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Top 10 Criminal Justice Programs in Florida

Are you considering a career in criminal justice? It is a career choice that can take you just about anywhere, but if you enjoy warm weather and fun on the water, you may want to take a look at Florida. In Florida you will find over 80 schools offering programs in criminal justice. The great thing about pursuing a career in criminal justice is that you can choose programs ranging from Associate of Science which can often be completed in 18 months all the way to a doctorate. With a little online research, you can find which schools offer the type of financial aid assistance that would benefit you.

A career in criminal justice is exciting and lucrative. There are over 50 different types of criminal justice jobs to choose from. If you like to work with children, you could be a juvenile court counselor or a social worker. If legal issues are your interest, you may choose a career as a litigation manager or a criminologist. In Florida it is possible to find an opportunity as a customs agent or environmental conservation officer. In a career so diverse, it is likely that you can customize a job that fits well with your personality.

Ranking the Best Criminal Justice Programs in Florida

For the Criminal Justice Degree Hub ranking of the best criminal justice schools in Florida, editors featured only accredited, legitimate institutions. Programs are ranked according to data from IPEDS and Niche, with practical factors including tuition rate, reputation, and variety of degree plans.

1. Florida International University

Florida International University’s Green School of International and Public Affairs offers several levels of criminal justice degree programs (from bachelor to Ph.D.) that are recognized among the best criminal justice programs in Florida. Besides, FIU offers two unique programs called LEAP – the Law Enforcement Apprenticeship Program, which provides a combination of specialized training, plus traditional classroom work, plus their internship program, which includes a reflection paper written regarding the internship experience.

Florida International University was established as a space-grant university in 1965. Although one of the newer institutions of higher education in South Florida, FIU has become one of the largest schools in the greater metropolitan area of Miami. More than 57,800 students attend FIU each year. The Florida legislature recognizes FIU among the most preeminent and emerging schools in South Florida. 

Programs: Bachelor to PhD

2. Florida State University

Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a variety of criminal justice programs that are ranked among the online best criminal justice programs in Florida, according to US News & World Report. These criminal justice degree programs from Florida State University are available at the bachelor’s, master’s, (both of these degrees are available entirely online) and at the doctoral level, on-campus. In addition, CollegesOnline.com recognizes FSU’s online criminal justice programs among the best value schools for online criminal justice degrees.

Florida State University was established as a sea grant and space grant university in 1851.  The school’s campus covers more than 1,500 acres and serves more than 41,400 students, vying for the more than 300 degrees offered by the university’s colleges/schools.

Programs: Bachelor to PhD

3. Florida Atlantic University

Florida Atlantic University’s School of Criminology & Criminal Justice offers an undergraduate and graduate level degree in criminal justice that are recognized as some of the best criminal justice programs in Florida. FAU’s undergraduate degree program in criminal justice can be completed entirely online. In contrast, the Master of Science in Criminology & Criminal Justice is a hybrid program that provides online teaching & graduate jobs as teacher’s assistants.

Florida Atlantic University was established in 1961. Florida Atlantic University holds the honor of being the first public institution of higher learning that opened in the southern and most eastern regions of the Sunshine state. Nearly 31,000 students attend Florida Atlantic University, including medical students enrolled in the most recent addition to the university 0 the College of Medicine. FAU is a state university that serves more than 5 million people who reside in southeast Florida.

Programs: Bachelor and Master’s

4. Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Gulf Coast University’s Department of Justice Studies offers a bachelor’s degree program and a master’s degree program in Criminal Justice that is ranked as some of the best criminal justice programs in Florida. FGCU’s undergraduate criminal justice degrees include legal studies, forensic studies, or criminal justice. FGCU’s graduate degree programs include forensic studies and criminal justice. Students enrolled in the Florida Gulf Coast University’s criminal justice degree programs will also complete an internship that allows students to apply theoretical knowledge to real world applications.

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) was established in 1991. FGCU is the youngest of the dozen campuses that comprise the State University System of Florida. This space-grant institution of higher learning is organized into six colleges/schools that serve more than 15,000 students. Florida Gulf Coast University operates several satellite facilities in Punta Gorda and Naples, Florida.

Programs: Bachelor and Master’s

5. St Thomas University (FL)

St Thomas University offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Criminal Justice. Students graduating from St Thomas University’s best criminal justice programs in Florida enter the workforce employed by the US Secret Service, the Treasury Department, ICE, the FBI, or the US Marshall Service. Course work includes victimology, terrorism, and law enforcement, and law enforcement systems, to name a few. Collegefactual.com acknowledges that STU’s criminal justice program is among the most focused with regard to homeland security, firefighting, and law enforcement.

St Thomas University was established in 1961. STU’s urban campus in Miami Gardens serves more than 4,100 students. St Thomas University has its roots traced to Havana in the mid 1940s when in 1961, the faculty and priests fled to the US. Until the mid-1990s, STU was the Miami Dolphins’ training campus for nearly a quarter-century. 

Programs: Bachelor and Master’s

6. University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida’s College of Community Innovation and Education offers a Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA/BS) degree and a Master of Science (MS) degree program in Criminal Justice that has been recognized among the best criminal justice programs in Florida. Students enrolled in UCF’s criminal justice program have been recognized as distinguished scholars. Core coursework for the undergraduate criminal justice program includes legal aspects of policing, criminal sentencing, and ethics in criminal justice, plus a capstone project in a relevant field.

The University of Central Florida (UCF) was chartered in 1963 by an act of the Florida legislature. The school is a state institution of higher learning that is also a space grant school. Nearly  70,000 students are enrolled in UCF, which allows the school to boast that its student enrollment for one campus is the largest in the nation. The University of Central Florida operates ten academic facilities throughout the central region of the Sunshine state.

Programs: Bachelor and Master’s

7. University of Miami

The University of Miami offers a BA in Criminology and a MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Both of U Miami’s criminal justice degree programs are considered among the best criminal justice programs in Florida and beyond. Depending on the exact academic track, the undergraduate program in criminal justice from U Miami requires 120 to 141 credit units, whereas the graduate criminal justice degree requires 30 credit units to be completed to meet program requirements.

The University of Miami was established in 1963. More than 17,000 students attend classes offered from U Miami, one of Miami-Dade county’s top ten employers. The school offers more than 300 academic programs through its twelve schools/colleges. The football team at the University of Miami has won five national championships trophies.

Programs: Bachelor and Master’s

8. University of North Florida

The University of North Florida’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice provides a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree program in Criminology and Criminal Justice that requires the completion of 120 semester hours to meet the undergraduate program requirements. Additionally, UNF offers a graduate-level criminal justice program – both of which are ranked as some of the best criminal justice programs in Florida and beyond. UNF offers degree candidates internship opportunities and study abroad programs.

The  University of North Florida was established as a space grant institution of higher learning in 1963. The school’s 1,200+ acre campus in south Jacksonville is home to more than 16,900 students studying for degrees offered by the school five colleges/schools. The  University of North Florida maintains the Contemporary Art Museum for the city of Jacksonville.

Programs: Bachelor and Master’s

9. University of South Florida

The University of South Florida’s College of Behavioral and Community Sciences offers an undergraduate level degree in criminology that introduces the theory, policy, and research methods required to succeed, to degree candidates. Additionally, USF offers several criminal justice related degrees that are recognized among the best criminal justice programs in Florida.  These graduate criminal justice programs include a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice Administration, and a Master of Science degree in Cybercrime, and a Master of Science in Criminology degree program.

USF was chartered in 1956. As the fourth largest public institution of higher education in Florida, USF operates three campuses in Tampa, Sarasota and St. Petersburg, FL. The school offers varying levels of degrees through its fourteen colleges and schools to its nearly 51,000 students. USF’s research spending is recognized among the top 50 universities in the country.

Programs: Bachelor and Master’s

10. University of Tampa

The University of Tampa’s College of Social Sciences, Mathematics, and Education offers two Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program – one in Forensic Science and the other in Criminal Justice and Criminology.  The University of Tampa also offers a Master of Science (MS) degree program in Criminology and Criminal Justice that can be completed as a dual degree in an accelerated delivery. All of UT’s criminal justice programs are recognized among the best criminal justice programs in Florida.  

The University of Tampa was established in 1931. The school’s urban campus covers more than 100 acres and serves more than 9,000 students. The main campus building at the University of Tampa was once a famous resort and hotel built in the late 1800s.

Programs: Bachelor and Master’s

How Do I Choose a Criminal Justice School in Florida?

If you are looking for criminal justice colleges in Florida, the first thing to do is determine whether or not you want to take your courses online or in a classroom. If you choose an online platform, you can attend almost any college or university in the state of Florida. As an online student, you don’t have to worry about your location and can sign up from almost anywhere. The majority of schools in Florida offer both online classes and traditional classes on campus. The online platform is extremely popular, especially with students who are already working a full-time job.

You will also want to choose a criminal justice degree program that you can afford. You may be able to pay for all or part of your tuition and textbooks through grants and scholarships. Employer reimbursement plans are also an option. You can also choose to spread your courses out over a longer period of time instead of following the more conventional schedule. This type of flexibility is beneficial when it comes to paying for your classes as well as for maintaining a full-time job.

The next step in choosing the best school for criminal justice in Florida is finding the one that offers the degree program and courses that you will need when you apply for the jobs you want. Criminal justice includes forensics, paralegal studies, crime scene investigations, and many others. Look into degree programs that offer specialized classes that may be required for certain careers. It’s also important to find a school that will offer you the resources you need to gain additional experience.

How Is the Job Market for Criminal Justice in Florida?

Florida’s job market in terms of criminal justice is steadily growing. Entry-level criminal justice jobs in Florida are also available. Graduates who have earned a degree in criminal justice can find work in attorneys’ offices, courthouses, private investigation firms, and law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal level are always looking for competent crime scene investigators, detectives, and administrators to keep their departments functioning at op efficiency.

Forensics is another highly specialized field in the criminal justice classifications. Forensic pathologists study evidence that is found at crime scenes to determine if it is valuable enough to be used in court. Forensics requires a degree that offers many science-based courses so if you plan on looking for criminal justice jobs in Florida that focus on working with evidence, you will have to have a strong interest in science and biology.

Paralegals often earn their degrees in criminal justice as well. In a law office setting, having a criminal justice degree is extremely beneficial. Paralegals, researchers, and clerks who have studied criminal justice will often be the first ones looked at when new jobs open up in the office. Unlike forensics that follows a science-based curriculum, paralegals focus more on the legal aspect of the justice system. Having a working knowledge of both, however, is important. A good criminal justice school in Florida will blend both so that graduates have a working knowledge of both sides.

How Much Do Criminal Justice Professionals Make in Florida?

If you want to learn more about criminal justice salaries in Florida, you first need to determine what kind of position you are looking at. Crime scene investigators, paralegals, and forensic pathologists are highly specialized fields. On average, individuals who choose to follow a career path that involves a criminal justice degree can expect to earn approximately $50,000 every year. Entry-level positions may earn somewhat less, but the earning potential of these careers can lead to substantial increases over the next few years.

Individuals who have already found work in the career path of their choice can increase their chances of moving forward by returning to school. Completing a BS or MS degree program in criminal justice will open the door to many opportunities for advancement. Not only will the graduate be able to take on more responsibility, their potential earnings will increase dramatically as well. The criminal justice salary in Florida is about average in comparison with the rest of the United States.

Graduates who complete their degree and already have years of experience in the field will see their earning potential rise substantially. Not only will they be able to apply for jobs with more responsibility, they will also have an increased chance of getting the highest paying positions. The more experienced they are, the more valuable they become, especially when their knowledge has been brought up to date by a current degree program.

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Related Rankings:

Top 10 Traditional Criminal Justice Schools

Top 10 Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Top 10 Most Affordable Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Top 10 Campus Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs

Top 10 Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs

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Criminaljusticedegreehub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.