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Best Criminology Schools

The best criminology schools offer students the ability to pursue their dream careers in criminal justice. With dozens of courses revolving around prison systems, court policing, and regulation, it is a diverse field with many employment opportunities. Students will explore crime control, ethics, crime prevention, human rights, and more during their studies.

Criminology Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

We’ve compiled a list of reputable programs nationwide to help you continue to embark on a career in politics, policing, law, and more. Each of these schools meets the following criteria:

  • An average annual cost of no more than $23,000
  • A median starting salary no lower than $40,000
  • Accredited programs by recognized bodies

10 Best Criminology Schools

1. University of South Florida (Sarasota-Manatee)

4 Year; Sarasota, FL

Average Annual Cost: $2,082

The criminology degree program at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee focuses on many important facets. With the program, students will dive into theory, policy, and research methods while developing their communication and critical thinking skills. All of the courses revolve around criminal justice and criminological theory.

You’ll find a few unique degree options to consider with your studies, including a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology or a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Studies and Justice. The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee also offers online degree options. Students can work towards a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology or a minor in the same subject.

Opting for a Bachelor of Science degree is slightly different from the Bachelor of Arts program. With a B.S. degree, you will explore forensic applications in investigations, whether medical, financial, or criminal. Students will also dive deeper into analytical techniques used to prevent investigative bias.

2. California State University (Fresno)

4 Year; Fresno, CA

Average Annual Cost: $5,464

At California State University in Fresno, students will be a part of the Social Sciences Department when studying criminology. You will be able to plan towards a career in criminal justice through the Bachelor of Science in Criminology program. Currently, the school does not offer a Bachelor of Arts in the same field.

During your studies, you’ll explore how law, victimology, and corrections are involved in criminology careers. Students will also try their hands at numerous topics, including linguistics, anthropology, and psychology. As an alternative, the school helps students get a minor in Forensic Behavioral Sciences or Criminology.

There are multiple unique avenues of study that students can use to get more real-world experience in their area of study. For example, they can sign up for internships, mock trials, and directed policing via the local sheriff’s department.

3. University of Florida

4 Year; Gainesville, FL

Average Annual Cost: $6,302

The University of Florida is home to hundreds of prospective lawyers, police officers, and more in the Department of Sociology and Criminology. Their degree programs explore the complex nature of criminology and how it affects historical, political, psychological, and social institutions. During your studies, you are guaranteed to dive into both crime and justice to prepare you for your career.

The most popular degree option for criminology majors is the Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. To get your degree, you will be required to take 120-degree credits from various subjects. A few of the courses you can expect to take during your enrollment include:

  • Criminological Theory
  • Research Methods in Criminology
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Juvenile Law
  • Advanced Principles of Criminal Justice

This degree program at the University of Florida is well-rounded, as students will take sociology, psychology, anthropology, and philosophy courses. It is one of the more unique options because students will experience internships, independent studies, and real-world opportunities to prepare for their careers.

4. University of South Florida (Main Campus)

4 Year; Tampa, FL

Average Annual Cost: $8,355

Like the first program we explored, the University of South Florida (Main Campus) also offers a criminology program. You will be able to take undergraduate degree programs, but they also have graduate degrees for specialties. Some of the most common graduate degrees for criminology majors include:

  • Master’s in Criminology
  • Master’s in Cybercrime
  • Ph.D. in Criminology
  • Master’s in Criminal Justice Administration
  • Master’s in Criminal Justice

If you are more interested in an undergraduate degree program, USF (Main Campus) is sure to impress. You can opt to enroll in their online Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, which is an excellent option for working students. You will have access to all of the same curriculum as on-campus students but in a convenient format that suits your schedule.

Alternatively, the University of South Florida (Main Campus) offers a standard on-campus Bachelor of Arts in Criminology course. Another option is to enroll in the Minor of Criminology program, which assists with professional training or graduate work.

Regardless of how your program is delivered, you will explore many essential facets of criminology, including:

  • Understanding the basic concepts of criminological theory
  • How criminological theory is used in criminal justice
  • Developing analytical abilities like deductive thinking
  • Learning how to develop and convey strong and sound arguments

5. University of Wisconsin (River Falls)

4 Year; River Falls, WI

Average Annual Cost: $13,748

The University of Wisconsin in River Falls has an in-depth program ideal for students seeking a criminology major or minor. Their programs are designed to help students learn how to keep society safe through understanding individual rights, laws, and other aspects of criminological theory.

Students will find that their coursework will bring them through tenets of sociology, political science, education, history, corrections, law enforcement, and more. For a criminology major at this university, you will need 36 credits from an assortment of classes. Some of the most common courses you can expect to take include:

  • Criminal Behavior
  • Research Methods
  • Gangs and Gang Behavior
  • Victimology
  • Social Policy and Drugs
  • Alternatives to Incarceration
  • Social Statistics

The central premise of this criminology program is to ensure students are adequately prepared for their future careers. With your degree, you can find placement in detention facilities, treatment centers, retail, recreational programs, courtrooms, hospital wards, and more.

6. National Louis University

4 Year; Chicago, IL

Average Annual Cost: $14,957

If you have always had a passion for criminology, the National Louis University is a fantastic option for prospective students. During your studies, you can obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, helping you explore law enforcement, corrections systems, and more. All of your courses will be focused on teaching the effects of criminality on society, communities, and individuals.

You can consider two primary areas of focus or concentrations: Forensic Social Justice and Criminal Justice Administration. Both learning pathways feature hands-on learning paired with real-world expertise from faculty members with years of criminal justice. Students will also have flexible class options, with many courses offered online, on-campus, or in hybrid formats.

Another unique feature of a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from this school is that your degree is customizable. You can decide on the concentrations that interest you the most and will help you enter your desired career. There are also plenty of minors to choose from if you want to enhance your post-secondary studies.

7. University of Wisconsin (Whitewater)

4 Year; Whitewater, WI

Average Annual Cost: $15,249

A criminology degree from the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater is available in two particular disciplines. As a part of the Sociology, Criminology, and Anthropology Department, you will have many unique study opportunities. For a criminology-specific degree, students can work towards a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science.

One unique option for students is to sign up for undergraduate research during their studies. The University of Wisconsin in Whitewater has a diverse research program to help students acquire grants and fellowships. As a graduate, you can also sign up for their Alumni Graduate Studies to further your education.

There is also the opportunity to obtain a criminology minor, ideal for working professionals or those looking to further their graduate degrees. The B.A. and B.S. programs require four years of study and revolve around several phenomenal courses. Some of the most common topics students explore include:

  • Applied Sociology
  • Methods of Social Research
  • Restorative Justice
  • Sociology of Drugs and Crime
  • Criminal Justice and the Constitution
  • The Judicial Process
  • Minorities and the Criminal Justice System

8. University of Northern Iowa

4 Year; Cedar Falls, IA

Average Annual Cost: $15,620

The University of Northern Iowa is home to one of the most well-developed criminology programs in the state. With your enrollment, you can opt to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice or a major in Criminology. Students can also obtain a Sociology major, depending on their career prospects.

While studying criminology and criminal justice at the University of Northern Iowa, you will explore many facets of the career. Courses revolve around psychological behaviors, forensics, police work, and social justice reform. During your studies, you can choose which approaches work best towards your concentration to help you best prepare for your career.

Like many other university programs, this criminology pathway is a four-year program. Students will enroll in many courses, including:

  • Homicide
  • Women, Crime, and Society
  • Victimology
  • Crime and Community
  • Crime and Social Inequity
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Social Problems
  • Research Methods
  • Psychological Statistics

9. University of Wisconsin (Stout)

4 Year; Menomonie, WI

Average Annual Cost: $15,839

Instead of focusing solely on criminal justice, the criminology program at the University of Wisconsin – Stout is modern and unique. Students will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Rehabilitation.

With this avenue of study, you will explore the concepts of offender rehabilitation rather than incarceration and punishment. Through this approach, students will dive into deep topics such as legal standards, ethical boundaries, social skills, interpersonal development, communication, and more.

That said, it is similar to a standard criminology degree because it offers the same employment opportunities, such as policing. There are many concepts students at the University of Wisconsin – Stout explore, such as:

  • Mental health support for offenders
  • Substance abuse treatment and resources
  • Interviewing and case management skills
  • Community outreach and supportive services
  • Cultural sensitivity, racism, and oppression
  • Human relations skills

After four years of study, you can pursue careers in multiple fields like law enforcement, youth rehabilitation, court programs, correctional administration, and more. This program is ideal for sociology and psychology-oriented students with a more personable approach to criminological theory.

There is also a unique opportunity for students through the Criminal Justice Student Association (CJSA). The CJSA is a fantastic way for students to get hands-on experience with law enforcement careers.

You will explore various parts of your community through volunteer work while working alongside law enforcement professionals. The club is run by five officers and currently has 49 members enrolled, making it a fabulous opportunity for exploring a potential future career.

10. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

4 Year; Odessa, TX

Average Annual Cost: $21,394

The criminology program at The University of Texas of the Permian Basin is precisely what students are looking for. It takes an analytical approach to understand why people commit crimes and crime prevention. Students will also dip their toes into appropriate punishment, law, political science, psychology, and other subjects.

You will acquire many fundamental skills during your studies, including understanding criminal and juvenile justice systems. Your coursework will also explore the definition of major crimes in modern society and theoretical explanations for criminal behavior.

As one of the best criminology schools, expect this to be one of the more competitive programs in the country. To prepare you for a criminal justice career, some of the most popular courses you can expect to take include:

  • Sensitivity Training
  • Criminal Justice
  • Victimology
  • Drugs and Crime
  • Cultural Sensitivity

At The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, students will be able to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology or a Minor in Criminology. Each degree plan differs, with the Bachelor of Arts being the more popular pathway. After graduation, most students who enroll in the B.A. program work as federal agents, crime data analysts, victim advocates, or police officers.

To obtain your degree, you will be required to get a minimum of 120 total credits and graduate with a C- average or better. For a major in this topic, students need 33 semester credit hours paired with 18 semester credit hours in a minor of their choosing. All minor courses must be upper-level courses to be applicable.