Technically speaking, the minimum requirements for the vast majority of police departments in the US include only a high school diploma or its equivalent. But becoming a police officer is the dream of many Americans, and often there are more applicants than there are open positions.
So it is more realistic to say that to increase your chances of getting in the force, you need to have some criminal justice courses under your belt. In addition, the criminal justice classes you take will actually help you perform your duties better, and you can advance further in your career. In fact, some police departments require an associate’s degree, while a few require that you get a 4-year degree. To maximize your chances, you need a criminal justice degree from a good school.
Many applicants already know this, and that’s why they are trying to get into one of the top colleges for criminal justice. The top criminal justice schools offer superior training that can really help stand out among the current crop of applicants, and they can also provide you with the special knowledge and training that can truly enhance your performance.
The Best Colleges that Offer Criminal Justice
One way of going about picking the best college for criminal justice is to pick a highly rated school with a prestigious reputation, and then see if they offer a criminal justice program. Perhaps the best university using this method is the University of Pennsylvania. It is the only Ivy League university which offers an undergraduate degree in criminology.
Some schools may also have criminal justice programs that are specially lauded among the law enforcement community. Some of the top schools for criminal justice which you may want to consider will include:
- Northeastern University
- University of Florida
- University of Missouri
- Florida State University
- Sam Houston University
- Indiana University
- Marist College
- George Mason University
- California State University, Long Beach
- American University
- University of California, Irvine
- George Washington University
- CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
- University of Albany (SUNY)
- University of Delaware
- University of Illinois (Chicago)
- Temple University
- Michigan State University
- Washington State University (Pullman)
- University of Cincinnati
- University of Nebraska (Omaha)
The Best Online Criminal Justice Schools
There are several good reasons why you would want to study online, but often it just boils down to the fact that this method is extremely convenient for students. Your options here would include:
- Penn State University. Penn State is one of the top universities in the nation, and they are one of the leading proponents of distance education. They were among the first schools to offer a correspondence course back in 1892. And in 1998, they also became one of the first schools to offer online degree programs. You can get a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice online, and this is the first online criminal justice programs certified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.
- Arizona State University. The Criminal Justice program ASU offers is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. The quality of the online education is quite esteemed, and many experts regard its online Criminal Justice degree program as the best in the country.
- Keiser University ECampus. Many education experts regard Keiser as one of the best online schools in the country, and it is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It offers Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees through its online criminal justice programs.
- Kaplan University. This school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and it offers online Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees in Criminal Justice. The training you undergo towards an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree will give you an extensive familiarity of criminal history. But it gives greater weight to the investigative techniques and research methods employed by law enforcement professionals. Completing the program requires 180 hours of credit spread over four years, and it includes a final project that demonstrates that you can apply the information you learned to real life situations.
- Portland State University. PSU is the largest public state university in Oregon, and is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. It is ranked as one of the best colleges in the West by Princeton Review, and US News and World Report regards it as one of the best colleges in the country.
PSU offers a Bachelor’s of Criminology & Criminal Justice. It also offers certificates in Advanced Crime Analysis, Leadership in Criminal Justice, and Criminal Behavior.
- American Intercontinental University. AIU offers an Associate’s degree and an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree. The associate’s degree involves learning about the basics of juvenile correction, court structure, and law enforcement. With the bachelor’s program, you expand your knowledge of these core subjects, and you also learn about forensic science and criminology.
- Everest University Online. EUO is associated with Corinthian Colleges, and it is accredited by the Florida Commission for Independent Study and by the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools. Its Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice allows you to obtain a comprehensive knowledge of the criminal justice system and basic investigative methods. You will also be able to specialize in areas such as computer crime, gang activities, and drug operations.
- Ashford University. Ashford offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social and Criminal Justice which you can get online. You will need to complete 120 credit hours which cover psychology, deterrence, forensics, law and the criminal justice structure. You can also earn a specialization. Ashford University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and it offers an associate’s and Master’s degree as well.
By obtaining a degree from any one of the best schools for criminal justice listed here, you can increase the likelihood of getting in to the police department. You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to the community you are pledged to protect and serve.