The Best Degrees in Criminal Justice

Updated November 8, 2022 · 2 Min Read

A criminal justice degree can lead to new and exciting career opportunities. Here, we list the best criminal justice degrees. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Best Criminal Justice Colleges

Criminal justice is a field in which people can come to better understand the role that justice plays in our society. It considers everything from the law to the correctional system to public policy.

The job outlook for criminal justice careers is steadily growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects police officer and detective jobs to increase by 7% from 2020-2030. These professionals earn a median salary of $67,290 per year. For forensic science technician jobs, the BLS projects a growth rate of 16% from 2020-2030. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $60,590.

A criminal justice degree can prepare students for a variety of careers, including social workers, police officers, and forensic science technicians. Below, you'll find the five best bachelor's degrees in criminal justice.

Students interested in pursuing a criminal justice degree should consider what interests them about the field. Is it the law? Is it the corrections part? Is it the justice system as a whole? Many programs also integrate sociology and psychology courses into the curriculum. Some programs focus more on research than others.

Learners planning to continue on to graduate school should look at programs that require at least a research methods course if not also a thesis. Many colleges and universities on this list also have an accelerated program. In accelerated programs, students can earn both an online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in criminal justice in five years.

Find out which program is the best fit for your career goals with the five best bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice.

Featured Online Criminal Justice Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

true University of Maryland-College Park College Park, MD 100.0
BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice

At the top of our list is the University of Maryland at College Park’s bachelor of science in criminology and criminal justice. This program requires 39 credits in criminal justice courses, including required courses in theory and research methods. Students can also do an independent study or complete an internship for credit. Other courses include criminal law in action, treatment of criminals and delinquents, and contemporary criminological theory. The University of Maryland also regularly posts internship opportunities for students, as well as jobs for students. Finally, students can get involved with the Criminal Justice Student Association and Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society, the national criminal justice honor society.

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true Northeastern University Boston, MA 99.9 BS in Criminal Justice and Psychology

Students who are interested in criminal justice and psychology would greatly benefit from Northeastern University’s bachelor's degree in criminal justice and psychology. The program gives students a basis in both fields, as well as experience with how they intersect and inform one another. Students complete 128 hours for this criminal justice degree. Courses include gender, crime, and justice, policing a democratic society, and law and psychology. Outside of the classroom, students can engage with experiential learning opportunities and Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society. Additionally, undergraduate research opportunities exist within the Undergraduate Research Initiative and the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict.

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true University of California, Irvine Irvine, CA BA in Criminology, Law and Society 96.5

The University of California-Irvine offers a bachelor of arts in criminology, law & society. The degree has a foundation in law, crime and criminology, and formal institutions of social control. Students take 44 major units in addition to the general education requirements mandated by the university. They take courses in crime and criminology and injustice and inequalities. To graduate, students complete 180 units in four years. Learners may also finish the criminal justice program in three years. Additionally, students benefit from the expertise of faculty members who specialize in psychology and law, race and justice, and a variety of other subsets within the field.

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true Florida State University Tallahassee, FL BA/BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice 92.2

Florida State University has a bachelor of arts or science in criminology and criminal justice program. The program requires 36 semester hours in criminology. Courses include the individual and society and comparative criminology and criminal justice. Students also learn about crime victimization and the media. FSU allows students to either begin work on a master’s degree in the field as an undergraduate or to take part in a 3+3 program with the University’s law school.

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true Michigan State University Lansing, MI BA in Criminal Justice 90.7

Michigan State University awards a 120-credit bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice. Degree-seekers can minor in security management by completing 18 additional credits of coursework, some of which would also count toward the major in criminal justice. Outside of the classroom, MSU annual hosts a Criminal Justice Career Fair, which brings criminal justice agencies to campus to talk about opportunities after graduation. MSU has a number of scholarships for criminal justice degree students. Learners can get involved with undergraduate research opportunities, internships, service learning, and the Inside-Out program, in which MSU students take courses with inmate students at Cooper Street Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan.

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Featured Online Criminal Justice Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

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