For students considering a career in criminal justice, you could do much worse than Colorado. Named for the Colorado River, the state is well-known for its vivid landscapes of mountains, high plains, canyons, forests, rivers, prairies, and desert plateaus. The highest point of the Rocky Mountains, Mount Elbert is situated in Lake County, Colorado. Colorado is home to four national parks, two national conservation areas, 44 state parks, and 307 state wildlife areas. Not only known for its natural beauty, but Colorado has also long been recognized as one of the top states for entrepreneurship and business, with a booming tech industry bringing new residents from all over the world.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 55,380 jobs in criminal justice-related occupations in Colorado. For every 1,000 jobs in the state, 24.878 were in the criminal justice and law enforcement sector. The location quotient for the field is 1.01, while employment in criminal justice is expected to grow at a rate of 2.2. As the population of Colorado continues to climb, there will be boosts in demand for qualified criminal justice degree holders.
Ranking the Best Criminal Justice Programs in Colorado
For the ranking of the top criminal justice schools in the Centennial State, Criminal Justice Degree Hub editors began, as always, with trusted, accredited institutions. We ranked programs according to their cost to value ratio, reputation, and comprehensiveness, using data from Niche and IPEDS.
1. University of Northern Colorado
The University of Northern Colorado offers the best criminal justice programs in Colorado. Criminal justice students who are pursuing a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree can learn all of the abilities and skills they need to complete their education and find the career path that best suits their goals. There are numerous specializations in the criminal justice field, each one needing specific skill sets and tools. Earning a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in their chosen specialization will give students what they need to reach their goals and have a successful and respected career.
The University of Northern Colorado is considered one of the best criminal justice schools in the state. Reputable staff, state-of-the-art technology, and up-to-date course work are the benchmarks students can rely on when it comes to getting the education they need and deserve. Students who graduate from the university can move forward with confidence, fully prepared for a bright and lucrative career. No matter what criminal justice field they choose to pursue, they will have what they need to move forward.
Programs: Bachelor and Master’s
2. University of Colorado Denver
The University of Colorado Denver offers its students the best criminal justice programs in Colorado. Both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs provide essential skills and resources that allow students to solve problems, use available information, and defend individuals who need assistance. Careers that involve crime scene investigation, forensics, or paralegal studies require specific skills that are available in both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs.
The University of Colorado Denver has a long-standing reputation as one of the best criminal justice schools in Colorado. Considered a leader in its field, the university staff and instructors work diligently to create positive change by producing graduates who believe in working toward a brighter future. During their time at the university, students receive the insight and guidance they need to continue to learn about their career-long after they graduate.
Programs: Bachelor and Master’s
3. Colorado Technical University
Colorado Technical University has made available many of the best criminal justice programs in Colorado. Students can choose from either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree program that will teach them valuable lessons on how to deal with cybercrime, homeland security issues, constitutional law, and many other common subjects found under the criminal justice category. Students get a solid understanding of how the judicial system works as well as how to solve crimes and prevent illegal activity.
Colorado Technical University is proud to be considered one of the best criminal justice schools in Colorado. Faculty members are seasoned professionals in their own right. With their years of experience, they are able to both instruct and encourage their students to surpass any boundaries they may have set for themselves. Bringing the faculty and its outstanding curriculum together is the key to the university’s overall success.
Programs: Bachelor and Master’s
4. CSU Global
CSU Global is an online campus that offers the very best in criminal justice programs in Colorado. Online courses offer flexible schedules that make it possible for students to pursue both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in criminal justice. Skills and tools are made available over an online format which allows the student to continue to work and gain the experience they need to explore new opportunities as they arise. While the student is still in school, they can begin to explore new, more advanced opportunities so they can further their careers.
As one of the best criminal justice schools in Colorado, CSU Global maintains the highest possible standards for students who choose to learn using an online format. Faculty members make themselves available o students as often as possible in an attempt to both encourage and inspire them. Once a student has completed their online program, they will have everything they need to establish themselves as a professional in their field.
5. Metropolitan State University of Denver
The Metropolitan State University of Denver has spent years creating many of the best criminal justice programs in Colorado. Careers that involve the study of criminology, cybercrime, forensics, and homeland security concepts require skill sets that are commonly found in Bachelor and Master’s degree programs. Criminal justice curriculums are designed to provide not only the skills and abilities, but also the knowledge to solve crimes, mediate positive solutions, and create a safer world.
The Metropolitan State University of Denver is recognized as a leader in education. As one of the best criminal justice schools in Colorado, it is able to provide state-of-the-art technology in addition to the expertise and insight of seasoned faculty members who have years of experience working in the criminal justice field. All of the graduates who leave the school to pursue their career, do so with the knowledge that they have been fully prepared to meet any type of challenge they may face.
Programs: Bachelor and Master’s
6. University of Colorado Colorado Springs
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs is recognized as having some of the best criminal justice programs in Colorado. Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs for criminal justice students are created to provide much-needed information to help them become professional problem solvers. Graduates who earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in criminal justice can choose from a wide range of career options including crime scene investigators, homeland security specialists, paralegals, and forensic pathologists, just to name a few.
The University of Colorado – Colorado Springs lives up to its reputation as one of the best criminal justice schools in Colorado. No stone is left unturned when it comes to the quality of the resources, curriculum, and professional faculty. Graduates leave the school with a solid understanding of the concepts that are needed to compete in the fast-paced, goal-oriented world of criminal justice. Success is at their fingertips and their future is whatever they choose to make it.
Programs: Bachelor and Master’s
7. Regis University
Regis University offers many of the best criminal justice programs in Colorado for students who want to earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs provide advanced skills to students who are interested in cybersecurity, homeland security, paralegal studies, and crime scene investigations. These are highly specialized fields that involve a keen eye and great attention to detail. This requires technologically advanced abilities and skills for maximum proficiency. Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees provide these tools for students who want to move forward with their education.
Regis University is a private university that holds to the strictest possible standards when it comes to both professional faculty and outstanding curriculum. Rated as one of the best criminal justice schools in Colorado, the university continues to push forward maintaining its reputation and providing students with everything they require to establish themselves as a trained and highly successful professionals.
Programs: Bachelor and Master’s
8. University of Denver
The University of Denver has been an industry leader for several years. Many graduates believe that the university offers the best criminal justice programs in Colorado. Both online and on-campus, students receive an education that is second to none, providing each student with the knowledge and abilities to move forward. Earning a Bachelor’s degree in sociology or criminal justice will allow the graduate to accept job openings in crime scene investigation, forensics, homeland security, and many other possible fields.
The University of Denver provides a well-rounded curriculum, professional staff, state-of-the-art technology, and much-needed resources students can use to make their learning experience more enjoyable. The university is dedicated to maintaining the highest possible standards when it comes to providing students with an education that is second to none. No matter what criminal justice Bachelor’s degree a student chooses, the university offers a program to fulfill their goals.
9. Colorado Mesa University
Colorado Mesa University is one of the most reputable schools that offers the best criminal justice programs in Colorado. Bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice offer skills that are needed to compete in highly competitive career fields like homeland security, cybercrime, paralegal studies, and crime scene investigations. Students can earn a Bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences or other subjects associated with the criminal justice field.
As one of the best criminal justice schools in Colorado, Colorado Mesa University helps students to build a solid foundation for their careers. Faculty members provide valuable insight and give students food for thought that they can continue to use for as long as they pursue their careers. Graduates of the university can rely on their relationship with faculty and staff when they need encouragement and support as they take the first tentative steps toward building their careers.
10. Colorado Christian University
Colorado Christian University has the ability to offer students the best criminal justice programs in Colorado. From an Associate’s to a Master’s degree, criminal justice programs offer all of the skills and abilities students will need as they continue to build their careers. Criminology courses, behavioral sciences, paralegal studies, and forensics are all important components in many criminal justice degree programs. Students who are going from an associate’s to a Master’s degree are able to steer the course of their career in the direction they want it to go.
Colorado Christian University has taken great strides to maintain its reputation as one of the best criminal justice schools in Colorado. With a strong curriculum and professional instructors, the university takes every opportunity to make sure students have a positive learning experience. Whether they are pursuing an Associate’s or a Master’s degree, each student gets the best the university has to offer.
Programs: Associate to Master’s
How Do I Choose a Criminal Justice School in Colorado?
When you are looking for a criminal justice school in Colorado, you want to focus on the best options to fit your needs and goals. The best criminal justice schools in Colorado offer a variety of benefits to help with your long-term goals. By focusing on specific details, you can compare different programs and select the best option for your goals.
The first consideration for any criminal justice school in Colorado is accreditation. As a general rule, you want to opt for schools that have accreditation by a reputable third-party organization, such as the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Focus on accredited programs and rule out any program that does not have accreditation. You want to make sure the school and the program are both accredited to avoid undue complications with your career.
After you narrow down the choices based on accreditation, focus on the details of the program. If you are planning to study a specialized area of the criminal justice system, then you want to find programs that offer different concentrations within criminal justice and select a school that offers the concentration that fits your goals. A generalized program may still help with your goals, but it gives a broad overview that is not necessarily ideal if you are looking for a career in a specific area of the system.
Evaluate your budget when you are looking into any schools in Colorado. Your budget may help you rule out schools in some situations. Keep in mind that you may qualify for scholarships, grants, or other financial assistance, so you should evaluate the options for financial aid before you determine that a school is not within your budget. Every college sets a different cost for tuition and related expenses. By comparing the costs of education, you can prioritize the right programs for your goals.
How is the Job Market for Criminal Justice in Colorado?
Criminal justice jobs in Colorado offer an opportunity to focus on your long-term goals. The job outlook for the state is positive due to the variety of career paths available after you finish your degree. Colorado criminal justice jobs allow you to work as a police officer or a corrections officer, as well as to consider non-traditional career paths for your goals.
Depending on your interests, you may decide to work with victims as an advocate or to provide victim services. You can also work as a parole officer and address concerns that may apply directly to individuals who are on parole. If you prefer to work with younger individuals to prevent future crimes, then you may have opportunities in the juvenile corrections system.
Research opportunities are available for individuals who plan to work in the identification of potential factors that may contribute to criminal behavior. A job in research and statistics focuses on finding underlying causes of criminal activity and then looking into potential solutions to prevent crimes in the future.
A criminal justice degree in Colorado offers a variety of opportunities that range from working with victims to researching criminal behavior. While you can also pursue a more traditional path as a police officer, you have more options after completing your degree. It may also allow you to prepare to advance into more complex job opportunities within the justice system, such as pursuing a degree in the legal system.
How Much Do Criminal Justice Professionals Make in Colorado?
The criminal justice salary in Colorado varies significantly based on your job and responsibilities. The exact salary will depend on the career path that you pursue and the type of work you perform.
As a general rule, criminal justice professionals in Colorado make around $56,300 per year. The average or median income for individuals considers all professionals, so you may earn more in certain roles. For example, the average salary for a criminal investigator in Colorado is around $67,900 per year with a range of $50,900 and $75,000 per year. When you are looking into the salary potential for a degree, you want to keep in mind that it depends on your specific role in the system and the job you are considering.
Always look at the salary range for a specific job or area of specialization when you are considering potential salaries. You also want to keep in mind that your salary potential in the criminal justice system may depend on your experience level in your field. Starting salaries for new graduates are often lower when compared to the salary of a professional who has worked in their field for a few years. Expect your salary to start around the lower end of the salary range when you are looking at a specific job.
When you are looking at the salary potential for criminal justice professionals in Colorado, you also want to consider your location. Different cities and areas of the state may offer some variations in the actual salary potential. Expect slightly lower salaries in more rural areas when compared to the salary potential for urban environments.