Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Criminal Justice Degrees

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Criminal Justice Degrees

The best criminal justice liberal arts colleges are those with rich histories of influence, proven through the work produced by the program’s faculty and alumni. Beyond demonstrating scholarly impact in the field, the best criminal justice degree programs maximize your opportunities to interact with outstanding criminal justice faculty.

A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is an excellent starting point for a career in policing, corrections, homeland security, and a host of other important roles related to crime, justice, and public safety. As a criminal justice major, you’ll study three primary subject areas—law enforcement, corrections, and the courts. Majoring in criminal justice is a good starting point if you plan to study policing, law, administration of justice, counter-terrorism, and more. You’ll study related subjects including criminal psychology, rehabilitation, and sociology. And if you’re interested in eventually going to law school and becoming a practicing attorney, majoring in criminal justice could be a good starting point. A degree in criminal justice will give you the knowledge and qualifications to contribute to public safety, national security, social justice, and a host of other related fields.

Degree popularity: Criminal justice bachelor’s degrees are the 16th most popular undergraduate degrees across all student demographics. It is slightly more popular among men. Crimianl justice degrees rank 6th among Black men, 8th for Black women, 8th among Hispanic men, and 15th for Hispanic women, according to the number of degree earners reported by the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degrees

Earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can open numerous professional doors. As noted above, the study of criminal justice is divided into three key areas: law enforcement, corrections, and the court system. Within each of these areas, there are countless avenues to a career. Whether you wish to work in a police precinct, for the Department of Homeland Security, as part of a private security firm, as a private detective, or in a specialized field like the prevention of cybercrime, majoring in criminal justice can help you get there.

Today, top influencers in Criminal Justice are working on felon disenfranchisement, place-based criminology, alternative drug policies, and much more.

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Criminal justice is a popular major because it can provide pathways into countless fields and career opportunities. If you’re looking for a well-paying and secure job, a criminal justice degree is a great place to start. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, the average median pay for police officers and detectives was $65,170. For Detectives and Criminal Investigators, that figure was $81,920 in 2018. And if you parlay your criminal justice major into a postgraduate law degree, note that lawyers, in 2019, earned a well-above-average median pay of $122,960.

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Once you’ve declared your major in criminal justice, you will likely be required to complete a set of core courses in a number of related subject areas. While your concentration will give you a chance to choose from a wide range of highly-specialized criminal justice electives, there are a number of common courses that most Criminal justice majors will be required to take, including:

  • Introduction to Criminology
  • International Law
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Race and the State
  • Comparative Criminal Law
  • Big Data and Surveillance
  • Transformative Justice
  • Capital Punishment in America

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With a degree in criminal justice, you could qualify for an array of opportunities in law enforcement, security, forensics, counter-terrorism, corrections, and much more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identifies the following top jobs in criminal justice:

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Related: How to Major in Criminal Justice

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Criminal Justice Degree Programs

If you think a research university may be a better fit for you, see our ranking of the best research universities for a bachelor’s in criminal justice.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Criminal Justice Degrees

  1. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    13K

    John Jay College of Criminal Justice Criminal Justice Majors:

    • BA Criminal Justice – Crime Control and Prevention
    • BS Criminal Justice – Institutional Theory and Practice
    • BA/MA Criminal Justice
    • BS/MA Criminal Justice
    • Criminal Justice Dual Admission Programs (CUNY Justice Academy)
    • BS Criminal Justice Management
    • BS/MA Criminal Justice Management
    • BA Criminology

    Source

    John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Online Degrees

    BS in Security Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. #2

    San Francisco State University

    San Francisco , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/20

    SFSU BA Criminal Justice Major Emphases:

    • Administration of Justice
    • Crime and Delinquency
    • Legal Studies
    • Working with Diverse Communities

    Source

  3. #3

    University of New Haven

    West Haven , CT

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/24

    New Haven College Criminal Justice Majors:

    • BS Criminal Justice
    • BS Fire Protection Engineering
    • BS Fire Science
    • BS Forensic Science
    • BS Homeland Security & Emergency Management
    • BA International Affairs
    • BS National Security
    • BA Paramedicine, with a minor in Fire Science
    • BS Business Management, with a concentration in Criminal Justice

    Source

  4. #4

    Suffolk University

    Boston , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/23

    Suffolk University Criminal Justice Majors

    • Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice
    • Accelerated Bachelor’s / MS Crime & Justice Studies

    Source

  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    4K

    Fairleigh Dickinson University Criminal Justice Majors

    • BA Criminal Justice
    • BA Criminology
    • BA Criminology MA Criminal Justice
    • BA Government and Politics MA Criminal Justice: combined degree
    • BA / MA Criminal Justice Accelerated

    Source

    Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Degree Completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. #6

    University of Baltimore

    Baltimore , MD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1052/20

    University of Baltimore Criminal Justice Major

    • BS in Criminal Justice
    • BS in Cyber Forensics
    • BS in Forensic Studies
    • Certificate in Crime Scene Investigation
    • Certificate in Forensic Document Analysis

    Source

    University of Baltimore’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • General Business
    • Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Policy, Politics and International Affairs
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. #7

    Canisius College

    Buffalo , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/24

    Canisius College Criminal Justice Majors

    • Law Enforcement
    • Law and Justice (topics in political science)
    • Corrections (social service agencies and human services)
    • Environmental Justice and Regulation

    Source

  8. Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1182/25

    New York Institute of Technology Criminal Justice Majors

    • BS in Criminal Justice

    Source

  9. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    19%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Southern University at New Orleans known for?

    Southern University at New Orleans’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    SUNO Criminal Justice Major Concentrations:

    • Incarceration
    • Community-based corrections
    • Treatment of offenders

    Source

  10. #13

    Radford University

    Radford , VA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    9K

    Radford Univesity Criminal Justice Major:

    • BA in Criminal Justice
    • BS in Criminal Justice

    Major focus:

    • Cultural and behavioral analysis through examining how cultural beliefs can contribute to crime

    Source

    Radford University’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Economics
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Emergency Services
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Healthcare Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Science
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  11. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    33K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/23

    CSU, Long Beach Criminal Justice Major:

    • BS Criminology and Criminal Justice
      • Available certificate: Crime Scene Investigations

    Source

  12. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/22

    University of Southern Maine

    • BA Criminology

    Source

    University of Southern Maine’s Online Degrees

    BS in Applied Technical Leadership
    • Required Credits: 121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Management
    • Required Credits: 121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Leadership And Organizational Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Integrative Professional Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Liberal Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Humanities
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  13. #17

    Marist College

    Poughkeepsie , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    6K

    Marist College Criminal Justice Majors:

    • BS in Criminal Justice
    • Double Major in Psychology and Criminal Justice

    Source

    Marist College’s Online Degrees

    BA in Management Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  14. #18

    Tiffin University

    Tiffin , OH

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Tiffin University known for?

    Tiffin University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    Tiffin University Criminal Justice Major Concentrations

    • Corrections
    • Criminal Behavior
    • Criminalistics
    • Cyber Security
    • Digital Forensics
    • Forensic Psychology
    • Government and National Security
    • Homeland Security and Terrorism
    • Justice Administration
    • Law Enforcement

    Source

  15. #19

    Governors State University

    University Park , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    24%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    935/19

    Governors State University Criminal Justice Majors

    • BA Criminal Justice
    • BA Criminal Justice – Restorative Justice Concentration

    Source

    Governors State University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Business and Applied Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  16. #24

    Anna Maria College

    Paxton , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    1K

    Anna Maria College Criminal Justice Majors

    • BS Criminal Justice

    Focus Areas:

    • Law enforcement
    • Public safety
    • Forensic criminology

    Source

    Anna Maria College’s Online Degrees

    BS in Fire Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  17. #25

    New Jersey City University

    Jersey City , NJ

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    6K

    New Jersey City University Criminal Justice Major:

    BS Criminal Justice focus areas:

    • Law Enforcement
    • Courts
    • Probation
    • Corrections
    • Parole
    • Juvenile Justice
    • Victim Advocacy
    • Government or Community

    Source

Go to all Liberal Arts Colleges for Criminal Justice programs

The Best Criminal Justice Schools in Your State

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