Best Criminology Schools

Updated on January 3, 2024

Criminology is the study of crime, criminal behavior, and the criminal justice system. For those interested in studying criminology at the university level, choosing the right school is important. The following are 10 of the top criminology schools based on factors like reputation, research output, and student satisfaction.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Location: New York, NY

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 46%

Avg SAT Score: 1180

Tuition: $7,324 per year (in-state), $16,564 per year (out-of-state)


John Jay College of Criminal Justice is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system and is one of the top criminology schools in the United States. Its faculty includes many prominent criminologists and it is a leader in criminology research. John Jay offers bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD programs in criminal justice and criminology.

University of California – Irvine

Location: Irvine, CA

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 29%

Avg SAT Score: 1325

Tuition: $13,960 per year (in-state), $43,056 per year (out-of-state)


UC Irvine has a highly regarded criminology department within its School of Social Ecology. Students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, Law and Society or a minor in Criminology, Law and Society. UC Irvine emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to studying criminology and criminal justice.

University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Avg SAT Score: 1495

Tuition: $57,360 per year


The University of Pennsylvania is an Ivy League school that is one of the best in the nation for criminology. UPenn offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and has a research-intensive Department of Criminology within its School of Arts and Sciences. Students have access to Penn’s excellent resources.

University of Cambridge

Location: Cambridge, United Kingdom

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 21%

Tuition: £9,250 per year (about $11,300)


The Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge is the oldest department of criminology in the world. Cambridge offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in criminology that incorporate the latest research. Studying at Cambridge provides opportunities to learn from global leaders in criminology.

University of California – Berkeley

Location: Berkeley, CA

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Avg SAT Score: 1425

Tuition: $14,184 per year (in-state), $44,062 per year (out-of-state)


UC Berkeley’s School of Criminology is highly interdisciplinary and allows students to take a critical approach in analyzing the causes, costs and consequences of crime. Berkeley offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in criminology. The faculty are renowned experts in fields like youth violence, terrorism, and transnational crime.

Michigan State University

Location: East Lansing, MI

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 71%

Avg SAT Score: 1160

Tuition: $14,522 per year (in-state), $39,766 per year (out-of-state)


Michigan State University provides excellent criminology and criminal justice education through its School of Criminal Justice. Students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts or Science in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice online or through evening courses. MSU also offers a PhD in Criminal Justice for those interested in research or academia.

University of Florida

Location: Gainesville, FL

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 37%

Avg SAT Score: 1310

Tuition: $6,380 per year (in-state), $28,658 per year (out-of-state)


The University of Florida allows students to earn a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD in Criminology and Law from its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Areas of focus include cybercrime, hate crimes, spatial criminology, and more. UF provides ample research and internship opportunities for criminology students.

Griffith University

Location: Brisbane & Gold Coast, Australia

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 76%

Tuition: A$30,600 per year (about $21,200 USD)


Griffith University offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs related to criminology, criminal justice and national security through its renowned School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Griffith Criminology Institute. With faculty involved in cutting-edge research and a practical approach to education, Griffith provides top-tier criminology education.

University of Cincinnati

Location: Cincinnati, OH

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 73%

Avg SAT Score: 1200

Tuition: $11,000 per year (in-state), $25,000 per year (out-of-state)


The University of Cincinnati’s School of Criminal Justice is one of the oldest criminology schools in the U.S., allowing UC to lead the way in criminal justice and criminology education and research. UC offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in criminal justice, criminology or corrections.

George Mason University

Location: Fairfax, VA

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 82%

Avg SAT Score: 1225

Tuition: $12,002 per year (in-state), $35,646 per year (out-of-state)


George Mason University’s Department of Criminology, Law and Society offers undergraduate, master’s and PhD programs that take an interdisciplinary social science approach to studying crime and legal systems. GMU provides access to top-notch faculty and facilities near Washington, DC.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a criminology degree?

With a criminology degree, common careers include police officer, probation/parole officer, crime analyst, criminologist, forensic scientist, lawyer, investigator, corrections officer, and roles in homeland security, cybersecurity, and private security. A graduate degree broadens career opportunities.

Is criminology a good major?

Yes, criminology is an excellent college major for students interested in examining the causes, costs, and responses to crime in society. Criminology develops skills in data analysis, critical thinking, research methods, writing, policy analysis and more – skills applicable across sectors.

What classes do criminology majors take?

Common classes in a criminology curriculum include introduction to criminology, criminal law and procedure, research methods, statistics, ethics, criminal justice policy analysis, juvenile delinquency, corrections, policing, criminal investigations, and electives within specialties like cybercrime, hate crimes, or transnational crime.

Can you work for the FBI with a criminology degree?

A criminology degree can help qualify you for some FBI roles but is often insufficient on its own. Most FBI special agents have a minimum bachelor’s degree plus 3 years of professional work experience. Having a criminology, psychology, law, finance/accounting, or STEM degree improves chances.

What other majors go well with criminology?

Complementary majors for criminology include criminal justice, political science, psychology, anthropology, sociology, legal/justice studies, computer science/cybersecurity, accounting/finance, public administration, emergency management, international relations, and more.

Is criminology a BA or BS?

Criminology degrees can be either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS), depending on the structure of the program. BS programs tend to have more natural science requirements while BA programs focus more on social science. Both provide excellent foundations for criminology careers or grad school.

Can you work with criminals with a criminology degree?

Yes, those with a criminology degree can often find jobs working directly with criminal offenders, such as probation/parole officers, counselors, prison administrators, intervention specialists, researchers studying offenders, and more. Graduate degrees open up additional opportunities.

Do criminologists investigate crime scenes?

While criminologists study crime from a broad, theoretical perspective, they do not typically investigate individual crime scenes—that work is done by specialists like crime scene investigators/forensic scientists, detectives, and police officers. Some criminologists may research crime scenes data to spot bigger trends.

Can criminologists be profilers?

While “criminal profiler” is not an official job title, some criminologists and psychologists apply their knowledge to developing profiles of perpetrators to support criminal investigations. This usually requires additional forensic/investigative training and experience beyond a criminology degree alone.

Can you study criminology online?

Yes, some universities offer fully online or hybrid criminology degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. These are typically more flexible options for working professionals interested in career advancement in areas like law enforcement, corrections, private security, and more.

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