Top Criminal Justice Schools in America for 2019

What are the top criminal justice schools in America? It’s a question I get in my mailbox at least once a week. The truth is, it’s not University of Phoenix, Everest College, or Westwood College as you probably found other sites claiming a list of “10 Best Criminal Justice Schools” to be. Come on! Here’s the real deal.

In my opinion, some of the best criminal justice colleges in the US include:

Top Criminal Justice Schools in the USThese are just my recommendations, and rightfully so, as has it’s own list of Top Criminal Justice Schools in America. Many of the schools I had in mind they listed, too.

Best Criminal Justice Schools in America for 2019

sources: US News and Criminal Justice Degree, College, and Career Blog

This is a list of the Top Criminal Justice Schools in America without the fluff.

More than half of these best Criminal Justice universities have online Criminal Justice degree programs – a great alternative to on-campus education.

No matter what you’ve heard before, be aware that the name of the school and/or program ranking matters; it can make a big difference between being accepted for a career position or getting promoted. We, as society, have preconceived notions, expectations for high standards, and the understanding of what’s real and what’s not – the people and organizations that will be hiring you or looking over your grad school application will look at the program and the school your graduated from.

And one more thing… your college grades and GPA matter, especially when applying for highly sought after career positions, and of course, graduate study. Just thought you should know.

Wait… When picking schools that have multiple locations be aware that a program from one campus location – for example – may be OR may not be better than the program from the other campuses. Take University of California (a.k.a. UC). This educational system has quite a few university campuses, but UC Irvine reigns supreme in Criminal Justice/Criminology over UC Davis (example).

Even if you can’t get into a great college or university, which doesn’t hurt to apply, remember that when researching your criminal justice schools make sure to take the accreditation, tuition, and time investment into consideration. Now, go share this great resource with someone! Thanks for reading.

Do you think there are criminal justice schools that should make the list, but didn’t? Share them with us and tell us why your picks should belong among the best criminal justice schools in the United States.

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

115 comments… add one
  • Yasamine M

    Hi. I wanted to know which universities in California offer a Masters degree in Forensic science?not online. (I want to be a criminalist). I currently have a Bachelors degree in Cellular/Molecular Genetics. Would i have to take additional courses since i have a BS in a different field? and how much is the difference of salary between someone who has a Masters degree and a person with a PhD in this field (Criminalist) ?
    Thanks in advance. :)

  • Amy

    there’s this university called Olivet Nazarene University, its in Illinois, i don’t know if your familiar with it, but I’m really interested in going there but I’m afraid that it might be looked down upon in the hiring process… Is the school you go to really that big of a deal in getting hired in a law enforcement position after college?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      For the most part, any good and properly accredited school will do for most law enforcement careers. However, there may be instances where the person(s) deciding your career faith may have a specific liking to a school – University of Illinois, Chicago — for example — UIC is actually one of the better schools for criminal justice in Illinois. – It’s the whole local vs national vs no-name school fiasco. I think that quality schools will always prevail, the name of a school is an added bonus. Those hiring you will either sympathize with your school choice or condemn it. This is even true for those career hopefuls who graduated from prestigious schools. Insecure recruiters might worry about a Harvard grad replacing them, thus not considering his/her application.

      In all, it’s not that big of a deal when looking at it broadly, but on a case-by-case basis, the humans deciding your career faith will make their assumptions. Good or bad? I don’t know. What I do know is that most people are drawn to “the best” or they think through associations; college sports fanatics will love a candidate who came from the NCAA school like UCLA & University of Florida.. and the intellectual type will prefer those who graduated from schools like NYU or George Washington University.

      The main premise of my statement was to make you aware that for highly competitive spots in the work-force and academia the school name/quality of the program matters. To what extent? It all depends..

  • Cathey

    My son is currently a high school junior and we are investigating colleges with criminal science programs. We live in Texas and I’m curious why Texas A&M didn’t make the list? They have one of two FBI intern programs and seem to have a robust and well-thought of criminal justice program. We are checking out Sam Houston State later this month.

    I appreciate your insight.


    • Radek M. Gadek

      .. because, like Texas A&M, there is a ton of other great schools that I would have to mention. The list is meant to highlight The Best Schools in the Nation.

      I’m going to tackle the “best criminal justice schools in Texas” list in one of my blog posts.. coming soon.

  • shauna

    what do you think about the Walden University.. they have a bachelors in psychology with a concentration in criminal justice, then also have a fast track through that to their masters in forensic psychology? I hate going to school everyday and being 30 this year with 3 children, there has to be a decently cheap “good” online school. Question.. do you have to obtain licensing in any your state to be a forensic psychologist, like you do for lets say family counseling? I am all over the fence with my education, i know what I want to do, for the most part, although do not have anyone to academically guide me to through the process, and what would be a good decision. Walden university does have CACREP accreditation for their mental health masters degree through the nation, so that has to be good, right? Please help me, the only ones that want to help are the enrollment counselors at these schools and I know you cannot always believe everything they say.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Walden is definitely far from being a top school. I would skip Walden.

      I’m not too familiar with state certification for psychologists.

  • Arielle

    Hi there, I’d like to know what careers are available for legal studies majors besides paralegal and being an attorney? I graduate the program next year May and want to know what other paths are available. I’m thinking about probation, should I get a masters in CJ or get another bachelors in CJ? Thanks.

  • Ralph O'Maley


    My daughter (a Sr in HS) wants to major in criminology as an undergrad and get her masters in forensics. She’s been accepted at U New Haven, SUNY Albany, Bowling Green, SUNY Potsdam, Washington State U, and a few MA state colleges. I’ve been pushing Albany because it seems like a great school; they have the 5 year masters program and the cost is about $27k per year. My daughter wants New Haven (at $43k per year) because she can start her major as a freshman. Her third choice is Bowling Green($28k). Regardless of what I want, my goal is for her to get the best education possible. Of the first five schools listed what would you consider the best option(s)? Advice from a subject matter expert will certainly make “the decision” a lot easier.

    I greatly appreciate your insight.

    R. O’Maley

    • Radek M. Gadek


      I would recommend SUNY Albany based on both the pricing structure and its relevancy in the criminal justice field. SUNY Albany is one of the best schools an aspiring Criminology hopeful can get into. Plus, it ranks as one of the best schools in the US in many categories. Washington State University isn’t too shabby either.

      I know that choosing the right school can be a puzzling task, and that my recommendations are mine alone, but i do know that going to an esteemed university pays dividends down the line.

      I don’t know too much about University of New Haven, but based on a cursory lookup, I see it’s a reputable institution (perhaps only regionally). The price point is way too high, for a non-ivy league education.

      Hope this helps and wish your daughter good luck from me.

  • Moriah M.

    Between Northeastern University, Temple University, University of Maryland College Park, Rutgers, and University of Delaware…which has the BEST criminal justice program?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Tough to say. Really tough.

    • Jeff R.

      That’s actually not a tough call at all. University of Maryland – College Park has one of the nation’s best criminal justice/criminology programs for undergrads. And, it’s grad school was ranked the best in 2012 by U.S. News & World Report.

      • Radek Gadek

        It is when you add Northeastern into the mix :-P

        maybe you can help my mysterious reader: confusedddd. He or she posted a question on UM College Park vs Northeastern way below (please scroll down). I added my 2 cents already.

        Thanks for commenting.

  • terry

    I will graduate from the University of Scranton in May with a degree in criminal justice, minor in sociology. Would you recommend continuing my education….and what are my prospects for a job in this economic environment?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      What are your temporary and lifetime goals?

  • Theodora

    My daughter was accepted to Northeastern, John Jay College and University of Albany for Criminal Justice. Will John Jay as a CUNY school give her equal education to Northeastern which is an excellent school? Money is an issue here also. She received a merit scholarship from Northeastern but not enough to make a substantial difference.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Does your daughter want to major in Criminology, Criminal Justice, Forensic Psychology, or a similar field? If so, the distinction of CUNY — City University of New York — should not have too many complications here, because John Jay College of Criminal Justice is definitely one of the best schools in these fields; it’s like Harry Potter going to Hogwarts to become a Wizard – can’t get any better than that. Can it?

      Well, then comes Northeastern University, um… definitely one of the best schools in the USA and highly esteemed worldwide. Also their ranking for Criminology programs is great!

      And then, University of Albany (aka SUNY Albany) which has the top 3 ranking this year for their Criminology program. This is a well known school within the field of Criminal Justice.

      To be honest, I have no clue how you can make a decision here. You have to take a lot of factors into consideration when choosing. What if your daughter won’t want to pursue further studies in this field? Many students, and I mean like a relatively high percentage, discover themselves and their aspirations in college — an apex of actionable curiosity. Consider that when helping your daughter with her options. I switched my major twice in my undergrad years and Northeastern would have probably my best pick for that, even though they would most likely proverbially strangle me if I considered switching more than once — Northeastern doesn’t play.

      Check out the college rankings on websites like US News and the Princeton Review, among others. Regardless of how daunting the decision may be, your daughter has a very favorable dilemma. As for money, I feel that an investment in an excellent education is well worth it, granted one is able to handle high level academia. The dividends of such education will pay down the road, if not sooner. All three schools have something to offer:

      Northeastern University – top ranked school in many disciplines, including Criminology
      University of Albany – a SUNY school ranked as one of the top Criminology schools in the US
      John Jay College – a premier Criminal Justice (and related fields) school

      Good luck deciding! Trust me, you both will need it.

      • John

        All are great schools- I am in Northeastern U., Grad. School of a CJ. It is good as it gets in this field- in Boston which is always a plus- faculty is great- grad students that teach under grad w faculty are also very, very good. Great program that places students in the best career paths. Serious school for serious students and you get what you pay for.

  • Elizabeth

    Thanks for this page! I have a question, and if you have a chance to answer I’d really appreciate it:
    I’m about to graduate with a B.A. in Sociology. I want to become a criminologist, and although I’m good at statistics and research, I’m interested more in the profiling/psychology side of things. If I had to name a dream job, I’d love to work with the FBI (not as an agent). I’ve been looking at the schools on the list above, and I’m not sure if doing an MA or an MS is better for me. Is there a significant difference in job prospects? I get the impression that MS degrees are geared towards those who want to go on to a doctorate. Is this true? I want to start my career after my Masters. Any advice you could offer would be very helpful!

  • Pauline


    First, thank you a lot for this blog, it clarified a lot of questions I had. I still have some left though.
    I’m from Switzerland, and considering getting a degree in Criminology – or Criminal Justice with a focus on Criminology. My first question would be, would it be better for me to get a BA first or can I go for a Master directly, knowing that I will – hopefully – soon have a Master’s degree in History (major) and Social Anthropology (minor)?
    Second, looking through the lists of school, I was interested by Washington State University the most, but it seemed not to be a top ranked school on the usnews ranking. What is your opinion about that? Which University would you recommend and why?
    I would greatly appreciate your insights.


    • Radek M. Gadek

      I am assuming that your studies, now, are close to being finished on a Master’s level in your country (right?). If so, you should be able to go straight into grad school, without having to do your Bachelor’s in the US. Now, if you’re finishing your studies here in the US, same answer applies.

      WSU is one of the best schools for Criminology… and it is holding the #19 spot along with University of Illinois – Chicago (UIC) and American University (AU). It’s not top ranked, but considering the number of schools that are offering criminal justice and criminology programs I think that’s pretty good. Nevertheless, I am very ambitious and I would strive to get into the best criminology school I can.. one that ranks consistently and truly has an amazing program. I would definitely consider the top 20; weeding out schools that don’t fit my personal requirements, academic ideals, and financial criteria. I also like the power of a strong brand (school name) that has an excellent program to go with it. I can’t just pick a few… I would have to go back to school to give you my true assessment, but I hope this gives you some ideas that you can add to your own.

      • Pauline

        Thank you for your quick and helpful comments!

  • Paisano

    Utica College is far better than any of those you posted.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Utica College is a decent school, but I firmly stand by my choices. Thanks for the input.

  • Alexandra

    Hello – I am interested in your opinions on which private, christian schools would have a good criminal justice program. Please reply. Thanks.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I think it would be very hard for me to pick the best christian criminal justice schools. It just too much of a niche market, with no clear winners available for the choosing. There just might be a possibility that some of the schools I listed may be rooted in certain religions, but I wouldn’t know if those are christian or not unless I did some thorough research. Although I can’t help you now, I’ll try to incorporate a rating system for denominational schools.

  • Alexandra

    Thank you for the information. One school I was thinking of was Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Do you have any opinions on this school?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I’m not too familiar with that campus


    I’m currently enrolled at San Francisco State University as a full-time sophomore with an undeclared major & was interested in majoring in Criminal Justice hopeful to obtain a government career in the future. Money is also a major issue with my family who are willing to support me in my academic endeavors to a certain extent. In a nutshell, what college would you prefer for a major in Criminal Justice OR what resources can you provide me to help me further research programs at San Francisco State or nearby universities?

  • Mitch

    Do you have an opinion on Tiffin University’s (Ohio) criminal justice program?

  • tj andrews

    I’m currently a senior in high school and im looking for colleges in new England for criminal justice ….. any suggestions?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I think that almost half of these criminal justice schools are in the New England area. I think Penn State, John Jay College, and SUNY Albany are definitely worth a look at.

  • Shawn's Apples

    I begin John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Aug of 2011 for their Fall semester. I am pleased, to see that my college of choice, has made the list as one of the best colleges for Criminal Justice. I’m working on my B.S. in Forensic Science and I will either specialize in “Criminalistics” or “Toxicology”!

  • Beth

    I’m a junior in highschool and seriously considering majoring in criminal justice or criminology, but am struggling to find a college in my price range. Do you know of any colleges with a lower price range but still has a great criminal justice program? And do you know of any possible scholarships that the schools you have mentioned might offer? I was thinking SUNY Albany, but I’m not sure if I could afford it.

  • Rick

    In this writers opinion I believe Northeastern University is the best school for Criminal Justice Studies. Dean Fox is one of the most knowledgeable and informative people I’ve ever encountered. NU has a well rounded program, as well as the co-op program. Hence when you graduate you have some experience under your belt. I graduated NU back in 1985. And like the author of this blog/website stated, that name recognition does carry some advantages when pursuing your career. I’ve been working in law enforcement on the federal level for 21 years now. And I definitely know graduating from NU has benefited me. Besides attending college in Boston was some of the most wonderful experiences I had. Boston is a well diversified town of many schools. Can’t go wrong with attending N.U.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I’m with you. I think Northeastern University is an amazing school.

  • Will

    Have you heard anything or do you know anything about the University of Central Oklahoma’s criminal justice degree? They offer two concentrations, one is standard and the other is police. If you could let me know what you think of this school and whether or not it is worth looking into. I’m also looking at the University of Oklahoma’s Criminology degree.

  • Hailey

    You forgot Virginia CommonWealth University, they have one of the best forensics/criminal justice fields

  • RNG

    Hello Radek,
    I first wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog and it’s one of the most helpful resources I have come across while exploring the possibility of pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice. Kudos really!

    I have a question that I have not been able to get answered by searching your blog and I hope that it’s not simply a case of me not being thorough enough in my search. I was wondering if you know of any schools that offers Master’s in CJ with some form of IT/Computer concentration. I don’t mean hard core computer forensics (like John Jay), but something more along the lines of what SUNY Albany offers (

    Will be sending you an email in case that is the best course of action.


    • Radek M. Gadek

      Thanks RNG. I want to tell you that I know of such a school or program, but I don’t. A master’s degree is usually field specific and doesn’t offer much wiggle room. So, in essence, it’s CJ with a course or two related to IT OR IT with a course or two in CJ OR straight Computer Forensics. Also, John Jay is doing well in trying to merge all these very well.

      I have a Business & IT undergrad and know that you’ll probably have to make IT/Computers the pivot with Criminal Justice as the secondary option. It’s usually the technological programs that offer field specific pathways, not the other way around in this case. These programs can be tricky to find, but they are somewhere out there. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

      If you find anything, please reply to this comment thread with some updates. Thanks.

  • David Crowell

    How about the University of New Haven, Henry C. Lee School of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science. They have , probably the most advanced criminal lab on the East Coast. People should check into this school, especially if they want to go into Govt. work.Ex.-CIA, FBI Homeland Security etc.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I’ve heard about this school… good things that is and I’ll be sure to add it to the Best Criminal Justice Schools in Connecticut. Thanks for your input David.

  • Will

    Have you heard anything or do you know anything about the University of Central Oklahoma’s criminal justice degree? They offer two concentrations, one is standard and the other is police. If you could let me know what you think of this school and whether or not it is worth looking into. I’m also looking at the University of Oklahoma’s Criminology degree.

  • LACJ

    Hello I have found your blog very helpful. I fel like you really know what you are talking about. I have a question. I know that to be a police officer you don’t have to have a degree. I want to finish my Bachelors though because I want to be a detective at some point. If I finish my Bachelors in Forensic Psychology would that be a bad thing come hiring time? It wouldn’t be the usual CJ degree. I just find the program fascinating and you get the best of both worlds where you learn about law enforcement but also the psychology of criminals and the sociology of crime etc. Also, I read the requirements and I am able to pass the police academy physically but I’ve always been more brain than brawn. This is why I want to use the better part of myself and become a detective. How many years on average does it take to become eligible to take the detective test? Would a Forensic Psychology degree prepare me for this? Or, would I become better prepared by taking CJ or Criminology. Also, Florida Tech University has a Forensic Psychology program with an online option. What do you think about this school? Are there any reputable universities with a Forensic Psychology BA or BS with an online option that you would recommend? Thank you for your time answering my question!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with choosing Forensic Psychology as an option. Criminal Justice degree is not the holy grail. Departments seek diverse candidates with myriad skills.
      2. There are many people who are more brain than brawn, but they still must be able to protect themselves, the public and their peers. As a detective you’re still a police officer.
      3. Eligibility on taking the detective’s exam is based on position opening, but usually one is able to take the exam after their probationary period is up – granted other departmental requirements are met, including education.
      4. A Forensic Psychology degree can help, as can a Criminal Justice degree or a Criminology degree. There are different attributes that can be considered. I don’t necessarily think one’s better than the other. Go for what makes you say: “I would love to do that!”
      5. Florida Tech doesn’t have the best psychology programs, and overall – in the national scope – it’s a good school. Regionally, it may have a higher status.

  • Kevin Breeden

    Just wondering why Boston University did not make your list of top criminal justice schools.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Despite BU being one of the best schools in the US, I chose these schools based on current rankings and program / department strength. I feel BU is a definite contender, but for right now, there are better schools out there for Criminal Justice and Criminology students.

  • John

    My son is currently a junior in high school and wants to attend John jay for a degree in criminology. What do you think about there criminology program. He wants to work in law enforcement and do you think its better for a criminal justice degree or criminology?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      John Jay College is a great place to obtain a degree in Criminology – really one of the best in the US. I don’t think Criminal Justice is better than Criminology or vice versa; they are two different programs which are sometimes intertwined (offering certain courses from each program).

  • gary

    which school should I go to to get a masters degree in Criminal justice, MSU or UC? UC is ranked 3rd CJ school but MSU is a bit more well known and is ranked way higher in the US News national rankings. help me decide please

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I don’t know where you’re looking up the rankings — probably US News — plus, I am assuming UC is University of Cincinnati, and not University of California (Irvine campus) – still, I’ll use both for some comparisons. Either way all three schools: Michigan State University, University of Cincinnati, and University of California at Irvine are great schools.

      1. Depending on where you’re located (even if you go online), schools are known regionally or through associations. So, for example, MSU can resonate with many people because it also participates in popular NCAA competitions. Overall, It’s a great Midwestern institution of higher learning

      2. University of California would probably get some major recognition, too. But discerning fans of UCLA, will know that UCI is a whole different campus under the heavy-weight University of California System of schools.

      3. University of Cincinnati is less known and a popular regional choice.

      4. All are regionally accredited and have some or many programs ranking well in US News and The Princeton Review, for starters.

      5. If this still applies, MSU takes 3 years to complete, UC Irvine takes about 2 years to complete and the best time saver of all, UC takes as little as 12 heavily accelerated months to finish.

      I guess I can’t make the decision for you, but some of these points can help. Consider the cost and time investments, as well as marketability of the school, as well as the program. I don’t have a favorite, but if I needed to get somewhere faster, I probably would take the “express train.” All the best :-)

  • Al

    I am looking into the University of Cincinnati, Northeastern U, and Arizona State for my Masters Degree in criminal justice, but I am not sure which would be the most favorable to the LAPD which is where I want to apply. Can anybody venture a guess, or different schools they like. I want to be a detective someday in major crimes. I live in CA so I need an online program, thank you!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Tough to pick one. Really :-) All should be in play with the Los Angeles Police Department; although, some departments may favor schools in / near their region. I feel that the LAPD, being diverse as it is, would be foolish not to consider degrees from New England or Midwestern schools, especially the ones you listed. Also, consider University of California Irvine – it has a very nice Master’s degree related to Criminal Justice and Criminology (it’s online).

  • Al

    I have a couple questions. I am getting out of the Navy soon and want to be a detective some day with the RHD division of the LAPD. I have a BA in criminal justice from Brandman University which is apart of the Chapman University system. Is this school likely to hurt my chance with the LAPD as it is not a top school or even a heard of school? I want to get my Masters but which program would be better for a wannabe detective, an MPA or a CJ degree?

  • Javier Martinez

    I have 12 years of military experience in the Army and Navy. I graduated from high school a fairly long time ago (I’m 35 years old). My question is what online school do you recommend for someone like me? I’d like to pursue government employment but it’s pretty tough with just a high school diploma. I have not been to school (non-military related) in so many years. My interest is in an online associates degree in criminal justice from a reputable school, a curriculum that someone like me (rusty when it comes to school plus terrible at math) could handle and succeed at. Thank you so much.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      There’s no easy school out there and given your circumstance – age wise – I would be reluctant taking a criminal justice degree as many agencies cut off applicants at around 35+ for law enforcement jobs. A new degree path should be “in your future.”

      Look for regionally accredited schools (ones less often seen on TV and billboards). A quality community college can be of help for an associate’s degree. But, I highly recommend a State University system for a more reputable, resume boosting, result. Also look at other public and private not-for-profit schools as some have decent tuition rates and resonating names.

  • Andy

    I got into University of Maryland, College Park and Temple. I know that UMD is widely known but I was under the impression that Temple was more of a regional school. I’ve heard more about the grad degree at Temple versus the undergrad. Is there are reason for that? Interested to get your input.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Both schools are great. I don’t think Temple University is more of a regional school and both rank well. As for why you hear more about Temple, that beats me.

  • Smith S

    I just want to give a heads up to anyone looking at Criminal Justice Schools right now. I decided I liked University of Cincinnati because of their 12 month online program which was perfect for my time frame. However the academic advisor assigned to me has been simply horrible. He has not returned me emails and did not help me what so ever in making the deadline for application. I double checked the address he provided me to send my transcripts too… we’ll it has been 2 weeks and he supposedly hasn’t received any of the 3 schools transcripts. The post office mailed them over 2 weeks ago. I am nearly positive they are sitting around that office and he is doing nothing to find them. The other advisers have not answered their phones any times I have called either. So while the school looks very good you have to take the good and the bad, the bad being that their customer service is AWFUL.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Smith, sorry to hear that. University of Cincinnati is really great, and when I applied there, I didn’t have much of a problem. Try switching your advisor if things don’t work out with this one.

  • Michael G.


    I’d like to first off commend you on a good read and for your continued input and support to the questions and comments of your readers. I am interested in pursuing my undergraduate education from a distance and I would like for you to share with me your thoughts and opinions about criminology department at Penn State Harrisburg in comparison to the one over at University Park. I thank you again for your fine work and I will be awaiting your response.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I have no intimate knowledge of the two schools. But Penn State University Park has the top rankings for Criminal Justice and Criminology related programs.

  • Al

    When you are picking a school to attend would you take into consideration the school’s overall ranking? Because Cincinnati has a ranking of like 521 on Forbes top schools in America. Are employers and people in the criminal justice world more concerned with program ranking or school ranking? Or should you strive to pick at school that ranks at the top in both categories? BTW I am in my first term at Cincinnati and after I finish I might go back for a JD. Any information on that program?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I would try to pick the combination based on a high program ranking and a high caliber school ranking. In my opinion, this is the BEST case scenario.

      I would pick a high ranking program, as opposed to a high university ranking, ONLY if I knew that the completion of the program will net me a career I want AND there won’t be a chance that I’ll back-down from it. On the other hand, I would consider overall college ranking ONLY when I’m not sure that the degree track will lead towards the right career for me – because I’m still confused about which major I REALLY should have taken. I can use the name equity along with a broader degree program which I like (ie, Business) to look for careers elsewhere – in case the criminal justice route doesn’t pan out. BTW, Business, Finance and Accounting are some of the most desirable degree programs in the CJ system.

      Be mindful that regional schools can sometimes be preferred by some employers; let it be through sports team association or stellar academics in the given region.

  • Andy

    University of New Haven
    West Haven, CT.
    With Dr. Henry Lee is also one of the best and should be one of the top!

  • James Malburg

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of Ferris State University, but it is in Big Rapids, Michigan. I’m currently enrolled in the Criminal Justice program there and will be entering the Ferris State Law Enforcement Academy this upcoming summer. I know whenever I’ve asked anyone why they attended Ferris, the answer has always been that the school is the best in Michigan for law enforcement and corrections. This is just personal opinions but it is a widely held opinion throughout the state. There is also a masters program.

    Ferris offers three different tracks for their students in criminal justice. They are law enforcement, corrections, and generalists. For the law enforcement track, the students go through a state certified academy their senior year. This is the track I am currently in and will be entering the academy in the Fall.

    Like I said, you may have not heard of it but it would be a good school to check out. This is especially true for anyone in Michigan.

  • Jackie

    Great Blog!

    I’m graduating from a private catholic college here in Detroit, MI (Marygrove College 3.8 overall GPA). Although I love my school, it does not have a Master’s in CJ program. I have checked Sam Houston and University of Cincinnati. I love the 12 month accelerated courses UC offers. What kind of jobs are really available to those who hold this degree? I’ve also considered law school. I think any CJ major has. I want employment that has the potential to yield nearly as much income as a good attorney. Living somewhere warm would be a great bonus too! I’m tired of Michigan’s unpredictable weather.

  • Jon

    I have been accepted into the masters programs at Cincinnati and Boston university. I’ve found every rankings list has Cincinnati near the top but some don’t even mention Boston. But then I find other rankings that have Boston number 1. I can’t decide.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I already touched on both schools in either the lengthy comments or through the articles themselves. My position is stated on my blog, with both schools being great for two different reasons.

  • Andrea R.

    I recently gained acceptance into the UC Irvine Online Master’s Degree in Criminology, Law and Society as well as Boston University’s Online Master of Criminal Justice Program. I have been in a bit of a battle in deciding which program is the “best”. Further, when I saw “best” I imply which is the most reputable and best ranking program-wise. I have read a number of your blog’s and am rather intrigued in reaching your insight on which program would provide the highest reward, in both career and knowledge perspective.

    Greatly appreciated,
    Andrea R.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      That’s a tough one. Really. I am from the Midwest and gravitated towards BU after obtaining my Bachelor’s (around 2006), not even knowing that there were other killer degree options, like at University of California Irvine. I always had a thing for New England universities so when BU, University of Cincinnati and Michigan State accepted me, I chose Boston University (after taking a very long time eliminating the other two wonderful program choices). If my priorities were even slightly different, University of Cincinnati or Michigan State University would be on my diploma now.

      It will take you and only you to decide. I wrote extensively on why I chose Boston University, so please use the search feature to get you started OR check out some of the comments in this and SIMILAR blog articles.

  • Nick

    What about those who are finishing up a two year degree yet still have to work 40-50 hrs a week? Finished my two year degree and am looking to transfer to a four year school in Chicago. Catch is that I can not attend full time due to my current security job taking up so much time. Any thoughts would be helpful

    • Radek M. Gadek

      UIC is in your neck of the woods. Worth a look at IMO.

  • cristina

    Hi, do you know any criminal justice school in California around San Diego Area?

  • Raegan

    Hi! I’m looking for a top US university (located in central US) for Criminal Justice / Psychology. Suggestions?

  • LCPL Brandt

    I recently hit my half way mark in the United States Marine Corps. I’m 22 years old from Minnesota and have been stationed in Okinawa japan for the past 2 years with the most constantly deployed Expeditionary Unit in the Marines that specializes in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Efforts in the Pacific region. I will be rotating back to the states in 10 months and then have a little over a year left until my separation date comes up. From now until then, i plan on completing as many online general courses as I can.

    I’m very much interested in getting a degree in Criminal Justice/Criminology but don’t know exactly what school I want to use my G.I. Bill and go to. My fiancé’ will be attending University Minnesota Duluth on a scholarship but they only offer studies in criminology on top of it not being highly recognized as such. My question for you is what in state (Minnesota) university would you recommend or would you recommend one of the top out of state ones? I’ve thought about becoming a police officer but pursuing a career as a federal agent has me interested. Also, how much of my military background would help me? Thanks.

    • Radek Gadek

      I am still in the process of researching the top CJ schools in Minnesota, so, I don’t have an answer for you. I would certainly consider out of state schools — some are listed here — if you wouldn’t mind moving or going online. In most law enforcement agencies your veteran status should give you a slight to a large edge, depending on the agency.

  • D.R. Carrell

    Why did you choose to get your Masters in Criminal Justice degree at Boston University, when it does not seem to be among your “Bests” lists? I’m sure you had a good reason, but it would be helpful to me to know why you chose Boston University. Also…would you choose BU again if you were deciding what Masters (and where) program to enroll in? Thanks!

    • Radek Gadek

      The prominence of the school got me going to BU over the other great schools even though their Criminal Justice degree programs were ranked very high. Not a mistake, but more of a personal preference. it was 2006-ish, or so, and at that time, Boston University offered their Master’s program in 1.5 years vs. 2 at Univ of Cincinnati and 3 at MSU.

      Would I do it again, now – in 2012? I think I would have much more to consider since many great universities offer accelerated criminal justice programs online; programs which are ranked very well and can be completed in as little as 12 months (University of Cincinnati). Saying that, Boston University is a staple – an academic powerhouse recognized worldwide, no matter what discipline. With that sentiment I guess you can say I am proud of having gone to Boston University, but given the present, I would say my “Should I go to THIS or THAT School Pros & Cons List” would get much more complicated.

  • Nick

    I was just wondering what you think of Gonzaga’s criminal justice program. It would really help with my college choices.

    • Radek Gadek

      I don’t know much about the program, but I know that the school is very reputable. While considering my master’s in criminal justice, I applied and successfully got into Gonzaga, for an unrelated program. A solid choice, if that’s where you consider going. Still, get more info on their program and see if it will bode well with your academic and career aspirations.

  • Dee

    Hi, I graduated from Miles College (Birmingham, AL) May of 2011 with a BS in Criminal Justice, and I have been applying to job after job and have been rejected multiple times. I don’t know if it’s my lack of experience or the school in itself. Also I am definitely interested in continuing education. But my question(s) is, which college has the best Masters program in Criminal Justice? Also I would like to know what state is likely to hire right after completion of degree (if it’s at all possible to tell)?


    • Radek Gadek

      The schools listed here are some of the best grad schools offering top notch criminal justice or criminology education. Each state may differ in its hiring agenda.

  • JJ

    I have got admissions from Western Illinois Univ and Sam Houston. Which one do you recommend for me? This blog ABSOLUTELY helpful!! Love it and Thanks !!!

    ** Also, Pending schools: Michigan and Illinois State.

    • Radek Gadek

      Wow… I couldn’t just pick one. My decision would take into consideration three of the schools mentioned: WIU, SHSU and MSU (if that’s what you mean by Michigan). Where I live or plan to work would have a lot to do with how I pick my school (example: Illinois or Midwest where WIU and MSU would hold pretty strong). How much would I pay for the education and costs of living would have to be included. Then, it’s more research, a peak on US News, The Princeton Review, and other ranking publications, a pro and con list and a several sleepless nights. Kudos and good luck!

  • Erica

    Just a little background: Ex Army Intel, Currently DOD Contractor(doing intel as well), Focus on Narcotics and Human Trafficking. Currently have no degree, would eventually like to either stay DOD or go DEA as Intel Analyst. Love a challenge, love the 5 w’s (who, what, when, where, why). Want to get my bachelor’s in Criminology but not sure what to follow it up with? What would you say are the best Criminology schools in Georgia? I am a DOD contractor that works shift work so it would be a lot easier if the school was online as well. Any suggestions? Also, what would you recommend as a great masters degree to follow Criminology up with?

  • torilyn williams

    where to find the best criminal justice school for F.B.I agents

  • Marah K

    Can I ask you what you think about St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN?

    • Radek Gadek

      I have been trying to compile a list of the best criminal justice schools in Minnesota for months now. I’ve been sidetracked. But, I’ve heard on at least a few occasions that SCSU is one of the best bets in MN.

  • Brandi

    This website is amazing every time i get on here i learn something new i appreciate your willingness to help others on there path to success in criminal justice.

  • Polly

    Eastern Kentucky University by far has one of the best Criminal Justice Programs in the U.S. Check it out!

  • Christine

    Thank you so much for posting this list. I am a post-doc in law, neuroscience and psychology at an Ivy school. I was wondering which of these schools is the most research heavy, as I would like to move into teaching in criminal justice and hope to continue research in criminal justice and neuroscience.
    Thank you, Christine

  • Brian D

    Just randomly came across this blog and thought it was interesting to read through. I personally went to University of Maryland, College Park for my degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice and just figured I would throw in my experience for anyone considering it. One thing you will really want to consider when looking at a school is whether you actually want to focus on Criminology or Criminal Justice, because despite what the college tells you, their courses will generally lean more towards one or the other. UMD seemed to have a good balance, but the Criminology side really isn’t on the map until you get beyond a BA degree. At that point they claim to be #1 in the country though I’m not sure how true that is. Regardless, you are being taught by big names in the field whose books you will have to read, so it is convenient to have those professors right here to explain things.

    As a student at UMD I was taught by several current or former federal agents, police chiefs or staff that had extensive experience both within the US and abroad. Furthermore, you are about a 10-20 minute drive or short metro commute away from Washington DC which opens the door for a ton of opportunities. Members of a variety of agencies would come to the UMD campus and host information and networking sessions on a regular basis which leads to internships and/or job opportunities you just won’t get at most other schools. As anyone in the field knows, networking is one of the most important things beyond having the actual minimum requirements. Coming from UMD you may acquire several people to write your letters of recommendation such as the Director for a federal agency I won’t disclose or a long time and decorated officer, prison warden, and chief as I have. Not saying you can’t get this at other colleges, but it’s something to consider beyond the actual classes (most of which were fantastic). Lastly, you may want to consider their study abroad programs, especially if you are looking to go into a federal level agency. I was able to take a class in Ireland and Northern Ireland for a criminology course (dealing with the ongoing conflict between the nationalists and loyalists) and can honestly say that it was one of the best experiences I have had and also was an incredible learning experience you cannot get from any college campus.

    Just food for thought!

  • someguy1223

    Isn’t Western Illinois University one of the best schools for criminal justice too?

    • Radek Gadek

      Sure is. Check out the post I wrote about the best Cj schools in Illinois. It’s there. I promise.

  • Wendy

    I am a mom of a high school senior that is interested in studying biochemistry forensics. As a junior see participated in a CSI summer career camp at the university of WI Platteville this camp introduced her to the 3 areas of criminal science. Those being the police-evidence collection, the science biology chemistry lab testing and analysis, and lastly the law side with preparing and presenting findings in a mock trial. This was a great program that introduced her and helped refine the areas of studies.

    As she was researching schools we learned of the University of Laussane Switzerland after looking at their curriculum their program classes are comprehensive 180 credits for graduation and cover all three areas that she also covered during the camp.

    My question is more around how transferable/recognizable would obtaining a degree from an international university be in this field?

    Many thanks

    • Radek Gadek

      Good question Wendy. I heard that there are credential evaluation services that are responsible for foreign education credentials. National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) may be a good pivot point in your search. Please let us know what you find out. Thank you and all the best to you both.

  • confusedddd

    I recently got accepted into Northeastern’s Masters program in Criminal Justice with a full ride….I should be excited. However, the University of Maryland has offered me a Phd. spot. with great funding. I am attracted to Maryland’s phd offer but do not know which school has more credibility and (to put it frankly) a bigger name.

    • Radek Gadek

      How great is the funding? Will you need an equivalent of a Master’s degree (completed prior to PhD) or just statistical analysis courses and few other prerequisites?

      Both are just phenomenal schools, so either way you go won’t be disappointing. Northeastern is very tempting. But if funding is very good at UM and you need only a handful of courses to jump onto the PhD bandwagon, I would lean University of Maryland (College Park). Their PhD program is truly top notch.

      I am pretty sure Jeff R. would agree with me on this one (Jeff R. commented above, keep scrolling).

  • SKJ

    My HS junior is interested in Criminal Justice w/ goal of FBI, Secret Service or similar gov’t position. We live in Florida and he says he doesn’t like cold weather and wants to live in FL as an adult. Are UF and/or FSU good enough programs? Finances are limited, so state residency makes sense. However, don’t want to make the wrong decision just based on finances. Want him to go to the school that would give him the best future. Any comments on CJ programs in Florida?

    • Radek Gadek

      Florida State University (Tallahassee) and University of Florida (Gainesville) have great programs in your state, and are also regarded very well nationwide.

  • jquincy

    What are these rankings based on? I live in Texas, and here, Sam Houston State University seems to get a lot of pub for being one of the best CJ schools around, but I’ve looked at the actual classes with course descriptions, and SHSU doesn’t really stand out. It seems every school in the Univ. of Texas system, the Texas A&M system, and the Texas State system have pretty much the same classes with a few variations here and there, but not much. One school that doesn’t seem to get a lot of publicity for being a good CJ school is Univ. of North Texas, but UNT has FAR more variations in the classes they offer than any school that falls into the previously mentioned systems. They tend to offer classes that are really focused on the crime scene investigation and the techniques involved. They’re the only school that offers any criminalistics classes (including Intro to Criminalistics, Advanced Criminalistics I, and Advanced Criminalistics II), AND they have their own simulation crime scene on campus (all of this can be confirmed on their website). None of the other schools offer this (not even the mighty Sam Houston State). That seems like it should be a good thing for UNT, but they don’t seem to be getting a lot of pub. If that’s not enough to earn a ranking or much recognition at all, what then makes a program good?

  • Barry

    I have a quick question. My son got accepted to both Indiana University and SUNY-Albany and is interested in criminal justice. We are looking at both schools and want to weigh the other aspects of college (campus life, etc). Any recommendations? Thanks!

  • tom

    My daughter is starting community college this fall. She was accepted to George Mason as a criminology major but didn’t get enough financial assistance so she will be doing a 2+2. She also recently visited Virginia Commonwealth University and really likes that school as well. Apparently they have a good forensics department. The transfer adviser at the community college wants her to pick a transfer school and major before registering for classes so they can make sure she takes courses that will transfer. She is really torn between the 2 and is having a very hard time deciding. Can you offer any comments/advice regarding these 2 schools? Thanks!

  • Confused

    My daughter will be a Senior in the Fall and is interested in the field of Criminal Justice. However, I am unclear as to the difference between criminal justice, criminology, criminalistics, forensic science, forensic psychology, etc. It seems like some of these terms are used interchangeably when we do searches on the web. Any clarification you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for your wonderful site. It has provided us both with some great background information and a great tool to start visiting colleges by.

  • Jennifer

    How about just online schools? What if I want to start out with an Associates in Criminal Justice to get a job quicker while I continue on for my Bachelors?? Any recommendations?
    Thank you!

  • Sierra

    I am currently planning on graduating a year early in high school, and am about to start applying at colleges. My goal is to become a FBI Agent. What majors should i enter in? What is the best thing for me to do to enter this field?
    Thank you.

  • Janale

    Do you think that Umass Lowell is a good school for Criminal Justice?

  • Robert

    Hi, I’m deciding between a Ph.D. at UC, Irvine and University of Maryland, College Park. If my long-term career goal is to be an influential person in something like the Department of Justice (not academia), which do you think is the best school? Or do you think I should go to MIT, which has a bigger name, for a Master’s in something related to but not EXACTLY criminology? I would really appreciate an opinion on the 2015 state of things!

  • Katelyn

    Hi, I live in Utah, and would like to go to a college here. Do you know what colleges here are accredited enough to be accepted into a criminal justice career?

    Also, if I just did criminal justice as a minor, do you think that would be sufficient enough for a career?
    Thank you.

  • Patricia

    Mr. Gadek:

    No schools from Kentucky?
    I am looking for online courses preferably in Kentucky for an AAS in Criminal Justice. Any ideas?


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