criminal justice degrees and certificates

Many criminal justice colleges in North Carolina offer bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice and related fields, like political science, justice administration, and homeland security administration.

Although some schools only have on-campus degrees, others provide online versions for students who live in other states or prefer to pursue their degrees virtually. Online criminal justice programs may be in one of the following formats:

  • Hybrid: Hybrid programs blend online and in-person courses, allowing students to combine face-to-face interaction with scheduling flexibility.
  • Synchronous: Synchronous online programs have set meeting dates and times for classes via video conferencing, although learners can typically complete their coursework independently.
  • Asynchronous: Asynchronous classes usually have weekly deadlines for assignments but do not require students to log in at specific times. Instead, they usually watch recorded lectures and participate in forum-based class discussions.

Learners at some schools can pursue concentrations to tailor their degrees to their future career goals. Common concentrations for criminal justice degrees in North Carolina include crime scene investigation, forensic psychology, and homeland security.

Colleges in North Carolina for Criminal Justice

This section highlights schools in North Carolina that offer criminal justice degrees. The schools are unranked and presented alphabetically by institution name. To qualify for inclusion on this list, the school had to be nonprofit, be accredited, and offer at least one bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

Appalachian State University

Four-year | Public | Boone, NC | On-campus

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in political science
  • BA in political science
  • BS in criminal justice
  • BS in criminal justice - international studies

Master's degrees:

  • MA in political science
  • Master of public administration - administration of justice
Visit Appalachian State's Programs . External link

Barton College

Four-year | Private, nonprofit | Wilson, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in criminal justice

Master's degrees:

  • MS in criminology and criminal justice sciences
  • MS in criminal justice
Visit Barton's Programs . External link

Carolina University

Four-year | Private, nonprofit | Winston-Salem, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BA in criminal justice

Master's degrees:

  • MS in criminology
Visit Carolina's Programs . External link

East Carolina University

Four-year | Public | Greenville, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in criminal justice

Master's degrees:

  • MS in criminal justice
Visit East Carolina's Programs . External link

Elizabeth City State University

Four-year | Public | Elizabeth City, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in criminal justice
  • BS in homeland security

Visit Elizabeth City State's Programs . External link

Fayetteville State University

Four-year | Public | Fayetteville, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in criminal justice

Master's degrees:

  • MS in criminal justice
Visit Fayetteville State's Programs . External link

Gardner-Webb University

Four-year | Private, nonprofit | Boiling Springs, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in criminal justice administration
  • BS in homeland security administration

Visit Gardner-Webb's Programs . External link

Guilford College

Four-year | Private, nonprofit | Greensboro, NC | On-campus

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in criminal justice
  • BA in community and justice studies

Master's degrees:

  • MS in criminal justice
Visit Guilford's Programs . External link

Lees-McRae College

Four-year | Private, nonprofit | Banner Elk, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BA in criminal justice
  • BS in criminal justice

Master's degrees:

  • MS in criminal justice
Visit Lees-McRae's Programs . External link

Meredith College

Four-year | Private, nonprofit | Raleigh, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BA in criminology

Master's degrees:

  • MA in criminal justice
Visit Meredith's Programs . External link

Methodist University

Four-year | Private, nonprofit | Fayetteville, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in criminal justice
  • BS in forensic science

Master's degrees:

  • MS in criminal justice
Visit Methodist's Programs . External link

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Four-year | Public | Greensboro, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in criminal justice

Master's degrees:

  • MS in criminal justice

Doctoral degrees:

  • Ph.D. in criminal justice
Visit NCAT's Programs . External link

North Carolina Central University

Four-year | Public | Durham, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in criminal justice

Master's degrees:

  • MS in criminal justice
Visit NCCU's Programs . External link

North Carolina State University

Four-year | Public | Raleigh, NC | On-campus

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BA in criminology

Visit North Carolina State's Programs . External link

North Carolina Wesleyan University

Four-year | Private, nonprofit | Rocky Mount, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BA in criminal justice

Master's degrees:

  • MS in criminal justice
Visit North Carolina Wesleyan's Programs . External link

Saint Augustine's University

Four-year | Private, nonprofit | Raleigh, NC | On-campus

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in criminal justice

Visit Saint Augustine's Programs . External link

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Four-year | Public | Charlotte, NC | On-campus

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BA in criminal justice

Master's degrees:

  • MS in criminal justice
Visit University of North Carolina at Charlotte's Programs . External link

West Carolina University

Four-year | Public | Cullowhee, NC | On-campus and online options

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BS in criminal justice
  • BS in emergency and disaster management
  • BS in forensic science

Visit West Carolina's Programs . External link

Wingate University

Four-year | Private, nonprofit | Wingate, NC | On-campus

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BA in criminal justice
  • BS in criminal justice

Visit Wingate's Programs . External link

Winston-Salem State University

Four-year | Public | Winston-Salem, NC | On-campus

Bachelor's degrees:

  • BA in justice studies

Visit Winston-Salem State's Programs . External link

Criminal Justice Careers in North Carolina

North Carolina provides opportunities for several criminal justice jobs in terms of employment, projected job growth, and annual salary. You can find some of these roles on the North Carolina DOJ's job search portal.

For example, security guards and police and sheriff's patrol officers are among the most employed criminal justice professionals in North Carolina, with nearly 50,000 jobs as of 2023, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These careers also have promising projected job growth of +15.1% and +9.8%, respectively, from 2020-2030.

Additionally, lawyers and administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers have median annual salaries over $110,000, and the demand for lawyers is projected to grow by 11.1% from 2020-2030. Even some careers with smaller employment numbers, like criminal investigators and private detectives, have promising growth potential in North Carolina.

North Carolina is among the states with the highest employment for several of the following criminal justice careers. The following table compares their employment, salaries, and projected job growth.

Read More:
North Carolina Highway Patrol Requirements
Charlotte Police Department Officer Requirements

Criminal Justice Jobs in North Carolina
Job Employment (2023) Median Annual Wage (2023) Projected Job Growth (2020-30)
Police officers and sheriff's patrol officers 21,300 $52,380 +9.8%
Detectives and criminal investigators 3,170 $61,320 +6.5%
Fish and game wardens 180 $54,660 0%
First-line supervisors of police and detectives 4,440 $79,500 +9.2%
Public safety telecommunicators (police and fire dispatchers) 3,740 $40,480 N/A
Forensic science technicians 500 $49,650 +20.5%
Correctional officers and jailers 12,140 $46,440 -5.7%
First-line supervisors of correctional officers 1,400 $62,590 0%
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists 3,060 $52,600 +1.8%
Bailiffs 190 $42,970 +5.9%
Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers 220 $114,900 0%
Lawyers 16,080 $133,130 +11.1%
Paralegals and legal assistants 12,160 $52,000 +14.2%
Legal secretaries 3,840 $43,220 -18.6%
Municipal, license, and court clerks 4,210 $42,560 +7.9%
Court reporters and simultaneous captioners 170 $59,760 +4.5%
Security guards 28,490 $33,550 +15.1%
Private investigators and detectives 840 $60,940 +11.1%
Emergency management directors 410 $78,640 +9.5%
Postsecondary criminal justice teachers 1,490 $59,520 +8.1%
Source: BLS OEWS, Projections Central

How to Choose the Best College in North Carolina for Criminal Justice

As you explore colleges in North Carolina for criminal justice, consider key differences between programs, like program format, curriculum, and costs, as these factors can influence your outcomes.

Accreditation

Schools can voluntarily participate in the institutional accreditation process to spotlight their commitment to academic excellence and positive student outcomes. If you're interested in transferring credits or receiving federal financial aid, you'll typically need to pursue a degree from an accredited school.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the primary institutional accrediting body for North Carolina colleges and universities.

Cost

The cost of a criminal justice degree in North Carolina can vary between schools, especially public and private schools. The National Center for Education Statistics lists the average 2021-2022 tuition and fees for North Carolina's public four-year schools as $7,337, while private four-year schools charged an average of $38,346.

Program Format

North Carolina's criminal justice schools offer on-campus and online degrees. Some schools also have part-time and accelerated programs to help learners fit courses into their schedules. To find a suitable program format, consider how much time you have available outside of work and personal obligations to spend on your degree.

Curriculum and Instructor Expertise

A program's curriculum and instructor expertise should align with your career goals. For example, a research-based curriculum might work best for criminal justice administrative and policy-making roles, while a practical curriculum is more suitable for investigators or forensics experts.

Additionally, consider a program with an internship if you'd like to gain hands-on experience while completing your studies.

Student Support Services

North Carolina schools provide various student support services, including tutoring services, writing labs, libraries, and career services. These resources can enhance your educational experience. Browse available services on a school's website or speak with an admissions counselor to learn more about how the school supports criminal justice students online and in person.

Financial Aid for Criminal Justice Students in North Carolina

North Carolina students received over $282 million in financial aid for the 2021-2022 school year. Criminal justice students can apply for federal and state-based aid and scholarships to reduce tuition costs.

Federal Financial Aid

The federal government provides federal financial aid, including loans, which students must repay, and grants, which students don't repay.

Eligible criminal justice students with federal loans may apply for forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. PSLF allows loan forgiveness for individuals employed by the government or a nonprofit organization after they've made at least 120 qualifying loan payments.

State Financial Aid

North Carolina's Forgivable Education Loans for Service offers up to $7,000 in forgivable loans for associate and bachelor's students and up to $14,000 for master's students. To qualify, students must be NC residents and commit to working in a field experiencing an employment shortage. The state will forgive the loan after one full year of qualifying employment.

The College Foundation of North Carolina also offers a scholarship search for students to find merit- and need-based scholarships in the state.

Criminal Justice Scholarships for North Carolina Students

Criminal Justice Resources in North Carolina

Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in North Carolina for Criminal Justice

Which college in NC has the best criminal justice program?

Several NC colleges and universities have notable criminal justice programs, although the University of North Carolina at Charlotte has one of the most reputable programs in the country. Other top criminal justice schools in the Tar Heel State include Barton College, East Carolina University, Gardner-Webb University, and North Carolina State University.

Does UNC have a good criminal justice program?

Yes, the University of North Carolina system has reputable criminal justice programs. In fact, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte's criminal justice department has won multiple awards and recognitions, making it one of the country's most well-known and productive departments of its kind.

Does NC State have a criminal justice program?

Yes, NC State has a bachelor of arts in criminology, which includes courses in sociology and anthropology. NC State learners also complete a criminal justice internship during their senior year to gain real-world experience in the field. Students pursuing a different degree can also minor in criminology at NC State.

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CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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