A criminal justice degree can help you find work with numerous federal and local agencies in Washington DC, as many organizations and nearly all federal positions prefer candidates who have completed a college degree. The colleges and universities in Washington DC offer both campus-based and online criminal justice programs for students interested in pursuing associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in the growing field of criminal justice. Specialization options include justice and peace studies, emergency and disaster management, and administration of justice, among many others.
*For not-for-profit colleges and universities with criminal justice degree programs.
Criminal Justice Degree Programs in Washington DC
Qualifications of employment for a law enforcement agency depend largely on the type of work you are interested in pursuing. However, earning a degree in criminal justice will increase your competitiveness in the Washington DC job market. For the Washington DC metropolitan police, new recruits must have 60 college credits or 5 years of law enforcement experience within a similar jurisdiction or 3 years of active duty military experience. In federal criminal justice, from homeland security to protective services and policing jobs there are plenty of job opportunities in DC – protecting the nation’s capital will always be a primary focus of the federal government. Most federal law enforcement jobs require either extensive experience or a four-year degree. Washington DC’s colleges and universities offer numerous programs that can help prepare you for an exciting career working in criminal justice in the nation’s capital.
Featured Online Programs
Explore program formats, transfer requirements, financial aid packages, and more by contacting the schools below.
Top-Ranked Schools with Criminal Justice Programs in Washington DC
College Factual’s Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges
- George Washington University (#2)
- American University (#5)
- Howard University (#48)
Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Washington DC
George Washington University: The Department of Sociology at George Washington University offers its students a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, a Master of Arts in Criminology, and a dual degree with a BA/MA in Criminal Justice/Criminology. Undergraduate students take courses focused on qualitative methods, urban sociology, and deviant behavior while graduate students can customize their degree plans to cater to a specialization in Criminology, Social Inequality or Urban Sociology. To provide a multidisciplinary curriculum, the department is affiliated with the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, the Women’s Studies Program, the Africana Studies Program, and the Department of Forensic Sciences. 23 full-time faculty teach within one or more of the programs and many are current/former employees of local federal agencies in Washington DC.
Howard University: Howard University offers both a Minor and Major in Administration of Justice within the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Students are required to complete 21 hours of foundation courses including Introduction to Sociology, Elementary Statistics, Criminology, and Principles of Criminal Justice. The elective courses available to undergraduates are highly focused on juveniles, deviance, and victimology. The department has 22 full-time faculty with those teaching Administration of Justice courses having research interests in fields including deviance and criminology. Students have access to numerous federal agency internship opportunities since the offices are located in Washington DC.
Notable Alumni from Washington DC Universities
- Lori Garver, Deputy NASA Administrator – George Washington University
- Allen Dulles, Former Director of the CIA – George Washington University
- William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States – Georgetown University
Police Quote: “Remember it’s a job, an important job, but it should not be your whole life. Especially if you have a family. You’ve got decades before you retire. So pace yourself so you don’t go from too eager to completely disillusioned. You want to leave the department with some of the same idealism you went in with.”Peter Moskos, former Baltimore police officer and author of Cop in the Hood
Washington DC Criminal Justice Careers
Efforts to increase the safety of the nation’s capital have opened up job opportunities for entry-level police officers and armed security positions in and around Washington DC. While the metropolitan area police department employs thousands of officers, the district is surrounded by county and city jurisdictions as well as federal law enforcement agencies and airport security, making the District of Columbia one of the best places to pursue a law enforcement career. District and federal law enforcement agencies in the Washington DC area are among the fastest-growing, most highly-supported, and largest in the United States.
Working in the criminal justice field in the District of Columbia can provide competitive salaries that are among the highest in the country. The average salary for Washington DC police officers is $72,000.8 Detectives and criminal investigators in Washington DC make an average annual salary of $119,280.7 Washington DC paralegals earn an average of $77,230 per year.16
Washington DC Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Correctional Officers and Jailers||1,270||$44,680|
|First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives||Not available||Not available|
|Detectives and Criminal Investigators||2,590||$119,280|
|Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers||5,230||$72,000|
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.5,6,7,8
Washington DC’s Criminal Justice Employment Outlook
The unemployment rate for the District of Columbia as of May 2016 was 6.1%, above the national average of 4.7%, though well below the district’s 10-year peak unemployment rate of 10.5% in January 2010.9 DC’s 10-year unemployment low was in December 2008, with a rate of 5.6%.9 Government-related employment is a good proxy for criminal justice employment in the District of Columbia. Projections Central estimates the following employment opportunities in the criminal justice field in DC through 2024:
- Police and Sheriff Patrol: 200 annual openings; 46% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 24% holding an associate’s degree.10,11
- Correctional Officers: Not available; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 15% holding a post-secondary certificate.10,12
- Detectives and Criminal Investigators: 80 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 21% holding an associate’s degree.10,13
- Security Guards: 260 annual openings; 4% in these positions report completing at least some college.10,14
- Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 190 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.10,16
Projections for openings are based on jobs growth as well as replacements.
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Directory of Not-for-Profit Washington DC Universities Offering Campus-based and Online Criminal Justice Degrees
If you are interested in earning an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in the growing field of criminal justice, we recommend finding an accredited on-campus or online program in the District of Columbia.
Schools with Online and On-Campus Criminal Justice Programs
George Washington University (Washington DC)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts/ Master of Arts | Criminal Justice/ Criminology (combined degree program)
Bachelor of Arts/ Master of Public Administration | Criminal Justice (combined degree program)
Bachelor of Professional Studies | Police and Security Studies (online)
Master of Arts | Criminal Justice
Master of Arts | Criminology
Master of Engineering | Cybersecurity Policy & Compliance (online or on-campus)
Master of Professional Studies | Cybersecurity Strategy & Information Management (online)
Master of Professional Studies | Homeland Security (online)
Master of Science | Crime Scene Investigations (online)
Minor | Law and Society
Graduate Certificate | Forensic Investigations (online)
Student Review: “The George Washington University is a great school, located in the middle of all of the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital. They offer a broad variety of programs, but are best known for foreign policy, law, and medicine. They offer many night classes, which is great for working professionals. I took all night classes, except one class from 3:30-5. The campus is very urban – not much grass but it has a Whole Foods, many bars and restaurants, and a Metro station. It is located in the heart of the city and is a short walk to all of the monuments – the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Smithsonian museums, and the memorials.”Dan A., student at George Washington University
Georgetown University (Washington DC)
Bachelor of Arts | Justice and Peace Studies
Bachelor of Science | Justice and Peace Studies
Executive Master of Professional Studies | Emergency & Disaster Management (online or on-campus)
Master of Professional Studies | Emergency & Disaster Management (online or on-campus)
Minor | Justice and Peace Studies
Certificate | School-Justice Partnerships
Certificate | Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice
Certificate | Youth in Custody
Certificate | Juvenile Diversion
Certificate | Forensic Accounting
Certificate | Cybersecurity Strategy
Schools with On-Campus Criminal Justice Programs Only
American University (Washington DC)
Bachelor of Arts | Justice and Law
Bachelor of Arts | Law and Society
Master of Science | Justice, Law, and Criminology: Justice & Public Policy
Master of Science | Justice, Law, and Criminology: Law & Society
Master of Science | Justice, Law, and Criminology: Jurisprudence & Social Thought
Master of Science | Justice, Law, and Criminology: Terorrism & Security Policy
PhD | Justice, Law, and Criminology
Minor | Justice
Minor | Law and Society
Howard University (Washington DC)
Bachelor of Arts | Administration of Justice
Minor | Administration of Justice
University of the District of Columbia (Washington DC)
Associate of Applied Science | Corrections Administration
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement
Bachelor of Arts | Administration of Justice
Master of Science | Homeland Security
Master of Science | Homeland Security: Emergency Management
Master of Science | Homeland Security: Cybersecurity
Master of Science | Homeland Security: Terrorism and counter-terrorism
Master of Science | Homeland Security: Peacekeeping and security
Master of Science | Homeland Security: Epidemiology
Master of Science | Homeland Security: Intelligence
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. Y Charts 10 Year Unemployment Chart: https://ycharts.com/indicators/district_of_columbia_unemployment_rate
10. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
11. O*Net OnLine, Police Patrol Officers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/details/33-3051.01
12. O*Net OnLine, Correctional Officers and Jailers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3012.00
13. O*Net OnLine, Police Detectives: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3021.01
14. O*Net OnLine, Security Guards: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-9032.00
15. O*Net OnLine, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/23-2011.00
16. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
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