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Criminal Justice


Criminal justice programs prepare people to manage agencies such as a police or sheriff's department.

Criminal justice programs teach people about the legal system, theories of crime, and public policy.  Students learn how to manage a budget and staff.

Criminal justice programs include topics such as:


In criminal justice programs students may be able to specialize in:


Many community colleges offer associate degree programs in criminal justice. An associate degree program usually takes two years of full-time study. After earning an associate degree students can transfer to a college or university for further study.

Many colleges and universities offer a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. A bachelor’s degree usually takes four years of full-time study to complete.

Some universities offer graduate degrees in criminal justice. A master’s degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master’s degree.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

For this program, schools recommend that you know how to use a computer and the Internet.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate study in criminal justice typically includes:

Things to Know

Criminal justice programs also provide additional training for people already involved in law enforcement administration, correctional administration, forensic science, and security management.

Some schools combine criminal justice and sociology into a single bachelor's degree program.

Programs in criminal justice can be used as preparation for future study in law, criminal justice, public administration, or social work.

Most employers will perform a criminal background check before you are hired.


East Side Area

Big Bend Community College

Central Washington University

Walla Walla Community College

Washington State University - Pullman

Wenatchee Valley College

Wenatchee Valley College (Omak Campus)

King-Snohomish Area

Bellevue College

Central Washington University - Lynnwood

City University of Seattle

Columbia College - Naval Station Everett/Marysville

Everett Community College

Green River College

Highline College

Northeastern University - Seattle

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle University

Shoreline Community College

Kitsap Area

Brandman University - Bangor

Brandman University - Bremerton

Brandman University - Whidbey Island

Spokane Area

Eastern Washington University

Gonzaga University

Park University - Fairchild AFB

Spokane Community College

Washington State University Health Sciences - Spokane

Whitworth University

Statewide and Distance Learning

Washington State University - Global Campus

Tacoma Area

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom

Pierce College Puyallup

University of Washington - Tacoma

Tri-Cities Area

Columbia Basin College

Heritage University (Pasco (Tri-Cities Area))

West Side Area

Brandman University - Lacey

Centralia College

Columbia College - Whidbey Island

Grays Harbor College

Lower Columbia College

Peninsula College

Saint Martin's University

Skagit Valley College

Whatcom Community College

Yakima Area

Heritage University

Yakima Valley College