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2021 Best Colleges for Criminal Justice & Corrections

Approximately 93,738 criminal justice and corrections degrees were awarded to students last year in the United States. With so many options it can be a daunting task finding the best choice. This year's Best Colleges for Criminal Justice & Corrections ranking analyzed 503 colleges and universities that offer a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and corrections. We look at over 20 factors to determine the top 25 colleges for Criminal Justice & Corrections students.

Choosing a Great Criminal Justice & Corrections School

Best Colleges for Criminal Justice & Corrections The criminal justice program you select can have a big impact on your future. This section explores some of the factors we include in our ranking and how much they vary depending on the school you select. To make it into this list a school must excel in the following areas.

Overall Quality is a Must

The overall quality of a school is important to ensure a good education, not just how well they do in a particular major. To account for this we include a college's overall Best Colleges ranking which itself looks at a collection of various factors like degree completion, educational resources, student body caliber and post-graduation earnings for the school as a whole.

The vast majority of the schools on this list are in at least the top 38% of our overall quality ranking.

Overall Best Colleges Rank  ( 607 to 1 )
Lowest Ranked Overall
Top Ranked Overall

Better Early and Mid Career Salaries

A criminal justice and corrections degree from schools on this list usually translates into higher than average income after graduation. While the average criminal justice and corrections bachelors degree from U.S. schools results in an average starting salary of $32,434, graduates of colleges on this list average $38,860.

Starting Salary  ( 21096 to 51703 )
$0
$109,800

Other Factors We Consider

In addition to the above, you should consider some of the following factors:

  • Major Focus - How much a school focuses on Criminal Justice & Corrections students vs. other majors.
  • Major Popularity - How many other criminal justice and corrections students choose this school.
  • Accreditation - Whether a school is regionally accredited and/or a recognized criminal justice and corrections related accrediting body.

Our full ranking methodology documents in more detail how we consider these factors to identify the best colleges for Criminal Justice & Corrections students.

Best Schools to Study Criminal Justice & Corrections in United States

The following list ranks the best colleges and universities in the U.S. for a Criminal Justice & Corrections degree. Only those schools that rank in the top 15% of all the schools we analyze get awarded with a place on this list. Of the 503 schools analyzed, only 25 earned the distinction of being on this list.

Top 25 Best Criminal Justice Colleges

Union Institute & University is a wonderful option for students pursuing a Criminal Justice & Corrections major. Union is a small private not-for-profit school located in the large city of Cincinnati. This school ranks 1442nd out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Ohio.

With 183 undergrads, Union Institute & University is one of most popular colleges to study criminal justice in United States. Graduates from the criminal justice and corrections degree program at Union Institute & University earn $70,940 above the typical graduate with the same degree when they enter the workforce.

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#2

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA

It's hard to beat George Mason University if you wish to study criminal justice and corrections. GMU is a fairly large public school located in the large suburb of Fairfax. A Best Colleges rank of 271 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means GMU is a great college overall.

There are about 474 criminal justice and corrections undergraduates studying this program at GMU. Grads of the criminal justice program report average early career income of $38,700.

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#3

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

Florida State University is among your top options if you want to study criminal justice and corrections. Located in the city Tallahassee, Florida State is a public college with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 160 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Florida State is a great college overall.

There are roughly 639 criminal justice and corrections undergrads enrolled in this degree at Florida State. Students who graduate from the criminal justice program earn about $30,000 in the first couple years of working.

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Northeastern University is a wonderful option for individuals interested in a Criminal Justice & Corrections major. Located in the city Boston, Northeastern is a private not-for-profit college with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 81 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means Northeastern is a great college overall.

With 74 undergraduates, Northeastern University is one of most popular schools to study criminal justice in United States. Students from the criminal justice and corrections program at Northeastern University make $4,940 above the typical college graduate in this field shortly after graduation.

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UMass Lowell is a fairly large public school located in the suburb of Lowell. This college ranks 357th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Massachusetts.

For those interested in something more advanced, UMass Lowell also offers 2 different higher degree levels in criminal justice and corrections, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Students who graduate from this degree state that they receive average early career wages of $39,000.

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GWU is a very large private not-for-profit school located in the city of Washington. A Best Colleges rank of 115 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means GWU is a great school overall.

There are roughly 99 criminal justice and corrections undergraduates enrolled in this program at GWU. George Washington University criminal justice and corrections graduates receive $6,740 more than the standard criminal justice student.

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Rutgers Newark is a fairly large public school located in the large city of Newark. This school ranks 318th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of New Jersey.

There are approximately 221 criminal justice and corrections undergraduates studying this degree at Rutgers Newark. After graduation, criminal justice students typically make an average of $33,300 at the beginning of their careers.

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Cincinnati is a fairly large public school located in the large city of Cincinnati. This college ranks 341st out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Ohio.

For those interested in something more advanced, Cincinnati also offers 2 different higher degree levels in criminal justice and corrections, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Grads of the criminal justice program report average early career income of $32,400.

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#9

American University

Washington, DC

The American University is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in the large city of Washington. A Best Colleges rank of 164 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means The American University is a great school overall.

There are about 82 criminal justice and corrections undergraduates enrolled in this program at The American University. Students who complete this program report average early career income of $40,700.

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#10

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

Michigan State is a fairly large public school located in the small city of East Lansing. A Best Colleges rank of 107 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means Michigan State is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Michigan State also offers 2 different higher degree levels in criminal justice and corrections, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Soon after graduation, criminal justice students generally earn an average of $34,700 in the first five years of their career.

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#11

University of New Haven

West Haven, CT

U of New Haven is a moderately-sized private not-for-profit school located in the suburb of West Haven. This college ranks 578th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Connecticut.

There are approximately 561 criminal justice and corrections undergrads enrolled in this degree at U of New Haven. Soon after graduating, criminal justice students generally earn about $33,400 at the beginning of their careers.

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Located in the large suburb Bristol, RWU is a private not-for-profit school with a small student population. This college ranks 300th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Rhode Island.

There are roughly 126 criminal justice and corrections undergrads studying this degree at RWU. Soon after graduating, criminal justice students usually make around $36,900 in their early careers.

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#13

Texas Christian University

Fort Worth, TX

Located in the large city Fort Worth, TCU is a private not-for-profit college with a large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 111 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means TCU is a great school overall.

Texas Christian University is a fairly popular school to study criminal justice in United States with over 50 graduations last year. Students who graduate from this degree report average early career income of $40,000.

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Trine is a fairly small private not-for-profit school located in the city of Fort Wayne. This school ranks 655th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Indiana.

With 32 undergraduates, Trine University-Regional/Non-Traditional Campuses is one of most popular schools to study criminal justice in United States. Soon after getting their bachelor's degree, criminal justice students generally make about $32,100 at the beginning of their careers.

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#15

Saint Louis University

Saint Louis, MO

SLU is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in the large city of Saint Louis. A Best Colleges rank of 134 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means SLU is a great college overall.

With 51 students enrolled, Saint Louis University is one of most popular colleges to study criminal justice in United States. Students who graduate from the criminal justice program make an average of $38,000 for their early career.

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Located in the midsize city Richmond, VCU is a public school with a very large student population. This school ranks 322nd out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Virginia.

There are roughly 317 criminal justice and corrections undergraduates studying this degree at VCU. Graduates of the criminal justice program make around $33,600 in the first couple years of working.

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UIC is a fairly large public school located in the large city of Chicago. This college ranks 329th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Illinois.

For those interested in something more advanced, UIC also offers 2 different higher degree levels in criminal justice and corrections, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. After graduating, criminal justice students usually earn around $31,900 in the first five years of their career.

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Located in the suburb West Chester, WCUPA is a public school with a large student population. This college ranks 371st out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Pennsylvania.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, WCUPA also offers a Master's Degree in criminal justice and corrections. Students who graduate from the criminal justice program earn around $36,800 in the first couple years of their career.

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Located in the city Phoenix, ASU - Downtown Phoenix is a public school with a large student population. This college ranks 365th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Arizona.

With 293 undergraduates, Arizona State University - Downtown Phoenix is one of most popular colleges to study criminal justice in United States. Soon after graduating, criminal justice students generally earn about $36,500 at the beginning of their careers.

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Located in the suburb Orlando, UCF is a public college with a very large student population. This school ranks 312th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Florida.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, UCF also offers a Master's Degree in criminal justice and corrections. Students who complete this degree state that they receive average early career wages of $29,300.

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#21

Seattle University

Seattle, WA

Located in the large city Seattle, Seattle U is a private not-for-profit college with a moderately-sized student population. A Best Colleges rank of 201 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Seattle U is a great college overall.

In addition to its bachelor's programs, Seattle U offers a Master's Degree in criminal justice and corrections. Students who graduate from this degree report average early career wages of $35,400.

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Located in the city Charleston, The Citadel is a public college with a small student population. A Best Colleges rank of 279 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means The Citadel is a great college overall.

Citadel Military College of South Carolina is a fairly popular college to study criminal justice in United States exceeding 64 graduates last year. Grads of the criminal justice program report average early career wages of $37,000.

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Loyola Chicago is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in the large city of Chicago. A Best Colleges rank of 247 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Loyola Chicago is a great college overall.

In addition to its bachelor's programs, Loyola Chicago offers a Master's Degree in criminal justice and corrections. Soon after graduating, criminal justice students usually make about $36,400 at the beginning of their careers.

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John Jay is a large public school located in the city of New York. This college ranks 1027th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of New York.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, John Jay also offers a Master's Degree in criminal justice and corrections. Soon after getting their bachelor's degree, criminal justice students typically make about $33,300 at the beginning of their careers.

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Located in the city University Park, Penn State University Park is a public college with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 112 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Penn State University Park is a great college overall.

There are about 193 criminal justice and corrections undergrads studying this degree at Penn State University Park. After graduation, criminal justice students typically earn around $32,900 in their early careers.

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Rest of the Top 50 Best Colleges for Criminal Justice & Corrections

#26

University of Louisville

Louisville, KY
#29

Temple University

Philadelphia, PA
#30

Lewis University

Romeoville, IL
#35

Molloy College

Rockville Centre, NY
#36

Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, TX
#37

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL
#39

University of Scranton

Scranton, PA
#40

Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale, FL
#41

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC
#42

Sacred Heart University

Fairfield, CT
#45

University of Georgia

Athens, GA
#46

University of Dayton

Dayton, OH
#47

Champlain College

Burlington, VT

Additional Award Winners

This list represents the rest of the colleges awarded a Best Colleges for Criminal Justice & Corrections badge. Showing in this list means the college was ranked in the top 15% of the 503 different United States criminal justice and corrections schools we analyzed.

Rank College Location
51 Simpson College Indianola, IA
52 St John’s University - New York Queens, NY
53 Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY
54 Westfield State University Westfield, MA
55 Salve Regina University Newport, RI
56 Rowan University Glassboro, NJ
57 Grand Valley State University Allendale, MI
58 University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Campus Pittsburgh, PA
59 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL
60 Pennsylvania State University - Greater Allegheny McKeesport, PA
61 Norwich University Northfield, VT
62 University of North Florida Jacksonville, FL
63 Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu, HI
64 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE
65 Mercer University Macon, GA
66 Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT
67 California State University - Long Beach Long Beach, CA
68 St. Joseph’s College - New York Brooklyn, NY
69 Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Winona, MN
70 San Diego State University San Diego, CA
71 Keiser University - Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
72 Hilbert College Hamburg, NY
73 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
74 DeSales University Center Valley, PA
75 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR

Honorable Mentions

Here are some additional great schools for Criminal Justice students that almost earned our Best Colleges for Criminal Justice & Corrections award.

Rank College Location
76 University of Mississippi University, MS
77 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
78 San Jose State University San Jose, CA
79 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
80 Bradley University Peoria, IL
81 North Dakota State University - Main Campus Fargo, ND
82 Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg Middletown, PA
83 Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN
84 University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, NC
85 Widener University Chester, PA
86 Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI
87 Madonna University Livonia, MI
88 University of Nebraska - Lincoln Lincoln, NE
89 Truman State University Kirksville, MO
90 Wayne State University Detroit, MI
91 Winona State University Winona, MN
92 SUNY Oneonta Oneonta, NY
93 La Salle University Philadelphia, PA
94 Gannon University Erie, PA
95 Texas State University San Marcos, TX
96 University of Michigan - Dearborn Dearborn, MI
97 University of Wyoming Laramie, WY
98 California State University - Fullerton Fullerton, CA
99 Central Christian College of Kansas McPherson, KS
100 Fitchburg State University Fitchburg, MA

Criminal Justice & Corrections by Region

View the Best Colleges for Criminal Justice & Corrections for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
The Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

Criminal Justice & Corrections is one of 3 different types of Homeland Security, Law Enforcement & Firefighting programs to choose from.

Majors Similar to Criminal Justice

Related Major Annual Graduates
Fire Protection 13,656
Homeland Security 6,367
Other Homeland Security 1,995

View All Criminal Justice Related Majors >

Notes and References

  • The bars on the spread charts above show the distribution of the schools on this list +/- one standard deviation from the mean.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard). More about our data sources and methodologies.

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