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25 Best Colleges for Criminal Justice 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 2/21/2020

Listed below are the top 25 colleges that offer a bachelor's degree in criminal justice ranked by the median salaries of criminal justice majors one year after college. With a median starting salary of $109,800, Union Institute & University outranks the other schools on the list. Herzing University comes in 2nd at $57,600. The school with the lowest median debt for this degree is Excelsior College, with a median student debt of $12,500 for criminal justice alumni. Median salaries for the top 25 schools range from $40,800-$109,800.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Cincinnati (OH) Cincinnati (OH) $17,141 $17,850 $109,800
#2 #2 Multiple Locations Multiple Locations $14,200 $17,965 $57,600
#3 #3 McPherson (KS) McPherson (KS) $20,225 $17,886 $51,800
#4 #4 McKenzie (TN) McKenzie (TN) $17,482 $28,875 $50,400
#5 #5 Albany (NY) Albany (NY) Not Provided $12,500 $49,400
#6 #6 Orange Beach (AL) Orange Beach (AL) $6,600 $22,909 $48,800
#7 #7 Oakland City (IN) Oakland City (IN) $25,740 $23,987 $47,900
#8 #8 Charles Town (WV) Charles Town (WV) $7,360 $25,173 $47,800
#9 #9 Adrian (MI) (and 1 other) Adrian (MI) (and 1 other) $28,502 $18,000 $46,500
#10 #10 Norman (OK) Norman (OK) $27,816 $25,000 $45,800
#11 #11 Washington D.C. Washington D.C. $59,870 $25,500 $45,600
#12 #12 Winona (MN) Winona (MN) $39,410 $21,490 $45,200
#13 #13 Boston (MA) Boston (MA) $57,592 $24,490 $43,800
#14 #14 La Jolla (CA) La Jolla (CA) $13,320 $27,544 $43,800
#15 #15 Burlington (VT) Burlington (VT) $42,984 $27,000 $43,600
#16 #16 Kansas City (KS) Kansas City (KS) $8,280 $31,720 $43,400
#17 #17 Adelphi (MD) Adelphi (MD) $12,336 $21,470 $43,300
#18 #18 Saint Paul (MN) Saint Paul (MN) $23,900 $23,686 $42,800
#19 #19 Manchester (NH) Manchester (NH) $9,600 $19,608 $42,700
#20 #20 Orem (UT) Orem (UT) $17,092 $16,823 $42,600
#21 #21 Montgomery (AL) Montgomery (AL) $18,820 $25,500 $42,300
#22 #22 Saint Paul (MN) Saint Paul (MN) $9,395 $19,545 $41,500
#23 #23 Minneapolis (MN) Minneapolis (MN) $14,148 $34,769 $41,400
#24 #24 Oshkosh (WI) Oshkosh (WI) $15,306 $23,770 $40,800
#25 #25 Washington D.C. Washington D.C. $53,334 $21,750 $40,700

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

Cincinnati (OH)
Median Salary $109,800
Median Debt $17,850
Annual Tuition $17,141
Graduation Rate 33%

Union Institute & University is a private, non-profit institution that has been providing degree programs for adult learners since 1964. Their Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Management degree offers many flexible options including accelerated degree completion, the ability to apply previously earned training or credits, full- and part-time study options, courses that start every eight weeks, and the opportunity to apply credits earned in the program toward a master's degree in organizational leadership.

The degree requires a minimum of 120 credit hours and includes six core courses, elective courses, and a graduation capstone. The core courses are Supervision in the Criminal Justice Field, Applied Ethics in Criminal Justice Management, Criminal Justice Management and Administration, Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice, and Criminal Justice Management Information Systems. Students in the program will learn about leadership techniques used in criminal justice organizations, analyze criminal justice policies from a managerial perspective, develop an understanding of how criminal justice issues affect others, and examine ethical theories in criminal justice. Program courses are taught by faculty with field experience and are designed to prepare graduates for career advancement.

Visit Union Institute & University's website.

Multiple Locations
Median Salary $57,600
Median Debt $17,965
Annual Tuition $14,200
Graduation Rate 31%

With an online platform and nine campus locations across seven states, Herzing University strives to offer programs with flexible options to help busy students reach their education and career goals. A Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree completion program is one of the options offered at this private, non-profit institution. This degree is available with a general focus or students may choose from two concentrations: Homeland Security and Counterterrorism or Management and Leadership. These degrees are offered fully online and some classes are also available at their Kenosha, Wisconsin location.

The program curriculum delivers a comprehensive foundation in law enforcement and the legal system as well as common techniques that are used in the field. The Homeland Security and Counterterrorism concentration places a heavier emphasis on preventing acts of terrorism and emergency management, while the Management and Leadership program concentrates on management strategies for leadership positions in the field. Each program includes a required set of general education courses, program courses, elective courses, a capstone or internship, and personal and professional development courses. The degree requires a total of 120 credit hours and the completion programs take an average of 32 months. These programs are intended to prepare graduates for a variety of positions in corrections, law enforcement, and security fields.

Visit Herzing University's website.

Median Salary $51,800
Median Debt $17,886
Annual Tuition $20,225
Graduation Rate 20%
Student Reviews None (Add review)

The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program from Central Christian College of Kansas offers students a broad view of the criminal justice discipline. Students in this fully online degree program take one six-week course at a time, allowing them to complete their studies while balancing other responsibilities. The curriculum covers a variety of subjects including forensics, corrections, criminal law, and crisis management. Program courses were developed by experts in the field and are taught by industry professionals with real-world experience.

Some of the available courses are Terrorism and Counterterrorism, Victimology, Criminology, Police Administration, Comparative Justice, Juvenile Justice, and Crisis Management. Students with previous college credit, military, or police training can receive credit for their experience. With multiple start dates offered throughout the year, students can choose to begin the program at a time that is convenient for them. Although the degree can prepare graduates for careers in law enforcement, there are many other positions available in the field. These include roles in homeland security, investigations, immigration and customs enforcement, fish and wildlife service, and the FBI.

Visit Central Christian College of Kansas's website.

McKenzie (TN)
Median Salary $50,400
Median Debt $28,875
Annual Tuition $17,482
Graduation Rate 37%

Bethel University is a private, Christian institution located in McKenzie, Tennessee. In an effort to make a Christ-centered education accessible to all, they offer academic programs through five campus locations and an online platform. Students attending Bethel are able to pursue a bachelor's in criminal justice studies online or on campus.

The Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Studies is available on campus (McKenzie) through the College of Arts and Sciences. This program is geared toward students who are seeking a traditional college experience.

The Bachelor of Science in criminal justice studies is offered online through the College of Professional Studies. This program is delivered fully online and is designed for adult learners with at least 30 hours of previous college credit. Online courses are asynchronous, so students can log in at their convenience.

Students in the criminal justice studies program will gain skills and knowledge of practices, laws, and technologies that are used in the field. Both degrees require a minimum of 128-semester hours, comprised of core courses, major courses, and electives. Courses featured in both programs include Introduction to Criminal Justice Studies, Ethics in Criminal Justice, Criminal Procedure, Criminal Investigations, and Criminal Law.

Visit Bethel University's website.

Albany (NY)
Median Salary $49,400
Median Debt $12,500
Annual Tuition Not Provided
Graduation Rate N/A

Excelsior College is a non-profit online institution that specializes in offering programs that meet the needs of adult learners, particularly those that are changing careers or have military experience. An online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree is available to students who are interested in a career in investigations, law enforcement, victim advocacy, security, or other related fields. The degree is offered as a general program or with a concentration in homeland security. Students in these programs will learn about laws, criminal theories, policies, procedures, and the criminal justice and judicial systems.

The 120-credit degree program requires general education courses, core criminal justice courses, criminal justice electives, concentration courses, and either applied credit or additional arts and sciences courses. Students in the homeland security concentration program will take classes focused on homeland security, terrorism, and emergency management, while students in the general program will select additional criminal justice courses with the help of an advisor. Students with previous college credits, credentials, or professional or military training can earn academic credit toward their program. Students are also able to earn credit by independently studying for and taking exams to prove mastery of a subject. These options can help students save money and earn their degrees faster.

Visit Excelsior College's website.