50 Best Value Colleges for a Criminal Justice Degree

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A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is an essential first step in your journey to a career in law enforcement, government, corrections, or legal studies. Given that cost and quality are often equally important factors affecting a person’s decision on where to attend college, we decided to develop a list of the best value colleges in the field.

Featured Programs

The 50 Top Criminal Justice Colleges Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we focused on four-year, public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer at least one bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related area (such as criminology or law enforcement). To be eligible for consideration on this ranking, the criminal justice programs had to be actively conferring degrees (at least five in the past year) to students. Because of our focus on affordability, we also limited consideration to schools with an average annual net price below $30,000. Lastly, we created a minimum threshold for quality by only researching schools with retention and graduation rates greater than 50% and admission rates below 85%.

Ranking Factors

Once we had our initial list of contenders, we ranked all the eligible programs in six categories:

  • Criminal Justice Program Popularity: How many students earned their bachelor’s degree in criminal justice last year, and what did that represent as a percentage of the total graduating class? (Weighted 30%)
  • Total Number of Criminal Justice Programs: How many total criminal justice, criminology, and law enforcement programs does the school offer at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels? (Weighted 10%)
  • Acceptance Rate: What percentage of applicants does the school admit each year? (Weighted 10%)
  • Graduation Rate: What percentage of undergraduates earn their degree within 150% of the expected timeframe? (Weighted 15%)
  • Retention Rate: What percentage of freshmen return to the school for their sophomore year? (Weighted 15%)
  • Net Price: What is the average annual cost of attending the school after adding together the price of tuition, fees, and room/board then subtracting the average financial aid package awarded to undergrads? (Weighted 20%)

Next, we crunched the numbers, scaled the scores so that the top program earned the maximum possible points, and assigned each school a total point value out of 100. Scroll down to see our results: a ranking of the 50 best, most affordable criminal justice programs in the U.S.


Cumberland University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

The accredited criminal justice program at Cumberland includes a focus on contemporary issues in American society.

50. Cumberland University

BA in Criminal Justice

Website
The broad curriculum that makes up Cumberland University’s top criminal justice degree gives you the best of two worlds: a professional, career-focused education with a liberal arts influence. Your main course of study will include a mix of criminal justice, social science, and general liberal arts classes. Plus, you’ll customize your degree by choosing 12 credits of electives. You can even opt for a set of courses focused on so-called “millennium issues,” such as “Pornography in Society” and “Sick People, Sick Society: Gambling, Rape, Child Abuse & Other Social Ills.” These classes include results-focused work, where you’ll think critically about how to solve and these crimes and reduce their prevalence – not just punish those who commit them.
Average Net Price: $20,753/yr
Score: 50.77

Anderson University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

You can opt to complete an affordable bachelor’s degree in criminal justice either online or in person at Anderson.

49. Anderson University

Bachelor of Criminal Justice

Website
To make its criminal justice degree as accessible as possible, Anderson University offers multiple delivery methods. The most flexible option is a fully online bachelor’s degree, which you can pursue according to your own schedule. Anderson also offers a program for non-traditional and working adult students on its Greenville, South Carolina campus. Both degree options allow you to narrow your studies by selecting a General, Homeland Security/Emergency Preparedness, or Law Enforcement concentration. Anderson is also one of the best criminal justice colleges for pursuing an advanced degree – its master’s program takes just 20 months to complete and includes a blend of online and traditional courses.
Average Net Price: $20,574/yr
Score: 51.58

Bradley University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

While earning your affordable criminal justice degree at Bradley, you’ll take part in ride-alongs, tours, and field internships.

48. Bradley University

BA/BS in Criminal Justice Studies

Website
Its small class sizes, availability of field internships, and interdisciplinary approach to the subject at hand all help set Bradley University apart on this criminology degree program ranking. The school’s top-notch faculty have designed a rigorous program that incorporates data analysis and theory, tempered with hands-on experiences such as ride-alongs and tours of local facilities. This holistic curriculum pays off: Graduates find employment in myriad organizations, from the FBI to the IRS to advocacy groups. You can even choose between a B.A. and a B.S. in the subject so that the degree you earn matches up with your career goals.
Average Net Price: $26,773/yr
Score: 52.06

Rochester Institute of Technology Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

One of the top criminal justice colleges in New York, RIT adopts a research-centric approach to the study of law enforcement.

47. Rochester Institute of Technology

BS in Criminal Justice

Website
Given that RIT is a tech school, it might seem somewhat surprising that it offers a degree in criminal justice. To be sure, RIT’s program is anything but traditional. The tech institute leverages its unique resources to provide one of the best criminal justice majors for students who prize theory, research, and data-driven decision-making. You’ll start by building a strong foundation in the history and theory of the field, then study targeted subjects – crime analysis, social control, etc. – through the lens of existing research. A dedicated course in social science research methodology even prepares you to pursue your own scientific investigations in the field.
Average Net Price: $29,111/yr
Score: 52.06

Concordia University Wisconsin Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

The top criminology degree program at Concordia includes a focus on ethics.

46. Concordia University-Wisconsin

Management of Criminal Justice Program

Website
Offered through the School of Business Administration, Concordia’s accredited bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and public policy are available both in person and online. You can even pursue your degree in an accelerated format! But regardless of pace or delivery method, all criminal justice majors at Concordia share the same curriculum – one that takes a close look at legal and criminal processes, the psychology behind criminal behavior, methods of forensic investigations, stress management, and other relevant issues. Because of Concordia’s Christian affiliation, the degree also explores the ethics of criminal justice, including dilemmas that professionals may face in the field.
Average Net Price: $25,764/yr
Score: 52.55

University of Findlay Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Criminal justice majors at Findlay benefit from the school’s myriad extracurricular activities.

45. University of Findlay

Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree

Website
If you thrive on opportunities to share your enthusiasm with like-minded students, you’ll appreciate the University of Findlay’s focus on extracurricular activities. Not only does the school host a chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma (the national criminal justice honor society), but it also has an active student-run club. The latter hosts speakers, plans ride-alongs, and coordinates visits to local facilities and other significant sites. On the academic front, Findlay’s affordable criminal justice program packs a powerful punch. The curriculum offers a unique concentration in White Collar Crime and Fraud Investigation, and the program itself has become so popular that the department recently opened a new building!
Average Net Price: $20,129/yr
Score: 53.44

Rockhurst University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Local community leaders help shape the curriculum of Rockhurst’s top bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

44. Rockhurst University

Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

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Look to Rockhurst University if you’re interested in an accredited criminal justice degree that emphasizes real-world needs and experiences. The school relies heavily on professionals in the Kansas City community to help shape its curriculum and find internship opportunities for majors. The community advisory board includes law enforcement officials, corrections professionals, and judges, all of whom bring a unique and relevant viewpoint to the program. What’s more, Rockhurst sweetens its appeal by offering a minor and certificate in Paralegal Studies. This complementary pairing can help your résumé stand out and broaden your career options.
Average Net Price: $23,753/yr
Score: 53.92

St. Marys University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

The top criminology degree program at St. Mary’s offers an excellent opportunity for anyone who wants to attend law school.

43. St. Mary’s University

Criminal Justice Program

Website
San Antonio-based St. Mary’s University is especially well-situated for anyone seeking meaningful internship opportunities. In fact, former students have interned with such prestigious organizations as the National Park Service, the state Attorney General’s office, and the Department of Human Services. The school also provides a criminology degree alongside its cheap criminal justice program. Compared to their CJ classmates, criminology majors focus more on analyzing crime prevention techniques and developing public policy. And if you aspire to a legal career, you can take advantage of an early admission option to St. Mary’s School of Law and begin working toward your JD after just three years in undergrad.
Average Net Price: $16,857/yr
Score: 54.08

University of Pittsburgh Greensburg Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Students who pursue their accredited criminal justice degree at Pitt – Greensburg can get paid for doing real-world research.

42. University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg

Criminal Justice Major

Website
If you’re hoping to minimize the costs of an already affordable bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, you might appreciate the options available at the University of Pittsburgh – Greensburg. Not only does the school offer a number of merit-based scholarships, but it also has paid research positions available to undergrads. The latter option is a great way to reduce the cost of your degree while participating in important, real-world work at the school’s Center for Applied Research. It might also spark an idea for a project or thesis that you could pursue as part of your required capstone course.
Average Net Price: $16,720/yr
Score: 54.41

Georgia College and State University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Georgia College is likely one of the best criminal justice colleges for students seeking a policy-focused degree.

41. Georgia College and State University

Criminal Justice BA

Website
Because Georgia College offers its top criminal justice major through the Department of Government and Sociology, the degree takes a distinct policy-focused bent. Undergrads in the program approach law enforcement from the top down, starting with an investigation into how the rule of law, the United States’ government, and the Constitution affect modern criminal justice practices. At the micro-level, you’ll focus on individual rights and liberties, how to protect them, and how to guard against oppression. Along the way, you’ll also take courses in anthropology, sociology, economics, and more, providing a broad-strokes background that should prepare you for work in myriad career fields.
Average Net Price: $19,717/yr
Score: 54.81

Lincoln Memorial University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

An ACJA chapter at Lincoln Memorial is one perk of the school’s top criminal justice program.

40. Lincoln Memorial University

Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Website
At Lincoln Memorial, you’ll find an affordable criminology degree program that’s tied directly to contemporary themes in the field. The school’s advisory board closely follows the American Criminal Justice Association’s requirements and works to develop and modify courses to meet those changing standards. The school even hosts a chapter of the ACJA. Open to both majors and non-majors alike, the organization enriches your academic studies by coordinating field trips, bringing in speakers, and arranging social events. You can even put your skills to work with service-based projects in the school’s local community.
Average Net Price: $16,276/yr
Score: 54.97

Saint Marys University of Minnesota Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Saint Mary’s is one of several schools on this criminal justice major ranking to offer specialized tracks for students with varying career goals.

39. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

Criminal Justice Major

Website
Undergrads who already have a specific career in mind will appreciate the targeted options at the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. This top criminal justice college offers its degree with two tracks: one in Corrections and one in Law Enforcement. The former prepares you for work in specific settings, from jails and penitentiaries to Border Patrol units and even the DEA. By comparison, the Law Enforcement track encompasses a broader range of topics, with coursework that runs the gamut from political science to psychology. What’s more, the Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Board certifies the program, meaning that graduates can become certified peace officers in Minnesota (after passing the POST exam, of course).
Average Net Price: $21,280/yr
Score: 55.05

Canisius College Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Many criminal justice majors at Canisius College also minor in Computer Forensics.

38. Canisius College

Criminal Justice Major

Website
Canisius College’s accredited criminal justice degree comes with an impressively robust curriculum. One highlight of the program is its internship component. Thanks to the school’s convenient location in Buffalo, you’ll have access to job opportunities at the county- and district-level attorney’s office as well as the county sheriff and city police department. Another perk? CJ majors at Canisius can pair their degree with a unique minor in Computer Forensics, which includes a strategic combination of interdisciplinary courses. On the extracurricular front, the school maintains an active chapter of the national criminal justice honor society and regularly hosts guest speakers, tours, and career-focused panel discussions.
Average Net Price: $20,767/yr
Score: 55.78

Mount Mercy University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Pair Mount Mercy’s top bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a complementary second major for a résumé that really stands out.

37. Mount Mercy University

Criminal Justice Major

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Although you can certainly pursue Mount Mercy’s affordable criminal justice major on its own, faculty designed the curriculum to support double-majoring in a related subject. For example, many students pursue a second degree in chemistry with a concentration in forensic science. Other recommended double-majors include psychology, political science, and social work. But even if you don’t want to take on the extra coursework, you’ll still benefit from a well-rounded education. The curriculum includes required classes from quite a few disciplines, plus electives in quirky topics like “Women and Crime” and “Crime & Punishment in England 1550-1875.”
Average Net Price: $20,112/yr
Score: 56.1

Ashland University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

When it comes to providing unique field experiences, Ohio’s Ashland University has one of the best criminology degree programs around.

36. Ashland University

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Website
If the idea of having a top-secret security clearance piques your interest, check out Ashland University’s accredited criminal justice program. Along with more typical field experience options – working in the county sheriff’s office or at a state penitentiary, for example – Ashland offers a rare opportunity for hands-on learning through its partnership with the nearby Advanced Technical Intelligence Center in Dayton. If you can pass a background inspection and meet other specific requirements, you’ll get to work at the top-secret center, investigating real-world criminal cases alongside law enforcement officials from every level of government.
Average Net Price: $20,601/yr
Score: 56.18

Elmhurst College Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

You can further reduce the cost of Elmhurst’s affordable criminal justice degree by transferring credits from other institutions.

35. Elmhurst College

Major in Criminal Justice

Website
Applicants who have already completed some undergraduate coursework in law enforcement and criminology should seriously consider Elmhurst College. Not only does the school offer a cheap bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, but it provides plenty of flexibility in where you complete your remaining classes (the only stipulation is that you take six of the degree’s required courses on site at Elmhurst). As such, budget-conscious students can save money by knocking out a few credits at a local community college before transferring to Elmhurst. Another note: Elmhurst supports both B.S. and B.A. degrees in criminal justice, but the only significant difference is that the former includes more required math classes.
Average Net Price: $18,825/yr
Score: 56.27

Cedarville University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

On this criminal justice college ranking, Cedarville represents a top choice among Christian students.

34. Cedarville University

Criminal Justice Program

Website
Practicing Christians may be especially interested in attending Cedarville University. This small, intensely religious school incorporates a “biblical worldview” in all of its programs, and the accredited criminology degree program is no exception. Faculty design and teach all courses through the lens of “leading with integrity,” emphasizing the idea that the criminal justice profession is a ministry in and of itself. In addition, all students must complete a minor in Biblical Studies. This means you’ll graduate with knowledge not only about the criminal justice system, but also scripture, Biblical literature, and general theology.
Average Net Price: $22,849/yr
Score: 56.51

Marywood University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Marywood supports some particularly unique, affordable criminal justice programs for ambitious students.

33. Marywood University

Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice

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Marywood University provides a number of top-notch programs for students who want to make the most of their undergraduate years. Interestingly, this top criminal justice college organizes its program around a pre-approved selection of double-majors to ensure that participants receive the breadth and depth of education they need. In practice, this means that all BACJ students also earn a degree in either Psychology or Sociology. But that’s not all. Marywood also offers an accelerated five-year master’s degree that emphasizes managerial skills and will qualify you for upper-level administrative positions after you graduate.
Average Net Price: $23,609/yr
Score: 56.83

University of Tennessee Martin Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

You can offset the cost of UTM’s already cheap criminal justice degree with a few major-specific scholarships.

32. University of Tennessee-Martin

Criminal Justice Program

Website
UTM is one of the most affordable options on this criminal justice program ranking, but that’s not all that makes it stand out. First, the school partners with an impressive array of organizations to offer course credit to students who participate in experiential programs. For example, you might spend three weeks at the National Forensic Academy – and (if you have previous law enforcement experience) earn credits for your time. Second, UTM’s criminal justice program supports an impressive five concentrations, including a unique specialization in Courts and Law. And on top of everything else, the school funds three dedicated criminal justice scholarships that can reduce the cost of this already affordable degree.
Average Net Price: $10,430/yr
Score: 57.64

Norwich University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

With its Corps of Cadets program, Norwich shines as one of the best criminal justice colleges for a military-style education.

31. Norwich University

Criminal Justice Major

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Last year, nearly 20% of all the undergrads who earned a degree from Norwich University were criminal justice majors. And it’s easy to see why. This military-centric school is best known for its rigorous Corps of Cadets program, which promotes values – like leadership, ethics, and public service – that translate well to law enforcement and make the school’s top criminal justice major a natural fit for many students. If you choose this route, you’ll benefit from dedicated faculty who can help you meet your goals – whether you want to enter the workforce or go on to graduate study. You’ll also have the chance to participate in work-study and internships at the nearby Vermont Center for Justice Research.
Average Net Price: $28,242/yr
Score: 57.88

SUNY Fredonia Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

The affordable criminal justice program at Fredonia gives you plenty of latitude to study unique and diverse topics.

30. SUNY Fredonia

Bachelor of Arts degree program in Criminal Justice

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SUNY – Fredonia’s accredited bachelor’s degree in criminal justice stands out for its focus on multidisciplinary learning. Its curriculum even requires you to complete two sets of electives: nine credits in criminal justice and another nine in interdisciplinary fields. The result is a flexible and customizable program that you can tailor to meet your specific interests. Examples of electives include “Capital Punishment” and “Serial and Mass Murder in the U.S.,” plus numerous other options that provide a deep-dive into highly specific topics. Fredonia also gives you the option to pair your degree with a second major and to complete an internship with a local sponsor organization – both of which will help strengthen your résumé.
Average Net Price: $16,622/yr
Score: 58.37

York College Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Christian ethics infuse York College’s top criminology degree program.

29. York College

Criminal Justice Program

Website
The Christian-affiliated York College represents another great option if you’d like to earn an affordable criminal justice degree in a faith-focused environment. Preparing students to serve God through their careers is the school’s central mission, and the criminal justice program includes courses taught with Christian ethics in mind. Not only can you pursue your degree on the school’s York, Nebraska, campus, but it’s one of the few B.S. degrees also available fully online. The broad curriculum means that by the time you earn your degree, you’ll be equally well-prepared to jump-start your career or continue your studies in graduate school.
Average Net Price: $15,351/yr
Score: 58.37

University of St Francis Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

USF has one of the best criminal justice majors for students interested in social activism.

28. University of St Francis

Criminal & Social Justice Major

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While many top criminology degree programs focus on the punitive side of the field, the University of St. Francis takes a decidedly different approach. A social justice perspective infuses the curriculum, imploring students to consider broader societal issues that both lead to criminal behavior and shape the justice system. You can even choose a concentration in Social Work and gain the skills to put your knowledge into practice. Not interested in social work? Fear not: St. Francis offers five other concentrations (Forensics, Languages and Cultural Diversity, Leadership, Politics and Law, and Psychology) to suit your career goals.
Average Net Price: $17,968/yr
Score: 59.58

St. Thomas Aquinas College Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

STAC undergrads can follow up their affordable bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with an MPA.

27. St. Thomas Aquinas College

Criminal Justice Program

Website
What are the benefits of attending St. Thomas Aquinas College for your criminal justice degree? Among the top three are its broad curriculum, a focus on contemporary issues, and the chance to network with industry professionals. Another big advantage of choosing this accredited criminal justice college is that after you earn your bachelor’s degree, you can go on to earn a Master of Public Administration at the same school. STAC’s MPA in Criminal Justice combines advanced study in the field with a focus on business and administration and prepares graduates for work in government, the nonprofit sector, and for-profit businesses. You can even pursue the MPA partly online – a boon for working professionals.
Average Net Price: $20,823/yr
Score: 60.55

Husson University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Husson’s career-focused, affordable criminal justice program provides a quick path to work as a law enforcement officer.

26. Husson University

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

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Undergrads who want to make the most of their time should consider enrolling in a dual-degree or accelerated program at Husson University. For example, in just five years you can graduate with a top bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and an M.S. in Criminal Justice Administration. Husson also runs a unique five-year dual-degree program that leads to bachelor’s degrees in both criminal justice and psychology. The latter is a great choice if you want to incorporate ample experiential work: You can earn credits while studying at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, which prepares you for work in law enforcement. This program also leads to certification as a Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician in the state of Maine.
Average Net Price: $19,669/yr
Score: 61.28

Kean University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Kean University offers one of the best criminal justice majors for students who want to study law enforcement abroad.

25. Kean University

Criminal Justice Major

Website
Many schools on this criminal justice degree ranking house their CJ program within another department – social science, for example – but Kean University has a division dedicated exclusively to criminal studies. This organization reflects the school’s level of dedication to criminal justice education. Indeed, the department offers a fully developed program that incorporates everything from traditional internships to unique study abroad options. For example, as part of the Travelearn program, you and your fellow criminal justice majors might travel to London, where you’ll compare the U.K. system to that of the U.S.
Average Net Price: $16,164/yr
Score: 61.36

University of Oklahoma Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

You can earn UO – Norman’s top bachelor’s degree in criminal justice entirely online.

24. University of Oklahoma

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

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UO – Norman might have the best criminal justice program for working adults who want to earn their degree quickly. You can complete the school’s accelerated online program in just 18 months if you have the time. Otherwise, expect to spend two to three years earning your B.S. This flexible program incorporates both online and hybrid courses, but you can opt for a fully online degree if you can’t make it to the Norman, Oklahoma, campus. You’ll also have access to all the same resources as on-campus students, including a dedicated advisor who will help plan your curriculum to meet your career goals. Regardless of your focus, you’ll leave with finely tuned leadership, conflict resolution, and problem-solving skills.
Average Net Price: $17,966/yr
Score: 64.35

York College Pennsylvania Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Hone your skills with a research project, an internship, or even an on-campus security job as you earn an accredited criminal justice degree at York.

23. York College Pennsylvania

BS Degree in Criminal Justice

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It’s easy to see why York College has one of the best criminology degree programs in the country. The innovative curriculum incorporates new technologies and a forward-thinking approach to the discipline, prioritizing crime prevention and recidivism reduction. All students must complete an internship, and many also take part in real-world, faculty-led research projects. You can even work in York’s Campus Safety department as a student security officer – this paid position is separate from the work-study program and gives you valuable on-the-job experience. Standout students can even become supervisors after a few years of service.
Average Net Price: $22,318/yr
Score: 65.4

Mercer University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

With Mercer, you’ll find one of the best criminal justice colleges for true interdisciplinary studies.

22. Mercer University

Criminal Justice Program

Website
The interdisciplinary nature of Mercer University’s program helps it stand out on this criminal justice major ranking. Aside from core classwork in foundational criminal justice topics (the legal system, forensics, and more), you’ll need to take classes that satisfy a few other requirements. For example, majors must take two Justice Studies courses from different disciplines. Classes include “Civil Rights and the Black American,” “Women, Law, and Politics,” “Prison Narratives,” and more. These classes give you a fresh perspective on the discipline, and additional coursework in criminology helps you further refine your studies. You might take a sociology course on deviance, for example.
Average Net Price: $20,692/yr
Score: 66.21

University of Central Missouri Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

UCMO’s affordable criminology degree program comes at a net cost of just under $14,000.

21. University of Central Missouri

Criminal Justice Program

Website
If finances are a concern, you’d be wise to check out the University of Central Missouri. This cheap criminal justice college has plenty of ways to reduce the cost of your already affordable degree. First, you can apply to multiple criminal justice-specific scholarships with the help of the school’s financial aid department. Second, you can maximize your time by enrolling in an accelerated dual-degree program, where you’ll earn a B.S. and an M.S. in just five years. Finally, if you’re pursuing a career as a police officer, you can earn 15 “free” credits by completing POST training through the Central Missouri Police Academy.
Average Net Price: $13,567/yr
Score: 67.18

Drury University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Drury’s top criminal justice program makes sense for busy professionals who want to earn a B.S. online.

20. Drury University

CCPS Criminal Justice (B.S.)

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Working adults can make the most of their time by enrolling in Drury University’s College of Continuing Professional Studies. Through CCPS, you can earn an accredited bachelor’s degree in criminal justice either fully online or by attending evening classes, whichever best fits your schedule. The curriculum includes a strong grounding in research methodology (including optional time in the on-campus psych lab) and statistics, but it also includes advanced coursework in criminology. The degree culminates in a senior seminar, during which you’ll complete a research-based project and present it to the department.
Average Net Price: $22,181/yr
Score: 67.66

St Johns University New York Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Criminal justice majors at St. John’s can enroll in a special program through the New York City police department.

19. St John’s University-New York

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

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Students who want to optimize their time spent earning a top criminal justice degree will appreciate the many opportunities available at St. John’s. For example, aspiring police officers can join the NYPD Cadet Program, which offers internships and tuition assistance for sophomores who will go on to work for them. If practicing law is more to your interest, you can join the Legal Society to meet and network with some of NYC’s legal luminaries. And thanks to the school’s location, you’ll have access to hundreds of internship sites throughout New York City, where you can earn credit while seeing how top agencies work.
Average Net Price: $26,582/yr
Score: 68.8

Salem State University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

A hard-to-find concentration in Geo-Information Science helps Salem State shine as one of the best criminal justice colleges.

18. Salem State University

BS in Criminal Justice

Website
Salem State earns a spot on this criminology degree program ranking for a few reasons: It’s affordable, it offers a wealth of programs, and it includes a few targeted concentrations. Both undergraduate and graduate programs are available, including a five-year dual-degree option. Whether you enroll in that program or opt for a straight bachelor’s degree, you can choose among three niche concentrations: Administration, Criminology, and Geo-Information Science. The latter is particularly unique; it incorporates state-of-the-art computerized mapping technology and applies it to analyzing crime patterns and developing policies. With this skill under your belt – and on your résumé – you’ll set yourself apart from the crowd as you apply to jobs post-graduation.
Average Net Price: $16,556/yr
Score: 69.28

Mississippi College Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

The accredited bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Mississippi College includes a pre-law option.

17. Mississippi College

Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice

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Mississippi College calls its top criminal justice program by a slightly different name: Here, you’ll earn a degree in the “Administration of Justice.” The core tenets of the program are familiar, however, and you can tack on an emphasis area if you want to further refine your studies: Homeland Security or Loss Prevention/Security Management. The former touches on a timely issue in contemporary American society, while the latter represents a perennial problem globally. MC also has an appealing option if you want to attend law school: The Three-Three Law/Administration of Justice program earns you a B.S. in three years and includes additional legal-related coursework, after which you’ll earn your law degree during the following three years.
Average Net Price: $16,804/yr
Score: 71.79

Claflin University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Claflin’s accredited criminal justice degrees are available to both adult learners and traditional college students.

16. Claflin University

Criminal Justice Program

Website
Students of all ages and career status will find a program that meets their needs at Claflin University. You can take classes in person (at one of two campuses) during the regular school day, online, or in the evenings, depending on your schedule. This cheap criminal justice college even offers a degree-completion program, where you can apply previous professional experience to your studies. No matter which program you choose, you’ll study both the history of the criminal justice system and its role in society today, and you’ll learn how to use technology to solve problems in the field.
Average Net Price: $17,241/yr
Score: 73.57

University of Mississippi Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

The top criminology degree program at Ole Miss include three concentrations.

15. University of Mississippi

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Website
The affordable criminal justice major at the University of Mississippi comes with three career-focused specializations: Corrections, Homeland Security, and Law Enforcement. Whereas many schools require just a few courses for a concentration, you’ll need to take seven to eight classes to earn a specialization at Ole Miss. This means that you’ll take a real deep-dive into your subject of choice. You can also opt for advanced courses that tackle niche subjects, such as “Intelligence and Homeland Security” or “Transportation and Border Security.” And by completing an internship or research project, you can put what you’ve learned into practice.
Average Net Price: $14,678/yr
Score: 76.48

St. Josephs College New York Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

As you pursue a top bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from St. Joseph’s, you can join the school’s Criminal Justice Club.

14. St. Joseph’s College-New York

Criminal Justice Major

Website
Similar to many other schools on this criminal justice college ranking, St. Joseph’s separates its degree into tracks. But the school sets itself apart by offering highly focused options you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. For example, the Juvenile Justice track is a standout, as is Community Correctional Alternatives. These options bring a different perspective to the standard curriculum and will help you stand out from other criminal justice majors after graduation. If you’re looking for guidance about which track to choose, you can talk with the highly active members of the student-run Criminal Justice Club; these dedicated students – and a few trusted professors – can help you design an individualized curriculum.
Average Net Price: $16,831/yr
Score: 76.64

Grand Valley State University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

GVSU has one of the best criminal justice degrees for veterans who want to transition to careers in civilian law enforcement.

13. Grand Valley State University

Criminal Justice Major

Website
Michigan residents interested in a career in law enforcement will appreciate Grand Valley State University’s partnerships with the Grand Valley Police Academy. The 16-week program prepares you to take the state’s Law Enforcement Licensing Examination and earns you 15 credits in the process. GVSU also offers one of the best criminal justice programs for veterans with military police experience under their belts: An eight-week training program will help you transition to a civilian police career. Even if law enforcement doesn’t appeal to you, GVSU offers a solid B.S. or B.A. in the criminal justice, with the opportunity to take 12 credits of electives in areas that meet your own career goals.
Average Net Price: $15,904/yr
Score: 79.3

Virginia Commonwealth University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

You can concentrate in Forensic Crime Scene Investigation or Justice as part of your top criminal justice major at VCU.

12. Virginia Commonwealth University

Bachelor’s Program in Criminal Justice

Website
CSI buffs, take note: Virginia Commonwealth University offers a concentration in Forensic Crime Scene Investigation as part of its accredited criminal justice degree. The curriculum teaches you how to gather forensic evidence, including how evidence law affects your actions on crime scenes. If theory is more your style, the Justice concentration could be a better fit; this course of study introduces you to the theoretical underpinnings of the field. Both options culminate in a research-based senior seminar. If you want to continue your studies, VCU also has an M.S. in Criminal Justice, a 36-credit-hour program that builds on your undergraduate studies.
Average Net Price: $20,544/yr
Score: 79.87

University of Louisville Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Louisville’s cheap criminology degree program can save prospective law students a year of study.

11. University of Louisville

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Website
If you enter college knowing you plan to attend law school, you might appreciate the University of Louisville’s 3+3 accelerated law program. With this option, you’ll complete your affordable criminal justice major in just three years, then begin law school during what would have been your senior year. A major in criminal justice is a natural fit for a future law student, and your undergraduate courses will come in handy even if you don’t pursue criminal law. If you’re particularly ambitious, you can enroll in an internship, join a service-learning program, or participate in a research project, but none of these pursuits are required for the degree.
Average Net Price: $16,249/yr
Score: 82.3

The College of New Jersey Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

One of New Jersey’s best criminal justice colleges, TCNJ lets you spend a semester in the nation’s capital.

10. The College of New Jersey

Criminology Program

Website
With its impressive 95% student retention rate, 85% graduation rate, and overall high-quality degree, the College of New Jersey earns a spot on this criminology degree program ranking. This top program prizes experiential and “community-engaged” learning, where you can hone your skills and make a difference in local settings. Juniors and seniors can take part in internships, and a dedicated internship coordinator will help you find a placement that meets your needs. If you want to venture further afield, TCNJ offers a Washington Semester Program, where you’ll spend a term in Washington, D.C., taking courses and completing an internship.
Average Net Price: $22,421/yr
Score: 85.04

Citadel Military College of South Carolina Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

You can complete Citadel’s accredited criminal justice program either online or in person.

9. Citadel Military College of South Carolina

Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

Website
One of the country’s top military colleges, Citadel also has one of the best bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. The comprehensive program offers a wealth of classes in both big-picture and more focused areas, and you can customize your degree to meet your interests. You can also opt to earn it either in person or entirely online. With both options, you’ll find a curriculum that develops your leadership skills and prizes strategic decision-making. Citadel even has a dedicated study-abroad program for criminal justice majors; in 2018, students will head to Argentina.
Average Net Price: $18,465/yr
Score: 85.69

Pennsylvania State University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Penn State’s top criminology degree program offers both a B.S. and a B.A. in the subject.

8. Pennsylvania State University

Criminology Program

Website
You have two options for earning an accredited criminal justice degree at Penn State: a B.S. or a B.A. The former emphasizes research methodology, statistics, and quantification, while the latter incorporates a more traditional liberal arts curriculum. Both options approach the discipline from a social science perspective, however, and will help you understand how state and local policies, one’s social environment, and human behavior in general play into crime and justice. And both degrees include coursework in statistics and research methods, ensuring you’re well-prepared to pursue graduate study if that’s your goal.
Average Net Price: $25,055/yr
Score: 86.18

Western Illinois University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Criminal justice majors at Western Illinois benefit from the school’s Center for Applied Criminal Justice.

7. Western Illinois University

Bachelor of Science degree in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration

Website
Because Western Illinois University has a dedicated Center for Applied Criminal Justice, its affordable criminal justice program comes with plenty of opportunities to enrich your studies outside the classroom. For example, the Center regularly brings in speakers that touch on international criminal justice issues, and it also publishes a Journal of Criminal Justice. The latter provides an opportunity to participate in publishable research, which you might appreciate in particular if you go on to earn an M.A. in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration at Western Illinois. But even if you stop with a B.S., you’ll leave with a broad understanding of law enforcement, loss prevention, and more.
Average Net Price: $16,463/yr
Score: 88.2

University of Massachusetts Lowell Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

UMass Lowell has one of the best criminal justice degrees when it comes to developing strong research skills.

6. University of Massachusetts-Lowell

Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology

Website
UMass Lowell frequently earns accolades as one of the best public universities in the country for its research opportunities, for its ROI, and more. The school brings those vast resources to its accredited criminology degree program, which focuses on helping students develop top-notch research skills by requiring 12 credits of work in this area. As an undergrad, you can choose among five (optional) concentrations: Corrections, Crime and Mental Health, Homeland Security, Police, or Violence. Although all these topics are covered in the general curriculum, the concentrations give you the chance to develop skills in a niche field.
Average Net Price: $18,348/yr
Score: 88.44

University of Georgia Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

One of the best criminal justice colleges in the Deep South, UGA offers a degree with plenty of extracurricular activities.

5. University of Georgia

Criminal Justice Studies Program

Website
With its huge Division 1 athletics program, affordable tuition, and multiple campuses, the University of Georgia has plenty to offer if you want a big-school experience at a low cost. UGA’s cheap bachelor’s degree in criminal justice includes a required semester-long internship, and the school’s high standing in the region means it has plenty of connections with big-name organizations and agencies. UGA also has the resources to arrange a criminal justice-specific international program; recent opportunities included a summer program in Liverpool, England, where students met with the local police force, among other highlights. One other perk? The school has scholarships specific to the criminal justice degree, thanks to generous graduates who valued their time at UGA.
Average Net Price: $14,956/yr
Score: 88.6

University of South Carolina Columbia Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

USC – Columbia’s accredited criminal justice programs include options at the B.A., M.A., and PhD levels.

4. University of South Carolina-Columbia

B.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Website
Students who plan on studying criminal justice at the postgraduate level will find plenty of opportunities at USC – Columbia. Along with its B.A., the school offers an M.A. and a PhD program. The latter is particularly hard to find, even on this list of the best criminal justice colleges. Aspiring law students will also appreciate the advanced dual-degree program, which pairs an M.A. in Criminal Justice and Criminology with a J.D. Even if you’re only thinking about your B.A. for now, the school has plenty to offer, including a hands-on Campus Patrol Office program and plenty of other experiential learning opportunities.
Average Net Price: $19,913/yr
Score: 91.84

California State University San Bernardino Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

Alongside its cheap bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, San Bernardino offers scholarships to further reduce costs.

3. California State University-San Bernardino

BA in Criminal Justice

Website
In terms of cost, San Bernardino stands alone on this criminal justice major ranking: Its average net price comes in at just under $6,500. Plus, the school has quite a few merit-based scholarships that can make your education even more affordable – including some targeted specifically at criminal justice majors. On the academic front, San Bernardino runs both an online and an on-campus B.A. The latter includes an optional Crime Analysis focus that requires additional technical coursework; you’ll choose among classes such as “Cyber Defense,” “Military Geography,” “Computer Forensics,” and more. Then you’ll cap off your degree with an internship or independent study project that lets you put what you’ve learned into action.
Average Net Price: $6,444/yr
Score: 94.58

San Diego State University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

An honor society and criminal justice institute help enhance SDSU’s top criminology degree program.

2. San Diego State University

Criminal Justice Major

Website
With plenty of opportunities to enrich your in-class work, San Diego State University would be a great choice for students who like to stay busy. Anyone pursuing an accredited bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at SDSU can take advantage of its Public Administration Center and the Institute for Public and Urban Affairs, which hosts speakers and offers access to government documents and criminal justice journals. And if you maintain a GPA of 3.2 or higher, you can join the Criminal Justice Honors Society, which connects you with nearby agencies, job openings, and other opportunities to network. Plus, all students take part in a practicum, which you can fulfill with an internship, a service-learning experience, or an international program.
Average Net Price: $14,344/yr
Score: 98.22

Michigan State University Best Value Colleges Criminal Justice Degree

MSU has one of the best criminal justice degrees for undergrads who want to study abroad.

1. Michigan State University

Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

Website
Michigan State University tops this best criminology degree program ranking for a few reasons. For one, it’s a nimble program, with a curriculum that’s updated to meet industry trends (security management, for example). It also offers more than ten criminal justice-specific scholarships – good odds, considering that just 2% of its awarded degrees are in the criminal justice field. On top of that, the school’s innovative Inside-Out program pairs students with inmates at a local correctional facility to spur conversation and connection. Finally, MSU offers a fantastic selection of study abroad options targeted to the discipline. You could study justice systems in Australia or legal systems in the Caribbean, or choose from a few other attractive locations.
Average Net Price: $14,970/yr
Score: 100

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Sources:
IPEDS Data Center
College Navigator

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