40 Best Criminal Justice Schools and Universities in the U.S.

Best Criminal Justice Programs Colleges and Universities

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Criminal Justice is a field that includes the study of the criminal mind and behavior. It also covers the inner workings of government corrections and law enforcement agencies. Students could also study criminal and constitutional law, scientific forensics, and more.

This exciting major can serve as a foundation for a career in law enforcement, or it may be a springboard into law school. There are many opportunities a degree in criminal justice could unlock. Here, we have assembled a comprehensive list of the very best criminal justice programs in the United States. Each is unique in its own right, and students should investigate each to determine the best college for them. You might want to consider factors such as academics, internships, location, and whether programs are available online. Once students launch from one of these excellent criminal justice degree programs, the sky is the limit.


CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

John Jay College makes the top of our list for a very good reason. That is, it stands alone for its sole dedication to criminal justice. The school has gained notoriety for its appearance on television shows such as Law & Order, and its consistent record of producing the nation's best law enforcement professionals. Whether you're seeking a bachelor's or master's degree, John Jay is sure to have the perfect program for you.

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,470
    • Out-of-State: $15,420
  • Rank: #1
  • Total Enrollment: 15,394
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 1,586

Stephen F. Austin State University

Whether you wish a BS or BA in Criminal Justice, SFASU has you covered. They also offer a five-year overlap program that includes a Master of Public Administration. There's no better way to launch a career than by entering the job market with a graduate degree. SFASU also offers degrees in political science and pre-Law for those seeking a minor or double major for their undergraduate degree.

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $8,844
    • Out-of-State: $18,972
  • Rank: #2
  • Total Enrollment: 13,144
  • Graduation Rate: 48%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 27

Appalachian State University

Nestled in North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains, students can pursue a degree in criminal justice and still go snow skiing all winter. If you are particularly eager to launch a brilliant career, you can opt for ASU's five-year program that includes a graduate degree in public administration. The university also offers a criminal justice degree with an international studies focus that might help you land a job with INTERPOL, Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency, or the FBI, to name a few options.

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,409
    • Out-of-State: $22,216
  • Rank: #3
  • Total Enrollment: 19,108
  • Graduation Rate: 72%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 110

University of South Dakota

Criminal justice students at USD are in for a rigorous program that provides a foundation for a top-notch career. The criminal justice major is available on campus, but you can also finish enough courses for a minor online. Once you start your career you can continue at USD and complete their Master of Public Administration from any Wi-Fi router in the world.

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,332
    • Out-of-State: $12,807
  • Rank: #4
  • Total Enrollment: 10,066
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 53

Fayetteville State University

Whether you're an undergraduate or a student seeking graduate-level work in criminal justice, Fayetteville State will prepare you for excellence. Students can complete a BS, undergraduate minor, an MS, or a graduate certificate in criminal justice. FSU also offers an online criminal justice program that brings top instruction to you, no matter where you are. FSU offers you the opportunity to land a job with the nation's top law enforcement agencies.

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $5,274
    • Out-of-State: $16,882
  • Rank: #5
  • Total Enrollment: 6,318
  • Graduation Rate: 35%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 109

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

UTRGV is one of the top criminal justice programs in the nation because it offers both undergraduate and graduate programs for students. Undergraduate students can opt for a full major program or complete a minor in criminal justice to compliment another degree such as sociology, psychology, or political science among others. At the graduate level, students must maintain a 3.0 average, thus ensuring that the program maintains utmost integrity.

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $8,132
    • Out-of-State: $18,260
  • Rank: #6
  • Total Enrollment: 28,644
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 471

Undergraduate students at Canisius can choose between a major degree or a minor concentration within the Criminal Justice program. The college's town/gown relations are a great help when it comes to landing an internship with Buffalo's local law enforcement agencies. In fact, you might be able to work with the US District Attorney's Office, Child Protective Services, or the Niagara County Probation Department.

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $29,428
    • Out-of-State: $29,428
  • Rank: #7
  • Total Enrollment: 3,244
  • Graduation Rate: 68%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 24
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Niagara University

Niagara U's criminal justice degree is known for launching brilliant careers in law, federal law enforcement, crime analysis, or victim services. Alumni are found working in the FBI, DEA, and US Customs and Border Protection. Undergraduate students are also invited to investigate NU's graduate program in criminal justice. If you've already launched a career or a family, the graduate school can accommodate you with online, weekend, campus, or hybrid course options.

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $34,510
    • Out-of-State: $34,510
  • Rank: #8
  • Total Enrollment: 3,763
  • Graduation Rate: 71%
  • Diplomas Awarded (Criminology): 70

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Here, students enjoy an interdisciplinary approach to criminal justice that spans history, sociology, psychology, social work, law, and more. This allows students to blaze their own trail and arrive at new and surprising conclusions that might impact the entire field. Once graduated with a BS, students have the option to apply to UMES' graduate criminal justice program. Successful applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 as the program is quite competitive.

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $8,558
    • Out-of-State: $18,968
  • Rank: #9
  • Total Enrollment: 3,193
  • Graduation Rate: 39%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 76

Located just outside of Kansas City, Missouri, Park University rounds out our top 10 criminal justice programs. They offer a degree in criminal justice administration which prepares students with a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or an Associate of Science degree. The BS degree is available online, which makes it convenient for students nationwide. Both four-year degrees allow the choice of concentrating on law enforcement, corrections, or security.

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $11,190
    • Out-of-State: $11,190
  • Rank: #10
  • Total Enrollment: 11,415
  • Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 182
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