Top 5 Universities for Pursuing A Criminal Justice Degree

Top 5 Universities for Pursuing A Criminal Justice Degree

Melissa Woelflein

Getting a criminal justice degree can be a great way to jumpstart a career in law enforcement, corrections, investigations, and similar, on top of being a positive way to give back to your community through service work. Areas of study for a criminal justice degree are vast and, according to U.S. News & World Report include specialized programs in “juvenile justice, criminal law, the judicial process, administration theory and evaluations, and crime prevention.” If you're interested in pursuing a degree in criminal justice, you'll want to research the school that best fits your career goals; each one offers unique specializations. Here are some of the top universities in the US for criminal justice degrees:

John Jay College of Criminal Justice: New York City, NY

John Jay is a public university in New York City that is known for its criminal justice program. The school offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees in criminal justice, including a number of specialized programs, such as forensics and homeland security.

University of California, Irvine: Irvine, CA 

UC Irvine is a public university that offers a strong criminal justice program. In addition to the undergraduate and graduate degrees in criminal justice, UC Irvine offers specialized education in juvenile justice and victimology. According to its website, “Courses include overviews of American legal systems, criminological and socio-legal theory, social science and the law, punishment theory and processes, inequalities and injustice, and regulatory issues, in addition to substantive areas of law such as family, criminal, environmental, immigration, procedural, and constitutional.”

University of Maryland, College Park: College Park, MD

University of Maryland attracts students looking to earn a degree in criminal justice as a whole, with specializations in police science and corrections. According to its website, “The department has grown to be one of the most popular majors on campus, with the #1 ranked doctoral program in the United States.”

Florida State University: Tallahassee, FL

If you’re looking to specialize in security management and law enforcement administration, FSU might be for you. This public university is internationally recognized and its College of Criminology and Criminal Justice is the oldest program of its kind.

Northeastern University: Boston, MA

Northeastern University is a private university in Boston, Massachusetts that offers programs in homeland security and counterterrorism. The university website states “We prepare students intellectually and ethically to understand the complexities of crime, make communities safer, and ensure justice.”

Careers with a criminal justice degree include:

  • U.S. Marshal
  • FBI Agent
  • CIA Agent
  • Private Detective
  • Corporate Investigator
  • Fish and Game Warden
  • Crime Laboratory Analyst
  • Correctional Officer
  • Secret Service Agent
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • Investigative Reporter

When choosing a university for your criminal justice degree, you'll want to factor in its reputation in the criminal justice field as well as the program’s curriculum. “The major typically draws on topics from history, political science, communications, psychology and sociology,” so finding a college/university that fits that mold will offer a more robust education and set you up for future success in the criminal justice field.

Are you pursuing a degree in criminal justice? Let us know in the comments!


Cover photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

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