If you’ve always dreamt of protecting your community, the best criminal justice schools are a way to explore many notable careers. During your studies, you’ll gather an in-depth understanding of the criminal justice system. Not only will you learn why crime occurs but also how to remedy common deviance and social concerns.
Whether you’ve been dreaming of a career in law, psychology, or sociology, this field of study can be quite beneficial. We’ve curated a list of the best schools for criminal justice programs. Each of these schools meets the following criteria:
- An average annual cost of no more than $22,000
- A median starting salary no lower than $49,500
- Accredited programs by recognized bodies
Best Criminal Justice Schools
1. University of Phoenix – New Mexico
4 Year; Albuquerque, NM
Average Annual Cost: $11,080
The criminal justice program at the University of Phoenix – New Mexico is one of the most convenient and flexible. As a school that focuses primarily on online learning, you can earn a degree from the comfort of your home. Another massive benefit of this program is that you can study based on your schedule.
Studying criminal justice at the University of Phoenix – New Mexico means you’ll have the skills and knowledge for a career in the court system. You can also explore other areas of criminal justice, such as security and public administration. With a unique blend of course offerings, you can gather different criminal justice perspectives across multiple industries.
Fortunately, there are multiple different types of degrees that you can earn with a focus in criminal justice, including:
- Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Science in Correctional Program Support Services
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Public Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Security Management
- Master of Public Administration
- Master of Science/Administration of Justice and Security
2. University of Phoenix – Hawaii
4 Year; Kapolei, HI
Average Annual Cost: $11,020
If you’re on the hunt for a criminal justice program that adapts to your schedule, the University of Phoenix – Hawaii is a fantastic solution. Its online course offerings are meant to be taken by working professionals and students interested in studying from home. When it comes to criminal justice, there are a multitude of degree options that you can consider.
During your studies, you’ll be able to build a strong foundation in the specialty while also establishing leadership skills. All of your courses can assist you with finding careers in the court system or other fields of criminal justice, such as security and public administration. What makes the University of Phoenix – Hawaii unique is that most of its courses are online.
Like their New Mexico campus, the University of Phoenix provides Associate, Bachelor, and Master degrees in various fields. Students often find themselves specializing in Criminal Justice Administration, Correctional Program Support Services, and Security Management. If you want a quick learning pathway to begin your future career, they offer a standard Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice.
Approximately 47% of students graduate from the University of Phoenix – Hawaii. With your degree, there’s the potential to earn anywhere between $31,015 and $88,250, depending on the specialty you choose. Undoubtedly, the starting salary is a desirable feature for prospective students.
3. Florida Institute of Technology – Online
4 Year; Melbourne, FL
Average Annual Cost: $12,240
The program is one of the most in-depth as it explores several essential concepts of the criminal justice system. Students will also have the benefit of studying entirely online, making it highly adaptable for working professionals. When you complete the program, you’ll be awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.
In total, you will need to acquire 121 credits to earn your degree. Fortunately, there is a wide assortment of course offerings that the program features. Some of the most common classes you’re likely to take during your studies include:
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Law Enforcement Systems
- General Physical Science
- Police Organizations and Administration
- Homeland Security and Terrorism
- Substantive Criminal Law
- Criminal Justice Ethics
Another fabulous feature of the criminal justice program is its list of electives. Within your 121 credits, you’ll be expected to take up to nine credit hours of courses such as:
- Organized Crime
- Serial Killers
- Violent Crime
- White-Collar Crime
- Abnormal Psychology
- Crisis and Conflict Resolution
Upon graduation, students looking for a profitable career will love that graduates often make between $37,208 and $67,660 with their degrees. Also, as these courses are offered entirely online, you can work and study simultaneously to further your career.
4. Walden University
4 Year; Minneapolis, MN
Average Annual Cost: $13,365
Walden University is another school that focuses primarily on offering courses suitable for working professionals. Whether you already have a career in criminal justice and want to expand or you’re switching careers, this program is ideal. Walden University’s criminal justice program is one of the few currently recognized by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.
They have also earned the title of a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. With the criminal justice degree, you’ll focus on restorative justice, 21st-century policing, and cybercrime. It’s one of the most adaptable learning pathways to focus on contemporary criminal justice concerns.
Upon graduation, you’ll receive a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Students will also have the opportunity to focus on a specific concentration, including:
- Corrections and Human Services
- Advanced Topics in Criminal Justice
- Criminal Justice Management and Administration
- Crime and Criminal Investigation
If you prefer to have a more flexible learning pathway, Walden University also enables students to design their curriculum. You’ll be able to choose from one of the four concentrations and personalize it to your specifications. With the self-designed course selection, you can focus on your preferred specialty.
5. University of Maryland – University College
4 Year; Adelphi, MD
Average Annual Cost: $14,288
University of Maryland – University College, now known as the University of Maryland – Global Campus, has a remarkable criminal justice program. As a fabulous online degree option, you can take advantage of a flexible and versatile learning process. Students will have the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science, specializing in criminal behavior and crime.
In your classes, you’ll learn how to apply substantive, procedural, and evidentiary criminal bodies of law. Students will also explore social science research, criminal justice evaluation and learn about the responsibilities of corrections, police, and courts. It’s one of the many programs that focus on all of the fundamental tenets of criminal justice, ethics, and analytical skills.
Students need to earn 120 total credits; 33 are required major courses, with 46 being minor and electives. There are also 41 general education courses you’ll be required to take. Some of the most common course offerings for criminal justice majors include:
- Ethical Behavior in Criminal Justice
- Law Enforcement Administration
- Criminal Law in Action
- Criminal Investigation
- Correctional Administration
- Issues in Criminal Justice
Another interesting concept of the criminal justice program at the University of Maryland – University College is their graduate pathway. If you opt to participate in a “Vertical Pathway,” you can reduce the requirements for a master’s degree in Criminal Justice Management. This process is ideal for anyone interested in furthering their undergraduate degree.
University of Maryland – University College has an impressive retention rate of 52%, with 28% of the study body graduating. After graduation, you’ll be able to earn between $33,993 and $75,518, depending on your specialty.
6. National University
4 Year; La Jolla, CA
Average Annual Cost: $14,664
National University offers three distinct criminal justice degrees to help you earn your dream career. They offer an undergraduate program, but they also have an inclusive Master’s program for further education. Whether you’re a working professional or a student fresh out of high school, this pathway is ideal for your future goals.
To further understand what each program offers, let’s explore the concepts you’ll learn with each degree.
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration
Students will learn about crime at all levels in this program, including local, state, and federal. You’ll acquire the educational and professional requirements for law enforcement, teaching, training, private security, research, and more. During your studies, you’ll explore civil and criminal investigations, court systems, criminology, juvenile justice, research methods, and forensic science.
- Master of Criminal Justice
Are you interested in taking your undergraduate education to the next level? If so, a Master of Criminal Justice from National University is ideal.
In this program, students will specialize in law enforcement leadership through an engaging curriculum. Students will develop research and problem-solving skills to analyze cases and develop solutions.
Undoubtedly, any area of study specializing in criminal justice will give you the fundamental skills to pursue a law-oriented career. You’ll learn how to apply sociological, biological, and psychological explanations to crime. Students will also gather a strong emphasis on using ethics when approaching federal, state, and local law enforcement.
7. University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
4 Year; Denver, CO
Average Annual Cost: $15,358
When pursuing a career in criminal justice, you must have access to a specialty of interest. Studying at the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus gives you multiple avenues for learning. Students can acquire undergraduate and graduate degrees in various areas of criminal justice, including:
- Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
- Minor in Criminal Justice
- Minor in Law Enforcement
- Minor in Victims and Victim Services
- Undergraduate Certificate in Law Enforcement
- Undergraduate Certificate in Victims and Victim Services
- Master of Criminal Justice
- Dual Master of Public Administration/Master of Criminal Justice
- Graduate Certificate in Crime Analysis
As a part of the School of Public Affairs, students will gather an education to help prepare them for an ever-changing workforce. It’s one of the few criminal justice programs that adapt to the modern needs for law enforcement, human services, and crime analysis. You’ll also find this program is perfect for students interested in pursuing a law-related career.
With a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, you’ll explore the tenets of crime and criminal justice organizations. Students will work through complex issues about community corrections, race, crime, victimology, capital punishment, and more. Interestingly, this program is a blend of in-person and online courses, making it highly adaptable to your schedule.
The University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus has an exceptional retention rate of 71% and 50% of the student body graduates. With your degree, there’s the potential to earn between $27,077 and $69,338 annually.
8. Colorado Technical University – Colorado Springs
4 Year; Colorado Springs, CO
Average Annual Cost: $16,435
Online degree programs have boomed in popularity thanks to their convenience and versatility. At the Colorado Technical University – Colorado Springs, you can acquire your criminal justice degree online. Students will dive into corrections, justice administration, law adjudication, law enforcement, and criminology during their studies.
Compared to other criminal justice degree programs, this pathway requires you to earn more credits before receiving your degree. Students will be required to take 182 credits which will include some of the following courses:
- Ethics in Criminal Justice
- Algebra for Business
- Introductory Psychology
- Speech Communications
- Public Administration
- Social Psychology
- American Corrections
- Criminal Law
- Career Planning and Management
While working towards your criminal justice degree, you’ll learn about the essential communication and professional skills required of law personnel. You’ll also acquire technical knowledge to assist with improving the justice system as a whole. Undoubtedly, this program helps students prepare for careers in community policing, law enforcement, and security management.
9. Capella University
4 Year; Minneapolis, MN
Average Annual Cost: $17,619
Undergraduate students interested in acquiring a graduate degree should consider Capella University. Their innovative Master of Science in Criminal Justice can give you the training required to pursue an advanced career. At this time, the school doesn’t offer any undergraduate criminal justice degrees.
You’ll experience resource planning and acquire leadership strategies to help your criminal justice career during your studies. Students will also develop decision-making skills to assist with policy-making to improve community safety. You can seek employment in federal, state, and local government and private sectors with this degree.
One of the more unique features of this program is that it’s developed alongside the FBI National Academy Associates. You’ll acquire real-world experience working with criminal justice with the help of the school’s prestigious faculty. Also, the program has been recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity.
As a whole, Capella University retains approximately 47% of its student body. With your degree, there’s the potential of earning between $36,117 and $94,408, depending on the specialty. With a Master’s, you can guarantee your salary will be highly competitive.
10. University of Baltimore
4 Year; Baltimore, MD
Average Annual Cost: $21,183
The University of Baltimore offers a unique Bachelor of Science degree for those interested in criminal justice. In this program, you’ll learn about preventing crime as well as researching and analyzing why and how criminality occurs. Students will gather a deeper understanding of the aspects that can affect the likelihood of criminal acts.
You’ll find all of your courses will revolve around research analysis and design as well as criminological theory, administration, and organization. You’ll also have the opportunity to customize your learning pathway to focus on other interdisciplinary courses. For example, if you want to acquire a specialty in information technology, you can choose classes along with your criminal justice requirements.
The program at the University of Baltimore prepares students for a career in corrections, investigative services, law enforcement, and private and public career options. Upon graduation, you could work as a drug enforcement agent, corrections case manager, juvenile counselor, and many more.