Educational Requirements For Criminal Justice Jobs
As the career opportunities in the criminal justice field vary widely, so do the educational requirements. In previous years, an associate’s degree was often enough for one to enter into the criminal justice field as a police officer, corrections officer, crime scene investigator, and more. However, many law enforcement agencies now require employees to have a bachelor’s degree. Even agencies that do not require a bachelor’s degree usually prefer applicants with this credential. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree will certainly allow a criminal justice professional to advance higher and quicker in their careers.
Employment Outlook For Criminal Justice Careers
The employment outlook for criminal justice careers is hard to summarize because there are so many different positions within this sector. However, job opportunities in the criminal justice sector as a whole are projected to rise more than average over the next decade. The population of the United States is projected to continue to increase at a rapid rate, so there will be a continued need for more public safety officers.
The Many Criminal Justice Degree Jobs
As previously mentioned, there are many different jobs within the criminal justice sector. The most prominent criminal justice jobs are police officer positions. However, there are many more positions in this field. Graduates of criminal justice programs can also obtain employment as corrections officers. Crime scene investigators and crime scene technicians are also popular criminal justice careers. Workers who hold criminal justice degrees can also work for law firms, particularly criminal defense firms. Criminal justice degree holders can also work in District Attorney’s offices.
Best Criminal Justice Schools in 2020
1. CUNY John Jay College
CUNY John Jay College takes the top spot on our list for several reasons. Firstly, the tuition is very low. Secondly, the entire college focuses on criminal justice. The institution offers both a B.A. and a B.S in Criminal Justice. The B.S. program is focused on institutional theory and practice, while the B.A. program is focused on research.
- Tuition: $4,891 per year
- Graduation rate: 43.1%
2. University of Texas-Dallas
The University of Texas-Dallas offers one of the most highly rated criminal justice programs in the state. The school also charges very affordable tuition rates. The undergraduate program is focused more on research than on practical experience. Students can access both the DFW Federal Statistical Research Data Center and the Institute for Urban Policy Research.
- Tuition: $10,036 per year
- Graduation rate: 70.6%
3. University of Missouri-St. Louis
Like the top two schools on this list, the University of Missouri-St. Louis is very affordable. The school offers a unique bachelor’s degree program with a dual focus on Criminology and Criminal Justice. Students have access to many different internship opportunities that allow them to get real-world experience before they graduate.
- Tuition: $9,150 per year
- Graduation rate: 57.5%
4. The University of Indiana-Bloomington
The University of Indiana-Bloomington offers one of the most highly rated programs in the state. This program is unique in that it takes a holistic approach, as the coursework may include social sciences, legal studies, and humanities. The Criminal Justice program at the University of Indiana-Bloomington also offers students internship opportunities with law enforcement agencies.
- Tuition: $12,488 per year
- Graduation rate: 76.1%
5. Sam Houston State University
Sam Houston State University offers both a B.A. and a B.S. in Criminal Justice. The B.A. program is focused on research, while the B.S. program is focused on practical applications. Students can complete their degrees online or on-campus.
- Tuition: $11,742 per year
- Graduation rate: 67.1%
6. Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers the highest-ranked criminal justice program in the state. The undergraduate program offers a dual focus in Criminology and Criminal Justice to ensure that students get a well-rounded education. Students have the opportunity to meet residents of correctional institutions to better understand the field. They can also intern with over 200 different organizations.
- Tuition: $12,947 per year
- Graduation rate: 67.1%
7. University of Nebraska-Omaha
The University of Nebraska-Omaha offers a highly-rated undergraduate program with a dual focus in Criminology and Criminal Justice. This program offers students multiple internship opportunities with law enforcement agencies. Students even have the opportunity to study in the United Kingdom to get a taste of criminal justice in a foreign country.
- Tuition: $11,727 per year
- Graduation rate: 44.4%
8. University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida is a great option for students looking to complete a criminal justice program. Like many schools on this list, UCF offers both a Criminal Justice B.A. and a Criminal Justice B.S. Students can also minor in psychology, public administration, and legal studies to broaden their educations. Students can even earn certificates in highly specialized areas of criminal justice.
- Tuition: $15,341 per year
- Graduation rate: 74.7%
9. University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi offers one of the leading criminal justice programs in the South. This program is unique because it allows students to choose an emphasis in either corrections, law enforcement, or homeland security. Students are required to complete an internship to gain practical experience before they graduate.
- Tuition: $14,259 per year
- Graduation rate: 58.7%
10. East Carolina University
East Carolina University has a unique criminal justice program. This program requires students to take courses in sociology, psychology, and government before moving onto criminal justice classes. Once students have taken their required classes, they can customize their course of study to fit their interests.
- Tuition: $13,327 per year
- Graduation rate: 60.4%
11. University at Albany
The University at Albany, which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, offers a highly-rated bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. This program is unique in that it allows students to pursue a B.A. and an M.A. at the same time. This option only takes students slightly longer than the standard B.A. course of study.
- Tuition: $16,100 per year
- Graduation rate: 66%
12. Florida A&M University
Florida A&M University has one of the top criminal justice programs in the state of Florida. Florida A&M is a historically black institution, but now accepts students of all races. The Criminal Justice program encourages students to do an internship so they can get hands-on experience.
- Tuition: $13,529 per year
- Graduation rate: 40.5%
Do you need help finding the right criminal justice program? We can help you find the right school based on your needs.
13. Washington State University
Washington State University has a leading criminal justice program. The criminal justice program at WSU is aimed at producing students who are prepared for both government agencies and the private sector. There are multiple internship opportunities available for interested students.
- Tuition: $17,885 per year
- Graduation rate: 66.3%
14. West Chester University
West Chester University is a small private institution in Pennsylvania. They offer a highly respected criminal justice program with a low faculty-to-student ratio. This program offers students to opportunity to get both a B.A. and an M.A. on an accelerated schedule.
- Tuition: $19,348 per year
- Graduation rate: 69.8%
15. Claflin University
Claflin University is another small private school. It is located in South Carolina. Students must complete a major research paper on a criminal justice topic before graduating.
- Tuition: $18,089 per year
- Graduation rate: 57%
16. University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma offers one of the oldest and most prestigious criminal justice programs in the region. Students must take this program on an accelerated schedule, which means they can finish in two or three years. Students can choose from four concentrations including administrative leadership, and investigations and intelligence analysis, homeland security, and restorative justice.
- Tuition: $20,003 per year
- Graduation rate: 67.1%
17. University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati has the highest-ranked criminal justice program in Ohio. The University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute allows students to get hands-on experience before they graduate. Practical experience is actually required before students can graduate.
- Tuition: $21,050 per year
- Graduation rate: 66%
18. Georgia College & State University
Georgia College & State University is one of the few public liberal arts colleges in the South. Its criminal justice program features a low student-to-teacher ratio. The institution is known for its innovative programs and the quality of its faculty.
- Tuition: $20,055 per year
- Graduation rate: 59.3%
19. Temple University
Temple University offers one of the most innovative criminal justice programs in Pennsylvania. Students have the opportunity to attend classes inside a prison to prepare them for this atmosphere. Students can get both a B.A. and an M.A. in five years if they choose the accelerated track.
- Tuition: $22,940 per year
- Graduation rate: 71%
20. Cedarville University
Cedarville University is a small, private institution in Ohio. Cedarville is a Christian school, and this is reflected in the curriculum of the criminal justice program. Students of all faiths can enroll, but the school is aimed at religious students.
- Tuition: $23,520 per year
- Graduation rate: 72.6%
21. Boston University
Boston University is one of the most prestigious institutions in the entire country, and employers are sure to notice a criminal justice degree from this school. BU’s criminal justice program incorporates courses about law, sociology, and public policy. BU is known to be a great school for veterans.
- Tuition: $33,728 per year
- Graduation rate: 86.5%
22. American University
American University is another highly prestigious institution. The criminal justice program at American University offers concentrations in criminal justice, criminology, and terrorism or security studies. Many graduates go on to work for federal agencies, as the school is located in Washington D.C.
- Tuition: $32,732 per year
- Graduation rate: 81%
23. Texas Christian University
Texas Christian University is another highly-ranked program in the state with one of the highest populations of inmates in the nation. All students must do an internship. Students can even study criminal justice abroad in Japan and Scandinavia.
- Tuition: $35,363 per year
- Graduation rate: 77.1%
24. George Washington University
George Washington University, like American University, is located in Washington D.C. It should come as no surprise that many criminal justice graduates go on to work for federal agencies. The program allows students to pursue a course of study that prepares them to work for the federal government.
- Tuition: $37,638 per year
- Graduation rate: 83.9%
25. Liberty University
Liberty University has a comprehensive criminal justice program that allows students to choose from several different specializations. These specializations include homeland security, juvenile justice, public administration, crime scene investigation, and strategic intelligence studies. Liberty is one of the few institutions that offers a juvenile justice specialization.
- Tuition: $26,954 per year
- Graduation rate: 33.8%
How We Ranked These Schools
We took two factors into account when ranking these schools. Firstly, we considered the yearly tuition of each school. We also looked at the percentage of enrolled students who graduate. To come up with each school’s ranking, we took the tuition and added a multiplier equal to the percentage of enrolled students who did not graduate. For example, a school with a yearly tuition rate of $10,000 and a graduation rate of 90% would have a score of 11,000 (10,000 x 110%).
If you are a representative of one of the institutions on this list and you want to correct a mistake in this article or ask us a question, feel free to contact us.
If you need assistance finding the right school for your criminal justice program, we can help you find the right institution for your interests.