Criminology is arguably one of the most fascinating subjects one can study. Different than the study of criminal justice, a criminology degree program focuses less on the punitive aspect of crime and more on motive and societal impact. Criminology degree holders may go on to work in a variety of different fields including corrections, psychology, social work, and even teaching. Because of this career diversity, salaries for criminology graduates will vary widely. Even so, it is wise to choose an affordable criminology degree program that offers the most educational bang for your buck. In order to help students find such a program, we’ve compiled a list of the 50 best value colleges and universities for this captivating major. For information regarding career potential for criminology degree holders, check out our article on the Highest Paying Criminal Justice Careers.
Types of degree programs covered in this ranking include the following:
- Bachelor of Science in Criminology (BS)
- Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (BA)
- Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)
- Executive Master of Science in Justice Administration (EMS)
- Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology (PhD)
Rating and Ranking Methodology
Graduate Degree Opportunities in Criminology
• Presence of Master’s Degree Program – 1 point
• Presence of Doctoral Degree Program – 1 point
Awards and Recognition (Related to Criminology)
• National Level – 2 points
• Regional Level – 1 point
20-Year Net ROI
• Above 700,000 – 6 points
• Above 600,000 – 5 points
• Above 500,000 – 4 points
• Above 400,000 – 3 points
• Above 300,000 –2 points
• Above 200,000 – 1 point
Criminology Research Opportunities – 1 point
Innovative Programs and/or Teaching Methods in Criminology – 1 point
Study Abroad Opportunities in Criminology – 1 point
Criminology Internship Opportunities – 1 point
Criminology Scholarship Opportunities – 1 point
Affiliated Centers and Institutes on Campus – 1 point
Related Student Organizations and Societies – 1 point
• 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us
Great Value Colleges for Criminology
The following list is a result of extensive research probing the quality and value of criminology degree programs across the country. After searching College Navigator for colleges and universities offering a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in criminology, we investigated further by visiting the websites of each school to gather more information. The net cost is the median average net cost by income. We then combined the data regarding the academic offerings of each program along with the school’s 20-year ROI (according to PayScale). After identifying the best value schools, we applied the rating and ranking methodology above to create the final list. In cases where two or more schools received the same number of points, we used the school’s net price to break the tie, presenting the most affordable criminology degree programs higher in the rankings.
#50 – Framingham State University
Net Price: $19,570
Housed in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Framingham State University’s Criminology degree program trains its students to approach criminal justice issues from a research-based perspective. While this program prepares students for careers in the criminal justice system, it is designed for students looking for a broader range of career opportunities than those typically available to criminal justice majors. FSU also offers its students a wide range of experiential learning opportunities through study abroad programs, community service projects, and internships.
#49 – Elizabethtown College
Net Price: $22,453
Elizabethtown College offers a Sociology–Anthropology program with a concentration in Criminology and Criminal Justice. This unique combined major prepares students for a wide variety of careers. Students in this criminology degree program have opportunities to participate in internships and research, as well as events held by the department and its clubs. One of the most exciting events hosted by the department is the Annual Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Social Research Conference. This conference is open to all criminology degree students and faculty, whether they’re presenting or are just interested their peers’ work.
#48 – The University of Tampa
Net Price: $29,312
Criminology degree students at the University of Tampa enjoy an interdisciplinary environment, a diverse array of courses, and opportunities to gain real-world experience. Faculty members are trained in multiple fields, allowing them to offer more high-quality, interdisciplinary courses than many other programs provide. Outside of the traditional classes for this bachelor’s in criminology, students conduct mock trials, go on field trips, participate in internships, and travel abroad. The Criminology Scholars Program is also available to exceptional students interested in a course taught by highly-regarded criminal justice professionals from outside the university.
#47 – State University of New York – Cortland
Cortland, New York
Net Price: $18,053
State University of New York–Cortland offers a BA in Criminology and a BA in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology. Students in this program are prepared for both graduate study and employment in the criminal justice system. Students can also prepare for a certain type of work or graduate study by taking classes from related disciplines, such as forensics and social work. Outside of classroom instruction, criminology degree students have opportunities to complete internships and join student organizations.
#46 – North Carolina State University – Raleigh
Raleigh, North Carolina
Net Price: $15,084
North Carolina State University–Raleigh offers a BA in Criminology that aims to not only produce criminal justice professionals, but also good citizens. Students who complete this program are expected to appreciate cultural diversity, analyze and produce research, and effectively apply concepts to real-world situations. While only one criminology degree program is offered, NCSU gives criminology majors the flexibility to choose courses that are relevant to their career paths. Opportunities for field experience within the criminal justice system are also available.
#45 – Eastern Michigan University
Net Price: $16,042
Eastern Michigan University’s Criminology degree program prides itself in its exceptional faculty, rigorous graduate programs, and research productivity. All full-time faculty have PhD’s and consistently secure external funding for research that both graduate and undergraduate students are regularly involved with. Students also enjoy opportunities for hands-on learning through internships. All criminology degree programs are multidisciplinary and built on a strong liberal arts foundation. This provides students with the broad knowledge required for both employment and further study.
#44 – Hofstra University
Hempstead, New York
Net Price: $32,962
Criminology majors at Hofstra University are offered a wide variety of courses from different disciplines and opportunities to apply those courses to real-world situations. Students study topics such as sociology, forensics, linguistics, and philosophy. Students are also able to participate in internships at nearby specialized programs and courts, including mental health and drug courts, the Department of Probation, and rehabilitation programs. Students who complete this criminology degree program are prepared for leadership positions in the justice system and graduate-level study.
#43 – University of North Carolina – Wilmington
Wilmington, North Carolina
Net Price: $19,592
The University of North Carolina–Wilmington offers a BA in Criminology and an MA in Sociology and Criminology. The Sociology and Criminology program offers more than five criminology-focused areas of concentration, including victimology, substance abuse, and public/applied criminology. Undergraduate criminology majors can also explore these topics through electives. All students are encouraged to complete internships starting their junior year. Active student organizations are also available to students interested in the meetings and events these organizations host.
#42 – University of Maryland – Eastern Shore
Princess Anne, Maryland
Net Price: $19,076
The University of Maryland–Eastern Shore’s Criminal Justice program incorporates several different disciplines into its courses to give its students a more complete understanding of the criminal justice system. Criminology degree students can augment this broad education with electives that focus on a more specific area within the justice system. The Department’s MS in Criminal Justice offers three concentrations, one of which is the Criminology and Research concentration. Field experience and seminar and laboratory work during the junior and senior years are highly encouraged.
#41 – Mount St. Mary’s University
Net Price: $25,090
Mount St. Mary’s University offers several options for undergraduate students interested in criminology from its department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Students may choose to minor in Criminal Justice, pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, or declare a double major in Sociology/Criminal Justice. Those who wish to connect with other criminology degree students, alumni, and future employers have the opportunity to join the school’s Criminal Justice Student Association as well as Alpha Phi Sigma, the Criminal Justice Honor Society.
#40 – Florida Southern College
Net Price: $24,097
Criminology degree students at Florida Southern College enjoy accessible faculty, discussion-based classes, and flexibility in choosing courses. All students are able to participate in research alongside faculty, and faculty research is brought into the classroom. Outside of some required courses, students can choose classes that fit their career goals and specialize in what they’re interested in. Florida Southern College only offers a bachelor’s in criminology, but this makes it a wonderful program for undergraduates as the school offers an exceptional amount of resources and opportunities usually only available to a department’s graduate students.
#39 – California State University – San Marcos
San Marcos, California
Net Price: $14,582
The Criminology and Justice Studies program at California State University–San Marcos educates its students thoroughly in both the practical and theoretical aspects of the field. One of the most exciting opportunities available to students that incorporates both aspects is the annual Sociology/Criminology and Justice Studies Student Research Symposium. This symposium encourages students to emphasize social justice in panel, poster, or spoken word sessions. It is an excellent opportunity for criminology degree students to practice working together in teams and presenting in the same way they would at larger and more formal conferences as professionals.
#38 – Drexel University
Net Price: $33,324
Drexel University offers a BS in Criminology and Justice Studies with concentrations in Criminal Justice, Criminology and Justice Policy, and Justice Informatics. This program is available in both traditional and online formats. It is also available as an Accelerated BS and JD in Criminology and Justice Studies and Law. Drexel is especially well-known for its cooperative education program, which allows students to receive credit for six months of full-time employment in their field. Students are also able to participate in research alongside faculty. Both of these opportunities give students valuable hands on experience that will help them find employment or enter a graduate program after completing their bachelor’s degree in criminology.
#37 – Marquette University
Net Price: $25,492
Marquette University’s Criminology and Law Studies program is known for its flexibility. It can easily be combined with other majors to prepare students for more specialized work or graduate study. Students from other majors also take criminology courses, creating a more interdisciplinary environment. These courses are taught by some of the most highly-regarded scholars and professionals in the country. The bachelor’s degree in criminology program also offers several opportunities for professional networking and hands-on experience through internships, study abroad, research and department-sponsored events.
#36 – Villanova University
Net Price: $30,371
The Department of Sociology and Criminology at Villanova University boasts an impressive amount of opportunities for its undergraduate students. Students are able to intern at a wide variety of government agencies and nonprofits, including the New York State Supreme Court and United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Students also have opportunities to conduct independent research under faculty supervision. Many students go on to present their research at events such as the Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Social Research Conference. The hands-on experience and professional development aspect of this bachelor’s degree in criminology make students appealing to potential employers and prepare them thoroughly for work after graduation.
#35 – Ohio State University
Net Price: $13,982
The Criminology and Criminal Justice program at Ohio State University works alongside the university’s Sociology program to improve the criminal justice system and provide students with the information and resources necessary to be successful in the field. OSU prides itself in its expert faculty and experiential learning opportunities. Faculty members are knowledgeable in a wide variety of topics and regularly mentor students in research and independent study. The bachelor’s degree in criminology program also facilitates internships, an honors program, and a unique proseminar course that allows qualified students to work in small teams on a service project.
#34 – Central Connecticut State University
New Britain, Connecticut
Net Price: $15,860
Central Connecticut State University’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice prioritizes critical thinking, diversity, and the use of technology in the classroom. It offers a BA degree program and an MS degree program. Both graduate and undergraduate students may participate in all aspects of research, including the design and approval stages. Students can also complete internships at a wide variety of locations, including local law enforcement, federal law enforcement, state agencies, and victim services. These opportunities and others made available throughout this affordable criminology degree program make graduates appealing to employers and graduate programs alike.
#33 – University of Missouri – Saint Louis
Saint Louis, Missouri
Net Price: $7,894
The University of Missouri–Saint Louis’s Criminology and Criminal Justice program is highly regarded for its research, community service, and excellent teaching. Faculty are always conducting research and generating external funding from private foundations and government agencies. Faculty members are also active in service projects locally and internationally. Both research and service projects contribute to student education by creating new knowledge and providing opportunities for hands-on experience. Students in the bachelor’s degree in criminology program also have opportunities to attend events hosted by the department and its active student organizations.
#32 – St. John’s University
Queens, New York
Net Price: $26,661
St. John’s University equips its criminology students with the knowledge and skills needed to advance in a wide variety of criminal justice and criminology careers. The university’s MA degree in Criminology and Justice can be completed in as few as three semesters, though part-time students may need up to five semesters. Classes are offered in the late afternoon and evening to accommodate working students. Internships and a limited number of research assistantships are available to students looking for opportunities to gain work experience before completing their criminology degree.
#31 – Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Net Price: $22,689
Indiana University of Pennsylvania works to prepare its criminology students for careers in the criminal justice system through a thorough education, hands-on experience, and events. Teaching is the top priority at IUP. All faculty members are expected to teach multiple courses each semester and respond to students’ needs. This criminology degree program also offers internships for qualified students interested in experiential learning. Common internship locations include prisons, security firms, and mental health facilities. Students looking for opportunities to connect to potential employers can also attend the school’s annual career fair.
#30 – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Net Price: $12,556
The University of Minnesota–Twin Cities offers both a BS and a BA degree in Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance. These criminology degree programs examine the social processes involved in the criminal justice system through research. Students pursuing a BS in criminology degree can choose to specialize in one of four areas, including Policy Analysis and Quantitative Emphasis. Both degree programs require students to complete the Major Project or the Honors Proseminar Sequence, which gives students the opportunity to apply the knowledge they have gained over the previous years to an original research project.
#29 – University of Delaware
Net Price: $14,622
The Criminal Justice and Criminology programs at the University of Delaware produce well-rounded, thoroughly prepared graduates who can enter a variety of positions in the criminal justice system. This is primarily due to the interdisciplinary approach that the criminology degree programs take. The department’s faculty is made up of experts in not only criminology and other strictly criminal justice-related areas, but also health, environment, gender, and race. Students also enjoy a diverse array of opportunities to learn through research, study abroad, internships, and seminars.
#28 – CUNY – John Jay College of Criminal Justice
New York, New York
Net Price: $7,751
The City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice is a liberal arts institution that integrates justice into all of its programs, even the arts and sciences. This school-wide focus offers students a unique atmosphere in which to study criminology. Criminology is one of the most popular majors at John Jay, and as a result, students enrolled in a criminology degree program enjoy an especially supportive community of peers. Criminology students also have the option to enroll in the program’s Honors track, which includes internships and research opportunities.
#27 – University of South Carolina – Columbia
Columbia, South Carolina
Net Price: $20,783
The University of South Carolina–Columbia’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is home to an advanced program based on research and criminological theory. This program is consistently engaged in research, policy analysis, and program evaluation. The department also hosts several events and large projects, including a lecture series, career fairs, and the annual South Carolina Law Enforcement Census. This affordable criminology degree program’s high volume of activity gives students several opportunities for enrichment and creates new knowledge that can be integrated into coursework.
#26 – University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas
Net Price: $14,482
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers the only Criminal Justice doctoral program in Arkansas, as well as two other Criminal Justice degree programs that are available in both traditional and online formats. All of the programs balance classroom education with hands-on learning. Experiential learning opportunities include internships and research. The Department of Criminal Justice has three centers, including the Juvenile Justice Center and the Center for the Study of Environmental Criminology. These centers improve the criminal justice system and the community through research while also training UALR students for work in the field.
#25 – University of Southern Mississippi
Net Price: $18,285
The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Criminal Justice produces graduates who are employed at government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service, as well as organizations in the private sector. The university offers two criminal justice BA programs, a BS in Forensics with an emphasis in Criminal Justice, and three criminal justice graduate degree programs. This wide variety of options helps provide some flexibility to students interested in a particular aspect of the criminal justice system. The School of Criminal Justice also facilitates internships, research, and student organization activities.
#24 – Indiana University- Bloomington
Net Price: $12,060
The Department of Criminal Justice at Indiana University – Bloomington has a history of innovation, which explains its exceedingly interdisciplinary department that is always looking for a new approach to challenges in the field. Students majoring in Criminal Justice receive a broad education that draws information and techniques from the social sciences, the humanities, and other fields. A wide variety of elective courses allow students to apply this foundation to their personal interests such as journalism, research, and social work. Students in this affordable criminology degree program also have several opportunities for research internships, experience, teaching internships, and volunteer work.
#23 – University of Illinois at Chicago
Net Price: $13,683
The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Criminology, Law, and Justice programs are designed to prepare students for a wide variety of roles in the justice system. While this broad approach allows for less specialization, UIC still offers its students many exciting opportunities as criminology degree majors. Students can pursue enrichment opportunities through the UIC Honors College, which offers special courses and facilities. Internships are also available, enabling students to gain practical experience in the specific setting they are interested in working in.
#22 – University of South Florida
Net Price: $9,809
The University of South Florida’s Criminology program is unique in that it approaches criminology not only from the perspective of a criminal justice professional, but also from the perspectives of society and offenders. The bachelor’s degree in criminology approaches criminology from the perspective of other academic disciplines. This well-rounded education prepares students for a variety of positions in the private and public sectors, as well as graduate studies. Both graduate and undergraduate students have opportunities for enrichment and experiential learning, including honors programs, internships, and research.
#21 – California State University – Fresno
Net Price: $7,549
California State University–Fresno’s Department of Criminology is dedicated to diversity, excellence in education, and bettering the local and global community. Because of this, Fresno State maintains partnerships with several organizations. These partnerships facilitate research, internships, and other projects that benefit both criminology degree students and the community. Students have many unique extracurricular actives available to them, one of which is the Mock Trial Program. This program serves both as a fun extracurricular activity and a three-unit criminology course. Other criminology-related opportunities include academic field trips and student organizations.
#20 – American University
Net Price: $33,158
The Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology at American University boasts expert faculty, a successful mock trial program, and exciting research opportunities. The department offers multiple criminology degree programs, including a combined JD/MS program and a combined BA/MS program. Most of these programs allow students to choose a specialization such as Justice and Public Policy or Jurisprudence and Social Thought. The programs are interdisciplinary, and all graduate students are required to participate in research. This gives them the experience required to be competitive in the field.
#19 – Florida State University
Net Price: $10,583
Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice prides itself on its facilities, online programs, and research. FSU’s facilities, including the Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research and the newly-renovated Eppes Hall, provide students and faculty the best possible environment for learning and collaboration. Research conducted in these facilities has made an impact on students, public policy and people around the world. Most of the department’s criminology degree programs are offered online, giving busy students more flexibility. FSU’s online programs are consistently ranked among the best in the nation.
#18 – University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Net Price: $15,686
The University of North Dakota’s Criminal Justice program draws from several departments, including the departments of Philosophy, Anthropology, and Sociology. This partnership among these departments and the Department of Criminal Justice provides students with the resources and alternative perspectives not available at many other universities. UND offers one of very few doctoral programs in the U.S. recognized by the American Association of Doctoral Programs in Criminology and Criminal Justice, as well as the only specialized doctoral program for students with a JD degree. UND is also home to four criminal justice student groups, which host trips, events, and volunteer projects for criminology degree hopefuls.
#17 – University of Central Florida
Net Price: $11,161
The Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida prides itself in its online courses, experiential learning opportunities, and technologically advanced facilities. Both the undergraduate and graduate Criminal Justice programs can be completed online, and online students can still take advantage of internship opportunities. The department also operates a crime-mapping lab with the most up-to-date software. Criminology degree students can participate in extra service projects and professional development opportunities through the department’s active student organizations.
#16 – University of California – Irvine
Net Price: $13,648
The University of California–Irvine is home to the only criminology department in the University of California system. The department integrates criminology with socio-legal studies to give students a unique perspective of the justice system. Experiential learning is a priority. All students have opportunities to participate in field study in settings such as private legal firms, juvenile shelters, and the Orange County Victim/Witness Assistance Program. The department also hosts several events, including speaker series and research symposiums for criminology degree students.
#15 – Florida International University
Net Price: $10,298
Florida International University’s Department of Criminal Justice offers both its graduate and undergraduate degree programs traditionally and online. It also offers multiple joint and combined degrees. This wide variety of program options provides FIU students some flexibility to choose a criminology degree program that is most beneficial to them. Students also have opportunities for enrichment through internships as well as international study through the school’s CJ Study Abroad in England program. Students who graduate from this program are prepared for a wide variety of careers in local, state, and federal agencies.
#14 – University of Cincinnati
Net Price: $20,312
The University of Cincinnati’s Criminal Justice program is committed to research, community partnerships, and experiential learning. The university is highly regarded for its faculty research and state-of-the-art facilities. The program’s on-campus research centers provide an ideal setting for student training and spreading of information to organizations outside of the university. The School of Criminal Justice has partnered with several local police departments, correctional centers, and businesses for research and internships. Completion of an internship or other field experience is required in all criminology degree programs.
#13 – George Mason University
Net Price: $20,468
George Mason University offers an interdisciplinary Criminology, Law, and Society program. This criminology degree program provides students with a broad knowledge of the justice system while still giving them room for specialization through concentrations in areas such as Law and Society and Criminal Justice. The Department of Criminology, Law, and Society is home to three research facilities. These centers not only conduct research, but also provide information and training to professionals outside of the university. This gives students the opportunity to gain real-world experience in an environment similar to the one they will work in after graduation.
#12 – Washington State University
Net Price: $15,548
The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University is the oldest department of its kind in the nation. Its criminology degree program has a history of producing effective and ethical criminal justice professionals who can address pressing issues facing the U.S. and the world. Real-world experience is prioritized. Graduate students are given ample opportunities to participate in research, and faculty lead an annual study-abroad program where both undergraduate and graduate students can visit criminal justice agencies in places such as London and Amsterdam.
#11 – University of Florida
Net Price: $8,528
The Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law offers several stand-out degree programs in the school’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The BA degree program is the largest interdisciplinary program at the school, and the criminology PhD program was recently ranked 5th in the country for its research productivity. Faculty members collaborate with departments across the university to conduct meaningful research on topics such as gender and sexuality, health and aging, and race and ethnicity. This ongoing research contributes to the criminology degree programs’ robust curriculum and gives students the opportunity to work alongside professors in a hands-on way.
#10 – Sam Houston State University
Net Price: $14,832
Sam Houston State University’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology is highly regarded for its training institutes, active student groups, and research productivity. The department offers a large course selection and online courses, giving its students some flexibility to pursue their own interests. Several undergraduate and graduate criminology degree programs are offered both online and traditionally. The department also offers many professional development opportunities through its institutes and honor societies. Facilities include the Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom, the Conference Center, and forensic labs with specialized equipment.
#9 – University of Nebraska at Omaha
Net Price: $13,833
The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Criminology degree program offers students both flexibility and many exciting opportunities. Students can take the full degree or just a few courses online, allowing busier students to easily fit classes into their schedules. The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice is home to two student organizations which host small trips and events. It also sponsors the London Study Abroad Program, which gives students the opportunity to compare the U.K. justice system to the U.S. justice system.
#8 – Arizona State University- West
Net Price: $11,114
Arizona State University–West’s Criminology degree program is one of the university’s highest rated programs, and it is especially well-known for its research productivity. ASU offers multiple degree programs in criminology, including accelerated and completely online options. Criminology students at ASU have several opportunities to gain hands-on experience through the university’s many research programs, as well as through internships at nearby criminal justice agencies. Students also have the opportunity to study abroad in countries such as Israel, Australia, and Italy, each of which has its own unique, location-specific criminology programming.
#7 – Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania
Net Price: $25,704
Pennsylvania State University’s Criminology degree programs are consistently ranked as one of the best programs in the nation. This is in part due to the Criminology program’s close relationship with the university’s Sociology program. Both of these programs are housed in the same department, allowing them to easily create an interdisciplinary atmosphere for students. Students have a wide variety of enrichment opportunities, including an honors program, study abroad, professional development, and competition. Many other opportunities and events are also available through the Justice Association, the Criminology major’s undergraduate student organization.
#6 – State University of New York at Albany
Albany, New York
Net Price: $20,138
The Criminal Justice program at the State University of New York at Albany has a history of producing graduates who are successful in both practical and teaching positions, as well as graduate programs. This is largely due to the program’s interdisciplinary approach. Students learn about the different agencies involved in the justice system and how they interact, preparing them for the environment they will enter after graduation. The School of Criminal Justice is also home to the Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center, which not only gives graduate students opportunities to participate in research, but also sponsors events for all criminal justice students.
#5 – Northeastern University
Net Price: $17,692
Northeastern University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice has the unique advantage of being a small school in a large university. This allows students to enjoy small classes while still taking advantage of the many resources usually only available at larger institutions. Northeastern University has three criminal justice and criminology degree research facilities, all of which facilitate cutting-edge research. Students have many experiential learning opportunities, including co-op, internships, and service learning. All students gain at least one year of work experience before graduation.
#4 – Rutgers University – Newark
Newark, New Jersey
Net Price: $15,144
The School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University–Newark is home to one of the most popular programs on campus. The university’s diverse student population and location in one of the country’s leading business centers creates a unique learning environment and provides myriad resources for criminology degree students. There are several affiliated centers and institutes available to criminal justice students and faculty for research, as well as community outreach. The Center for Law and Justice is one of the best technologically equipped academic buildings in the U.S., making it an ideal environment for collaboration and learning.
#3 – University of Pennsylvania
Net Price: $12,752
The Department of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania focuses on the application of research to pressing issues in the field. As a result, all students are required to develop a research project, even undergraduate students. Penn is the only Ivy League university that offers a bachelor’s degree in criminology, and it has the longest continuous program of criminology education and research of any university in the nation. Penn also offers dual degree programs and a unique MS program that combines the theoretical and applied aspects of criminology into one program.
#2 – University of Maryland – College Park
College Park, Maryland
Net Price: $18,418
The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland–College Park is home to the most popular major on campus and one of the most highly-ranked doctoral programs in the U.S. The Criminology and Criminal Justice program is a Limited Enrollment Program. These programs are competitive majors that only allow a certain number of students to enroll. This ensures that only the most dedicated students remain in the program. This already rigorous criminology degree program is complemented by several enrichment opportunities, including an honors program, internships, and research, and study abroad.
#1 – University of Texas at Dallas
Net Price: $13,797
The University of Texas at Dallas offers multiple Criminology degree programs, including a BA in Criminology, an Executive MS in Justice Administration and Leadership, and a PhD in Criminology. Undergraduate students can also take advantage of UTD’s Fast Track, which allows them to take up to 15 credit hours of graduate courses. Other opportunities for enrichment are available to both undergraduate and graduate students, such as study abroad, honors programs, internships and student organizations.
About the Field of Criminology
Distinctive from the discipline of criminal justice, which focuses on criminal procedures and law enforcement, the field of criminology takes a more holistic approach to crime and its role within a broader society. This academic subject area examines the deeper causes of criminal behavior, ways in which society deals with crime, and how crime impacts society as a whole.
About Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminology
Bachelor’s degree plans in criminology are typically four-year plans of study requiring approximately 120 credit hours of coursework. These undergraduate pursuits usually draw students who are intrigued by concepts of social justice, behavioral deviance, crime and punishment, and social inequalities, for instance. Criminology bachelor’s degrees often prepare graduates for entry-level work in sub-fields like police work, corrections, forensic science, social work, and more. Many bachelor of criminology degree holders go on to study criminology or a related field in graduate school.
Types of Criminology Bachelor’s Degrees
There’s more than one type of bachelor’s degree in criminology. In fact, there are several different types. Here are some examples of the various credentials one can earn in this field:
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminology
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminology, Law, and Society
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminology and Criminal Justice
- Bachelor’s in Criminology and Justice Studies
Admissions Requirements for Bachelor of Criminology Degree Programs
When examining different program options for a bachelor’s degree in criminology, you’ll find varying admissions requirements. It really just depends on the college or university you’re interested in attending. Still, you can expect to find some commonalities. Most schools will require a high school transcript demonstrating a respectable GPA (i.e., 2.5-3.0) as well as acceptable college entrance exam scores like the ACT or SAT. Depending on the specific school and program, applicants may also be required to submit essays, writing samples, letters of reference, and more. Generally speaking, the more competitive the program, the more strenuous the application process.
Curriculum for Criminology Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Just as admissions criteria for criminology bachelor’s degrees will vary by college or university, so too will the curricula for these programs. Typically, though, coursework requirements will consist of a combination of general education courses and major-specific, or core, classes. The general education requirements for these academic offerings will be similar to most other undergraduate degree programs in that they will address fundamental topics in the humanities, behavioral and physical sciences, mathematics and statistics, and the like. Core courses, on the other hand, will be specific to the criminology major. We’ve listed some sample core course titles below for reference.
Core Criminology Courses
- Criminal Psychology
- Sociology of Crime and Violence
- Introduction to Criminology
- Theories of Deviance
- Crime and Civil Liberties
- Youth Crime and Justice
- Research Methods in Criminology
- Law and Society
- Constitutional Law: Criminal Process and Rights
About Master’s Degree Programs in Criminology
Students who complete their bachelor’s degree in criminology have the option to enter the workforce after graduation or continue their studies in a master of criminology degree program. Those who choose the latter option can expect to invest an additional two years of full-time study in exchange for their graduate credential in the field. Coursework for these advanced criminology degree plans tends to be highly specialized and may include opportunities for independent study as well as experiential learning.
Types of Master’s Degrees in Criminology
Master’s degrees in criminology go by different names. Here are some of the different types of master’s-level credentials you can earn in this discipline:
- Master of Arts (MA) in Criminology and Criminal Justice
- Master of Arts (MA) in Criminology, Law, and Society
- Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Criminology
- Master of Science (MS) in Criminology
- Master of Science (MS) in Applied Criminology
- Master of Criminology & Justice
Master of Criminology Admissions Requirements
The admissions process for a master of criminology degree program may be more stringent than that of a bachelor’s degree option. Even so, if you meet eligibility requirements, you’ll be rewarded with an enriching program of study that can result in more job opportunities and a higher salary. Once you submit your graduate application, admissions officers will review your undergraduate transcript to ensure you have what it takes to succeed in a master’s criminology program. Other considerations for admission may include:
- Undergraduate GPA
- GRE scores
- Letters of reference
- Personal statement
When applying to criminology master’s degree programs, keep in mind that the more reputable the program, the more competitive the admissions process will be.
Criminology Master’s Degree Programs: Curriculum
By nature, master’s degree programs in criminology are more rigorous that bachelor’s degree plans. These advanced courses of study prepare graduates for leadership roles and other high-level positions in the field of criminology. They also provide the academic foundation for further study in a doctoral program in criminology. Coursework details will vary from program to program, but you can expect anywhere from 30-50 required credit hours of classes specific to topics in criminology. Some sample course titles required for master’s-level programs in the discipline are listed below. Keep in mind that exact course titles will vary by degree plan.
Core Master’s Courses in Criminology
- Crime and Justice Policy
- Etiology of Crime and Criminality
- Criminal Justice Data Analytics
- Evidence-Based Crime Prevention
- Statistical Tools for Criminal Justice
- Advanced Criminology Theory
- Law and the Criminal Justice System
- History of Criminological Thought
Master’s Thesis in Criminology
Though non-thesis options are available, many master of criminology degree programs require a master’s thesis prior to graduation. This culminating element of the program requires numerous hours of scholarly research on an advanced topic in criminology. This research must be compiled and documented in a lengthy academic paper complete with in-depth analysis of the topic. Students must then present the paper to a panel of professors who will ask challenging questions regarding the concepts presented and research methodologies used.
About Doctor of Criminology Programs
Only the most dedicated criminology students will choose to pursue a terminal degree in the field. These doctoral programs in criminology represent the highest level of education available in the discipline.
Types of Doctoral Criminology Degrees
There’s more than one type of doctorate in criminology one can earn. Here are some examples:
- PhD in Criminology
- PhD in Justice, Law, and Criminology
- PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice
- PhD in Criminology and Justice Policy
- PhD in Criminology, Law, and Society
Doctoral Programs in Criminology: Admissions
Doctoral degree programs tend to be highly selective, and those in criminology are no exception. Every school is different, but most colleges and universities require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in criminology at a minimum and have a stellar academic record at the undergraduate level. GRE scores will also be required. Additional criteria include personal statements, references, and writing samples.
Criminology Doctoral Programs: Curriculum
Once enrolled in a doctoral criminology program, students can expect to take rigorous courses spanning advanced topics in criminology. The requirements for these programs can vary widely and include anywhere between 40 and 100 credit hours of coursework. Students who have already completed a master’s degree in criminology prior to doctoral enrollment may be able to waive a substantial portion of the required classes. Exact course titles will depend on the school and program you attend, but we’ve listed some examples below for reference.
Core Courses for Doctor of Criminology Degrees
- Advances in Criminology Theory
- Professional Development in Criminology
- Applied Statistics in Criminology
- Survey of Criminological Theories
- Measures and Correlates of Crime
- Values, Ethics, and Criminal Justice Policy
- Justice Organizations
Popular Criminology Concentrations
The field of criminology is broad, and there are numerous opportunities for students to specialize their studies. As a result, many colleges and universities offer concentrations that students can use to customize their degree plans. Some of the more popular of these are discussed below:
A degree in criminology with a concentration in Corrections will prepare graduates to work in the field of corrections as corrections officers, treatment specialists, rehabilitation specialists, and more. Coursework for the concentration may include titles such as the following:
- Community Corrections
- Women in Crime and Justice
- Correctional Institutions
Graduates of criminology degrees with specializations in Victimology are prepared to work with victims of crime, including violent crimes. The curriculum for these particular plans of study can include:
- Family Violence
- Trauma & Crisis Intervention
- Victim Services
Forensic Behavioral Sciences
If the field of forensics interests you, a criminology degree with a concentration in Forensic Behavioral Sciences may be a good fit. You can expect to take courses such as:
- Forensic Behavioral Sciences and the Law
- Biology of Criminality
- Wrongful Convictions
Law and Society
Prospective students interested in the complex and ever-evolving relationship between law and society should consider this concentration. Sample course titles comprising the curriculum for such a program include:
- Development of Justice in America
- Crime and Justice in Popular Culture
- Minorities in Crime and Justice
A degree in criminology with a concentration in Policing can prepare students for advanced positions in law enforcement. A program such as this will include courses similar to those listed below:
- Police and Community
- Criminal Procedures and Evidence
- The Investigative Process
Justice and Human Relations
Prospective students interested in high-level topics surrounding the concept of justice and how it affects personal and social relationships may elect a criminology degree concentration in Justice and Human Relations. Such a degree customization may feature classes like:
- Human Service Agencies and the Law
- Immigration: Law, Crime, and Justice
- Family Law and Procedure
Criminology and Deviance
Why do criminals commit crimes? How can we cut off the problem at its root? These are questions that a degree in criminology with a concentration in Criminology and Deviance attempts to answer. Students enrolled in these programs can expect to take courses such as:
- Deviant Behavior
- Inequality in Societies
- Police Role
Most Frequently-Searched Criminology Degree Programs
George Mason University: BS in Criminology, Law, and Society- Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science option in criminology from GMU will customize their degree plans around three available concentrations: Criminal Justice, Homeland Security and Justice, and Law and Society.
Arizona State University: BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice- The bachelor of criminology program from Arizona State University blends the study of criminology and criminal justice. The program is highly flexible, enabling students to pursue full-time, part-time, and even online tracks.
Fresno State University: BS in Criminology- Fresno State University offers a versatile Bachelor of Science in Criminology with four distinct concentration options: Corrections, Law Enforcement, Victimology, and Forensic Behavioral Sciences.Graduates of the program are qualified for positions in criminal justice and related fields as well as for further study in a criminology master’s degree program.
Kent State University: Bachelor’s in Criminology and Justice Studies- The criminology bachelor’s degree option from Kent State University is a multidisciplinary plan of study that spans topics throughout the social sciences and humanities. The highly versatile program features seven different concentration options, including standout specializations in Justice and Human Relations, Criminology and Deviance, and Policing.
Pennsylvania State University: BA/BS in Criminology- Offered through the school’s Department of Sociology, the bachelor of criminology program from Penn State features both BA and BS tracks. The degree plan requires a minimum of 121 credit hours of coursework.
University of South Florida: BA, MA, PhD in Criminology- The University of South Florida is home to a robust criminology program, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral offerings.These programs are offered through the school’s distinguished College of Behavioral and Community Sciences.
Washington State University: Undergraduate and Graduate Studies in Criminology- Washington State University offers a full range of criminology degree programs on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Offerings include both a major and minor in criminology as well as a MA and PhD program.
Frequently-Asked Questions About Criminology Degree Programs
Q: Are criminology degrees worth it?
A: A criminology degree at any level of postsecondary education will require a significant investment of your time and energy as well as your financial resources. Only you can decide whether a criminology credential is worth this investment. However, this degree will position you for secure and lucrative career opportunities in criminology and related fields.
Q: Who studies criminology?
A: Typically, students who choose criminology as a major area of study are interested in the causes and effects of crime and desire to pursue careers in criminal justice, social services, postsecondary education, psychology, and public policy, for instance.
Q: Can I earn my criminology degree online?
A: Yes. Online criminology degree programs are available to students who require a flexible pathway towards a bachelor’s, master’s, or even doctoral degree in the discipline.
Q: How long does it take to complete a degree in criminology?
A: It depends on the program. A bachelor’s in criminology will generally take four years to complete, and a master’s usually requires two additional years of study. Doctoral students can expect to add another three to four years prior to completion of their terminal degrees. Other factors can extend or shorten a program’s completion time, including whether you choose part-time or accelerated tracks.
Q: How much does a criminology degree cost?
A: The cost of your criminology degree will depend on the school you attend as well as the level of degree you’re pursuing. Tuition expenses can run anywhere from $5,000 per year or less to well over $30,000 annually. Whatever the cost, keep in mind that financial aid is often available to help cover educational expenses.
Career Questions for Criminology Degrees
Q: What can I do with a criminology degree?
A: Graduates of criminology degree programs may be qualified for various positions in criminal justice, law enforcement, corrections, social services, and forensics, for example. Your specific job opportunities will depend upon your degree level as well as any concentrations or specializations you elect.
Q: How much will I make with a degree in criminology?
A: A number of different factors will contribute to your salary after graduating from a criminology degree program. These include your degree level, employment terms, and geographical location. Still, PayScale reports the average annual wage for professionals with a BA in Criminology to be nearly $60,000.
Q: What professional organizations can I join in criminology?
A: There are numerous professional associations related to the discipline of criminology. Some of these are listed below, but there are others:
American Society of Criminology
Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
National Organization for Victim Assistance
Justice Research and Statistics Association
This ranking was updated in July 2020.
Related Rankings and Articles
- Criminal Justice and Legal Degree Programs
- Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Legal Studies
- Most Affordable Bachelor’s in Legal Studies
- Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Criminology
- Most Affordable Bachelor’s in Criminology
- Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice
- Most Affordable Master’s in Forensic Psychology
- Top 10 Online Colleges in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
- What Can I Do With a Criminal Justice Major?
A high resolution version of the award badge is available here for your use in your publications.