What Are The Best Criminal Justice Colleges?

November 17, 2022
By AdmissionSight

What are the best criminal justice colleges?

Students who major in criminal justice gain an understanding of the fundamental concepts and theories underlying the field of correctional science. They also have the opportunity to investigate and learn about a variety of other topics, including criminal investigation, criminal profiling, forensic law, psychology, and criminal justice reform. Thus, knowing the best criminal justice colleges is very important.

What are the best criminal justice colleges?

The college that is most suitable for you will be determined by several factors that are unique to you, such as the amount of money you have available, the kinds of things that interest you, and your ultimate professional ambitions.

The following tends to be true of top-tier institutions of higher education in the field of criminal justice:

  • Regional accreditation
  • Reputation for reliability that has been built up by both current students and former students
  • Committed teachers who have done their homework
  • A wide variety of academic concentrations and electives in the field of criminal justice

So, what are the best criminal justice colleges? You will have the opportunity to acquire the foundational knowledge necessary for a career in the criminal justice field if you enroll in one of the institutions listed below.

15 Best Criminal Justice Colleges

1. Texas Christian University

  • Location: Fort Worth, TX
  • Acceptance Rate: 47%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 9,474
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1150-1340 SAT, 25-31 ACT

Texas Christian University signage

The Criminal Justice major at Texas Christian University requires students to take some foundational courses in addition to advanced courses in each subcomponent of the criminal justice system. These subcomponents include policing, law, court practices, and corrections. Students are also required to complete an internship in the field of criminal justice to gain practical experience.

2. University of Florida

  • Location: Gainesville, FL
  • Acceptance Rate: 38.7%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 35,491
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1280-1440 SAT, 27-32 ACT

University of Florida metal signage attached to a huge brick wall

Students at the University of Florida have the opportunity to engage in original research in the form of either a senior thesis or a specific Undergraduate Research in Criminology course. Both of these options are available to students. Students must earn a passing grade on an exit exam that tests their knowledge of crime, criminal justice, law and society, and criminological theory before they are allowed to graduate.

3. Citadel Military College of South Carolina

  • Location: Charleston, SC
  • Acceptance Rate: 74.7%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 2,923
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1060-1230 SAT, 20-25 ACT

Citadel Military College of South Carolina's front building and signage attached to a white wall

The Criminal Justice Department at The Citadel is the second largest major there. Students have the opportunity to participate in the Citadel Criminal Justice Society, which provides opportunities to attend events featuring guest speakers and go on field trips related to the field of criminal justice. They also have the opportunity to take part in academic conferences, events to raise money for charitable causes, and volunteer work in their local community.

4. University of the Ozarks

  • Location: Clarksville, AR
  • Acceptance Rate: 50.2%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 824
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 880-1040 SAT, 18-23 ACT

The University of the Ozarks is among the best criminal justice colleges in the country. Students at the University of the Ozarks who are interested in pursuing a career in the legal system have the opportunity to pursue a criminal justice minor, which includes the study of sociology, psychology, and political science. Students who choose to minor in criminology will have the opportunity to become familiar with criminology-related concepts as well as research methods, which will better prepare them for a career in the justice system.

5. Temple University

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Acceptance Rate: 60%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 28,726
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1140-1310 SAT, 24-30 ACT

Students who choose to major in criminal justice at Temple University are allowed to gain practical experience in the field through a wide range of internships as well as in-class experiential learning opportunities.

front building of Temple University with the university flag

Students at Temple University have the opportunity to participate in the world-renowned “Inside Out” program, which allows them to attend classes held inside correctional facilities.

6. University of Miami

  • Location: Coral Gables, FL
  • Acceptance Rate: 27.1%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 11,307
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1280-1420 SAT, 29-32 ACT

University of Miami's front building and signage

Students who choose to major in criminology at the University of Miami acquire an in-depth knowledge of the legal system as well as the nature of criminal behavior. Students have the opportunity to join the Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society if they can meet the required academic standards. This honor society is considered the most prestigious in the field.

7. Rutgers University-New Brunswick

  • Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Acceptance Rate: 60.1%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 36,039
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1190-1410 SAT, 25-31 ACT

a building inside Rutgers University

The Criminal Justice major at Rutgers University, one of the best criminal justice colleges in the country, provides students with both a liberal arts education and pre-professional training to better prepare them for successful careers. Students who are highly qualified and interested in the field of law may apply to the 3+3 program to complete the requirements for a graduate law degree in six years rather than seven.

8. American University

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Acceptance Rate: 31.5%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 8,287
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1220-1380 SAT, 27-31 ACT

Students majoring in Justice, Law, and Criminology at American University have the extraordinary opportunity to take part in challenging research and internship opportunities in the nation’s capital as a result of the university’s location in Washington, DC.

In addition, the faculty at American University includes specialists who are actively engaged in international research, have extensive experience in the relevant field, and collaborate with policymakers.

9. Northeastern University

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Acceptance Rate: 18.1%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 18,359
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1390-1540 SAT, 32-35 ACT

Students at Northeastern University take classes for one semester and then work full-time, paid jobs in an industry related to their major for the following semester. This ensures that students graduate with a wealth of professional experience under their belts.

front view of Northeastern University

At Northeastern University, students interested in pursuing a degree in criminal justice can choose from a variety of combined majors, including psychology and criminal justice, cybersecurity and criminal justice, and computer science and criminal justice.

10. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Acceptance Rate: 40.6%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 13,319
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 920-1060 SAT, N/A ACT

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice places a strong emphasis, throughout its entire curriculum, on the importance of developing critical reasoning skills. There are a total of 31 majors and 40 minors available for students to choose from. The three most common majors are forensic psychology, public administration, and criminal justice.

11. Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

  • Location: University Park, PA
  • Acceptance Rate: 56.5%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 40,363
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1160-1360 SAT, 25-30 ACT

pennsylvania state university front view

The Criminology Program at Penn State University is consistently ranked as one of the best 10 programs in the United States. The opportunity for students to spend their summer vacation in the Netherlands is truly one of a kind. Students have the option of participating in a program that examines The Holocaust or one that examines how the Dutch approach criminal justice and social issues.

12. University of Maryland-College Park

  • Location: College Park, MD
  • Acceptance Rate: 44.1%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 30,511
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1290-1460 SAT, 29-33 ACT

The Criminology and Criminal Justice Major at the University of Maryland is a Limited Enrollment Program, which means it is a competitive major with a controlled number of students to maintain the program’s quality. In no doubt, ranked highly as one of the best criminal justice colleges in the country.

University of Maryland's front lawn with a red building as a background

Students have the option of applying for direct admission to the major and will be subject to an academic review after they have completed 45 credits in the state of Maryland. You can also apply to the major after you have already begun your freshman year; however, to do so, you will need to have successfully passed the academic review.

13. Howard University

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Acceptance Rate: 31.6%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 6,243
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1140-1285 SAT, 22-27 ACT

Because Howard University is a historically Black institution of higher learning, a significant amount of emphasis is placed on the investigation of the relationships that exist between the legal system and people of color.

A building inside Howard University and the university signage in front of it

In the Criminology program at Howard University, some of the goals include developing students’ ability to write well, preparing students for leadership positions, and increasing the number of African Americans working in the administration of justice, sociology, and other fields related to criminology.

14. Liberty University

  • Location: Lynchburg, VA
  • Acceptance Rate: 56%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 45,935
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1020-1220 SAT, 20-27 ACT

front view of Liberty University

The Helms School of Government at Liberty University grants students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. Students at Liberty University, which is a Christian university, will analyze the legal system from the perspective of the Bible to complete their coursework. Students have the option to select a concentration, such as homeland security or forensic investigation of crime scenes.

15. Rutgers University-Newark

  • Location: Newark, NJ
  • Acceptance Rate: 62.7%
  • Total Undergrad Enrollment: 9,142
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1020-1190 SAT, 19-24 ACT

An accelerated master’s program is available at the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice. This program allows qualified undergraduate students to earn both a bachelor of science and a master of arts in Criminal Justice in just five years. Rutgers University awards academic credit for internships and fieldwork experiences, recognizing the importance of real-world training gained through these opportunities.

Why should I major in criminal justice?

You may be wondering, now that you have a list of the best criminal justice colleges, “why should I major in criminal justice?”

On-campus bachelor’s programs in criminal justice are highly recommended for several different reasons. To begin, and most importantly, you should pursue this kind of degree simply because you take pleasure in the work that it entails.

a female criminal justice attorney writing on a paper

The second justification for doing so is that it will assist you in advancing your career and provide you with the expertise you will require to be successful. People who view themselves as effective problem-solvers typically fare well in careers related to the criminal justice system. They take pleasure in being able to discover hints and figure out how the pieces fit together.

Attending school for criminal justice could be a good choice for you if you are interested in pursuing a profession in which you can collaborate with others who share your values and objectives.

If you go to school for criminal justice, you’ll have the opportunity to explore a wide variety of different areas of concentration. Two of the most common concentrations that can be pursued in the field of criminal justice are forensic science and investigation skills.

The field of criminal justice brings together two of the most interesting career fields and provides students with the opportunity to learn how easily the two fields can become intertwined with one another. If you already have experience in law enforcement, earning a degree of this kind will allow you to look into the judicial or legal aspects of various situations.

If you work in the legal field, you have the opportunity to expand your knowledge of the investigative techniques and forensic science that law enforcement officers employ to solve crimes and put an end to a wide variety of illegal activities.

You will gain an understanding of how newly enacted laws impact how law enforcement officers carry out their duties. Many individuals who decide to enroll in a degree program in the field of criminal justice do so to move into a different profession in the future. Because of your expertise in both of these areas, not only will there be more opportunities for advancement, but there is also the possibility of a significantly higher salary.

What can you do with a criminal justice degree?

What can you do with a criminal justice degree? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that careers related to criminal justice are in high demand and have a tendency to be open to candidates with a variety of skill sets and educational backgrounds.

It’s possible that some jobs, like being a police officer or a security guard, only require the most fundamental training. A bachelor’s degree or higher is required for entry into a variety of other professions, including social worker, detective, and crime scene investigator.

A degree in criminal justice provides you with the flexibility to pursue many different roles within this industry, and it also allows you to further enhance your training and educational experience while you are working in your chosen profession.

Pursuing a concentration in criminal justice can also help you develop specialized skills for a particular subfield within the larger field of criminal justice.

After researching the best criminal justice colleges, the next step is to get accepted into one of those schools. We at AdmissionSight have more than ten years of expertise assisting students in navigating the tough admissions process to the greatest colleges in the globe. Consult with AdmissionSight and see what we can offer to make sure that you are well-prepared and knowledgeable enough to enter

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