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Top 50 Best Value Criminal Justice Programs of 2016It’s one of the fastest-growing non-medical professions in the US, and one of the most popular choices for both traditional-aged freshmen and non-traditional working adults: criminal justice and criminology.

The Criminal Justice field is home to many of those perennial career options – the jobs that are always needed, everywhere, and that will always provide job security, if not fabulous wealth. Careers like law enforcement, corrections, parole, and legal clerks have a long history, and will never be replaced by machines or outsourced. Other criminal justice careers, such as cybersecurity and border patrol, are relatively new or gaining in prominence in recent years, and appear to not only be here for the long haul, but growing for the foreseeable future.

Criminal Justice degrees are largely interdisciplinary by necessity, as a full understanding of the justice system requires not only knowledge about government and law, but also of technology and human behavior (which includes sociology, psychology, biology, neuroscience, and more). With the rise in demand, many new criminal justice schools are being established alongside the old guard. Some of these newer schools are led by reputable experts, practitioners, and scholars from all sides of the criminal justice field; others are thrown together to capitalize on students’ needs and aren’t really worth your investment.

Value Colleges is here to point students to the real thing: the criminal justice and criminology schools that are reputable, accredited, and, just as important, affordable. Our initial list of qualified colleges and universities begins with the College Scorecard, filtering responses by price (under $20,000 per year), respectable graduation rate (at least 55% and higher), and public/private non-profits only. Leaving any size school open, we ran 175 possible criminal justice/criminology programs through our formula, taking three metrics into account:

This process gives us a top 50 best values: the colleges and universities that best balance affordability with reputation and future career prospects, the ones that will give graduates the most reliable return on their higher education investment.


University of Florida

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Our #1 best value college for Criminal Justice is the University of Florida. UF, in Gainesville, FL, is recognized as one of the 20 best public universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, as well as one of the biggest and most respected public research institutions, with federal land, sea, and space grants. It’s also a top value, with Florida residents paying only $6300 for a full year’s tuition – just a little over $200 per credit hour. That’s an astonishingly affordable rate, especially for a major university of Florida’s size and reputation. The Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law offers undergraduate degrees in Criminology & Law that can prepare students for careers in law enforcement, law, academia, and more. It’s important to note, though, that because of the popularity of the Criminology & Law major, the department has to keep upper division courses selective, so good performance in the freshman and sophomore years is a must. It’s a high goal to shoot for, but with job prospects in the field, it’s an investment that will pay off.


Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo

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Polytechnic schools tend to have a couple of things in common: their curricula are dedicated to experiment and experience, and their graduates have a higher-than-average return on investment. Cal Poly – the California Polytechnic State University – is no different, and high potential salaries for their graduates, plus reasonable tuition rates (around $9000 per year in tuition and fees), combine to make Cal Poly a top value. The Cal Poly Social Sciences Department offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice. The Sociology program is dedicated to guiding students in situating themselves in the complex social world of today, understanding how race, class, and gender shape our society, as well as how the US fits into the global society. Students in the Criminal Justice concentration are prepared for graduate study, or careers in the field, with the expectation that the Cal Poly name will carry weight on the job market and into long, satisfying careers.


California State University - Long Beach

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Cal State Long Beach (The Beach to the cool kids) is a fixture on college value listings, including Payscale and the Princeton Review, thanks to having the lowest tuition of any public university in California – only $5400 per year for undergraduate. That low tuition is part of a commitment to making a college education accessible to all California residents, especially in the Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Orange County region, and is recognized as one of the most diverse universities in the nation. The School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Emergency Management offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice that prepares students for ethical service in both public and private criminal justice careers, based in social science and interdisciplinary studies. With low tuition rates and an inviting job market, a Cal State Long Beach Criminal Justice degree should retain its market value for a long time.


Truman State University

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Truman State University, in Kirksville, MO, may not be a household name, but it has earned its high place on the Value Colleges ranking. Recognized as one of the best midwestern universities, Truman State is a small, public liberal arts university named for President Harry Truman, a native Missourian. While the most selective of Missouri’s public institutions, Truman State is also one of the most affordable, with tuition for Missouri residents only $7100 per year; Truman State further notes that, thanks to their generous financial aid opportunities, half of their students are able to graduate with no student loan debt at all. That kind of attention to the needs of students makes Truman State a top value investment. Truman State offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Justice Systems that combines small classes with ample hands-on learning experience for a high quality education and a solid return on a low-cost investment.


Texas A&M - College Station

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As the fourth largest university in the nation, with the second highest endowment of a public university, Texas A&M is known for their prolific research and attracts both students and faculty with the resources that size and money bring. Like the University of Florida, Texas A&M is a land, sea, and space grant institution, and while it is a public university, A&M is also recognized as being one of the most religious and politically conservative universities in the US. While the sciences get most popular attention for research, the social sciences at A&M are led by expert researchers and teachers. The Department of Sociology offers a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with concentration in Crime, Law, and Deviance, with ample support from the Howard B. Kaplan Laboratory for Social Science Research. Texas residents pay only a little over $3000 per semester, making Texas A&M a top 5 value for criminal justice degrees.


Appalachian State University

No university knows the culture and needs of the Appalachian Mountains region like Appalachian State University.
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Located in the beautiful mountain town of Boone, NC, Appalachian State University is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the 10 best universities in the south and by Kilplinger’s as a best value for many years running. Students are drawn to ASU not only by its excellent education, and its proximity to many popular outdoor sports and activities, but also to its significant affordability; with resident tuition rates at less than $2000 per semester (not including fees), ASU provides an accessible education across the mountains of North Carolina and beyond. The Department of Government and Justice Systems is one of the most respected and popular at ASU, offering a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, as well as a pre-Law concentration.


California State University - Chico

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Like sister institution Cal State Long Beach, California State University Chico is recognized as a top 10 public western university by U.S. News & World Report. From its beautiful rural campus in Chico, CA (in the Sacramento Valley), Chico State has built a reputation for educational excellence, community engagement, and environmental sustainability, signs of Chico’s responsibility and impact. Chico State’s Department of Political Science offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice designed to teach students ethical decision-making, theories of criminal justice systems, and an understanding of the diversity of our multi-ethnic society. With undergraduate tuition at only a little over $7000 annually for residents, Chico State’s Criminal Justice degree is clearly a top 10 investment.


North Carolina State University

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As the largest university in North Carolina, and a corner of the Research Triangle, North Carolina State University is best known for engineering and agriculture, but NCSU’s educational reputation is stellar in all areas. Located in Raleigh, the center of government and law in North Carolina, NCSU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology has been teaching courses in criminal justice since 1920, when the field was becoming modernized. Today, this diverse, forward-thinking department offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology that combines courses in political science and sociology to give a full education in criminal behavior and the justice system. At $3100 per semester for North Carolina residents (not including fees), NCSU is an affordable, highly respected institution with a criminology degree that will prepare graduates for a long, successful career in criminal justice.


Iowa State University

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Like NCSU, Iowa State University, in Ames, IA, is a land-grant institution best known for its engineering and agriculture programs. As the very first land-grant university, ISU has been fulfilling the land-grant mission of providing practical education to the people of Iowa for over a century and a half, and for their work has been recognized as one of the 100 best universities in the nation. That excellence, and commitment to accessibility, extends to the Department of Sociology, which offers an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice that mixes sociology, political science, anthropology, and other fields for a well-rounded and useful overview of crime and justice. Plus, Iowa State’s low $6600 annual tuition keeps their degrees accessible in price, as well, making Iowa State a top 10 value for criminal justice.


University of Iowa

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Coming in at #10, closely behind its rival Iowa State, the University of Iowa is the oldest university in the state. Regarded as a Public Ivy for the excellence of its education and research, UI is also a top public university according to U.S. News & World Report. While UI is best known for its medicine, nursing, and public health – and for being one of the top party schools in the US – its Department of Sociology is worth recognition. Offering a choice between a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Sociology, the Department of Sociology includes a Criminology track, and at around $8100 per year (including tuition and fees), the University of Iowa is a significant value for Iowa residents, bringing UI to close out the top 10 Value Colleges Criminal Justice programs ranking.


Florida State University

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more respected criminology and criminal justice program than Florida State University‘s. With the first doctorate-granting College of Criminology & Criminal Justice (1951), FSU’s criminal justice faculty is still made up of the most productive researchers, including the very top names in the field. Criminal justice students at FSU get an education that is second to none from innovators and pace-setting experts. The College of Criminology & Criminal Justice offers two bachelor degrees: Criminology & Criminal Justice, and Computer Criminology (which, of course, specializes in cybercrime and cybersecurity). For Florida residents, tuition is a remarkably low $215 per credit, a bargain for such a reputable program.


Towson University

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While not as well known as other University System of Maryland institutions like the University of Maryland branches, Towson University is still notable for its strong reputation, including educating more teachers than any other Maryland university. Towson has been recognized as a best university for the northeast region by U.S. News & World Report, and a best value by Kiplinger’s; it’s also the alma mater of comedian Amy Schumer. The Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice offers a bachelor’s program with a concentration in Criminal Justice with a tuition cost of just a little over $9000 per year for Maryland residents, cementing Towson University’s reputation as a great value.


University of Delaware

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The University of Delaware is a unique institution. One of the oldest schools in the nation, UD is a private university that is also state-funded, with federal land, sea, space, and urban grants for research and an endowment of over $1 billion. While UD is a consistent top 100 U.S. News & World Report rank, many of its individual programs rank very high, in the top 10 or 20. Delaware’s Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice that, with the UD reputation behind it, should offer a powerful start to a long career. So UD is a private university that does research like an Ivy, but at $5600 per semester, charges tuition like a public – no wonder it’s a best value.


University of Georgia

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The flagship University of Georgia, and one of the first two public universities in the US (a title it shares with the University of North Carolina), the University of Georgia is one of the most productive research universities in the south and a reliable best value institution. UGA’s Criminal Justice Studies Program is an unusual interdisciplinary curriculum offered in cooperation by the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Public and International Affairs. Including a required semester-long internship, the Criminal Justice Studies major prepares students for a career or graduate schooling in the criminal justice field, with an annual cost of $11,600 (tuition and fees) for Georgia residents.


SUNY Oneonta

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SUNY Oneonta (the State University of New York College at Oneonta, if you’re not in a hurry) is a small, public, liberal arts college in Oneonta, NY. Recognized as a Best College in the North by U.S. News & World Report, and a best value by Kiplinger’s, SUNY Oneonta’s tuition of $6400 per year for New York residents is low for the region and for a liberal arts college of Oneonta’s caliber. The Sociology Department at SUNY Oneonta offers a Criminal Justice major that applies Oneonta’s excellence to a bachelor’s degree that will open doors to the future.


Rutgers University - New Brunswick

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Widely recognized as New Jersey’s preeminent public university (and one of the nine universities founded before the American Revolution), Rutgers stands in a somewhat unusual position, similar to the University of Delaware (#13) as a public university with the independence and authority of a private. As a public university, Rutgers keeps its education affordable at $5600 per year for NJ residents, but its reputation rivals any school in the northeast. Rutgers is a leader in progressive, cutting-edge criminology, and their bachelor degree in Criminology carries enough weight on the job market that Rutger’s low tuition will seem like a bargain.


University of Oklahoma - Norman

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The University of Oklahoma, a public research university in Norman, OK, is actually older than the state of Oklahoma, and is known for its large number of National Merit Scholars and Rhodes Scholars, signs of OU’s educational excellence. OU also has a high proportion of minority students and some of the most respected Native American studies programs in the US. Another area where OU shines is criminal justice, with the College of Liberal Studies offering a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice that is designed along an 8-week accelerated program for working adults. Plus, OU’s extremely low tuition – less than $4000 a year for Oklahoma residents – makes a criminal justice degree from the University of Oklahoma a definitive best value.


Indiana University - Bloomington

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As the birthplace of the breathalyzer, Indiana University’s Department of Criminal Justice has been applying interdisciplinary insights into human behavior and law since the 1930s, incorporating sociology, anthropology, and other social sciences with biology, chemistry, neurology, and the hard sciences in general. IU offers a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice that benefits from this long history of excellence and brings the Indiana reputation to the job market, which, along with an affordable tuition rate of just over $10,000 annually, makes Indiana University Bloomington a reliable investment.


San Diego State University

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San Diego State University is one of the most productive small research universities in the US, and is recognized by Payscale and others as one of the best universities for social mobility, meaning that a degree from San Diego State helps students go somewhere. Not surprisingly, SDSU is one of the most diverse campuses in the nation as well, helping more minority students earn college degrees than just about anyone. SDSU’s College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts offers a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice that can prepare students for law school with a strong foundation in law, for a career in criminal justice, or for further graduate schooling, for a basic tuition fee of just $2700.


SUNY Brockport

The College at Brockport: State University of New York is not a sequel to a summer blockbuster, but the official name of SUNY Brockport, a highly selective liberal arts college affiliated with the large, world-renowned State University of New York system. With a top-tier faculty and recognition from Kiplinger’s as a best value, Brockport’s low tuition of $3200 per semester sets it apart. Brockport’s Department of Criminal Justice offers a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, with the option of a Forensic Science minor to add on. With their commitment to access and diversity, SUNY Brockport offers an excellent opportunity for students to begin a rewarding career in criminal justice.


Michigan State University

View of the Shaw Lane entrance sign at Michigan State University.
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Founded in 1935, Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice has been setting standards for crime and criminology research and education longer than any other rival. MSU’s Criminal Justice program is dedicated to using the most up-to-date knowledge and technology to keep public safety fair and effective, and they are highly respected by law enforcement and civil liberties advocates for their efforts. MSU offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice that combines this top reputation with a reasonable annual tuition of $12,000 for a best value program in criminal justice.


University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire

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Known for its beautiful forested campus on the Chippewa River, the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire is a liberal arts university in the UW system recognized as one of the best public universities in the midwest by U.S. News & World Report. UWEC’s Department of Political Science offers both a Bachelor of Arts (which requires more humanities) and a Bachelor of Science (which requires more mathematics) in Criminal Justice, depending on a student’s interests and talents. With a yearly tuition of $8800 for Wisconsin and Minnesota residents, UWEC has earned a spot on both the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s best value lists, making it one of the best criminal justice degree investments in the midwest.


George Mason University

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George Mason University educates the largest student body of any public university in Virginia, students drawn by GMU’s excellent reputation, close student/faculty ratio, and proven value. The Department of Criminology, Law, and Society offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, that emphasizes the insights of the liberal arts on criminal justice, educating students broadly in the role the justice system plays in out society as a whole, rather than a reductive, purely technical eduction. Virginia residents pay only $10,000 per year for tuition, a significant value for one of the most prominent universities in a state filled with prominent universities.


SUNY at Albany

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Located in Albany, NY, the capital of New York and seat of government and law, the State University of New York at Albany is an ideal place for a well-developed, influential criminal justice program. The School of Criminal Justice researches and educates students on the complexities of the modern criminal justice system, studying everything from economics and population to the interrelationships of government agencies to prepare graduates for a career in today’s system. At around $6500 per year, SUNY Albany makes this excellence available for a wide spectrum of New York residents, making SUNY Albany a value among values.


University of Arkansas

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The University of Arkansas has aggressively raised its profile in recent years, with its Campaign for the 21st Century and large support from the Walton family (of Wal-Mart), raising over $1 billion since 2005. As UA has emerged as one of the most significant research institutions in the Deep South, the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice has seen major advances as well, including establishment of the Terrorism Research Center. UA offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice that focuses on the emerging security needs of an urbanized America and will prepare students well for the current criminal justice system. At only $8500 (tuition and fees included) for Arkansas residents, it’s an investment in today and tomorrow.


West Virginia University

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As West Virginia’s flagship university, WVU is a research leader for the state, known especially for their medical research and Forensics and Investigative Sciences, in partnership with the FBI. The Department of Sociology and Anthropology, which has enjoyed significant growth in recent years as they prepare for a doctoral program, offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, which brings a sociological approach to the discipline. With tuition rates at only $7600 for West Virginia residents, a criminal justice degree from WVU is an affordable way to begin a career that will always be in demand.


University of Central Florida

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The University of Central Florida is making a name for itself, coming up high on U.S. News & World Report’s list of up-and-coming schools, as well as best value lists from Kiplinger’s and the Princeton Review. Much of their growth and reputation come from UCF’s commitment to non-traditional students, including a high proportion of over-25 students and minority students. With yearly tuition for Florida residents coming in at just under $6000, a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree from UCF’s Department of Criminal Justice is an obvious value.


University of Mississippi

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The University of Mississippi, a sea and space grant university in Oxford, MI, is a unique place, home to the largest blues music archive and the only legal marijuana farm in the US. Known as perhaps the most prestigious public university in the deep south, Ole Miss is ranked as one of the best universities to work and one of the safest campuses in the nation. The Department of Legal Studies offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from a place that obviously knows public safety. Unlike many criminal justice degrees, UM offers three different specializations: Corrections, Homeland Security, or Law Enforcement, and with a year’s tuition costing $7300, it’s hard to find a better value in the south.


Radford University

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One of the top regional public universities in the south, according to U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review, Radford University is a liberal arts university with a high job placement rate for graduates and strong reputation throughout Virginia and the southeast. Radford’s Department of Criminal Justice offers both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in Criminal Justice, as well as an optional minor in Forensic Study. Radford combines the attention and rigor of a private liberal arts university with the affordability of a public, so with tuition of $6000 per year, Virginia residents should give Radford a serious look.


Rutgers University - Camden

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One of Rutgers University’s regional campuses, Rutgers University Camden is a small, urban research university in Camden, NJ, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, a location that gives students and graduates access to a significant job market. Largely a commuter campus, Rutgers Camden specializes in non-traditional students and student-body diversity. The Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice offers a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice that carries the Rutgers name and market value, making it a trustworthy investment for adult learners.


Colorado State University

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Solidly ranked as a top 100 public university by U.S. News & World Report, Colorado State University is often overshadowed by the University of Colorado. As Colorado’s land grant university, CSU is a highly productive research institution, shining in engineering, biomedical sciences, and agriculture. The CSU Department of Sociology offers a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology/Criminal Justice, designed as an interdisciplinary program with special focus on law, the corrections system, and security. With tuition and fees just over $10,000 for the year, it’s worthwhile for Colorado residents to look to CSU for a criminal justice degree.


University of South Florida

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Like the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida, in Tampa, is a university on the rise, one of the fastest growing in the US. USF is a high-activity research university, with notable study in the environment, sustainability, and medicine, and they are recognized as one of the most diverse universities in the US, with high proportions of African-American and Hispanic students. The Department of Criminology faculty is notable for being in the top 10 for research productivity; they offer a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology with a full and thorough education in all aspects of criminology for only $6400 a year in tuition.


SUNY Oswego

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The State University of New York at Oswego, like its sister institutions on this list, benefits from the world-wide renown of the SUNY system and from a solid reputation in its own right. This small college in Oswego, NY, is best known for its highly-ranked business programs, but the Public Justice department deserves recognition for its quality and affordability. New York residents can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Public Justice, an interdisciplinary program focused on all aspects of the criminal justice system, for only $3200 per semester tuition.


Texas State University

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Texas State University, in San Marcos, TX, is a Hispanic-serving institution (with a population of over 25% Hispanic) and a military-friendly university according to Military Times. Its reputation as a research university is growing, and of direct interest to criminal justice students, Texas State has one of only four body farms in the US at the Forensic Anthropology Center. Texas State’s School of Criminal Justice is one of the most respected in the US, and is similarly growing in both size and reputation. Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice that combines top quality experience with affordability for a Texas-sized value.


SUNY Plattsburgh

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For reputation and affordability, no state university system has the same perfect balance as the State University of New York system. SUNY Plattsburgh, a small liberal arts college in Plattsburgh, NY, falls in line with that description. For only $6400 a year in tuition, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from SUNY Plattsburgh; this social-science-based program instructs students in the workings of the criminal justice system and the complexities of crime and punishment in contemporary American society. It’s a criminal justice degree with the value that SUNY excels in.


Longwood University

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A small, public liberal arts University in Farmville, VA, Longwood University has a long-standing place in U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review’s rankings of regional colleges and universities for the southeast region. With a commitment to experiential learning, all students are required to participate in an internship or collaborative research project before graduating, a requirement that leads to high levels of achievement and engagement. Longwood’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice Studies offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminology & Criminal Justice, as well as a 5-year BS/MS combined program. With public-university tuition rates, Longwood keeps their excellent education affordable at only $11,000 per year.


Rutgers University - Newark

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Like Rutgers Camden (#30), Rutgers University Newark is a part of the world-renowned Rutgers University, with all the reputation and job market clout that comes with the Rutgers name. Newark is the official home of the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, a current, forward-looking center for research and teaching. The School of Criminal Justice offers both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in Criminal Justice, as well as accelerated BA/MA and BS/MS programs that can be completed in 5 years, all for Rutgers’ tuition, among the most reasonable and affordable in the northeast.


University of Texas at Dallas

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The University of Texas at Dallas has an unusual origin: having begun as a research center for the Texas Instruments company, it was giving to the state of Texas in 1969 to begin UT Dallas. Not surprisingly, UT Dallas has remained a highly productive research university, studying everything from space exploration and bioengineering to sociology and criminal justice. The UT Dallas School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology that ranks as a top value thanks to Dallas’s $5400 per semester tuition rate.


Ohio University

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Ohio University – located in Athens, OH, one of the best-known and most popular college towns in the US – has been recognized for many years as one of the leading public universities in the US. Ohio has a selective admissions policy, and most of its individual colleges and schools have further admissions requirements for their major-level courses. So the Bachelor of Criminal Justice degree, awarded by the University College, is designed for students who already have an associate’s degree or its equivalent in a related field (i.e. law enforcement) and is exceptionally demanding. That challenge means a criminal justice degree from Ohio University is more than a preparation for a job – it’s proof of your talents and determination.


Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University has been one of the top regional institutions in the Midwest for decades, especially in business.
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Grand Valley State University, in Allendale, MI (a suburb of Grand Rapids), is not a household name, but it’s one of the best choices for a criminal justice degree in the midwest according to U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review. This large public research university creates a high proportion of Fulbright Scholars. The School of Criminal Justice offers a Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree, as well as a Bachelor in Legal Studies; for both of these, students may choose a BA or BS degree. A minor in Juvenile Justice is also available for those students who want to specialize.


Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

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Ranked as a best university for the northern region by U.S. News & World Report, Shippensburg University (in Shippensburg, PA) is also recognized as a best value for its $3500 per semester tuition rate, a bargain for the region. Criminal Justice is one of the most popular majors at Shippensburg, and the Department of Criminal Justice offers a Bachelor of Science degree that will carry significant value on the job market, making a Shippensburg degree a smart investment.


Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina

The Citadel – the Military College of South Carolina – is a name known world-wide. Ranked as one of the highest-quality public universities in the south, the Citadel’s education is rigorous, challenging, and extremely disciplined, as one might expect from a military college. Not surprisingly, the Citadel’s Department of Criminal Justice is one of the most respected, and one of the most popular in the college, offering a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, as well as leading programs in Intelligence and Homeland Security. The Citadel is not cheap, but for students who are attracted to the discipline and demands of the program, it’s a door into the future.


University of Illinois at Chicago

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The University of Illinois at Chicago, a major, high-productivity research university in Chicago, IL, is best known for its medical school, the largest in the nation, but medicine is not the only thing UIC has going for it. As a large, urban university, UIC has a top Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice, with abundant opportunities available for internship and employment in law enforcement, law, and social services. UIC offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice that, combined with a low tuition rate of $4700 per semester, makes UIC a great market value.


Georgia College and State University

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Georgia College and State University, in charming Milledgeville, GA, is the official public liberal arts college for the University System of Georgia. Regarded as one of the best public universities in the south, GCSU also has a high retention rate, an indication of its quality and the affection students hold for GCSU. The Department of Government and Sociology offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice that focuses on the liberal arts side of criminal justice, with an education steeped in the constitution, civil rights, and protections for citizens. Georgia residents will appreciate a low cost and high return.


University of South Carolina - Columbia

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As another research university with big ambitions, the University of South Carolina has many top-ranked programs and a rising reputation nationwide thanks to an intentional effort to channel funding into top programs and bring them to national prominence. Research has risen all over the university in the last decade, and the value of a USC degree has gone up accordingly. The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, and with a nationally-ranked program, a high market value for graduates.


East Carolina University

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East Carolina University, in Greenville, NC, is best known for its medical and nursing programs, but the College of Human Ecology has been making strides in criminal justice and social work since 1971. The Department of Criminal Justice offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, along with the option of a minor in Forensic Science, for a low tuition of only $3900 per semester for North Carolina residents.


Washington State University

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The only land-grant university in Washington, Washington State University is known as an influential research university, with major programs in engineering, agriculture, and technology. WSU (or Wazzu, for fun) also has the best-known and most-respected criminal justice program in the Pacific Northwest. The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology offers a Bachelor of Arts degree that focuses on policy and practical theory for ready employment in government agencies, private security, and law enforcement.


Westfield State University


Westfield State University has a fascinating history: founded by education reformer Horace Mann, Westfield was the first public, co-ed college to admit students of all races and classes. Located in Westfield, MA, Westfield is known for its excellent faculty and high achieving students. Westfield’s Criminal Justice Department is reputed as one of the best in Massachusetts, offering a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice that prepares students for their careers with guidance from a highly qualified faculty.


University of Nebraska - Lincoln

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A top-20 criminal justice program in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking, the University of Nebraska School of Criminology & Criminal Justice has a highly productive research program, with grants from the NSF, the NIH, and the National Institute of Justice, as well as engagement with local law enforcement and justice systems in both their Omaha and Lincoln campuses. The Bachelor of Science in Criminology & Criminal Justice is one of the best out there, and at less than $7000 per year in tuition, a serious bargain for the quality of education.


Slippery Rock University

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Our top 50 Criminal Justice Undergraduate Programs ranking closes out with Slippery Rock University. Unless you’re from western Pennsylvania, you have probably never heard of SRU, but that’s okay – under-the-radar values make for some of the best investments. As a small, public university in the Pennsylvania State System, Slippery Rock has a low tuition (just over $7000 for a year) and solid education, making its very affordable for the area. The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a Bachelor of Arts degree, from a group of scholars and experts who have ambitions to make Slippery Rock one of the premiere criminal justice schools in the northeast.