Bachelor’s in Criminology Programs Guide

Are you ready to find your fit?

Uncertain about your future? Crack the case with one of the nation’s best Bachelor’s in Criminology degrees.

Do you want to better your local community? Or national and international communities? Are you fascinated by the social and economic influences on criminal behavior? Do you envision yourself creating and implementing innovative prevention plans that can keep communities healthy, safe, and vibrant?

Then a degree in criminology may be just for you!

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What kind of Criminology degree should you get?

Though each of the 35 programs on this list will provide a foundation in criminology fundamentals, from the justice system to deviant behavior, they each have their own emphasis and structure.

For example, some programs stress the importance of statistics and research methodology, which are ideal for those who want to go into criminal data analytics and prevention. Others emphasize the societal implications behind crime, giving students insight into the relationship between crime and gender, race, class, and orientation.

Choose the program which best reflects your interest and will offer the kind of learning opportunities you desire, such as an internship, field experience, or study abroad programs.

You should also think about online or distance learning. Online education is both a flexible and affordable way to advance your education and career. So, be sure to check out College Choice’s 50 Best Online Criminal Justice degrees.

What can you do with a Criminology degree?

A degree in criminology sets you up for many career opportunities in a range of settings and industries.

Whether you want to work for a small, local police agency or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whether you want to throw cuffs on the bad guy or work alongside victims as their advocate, a degree in criminology will help you get there.

This is in no way an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of the diverse range of opportunities you’ll have after graduation:

  • Forensic Psychology
  • Private Investigate
  • Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigation
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Social Work and Victimology

How much money do people make with a Bachelor’s in Criminology?

Because a degree in criminology can result in so many career options, the average salary for one with the degree can be difficult to determine. However, rest assured that a career in criminology will serve you well financially after graduation and beyond.

For example, while corrections officers make around $43,510 a year, police officers and detectives make around $62,960 annually. Furthermore, if you want to use your degree to become a sociologist (and many of the programs below are heavy in sociology), you can make upwards of $79,650 a year.

What are the requirements for a Bachelor’s in Criminology degree?

Because these programs are four-year undergraduate degrees you should expect the first two years of your program to consist of general education core classes in the humanities and sciences. You’ll probably also take a few introductory courses in your major. This may include such classes as:

  • Introduction to Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Statistics and Research Methodology
  • Sociology

Once you have these under your belt you’ll be ready for your higher level criminology classes. These will cover criminal theory, the justice systems, legal issues, and more. It’ll be around this time too that you will have the opportunity to explore unique aspects of crime through electives, from “Crime and Inequality” to “Victimology and Victim Services.”

Finally, most of these programs require either an internship or a field experience. We’ve been sure to note which.


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Maryland-College Park

    College Park, MD




    The University of Maryland, College Park is located just outside of Washington, DC in College Park. It is the flagship school with the larger University System of Maryland, and it is one of the largest schools in the greater Capital metro area. Nearly 40,000 students attend UMD, enrolled in one its 100 undergraduate programs.


    When you earn your BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice at UMD you will study under professors who are internationally recognized leaders in justice. This program stresses a three-tiered approach to crime, introducing students equally to policing, courts, and corrections. In addition to core, introductory courses that cover criminology, the justice system, research methodology, and law, you will also take highly specialized courses such as:

    • Crime and Delinquency Prevention
    • Contemporary Criminological Theory
    • Courts and Sentencing
    • Policing

    UMD is a Public Ivy, meaning it offers academic programs on par with the elite private Ivy Leagues. It is also a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and the Big Ten Conference. UMD is ranked sixtieth among all national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

  2. University of Florida

    Gainesville, FL




    The University of Florida is the state's most elite research university. It is located in Gainesville and is comprised of 16 colleges. UF offers hundreds of academic and professional degree programs to its student body of nearly 56,000.


    The University of Florida offers a BA in Criminology that gives students a foundation in criminal behavior and the justice system from a multidisciplinary perspective. This is a notably liberal arts program, meaning you will explore crime, how society responds to it, and the connections between society and law. Some classes you'll take include:

    • Criminological Theory
    • Law and Society
    • American State and Local Government
    • Social Problems

    More than 150 research centers and institutes make their home on the UF campus. The university is classified as having some of the most impressive research activity in the nation. And UF as a whole is nationally and globally ranked, as are dozens of its individual departments and schools.

  3. George Washington University

    Washington, DC




    Located in our nation’s capital, George Washington University was first charted by the US congress. Indeed, it was founded out of the dreams and aspirations of our first president. Today GWU is organized into 14 colleges and has over 27,000 students.


    The Department of Sociology at GWU offers a BA in Criminal Justice degree steeped in sociological theory. Not only will you explore the fundamentals of sociology and its concepts, but you'll take classes such as The Sociological Imagination and Social Research Methods. This is an ideal program for those who want to understand the relationship between society and crime. Other classes include:

    • Youth and Delinquency
    • Criminology
    • Criminal Law
    • Techniques of Data Analysis

    "Most Politically Active Students," "Best in the Northeast," and "Most Popular Study Abroad Programs" are just some of the ways GWU has been described. It is also nationally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and the Wall Street Journal.

  4. Northeastern University

    Boston, MA




    Northeastern University is a co-op based university located in Boston, MA. Undergraduate students split their time between coursework semesters and paid internships. Northeastern is a top-notch research university that prides itself on graduating highly trained students.


    At Northeastern University, when you earn your BS in Criminal Justice degree you will become an expert in the criminal due process, criminology, and research methods and statistics. Because of Northeastern's unique co-op model, you will be expected to complete at least two co-op integrations throughout your four year years. And for those who want to earn a joint degree, you can combine your BS in criminal justice with one in:

    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Human Services
    • Law (JD)

    It's not surprising that Northeastern is ranked first in the nation for being the "Best School for Internships."U.S. News & World Report ranks it among the top 10 "Most Innovative Schools" in the nation, too. On top of that Northeastern's criminology degrees are consistently among the top 50 in the nation.

  5. The College of New Jersey

    Ewing, NJ




    The College of New Jersey is located in Trenton and was first founded as a teacher’s college. Today TCNJ still specializes in education as well as business, engineering, nursing, and the sciences. Organized into seven discrete schools and colleges, around 7,500 students attend TCNJ.


    The College of New Jersey offers a BA in Criminology that emphasizes social contexts. You’ll not only gain broad understanding of the social science behind criminology, but you’ll hone practical skills in research methodology and data analysis. Some of the classes you’ll take while a TCNJ student include:

    • Policing Civil Societies
    • Judicature
    • Penology
    • Criminal Law and Procedure

    Despite the size and scope of TCNJ, the school emphasizes a liberal arts approach to education. It also encourages its students to seek interdisciplinary experiences and to participate in one of the many global learning programs. TCNJ is ranked fourth in its region by U.S. News & World Report.

  6. The University of Texas at Dallas

    Richardson, TX




    The Dallas member within the wider University of Texas System is a public school located just outside of downtown Dallas. It is a known leader in STEM research, as a member of the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering. But UT Dallas is strong in many areas, from business to criminal justice.


    The UT Dallas BA in Criminology program prepares its students for work in policing, corrections, crime scene investigation, and victim advocacy. While a student you will have the opportunity to take graduate level classes too, thereby earning both a BA and a master’s degree in expedited fashion. And while at UT Dallas, take advantage of your proximity to such research hubs as:

    • The Center for Crime and Justice Studies
    • The Center for Global Collective Action
    • The Institute for Urban Policy Research
    • The Negotiations Center

    UT Dallas is praised by the likes of Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, The Princeton Review, and more. Recently, the Journal of Criminal Justice Education published a list of the best criminology programs in the nation, ranking UTD’s fifth.

  7. Stonehill College

    Easton, MA




    Stonehill College is a Roman Catholic school located in Easton, MA. It is a liberal arts college founded by the Congregation of the Holy Cross, which also founded the University of Notre Dame. Indeed, Notre Dame is Stonehill’s sister school and both share many resources and programs. Around 2,600 students attend Stonehill.


    You can earn a markedly interdisciplinary degree in criminology at Stonehill College. This program is founded in the liberal arts, emphasizing the need for students to develop critical thinking and communication skills in addition to their knowledge of criminological theory. Your core curriculum at Stonehill is comprised of:

    • Critical Introduction to Criminal Justice
    • Introduction to Sociology
    • Criminology Theories
    • Statistical Analysis in Criminology

    Stonehill’s recognitions and rankings are many. For example, not only is it a top-ranked liberal arts college by U.S. News & World Report. But The Princeton Review praises it for having some of the happiest students, most accessible professors, most beautiful campus, and most popular study abroad programs.

  8. North Carolina State University at Raleigh

    Raleigh, NC




    North Carolina State University is located in Raleigh. It is a land, sea, and space-grant research institution with more than 32,000 students. NC State is also part of the Research Triangle, along with Duke University and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.


    NC State’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology offers a BA in Criminology that presents crime from both a social and individual perspective. As a NC State student you will therefore investigate crime while thinking through causation, correction, and even prevention. Your core courses will consist of:

    • Social Deviance
    • Criminology
    • Principles of Sociology
    • Social Research Methods

    NC State is ranked among the top 100 best universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. On top of its academic accolades, the university is also known for its affordability. Indeed, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranks NC State eleventh nationally among best value public colleges.

  9. University of Denver

    Denver, CO




    The University of Denver is the oldest private school in the Rocky Mountain greater area. It has nearly 12,000 combined undergraduate and graduate students and is organized into over a dozen colleges and schools. DU is also the sight of active research in the areas of law, conflict resolution, and public policy.


    The BA in Criminology program at the University of Denver will provide a broad foundation in crime, law, and justice. You will not only explore the social factors contributing to crime, but you’ll also critically examine power dynamics and their influence on defining and prosecuting crime. In addition to completing your criminology core, you can take classes such as:

    • Crime and Inequality
    • Guns and Society
    • Legal Actors and Institutions
    • State Violence

    Among its many research achievements and academic recognitions, DU is also known for being among the top five best schools for study abroad. The university boasts a 70 percent participation rate. Students have studied everywhere from Spain to New Zealand, Scotland to Australia.

  10. Ohio State University-Main Campus

    Columbus, OH




    The Ohio State University is an immense research university located in Columbus, Ohio. Though founded as an agricultural and mechanical college, today OSU provides hundreds of degree opportunities with academic strengths in many areas and disciplines. With 60,000 students, OSU is one of the largest schools in the nation.


    OSU offers a BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies degree that balances theory with application. Students therefore gain a broad understanding of the causes and consequences of crime while also learning how to design programs that prevent and control crime. While at OSU you can study abroad, participate in internships, and get involved in research. Graduates have gone on to secure work in:

    • Criminal Justice Administration
    • Crime Prevention
    • Corrections and Probation
    • Delinquency Prevention and Control Services

    OSU is nationally and globally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Times Higher Education, and more. It is considered a "Public Ivy," a flagship university, and it is a member of the highly regarded Association of American Universities.

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