Criminal justice is a field many students choose to pursue a career in law, justice, or even in human behavior. This educational path enables students to study areas such as psychology, social sciences, law, and criminal justice.
To do well in this type of program, students first need to choose a college that fits their needs and goals. Finding the best criminal justice colleges in Pennsylvania is a good starting point.
Best Criminal Justice Colleges in Pennsylvania
The following are some of the best criminal justice colleges in Pennsylvania. Take a closer look at each and what they can offer you.
Alvernia University offers a four-year Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration. The program is designed to prepare students for careers in a number of different fields. Some of those fields include law enforcement, social services, victim services, and investigation, among others. In order to earn the degree, students will need to complete a minimum of 1233 semester credits. Of the 123 credits, 48 of those will need to come from the major. In order to earn a minor in criminal justice from Alverna University, one will need to complete eighteen credits from the major with 4 courses required and 2 additional major electives.
At Arcadia University, you have the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice. This is a four-year bachelor of arts program that is offered through the Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice Department through the College of Arts and Sciences. The major allows you to pursue a concentration in either Social Justice or Law Enforcement. The program does also offer a minor as well as the option to pursue classes while studying abroad and learning international law. The major requires completion of 55 – 60 credit hours, depending on the concentration, in addition to credits required that are not for the major.
Cedar Crest College has a Criminal Justice Major and minor available to students of the school. The major at Cedar Crest offers a program that focuses on the prevention of crime as opposed to what to do after one has been committed. This is a unique approach as opposed to those of most programs. Many of the courses that are required of this major are not only classroom based but require the student to participate in outside field experience. In fact, part of the curriculum is to complete 220 hours of field experience in your chosen career path.
Chatham University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. The program is offered through the School of Arts, Science & Business. As part of the curriculum, students will be able to participate in cold case groups that work to solve murder and missing-person cases that have not been solved. The program also offers a number of internship programs that are available through the FBI and multiple police organizations in the area. To complete the major, students will need to complete 12 courses within it, and for the minor, students will need to complete two required courses and three elective courses from the major.
Chestnut Hill College offers a major in Criminal Justice with three options for minors in criminal justice. The three minors available are Criminal Justice, Restorative Justice, and Sociology. The program offers opportunities in a number of fields and has a number of activities for students to participate in. Some of the options include field trips, joining the Just-Us Club, and participating in a prison exchange program. There are a number of internships available to students, as well as a number of career paths that the students can prepare for while working towards their degree.
Delaware Valley University offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. The school also offers a Masters of Science program that can be concluded in five years with their 4 + 1 program. The school offers an Experience 360 program, which allows students to get real-world experience in the field through research, internships, study abroad, and other opportunities. There are a number of career paths to consider when studying in this area. Some of those include parole and probation, corrections, and security, among other opportunities. Students will need to complete a minimum of 123 credits to earn their bachelor’s degree.
DeSales University offers a bachelor’s, master’s, and minor in Criminal Justice. Students have the ability to earn a master’s in 5 years with the 4 + 1 program that the school offers. Students can also complete police academy training as part of their 4 year degree if they choose to do so. Other components of this program include a crime scene house which allows students to walk into a variety of crime scene scenarios, including a murder scene or a terrorist threat. The program requires the completion of 123 credit hours for the bachelor of arts degree.
Duquesne University offers a major in Sociology that can have a concentration in either Criminal Justice or Social Justice and Policy. This is a four year program. Students may also choose to minor in criminal justice. In order to earn the Sociology Degree with a Concentration in Criminal Justice, a total of 33 credit hours from the criminal justice concentration will need to be completed. The same is true for the Social Justice and Policy concentration. Students will also have the opportunity to earn a master of arts in Applied and Public Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice and Society.
Elizabethtown College introduced a Bachelor of Arts Program in Criminal Justice in 2018. The program offers a number of opportunities for students looking to complete it. The program guarantees that you will gain professional experience as a part of it and offers a number of possible career paths as a result of completing the degree. Students can consider a number of careers in the fields of homeland security, corrections, law enforcement, and security, among others. The school also prides itself on the diverse number of courses offered as a part of the program.
At Gannon University, you can earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice during a four-year program. The school also offers the ability to earn a Master’s Degree in Criminalistics. The school relies on experts in the field to provide the necessary education for the students. The program can prepare students for a number of different careers in the field and also offers an opportunity to complete the police academy during their studies as part of the curriculum. This may occur if you are looking to become a police officer upon graduation.
King’s College offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. The program comes with a number of opportunities for students to take advantage of, including internships that are available on the local, state, and federal levels. Students may also want to consider choosing to double major in an effort to improve their career potential or to have the focus needed for the field they are entering in criminal justice. Areas of study include law enforcement, the nature of law, social control, corrections, and private security, among others.
Kutztown University offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Students pursuing a different program may elect to get a minor in criminal justice to provide them with some background in the field they are looking to work in. The school offers the ability for students to participate in fieldwork as a part of their curriculum. This may include working with many of the local police departments, private detectives, or with the courts if that is the direction they are looking to head into. Students may also choose to have a focus on paralegal studies as part of the criminal justice degree.
LaRoche University offers both a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Criminology. The school also offers minors in the field that include criminal justice, criminalistics, and pre-law. The school offers a number of opportunities for students looking to get into any of the many fields of criminal justice. They have an on campus CSI student lab which recreates simulated crime scenes for students to study. There are also a number of opportunities in many fields through the internship programs at the school.
La Salle University offers a criminal justice bachelor’s program as well as a graduate program. The school offers a number of avenues for students to gain experience and options to choose from when trying to determine a career path. One of the programs is a prison learning immersion experience. The Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice requires the completion of 120 credit hours, with 36 of those being a part of the major. Students can prepare themselves to enter the workforce in any of a number of fields related to criminal justice through the use of internships and courses taken, or they can prepare themselves to continue on and earn a master’s degree.
Mercyhurst University offers a number of options when it comes to studying criminal justice. They offer a bachelor’s degree as well as two minors if you choose to major in another program. The minors are the psychology of crime and justice and criminal justice. Students may also choose to work towards a master’s degree by using the 4 + 1 program. The school also offers a 3 +3 program which would allow students to finish the Juris Doctorate in a total of 6 years if they so choose. In addition to all of that, the school also offers the opportunity to complete the police academy for students looking to become police officers.
Neumann University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, which includes a police academy option. In this program, students would not only need to meet the requirements of the school and entrance into their programs but would also need to meet all of the requirements of the Municipal Police Academy. This is a program that has a primary focus on law enforcement when looking to study criminal justice. To enter, students will need to pass a psychological evaluation, physical fitness test, placement tests, and other requirements.
Penn State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. This program requires the completion of 120 semester credits, with a minimum of 60 of those credits coming from the major. This is a four year program that offers a number of opportunities. Students can choose a variety of areas to focus on based on classes taken, as well as looking into the possibility of an internship in the field they are looking to start a career. Students can look at a number of options and careers in this broad field from which to choose.
Pennsylvania Western University offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. In that major, you are able to choose from five concentrations. Those concentrations include cyber forensics, forensic investigation, general criminal justice, homeland and international security, law and justice, and criminology. The program is designed to prepare students to enter the workforce and pursue positions of leadership or to continue their education in a master’s program. The school also offers an accelerated bachelor’s to master’s program for those who want to continue their education before pursuing a career.
Park Point University offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. The school also offers a master’s degree as well as a 5 year program that will allow students to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s in a total of five years. There is also the option to earn a minor in criminal justice if pursuing a different major. The program is available both online and in person, and for those already working in law enforcement, there are tuition discounts. Because of the proximity to Pittsburg, the school is able to tap into many resources to provide education with real life experience for the students.
Robert Morris offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. The program offers a curriculum that is comprehensive, providing both practical and broad knowledge for the students to draw from. Many of the professors in the program are able to draw on real world experience when working with the classes. There are also a number of opportunities available for students in a variety of fields when it comes to criminal justice through internships and career services. The program also has opportunities for programs such as early law school admission and a 4 + 1 master’s program.
At Saint Francis University, students are able to pursue either an Associate of Science or a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Students can also choose to have a concentration in cybersecurity as part of their criminal justice bachelor’s or choose simply to minor in criminal justice while earning a different bachelor’s degree. The programs are available both online and in person and are able to provide students with a wide variety of options and career paths based on the level of degree and the career that wishes to be pursued. The school has a built in internship program to be able to provide students in the program real world hands on experience in the field of their choice.
Shippensburg University offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. It is one of only eight schools in the U.S. to be certified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. The school provides a number of opportunities for students to be able to get themselves experience through the number of internships available as well as their ability to get students into careers. The types of careers available are many, as well as being prepared to enter graduate school if desired. This program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, with 45 of those credits being from within the major.
Temple University offers both a master’s and bachelor’s program in criminal justice. The bachelor’s program is more practice focused for the students, while the master’s program tends to be more research based. Students are able to find a lot of experience in the field they choose through internships which will provide real life experience. There are a number of career opportunities available for students in this program based on the location as well as the different programs available, including a PhD.
The University of Scranton offers a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. The program prepares students for a number of careers or the ability to continue their education. This happens through their brought options in regards to the curriculum as well as the options that they provide in regards to internships. These could include the FBI, local police, and the U.S. Marshals, among others. Students are able to look at a number of career opportunities or educational opportunities based on what they are looking to do and how they intend to pursue a career.
The University of Pennsylvania offers a bachelor’s degree in criminology. The school also offers a master’s and PhD program for students to pursue in the field as well. The undergraduate program is based on quantitative social science. There are a number of opportunities that are available for students in this program. Students cannot only decide to continue to pursue their education, but they can also look to pursue a career upon completion of their degree. The school offers a number of opportunities to do so through internships as well as job placement programs with a number of organizations and professions.
The University of Pittsburgh offers both a bachelor’s and master’s in criminal justice. There is a Bachelor of Arts in Law, Criminal Justice, and Society, and a Masters in Justice and Legal Studies. To earn the bachelor’s degree, students will need to complete 120 total credit hours of study, 36 of those hours will come from the major. Students have the ability to get real life experience in the field they are considering with an internship available from many sources. The school also offers a wide range of courses in the major in order for students to specialize in the field they desire.
Villanova offers a major and minor in criminology. The school recommends if taking the major in criminology to minor in sociology or vice versa. The two degree programs tend to go hand in hand. The major requires the completion of 33 semester credits over a variety of courses to select from. Some of these are core required courses, while others are electives within the program. The program requires students to complete 120 credits overall, and the program is available as a hybrid option.
Waynesburg University has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration program. In this program, students can choose a variety of career paths from which to focus their studies on. The program offers a number of internships that can range from local to national law enforcement programs, as well as working with corrections, law offices, and the coroner’s office, among others. The school also has hands-on programs that include a CSI Camp and Mock Crime Scene Workshop that students can participate in as well.
Widener University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice program. The program consists of the completion of 121 semester credits and can usually be completed in four years. The program does also offer a pre-law path as well as the ability to earn an accelerated master’s degree in as few as five years. To obtain real world experience in the field of choice, all students are required to complete a 200 hour internship as part of the course of study. The internship is of your choice to allow you to work in the field you desire.
York College offers both an Associate of Science and a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice. This program is designed for those who are looking at a number of different career paths, with the two year associates designed for those who are looking to enter the workforce quickly. The program offers a number of avenues to choose from when it comes to specializing in one area of criminal justice so students can pursue an education focused on where they want to advance.
Criminal Justice Degree Salary in Pennsylvania
With a criminal justice degree, you may be able to pursue one of several different career paths. You may wish to become a correctional officer or bailiff. According to PayScale, a correction officer in Pennsylvania earns a median pay of about $48,200 in October of 2022. You may wish to pursue a crime lab analysis position. PayScale notes that in Pennsylvania, for October 2022, those working as crime lab analysts earned a median pay of about $65,600.
What Can You Do with a Criminal Justice Degree?
A criminal justice degree may provide a number of avenues for students looking to take on a career in organizations such as government agencies, law firms, nonprofit organizations, and private companies. Some of the potential career paths students may wish to pursue include the following. Note that some paths require additional study.
- Corrections officer
- Police officer
- Crime lab analyst
- Crime scene investigator
- Forensic accountant
- FBI agent
- Forensic psychologist
- Homeland Security professional
Criminal Justice Job Outlook in Pennsylvania
For those working as detectives or criminal investigators, there is a lot of demand for professionals in the field, including in Pennsylvania. As of May 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates there were over 3,170 people working in this field with an annual mean wage of $92,760. The BLS notes that this field is growing at a rate of about 6%, which is as fast as the average growth in employment.
How Much Does a Criminal Justice Degree Cost?
The cost of a criminal justice degree varies significantly from one college and program to the next. Many students may qualify for financial aid and grants that could help to reduce those costs. Reports indicate that a bachelor’s degree in this field may range from $10,700 up to $32,000, though this is very much dependent on where the student studies. For example, criminal justice degrees are available through many state colleges, which typically cost less than private colleges. Online programs may also be a viable option and could reduce costs a bit more due to not having to live on campus.
The National Center for Education Statistics indicates that an undergraduate degree for the 2019 to 2020 school year had an average net price of attendance of $14,200 at public institutions. Private, nonprofit school costs averaged $28,100 and private for-profit schools cost $23,200.
Criminal Justice Scholarship Information
One way to potentially reduce the cost of education is to utilize scholarships. These are funds given to students that do not require repayment. Scholarships come from colleges, private organizations, professional associations, religious organizations, and many others. It is always worthwhile for students to spend some time locating criminal justice scholarships that could help cover some or all of their education.
Start with your college, which may offer some grants and scholarship programs to reduce your costs. There is also a wide range of other programs to consider, including the following:
- ASCLD Scholarship program
- Kush Arora Federal Criminal Justice Reform Scholarship
- Drinko Criminal Justice Scholarship
- Law Enforcement Memorial Scholarship
- J. Edgar Hoover Scientific Scholarship
Criminal Justice Program Requirements
Each college and program sets its own requirements for students. Many times, there will be specific rules related to the following:
- General education requirements: This often includes English, math, and other courses necessary for building foundation skills.
- Foundation courses: Foundation courses may include an introduction to law and criminal justice, as well as courses in criminology, theory, and criminal procedure.
- Electives: Students then may need to take electives, which they can choose based on available programs. This could be in an area of interest such as psychology, cybercrime, criminalistics, terrorism, international organized crime, the legal system, international law, and many others.
Some schools have a set number of credits students must earn, such as earning 120, to earn their bachelor’s degree. Many also require a capstone project, which is often a research-based project that showcases their skills and knowledge. Every program is a bit different, and students will need to learn what the program itself requires from that specific school.
Common Courses in Criminal Justice Programs
Here is a look at some of the courses that students in a criminal justice degree program may study. Remember, these, too, differ from one college to the next.
- Introduction to Criminology: The focus of this course is often on criminal behavior, theories related to treatment, and crime prevention.
- Juvenile Delinquency: The focus here is on the role of social agencies in the prevention and control of juvenile-focused crime.
- Criminal Courts: This type of program may focus on the U.S. criminal court system.
- White Collar Crime: The focus here is on crimes committed by professionals.
- Race, Crime, and Justice: This type of course often focuses on the racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system.
How Long Does It Take to Complete a Criminal Justice Degree?
A wide range of options exists here. Most of the time, this is a 4-year bachelor’s degree. There may be other avenues available, such as fast-track programs, fully online programs which allow for accelerated education, and part-time programs that could extend that learning window even further.
Are You Ready to Learn More?
Finding the best criminal justice schools in Pennsylvania doesn’t have to be a challenge. Find the program that is right for you. Whether you want to start on a new path or add to your current career, online colleges in Pennsylvania are available to help you get there.