Top 10 Universities for Criminal Justice

by Contributing Writer


Majoring in criminal justice can be a great way to prepare for law school or a career in law enforcement. Graduate studies in the field often lead to elite positions with city, state and federal government agencies. The top universities for criminal justice have each paved their own way for the specialty field. Each school has carved out its own niche, and collectihave the schools set the bar for criminal justices studies in the U.S. Here are the top 10.

University of Maryland

A 2009 U.S. News and World Reports ranking placed this school's criminal justice program number one out of 32 programs in the country. Its Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice was established in 1969 and offers B.A., M.A. and PhD degrees in the field.

University of Cincinnati

According to a 2002 study in "The Journal of Criminal Justice," this nationally-ranked School of Criminal Justice is rated number one in criminal justice research. Among their 20 faculty members is the recipient of the 2010 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences’ Bruce Smith Award. There are more than 1,500 students pursuing studies in the top-rated department.

University at Albany-SUNY

Founded in 1968, it became the first doctoral-granting criminal justice program in the nation. It gained national recognition for its interdisciplinary approach that focuses on the occurrence of crime within its legal and social contexts. Its alumni features a former head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Rutgers State University

Rutgers was named among the top 10 criminal justice schools by both U.S. News & World Report and, an informational site featuring reviews of the best colleges. This consistently top-ranking school is the only one on the list in close proximity to New York City, one of the best criminal justice centers in the country.

University of Missouri-St. Louis

Ranked fourth in the nation according to the 2010 rankings by U.S. News and World Report, this prestigious criminal justice department regularly publishes research in top-tier journals and holds offices in organizations such as the American Society of Criminology. It is the largest university in the St. Louis area with over 15,500 students.

University of California Irvine

With the only criminology department in the University of California system, UCI’s interdisciplinary Department of Criminology, Law and Society integrates two complementary areas of scholarship. It is ranked 5th in scholarly productivity according to the 2005 Chronicle of Higher Education's "Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index" with two top journals in the field: "Law and Society Review" and "Theoretical Criminology." It is also one of the few top schools to offer an online masters program.

Florida State University

With the nation's oldest Ph.D. program in criminology and criminal justice, this school comes with serious experience but still looks to the future. Their newest program in the field of computer criminology provides students the opportunity to become information technology experts on information-related crime, cyber-forensics and computer/network security issues.

Michigan State University

Established in 1935, The School of Criminal Justice at MSU is the nation’s oldest continuous degree-granting program in criminal justice. It has a strong focus on the study of crime and security involving identity theft, computer technology, DNA technology and international crime. It also offers unique joint degree options with biology/chemistry, fisheries & wildlife, food science and computer science.

Pennsylvania State University - University Park

Not only are they ranked in the top five for criminal justice studies in the country, they are also in the top 20 for the study of sociology, making them an ideal contender for students seeking to combine the two interconnected fields. The faculty is particularly strong in the areas of criminology, demography, family studies, social inequality, and statistical methods.

University of Pennsylvania

Ranked first in the nation among criminal justice and criminology departments in the Chronicle of Higher Education's 2007 faculty scholarly productivity index, this Ivy League school has a particularly strong focus on the prevention and control of crime.

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