The criminal justice field is extremely diverse and can provide you with multiple career options. From law enforcement to forensics to working with the courts, you can begin your career in one area and transition to a different area simply by changing your degree program. In New Jersey, enrolling in a criminal justice degree program is the best way to kick start your career. With a little experience, you will be able to accept new job offers and continue to gain your experience.
Many of the best criminal justice programs in New Jersey offer online courses that provide added convenience. Students can apply for a job in a field they enjoy and then enroll in an online criminal justice degree program and study in their free time. Studying when they can focus on their course work is beneficial because the student is better able to retain what they are being taught. Working at the same time they are enrolled in class gives them a chance to practice their new skills.
How We Ranked the Best Criminal Justice Programs in New Jersey
The editors at Criminal Justice Degree Hub know prospective students need some reassurance that their degree will make a difference in their career. That’s why our ranking of the best criminal justice schools in New Jersey feature only accredited, reputable institutions. Programs are ranked by a combination of factors including cost, student satisfaction, potential salary, and breadth of offerings.
1. Rutgers University
At Rutgers University, students can earn a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice or a Bachelors of Arts in Justice Studies at the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice. Students can also pursue advanced degrees in criminal justice, in addition to taking accelerated classes. Graduates of this storied and respected University leave prepared to make a difference in the world with programs like the Racial Democracy Crime and Justice Network (RDCJN), founded in 2003. People searching for the best criminal justice programs in New Jersey would be well-advised to put this excellent school on their shortlist.
Graduates from Rutgers University also get more than the clout and pedigree that comes with being a Rutgers’ graduate, they also get the benefit of being in one of the epicenters of the legal world. Surrounded by the legal bedrocks of Philadelphia, New York City, and New Jersey, Rutgers University affords students unique learning and career opportunities. That advantage is also evidenced by the fact that well over 90% of the program’s graduates are employed within a year, also making this one of the best criminal justice schools in New Jersey. Rutgers University is also a financial aid-friendly institution as more than two-thirds of students receive financial aid.
Programs: BA, MA, PhD
2. The College of New Jersey
The College of New Jersey offers students the opportunity to earn a Bachelors in Criminology at its Department of Criminology. This nationally acclaimed program has small class sizes and encourages hands-on learning through community-engaged learning experiences. These are a few of the unique characteristics of this College that help to make it one of the best criminal justice schools in New Jersey, and a top choice for aspiring law professionals too.
Specialized programs allow students to benefit from focalized studies that support each student’s goals for careers in areas such as forensics or other areas of criminal justice pursuits. In addition to preparing students for advanced academic pursuits in the field of criminal justice, graduates also leave prepared to begin successful careers at many different levels. The College of New Jersey graduates have also gone on to find employment for agencies like the New Jersey State Police, United States Secret Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation among other highly- sought positions. This recognized program excels in affording students with many different internship opportunities along with proudly boasting of a near 90% graduation rate.
3. Seton Hall University
Offering future legal professionals the opportunity to earn a Bachelors in Criminal Justice, Seton Hall University is also recognized as one of the best criminal justice programs in New Jersey. Students pursuing a B.A. in Criminal Justice will enroll at Seton Hall University’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work & Criminal Justice where they will learn various aspects of the criminal justice system. From understanding crime through the scientific lens to learning about the criminal justice system in great detail, students graduate Seton Hall’s Criminal Justice program prepared and ready to enter the field of law in a variety of roles.
Recognized as one of the best criminal justice schools in New Jersey by leading publications including The Princeton Review and Bloomberg Businessweek among others, Seton Hall University is an excellent choice for students seeking a career in the courts of criminal justice. Students will also have ample opportunity to learn through strong internship programs, equipping them with the tools they need to succeed following graduation. Nearly 100% of undergraduates at Seton Hall University receive financial aid, helping many students decide that – “it’s a Pirate’s life for me.”
4. Rowan University
Another one of the best criminal justice programs in New Jersey is the Bachelor of Arts in Law and Justice Studies at Rowan University. This program can also be taken as part of the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program which can be completed in only five years. Rowan University’s criminal justice program is designed to prepare students for careers in areas such as law enforcement, human services, and corrections among others.
Along with the excellent program and academic rigors, is the friendly acceptance rate and strong graduation numbers that also help to make Rowan University one of the best criminal justice schools in New Jersey. For students, that translates into opportunity and the promise of a successful career in the field of criminal justice. National publications like U.S. News and The QS World University Ranking, rank Rowan University as one of the top colleges in the state, giving Rowan University grads an answer to Professor Owl’s question, “Whoo RU.”
Programs: BA, MA
5. William Paterson University
Recognized as one of the best criminal justice schools in New Jersey, William Paterson University is another top option for students seeking a career in the field of criminal justice. The Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at William Paterson University offers students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice. This program also typically requires seniors to complete an internship in their respective fields giving students real-world experiences and opportunities.
In addition to having one of the best criminal justice programs in New Jersey, William Paterson University is also a highly and oft-awarded institution. From accolades, awards, and grants won by staff and faculty to honors and recognition earned by students, William Paterson University is a wonderful place to begin a career in criminal justice. Many students will enjoy the beauty and comfort of the newly constructed (2019) Skyline Hall, while also benefiting from William Paterson’s 80,000 square-foot University Hall. This academic study facility offers students clinical spaces, dedicated laboratories, and general use classrooms.
6. Kean University
Students at Kean University have the opportunity to earn a B.A. in Criminal Justice, and also offer an M.A. in Criminal Justice curriculum. That helps to make Kean University one of the best criminal justice programs in New Jersey for both undergrad and graduate pursuits too. At The School of Criminal Justice and Public Administration, students will have the benefit of being taught by experts in the fields of law, policing, and corrections among others. This also helps to prepare Kean University graduates to be prepared and job-ready when they enter the field of criminal justice.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Kean University is one of the best criminal justice schools in New Jersey, as the oldest public college in the state, they have had plenty of time to develop their criminal justice program. That is also evidenced by graduates of Kean, who leave the program prepared to enter positions in the field of criminal justice such as State Troopers, Police Officers, Federal Agents, and Corporate security roles along with many other exciting and rewarding vocations. Kean University is also no stranger to being recognized, and most recently has been awarded as The Top Online College 2020 by the SR Education Group as well as acknowledgments from U.S. News and Money.
Programs: BA, MA
7. Monmouth University
Within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University, students can pursue either a B.A. or M.A. in Criminal Justice at Monmouth’s Department of Criminal Justice. Students also have the option to earn a B.S. in Homeland Security. For students seeking to fast-track their careers, Monmouth University offers accelerated courses too, making this one of the best criminal justice programs in New Jersey.
Monmouth University is also much more than one of the best criminal justice schools in New Jersey, and it houses the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music. Students will also be excited to learn that 100% of the students at Monmouth University are engaged in experiential learning, fly Hawks, fly. Along with more than $160 million in new construction projects over the past decade, students at Monmouth University also benefit from an impressive 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio.
Programs: BA, MA
8. Rider University
Students enrolled at Rider University’s Department of Sociology and Criminology can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. As a program designed for real-world application, the criminal justice program at Rider University also collaborates with many criminal justice organizations to provide internship opportunities. These are only a few features of the many that make Rider University’s Department of Sociology and Criminology one of the best criminal justice programs in New Jersey.
Other factors that contribute to Rider University being one of the best criminal justice schools in New Jersey is its 280-acre campus that includes numerous residence halls and an extensive library. This renowned University also has many specialized accreditations and honors students who have earned special merit. Rider University has been nationally recognized by U.S. News and Princeton Review among accolades from other esteemed publications, although students will likely be more impressed by an excellent 10:1 Student-to-teacher ratio.
9. Caldwell University
When mentioning the best criminal justice programs in New Jersey, it would be amiss to exclude the B.A. in Criminal Justice program at Caldwell University. This program also offers opportunities for independent studies and internships, helping students become just that much more prepared to begin a career in the field of criminal justice.
Caldwell University has earned its place as one of the best criminal justice schools in New Jersey, and it offers students all the perks that come with being a highly-ranked university. Students enjoy small class sizes, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a faith-based structure. This well-regarded institution is noted for having some of the highest-paid graduates in the state, and students should feel encouraged that on average nine out of ten undergraduates at Caldwell are receiving some type of financial aid.
10. Stockton University
Rounding out the list of the best criminal justice programs in New Jersey are the B.A. and M.A. in Criminal Justice programs at Stockton University. Students at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences will also have the opportunity to earn accelerated degrees.
In addition to being a top-ranked public university, Stockton University is also recognized as a Veteran-friendly program, only affirming its place as one of the best criminal justice schools in New Jersey. Students considering Stockton University should feel encouraged as this public university has favorable acceptance rates, and is also ranked among the most affordable programs in New Jersey, bringing the goals of a career in criminal justice one step closer.
Programs: BA, MA
How Do I Choose a Criminal Justice Degree Program in New Jersey?
When choosing one of the best criminal justice programs in New Jersey, it’s up to you to find one that meets your needs, is affordable, and is accredited. It’s even more beneficial if the degree program has courses that are offered online. Before you even begin to look for the right degree program, you need to set your career goals. This will help you determine which degree program falls in line with what you want to accomplish as you move forward with your career. If you are looking at more than one type of degree, you may want to consider enrolling in a dual degree program so that you have more options after graduation.
How Is the Job Market for Criminal Justice in New Jersey?
Careers in law enforcement, security, and private investigation are on the rise in the state of New Jersey. Earning a criminal justice degree is the best way to get started in law enforcement. It also has benefits for individuals who are working as private investigators or security professionals. A criminal justice degree provides many of the necessary skills to be able to perform all of the duties and responsibilities that are required for positions in these fields. It will lay a solid foundation that can be used to establish yourself as a professional in your chosen field.
New Jersey criminal justice jobs in the legal or judicial field are also available. With a criminal justice degree, you can find work as a legal secretary, paralegal, or mediator in the legal or judicial fields. There are many other positions that can be benefited by earning a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. This type of degree offers valuable information and skills that allow the student to understand the policies, processes, and best practices that are frequently used in the legal or judicial field.
Entry-level criminal justice jobs in New Jersey can be found in almost every location. Many office positions in law enforcement and the legal field start out as an entry-level position. As you begin to gain experience, you can move to a more advanced position. Enrolling in a criminal justice degree program will provide you with the talents that are needed to excel in your new position. It will also keep you informed of any new information that would benefit your position.
How Much Can I Make with a Criminal Justice Degree in New Jersey?
Depending on your experience and level of education, you can expect to earn anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 per year. Entry-level positions are the lowest paid in most career fields, but with the right training and experience, opportunities for advancement can be easily found. The more work you put into your career, the quicker you will be able to advance. Going back to school to earn a higher degree will also put you in line for more opportunities to move up the ladder towards a management position.
With a criminal justice degree, your ability to earn will increase the more experience you gain. If you begin working right after you graduate from college, your education may give you a chance to apply for a mid-level position. There are many online degree programs you can enroll in once you are employed that will allow you to pursue your career and actually accept new opportunities as they present themselves. If you specialize in a specific area of expertise, your ability to earn a higher wage is almost guaranteed. It may also put you in line for a promotion. Individuals who have continued to enrich their careers by applying for certification programs or taking a chance to learn new skills will be able to further their careers and increase their earning potential.