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Best Colleges In California For Criminal Justice

Last Updated on November 14, 2022 by Ibrahim Agboola

If you’re looking for a college in California with a strong criminal justice program, it’s important to consider factors such as the school’s size and its location.

In general, larger schools can offer more opportunities for students to participate in research and gain experience outside of the classroom. However, it’s also important to consider the type of work that is available in your area. For example, if you want to work in law enforcement after graduation, you may want to consider a school with a police force or other law enforcement agency that works closely with students.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice, there are many different options available. Some students decide to become lawyers or judges; others choose careers that involve working directly with criminals on probation or parole; still others choose careers working as police officers or detectives. When choosing a college program for criminal justice, it’s important not just what kind of degree they offer but also what kinds of internships they provide during school years so that you can get hands-on experience working within the field before graduation day comes around.

Best Colleges In California For Criminal Justice

Criminal justice schools in California take on many forms. Whether students hope to research laws to support a court case as a paralegal, help rehabilitate convicts as a corrections officer or check for signs of arson as a fire investigator, there are a variety of criminal justice education programs that can prepare students for fulfilling careers in the legal and protective services fields.

Students looking to for criminal justice schools in California are in good company – California employs more protective and legal service professionals than any other state. While finding the right program can be daunting, the tools in this guide can give prospective students a clear look at their options and learn more about different careers and educational requirements along the way.

California’s higher education systems is expansive, and prospective criminal justice students may be overwhelmed by the number of available schools. This tool ranks the best criminal justice schools in California by various factors, like tuition costs, total enrollment and student-teacher ratio.

1 Fresno Pacific University
School Information
LocationFresno, California
Admission Rate66%
Graduation Rate67%
Instituation TypePrivate
AccreditationYes?
Percent Online Enrollment40%?

Fresno Pacific University provides flexible options for learners seeking bachelor’s-level study. For undergraduates, the college supports hybrid study from its main campus in California. Students connect with supportive faculty, colleagues, and other staff through in-person and online learning environments.

Learners across modalities benefit from robust programs. Criminal justice students follow a rigorous curriculum. Students complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining a well-rounded education.

In consultation with an academic advisor, students can modify their coursework, choose electives, and pursue degree concentrations and minors to suit their career goals. Throughout their studies, learners can work with career services and academic advising to receive further guidance.

The college connects students with scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities to be applied to educational expenses. The institution boasts that 100% of all enrollees receive some form of financial aid.View less about this program –

2 National University
School Information
LocationLa Jolla, California
Admission Rate89%
Graduation Rate29%
Instituation TypePrivate
AccreditationYes?
Percent Online Enrollment53%?

National University supports a variety of undergraduate-level degree options. Located in La Jolla, California, the private institution offers competitive, flexible programs that can be completed in person or online. According to the college, undergraduates can access 51 bachelor’s degree programs on campus or pursue remote study across 40 degree tracks.

Learners studying in person and online benefit from a supportive learning community. The college provides students with a competitive education through intensive study. Enrollees complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining a well-rounded education.

Learners can customize their study in consultation with an academic advisor, to suit their personal and professional goals. Students seeking academic and career guidance can connect with campus resources, such as academic advising and career services.

To defray the costs of education, students can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. At the college, 33% of all incoming students receive financial aid funding.View more about this program +

3 California State University, Los Angeles
School Information
LocationLos Angeles, California
Admission Rate48%
Graduation Rate52%
AccreditationYes?
Percent Online Enrollment33%?

Students seeking flexible study should consider California State University, Los Angeles. For undergraduates, the college supports hybrid study from its main campus. At present, the college provides 67 bachelor’s degree programs.

Students near and far benefit from a supportive learning community. As part of the criminal justice program curriculum, students complete coursework and attend industry-relevant lectures. Learners can also pursue internships, research projects, and experiential learning opportunities to supplement their learning.

Learners can customize their study in consultation with an academic advisor, to suit their personal and professional goals. Students can receive guidance through career services, academic advising, and other institutional resources.

Students can meet with the financial aid office to determine their eligibility for scholarships and other educational funding. The institution reports that 94% of all degree seekers receive some form of financial aid.View more about this program +

4 California State University, San Bernardino
School Information
LocationSan Bernardino, California
Admission Rate69%
Graduation Rate55%
AccreditationYes?
Percent Online Enrollment33%?

Students seeking a flexible bachelor’s degree can learn at their own pace at California State University, San Bernardino. The school supports hybrid learning opportunities, with in person and online programs. The college campus and online learning environment enable students to connect with peers, faculty, and staff during their studies.

The college connects students across campus-based and remote learning communities. After enrolling, students complete coursework as part of the program curriculum. Learners engage foundational and advanced concepts throughout interactive study and gain practical knowledge.

Enrollees work with an academic advisor and customize their degree to meet their academic and career goals. Throughout their studies, learners can work with career services and academic advising to receive further guidance.

When preparing for the cost of education, degree-seekers can meet with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities. According to the college, 93% of all enrollees receive financial aid, with the average student awarded $10,343 in aid.View more about this program +

5 California Baptist University
School Information
LocationRiverside, California
Admission Rate78%
Graduation Rate63%
Instituation TypePrivate
AccreditationYes?
Percent Online Enrollment55%?

California Baptist University is a private college offering premier bachelor’s-level education to students worldwide. The Riverside-based school supports hybrid learning opportunities, with in-person and online programs. To date, the school offers 89 bachelor’s programs, with 24 online degree options.

Whether learning in person or online, students join a supportive learning community, working alongside peers, faculty, and staff. Criminal justice students follow a rigorous program curriculum. Students complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining a well-rounded education.

Students have the option to modify their coursework, choose electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations. Learners further benefit from access to institutional resources, such as academic advising and career services.

Students can meet with the financial aid office to determine their eligibility for scholarships and other educational funding. According to the college, 98% of all enrollees receive financial aid.View more about this program +

6 California State University, Long Beach
School Information
LocationLong Beach, California
Admission Rate39%
Graduation Rate74%
AccreditationYes?
Percent Online Enrollment30%?

Students seeking a flexible bachelor’s degree can learn at their own pace at California State University, Long Beach. The public institution offers competitive, flexible programs that can be completed in person or online. Learners can choose from 91 bachelor’s degree programs.

Enrollees benefit from a supportive learning community throughout their studies. After enrolling, students complete coursework as part of the program curriculum. Students gain skills and knowledge through their engagement with general and advanced classes.

Students have the option to modify their coursework, choose electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations. A leader in students success, the college connects enrollees with career services, academic advising, and other supportive resources.

Depending on their eligibility, students can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. The average enrollee receives $9,098 in financial aid.View more about this program +

7 Humphreys University
School Information
LocationStockton, California
Graduation Rate44%
Instituation TypePrivate
AccreditationYes?
Percent Online Enrollment56%?

Humphreys University provides premier degree programs suitable for undergraduate students. Learners can choose from in-person and online bachelor’s degree programs. Enrollees connect with peers, faculty, and staff, either through campus learning environments or virtual classrooms.

Students complete foundational and advanced classes throughout their studies. Learners have the option to modify their classes, choose electives, and customize their studies. Students can access academic advising, career services, and other institutional resources.

Students may be eligible for scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid awards. The college boasts that 100% of all enrollees receive some form of aid.View more about this program +

8 California State University, Sacramento
School Information
LocationSacramento, California
Admission Rate82%
Graduation Rate55%
AccreditationYes?
Percent Online Enrollment38%?

California State University, Sacramento supports flexible educational opportunities for undergraduate students. Learners can pursue remote study or learn from the college’s campus. According to the college, undergraduates can access 55 bachelor’s degree programs on campus or pursue remote study across two degree tracks.

Students near and far benefit from a supportive learning community. Criminal justice students follow a rigorous program curriculum. Learners also have the option to pursue experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and research projects.

In consultation with an academic advisor, students can modify their coursework, choose electives, and pursue degree concentrations and minors to suit their career goals. Learners can receive personalized guidance by connecting with career services, academic advising, and other institutional resources.

To defray the costs of education, students can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. Of all enrollees, 85% receive some form of financial aid.View more about this program +

9 California State University, Fullerton
School Information
LocationFullerton, California
Admission Rate53%
Graduation Rate69%
AccreditationYes?
Percent Online Enrollment38%?

California State University, Fullerton is a public college offering premier bachelor’s-level education to students worldwide. Undergraduate students benefit from hybrid learning opportunities, with the option to study in person or online. According to the college, undergraduates can access 57 bachelor’s degree programs on campus or pursue remote study across two degree tracks.

Students near and far benefit from a supportive learning community. Criminal justice students follow a rigorous program curriculum. These classes equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to advance in their future career.

Students have the option to select electives, degree concentrations, and degree minors and pursue other academic modifications. Students can receive guidance through career services, academic advising, and other institutional resources.

To defray the costs of education, students can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. Of all enrollees, 77% receive some form of financial aid.View more about this program +

10 San Francisco State University
School Information
LocationSan Francisco, California
Admission Rate67%
Graduation Rate57%
AccreditationYes?
Percent Online Enrollment39%?

San Francisco State University provides premier degree programs suitable for undergraduate students. To date, the college offers 86 in-person bachelor’s programs. Both modalities support rigorous study and connect students with premier faculty and supportive learning communities.

Students complete foundational and advanced coursework throughout their program. In consultation with an academic advisor, students can customize their coursework, select electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations. Enrollees can access career services, academic advising, and other resources throughout their program duration.

Prospective students can inquire with the financial aid office about funding opportunities and explore their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other aid. The college reports an average financial aid award package of $9,479.View more about this program +View More

Most Popular Criminal Justice Careers in California

Students who graduate from criminal justice schools in California can pursue a wide variety of careers in-state. While graduates may use their degrees to enter the legal services field, California’s most popular careers for criminal justice grads are in protective services. See the table below for details on these careers and their minimum educational requirements, specific to the state of California.

Police, Sheriff & Highway Patrol Officers

  • Total Employed in California 70,930
  • Median Salary in California $94,890
  • Degree Level Required in California Academy Program

Correctional Officer

  • Total Employed in California 34,640
  • Median Salary in California $75,880
  • Degree Level Required in California Academy Program

Compliance Officer

  • Total Employed in California 31,980
  • Median Salary in California $75,920
  • Degree Level Required in California Bachelor’s

Paralegal and Legal Assistant

  • Total Employed in California 29,180
  • Median Salary in California $56,620
  • Degree Level Required in California Certificate

Detectives and Criminal Investigators

  • Total Employed in California 12,390
  • Median Salary in California $88,620
  • Degree Level Required in California Varies; up to Associate plus experience

Probation Officer

  • Total Employed in California 11,130
  • Median Salary in California $84,370
  • Degree Level Required in California Bachelor’s

Court, Municipal and License Clerks

  • Total Employed in California 8,590
  • Median Salary in California $44,080
  • Degree Level Required in California Varies; up to Associate

Side-by-Side: California’s Above Average Criminal Justice Opportunities

Criminal justice colleges in California can prepare students to enter a variety of protective and legal fields, and no matter what level of criminal justice degree a student chooses to pursue, they will find many criminal justice professions in California are growing faster and have higher annual salaries than the national average. The following tables note these high-wage and fast-growth careers, along with the level of education needed to get these jobs in the Golden State. Check out how far ahead California ranks above the national averages by scrolling over the bars below.

JOBNATIONALCALIFORNIA
Judges, Magistrates116,100183,980
Lawyers136,260163,020
Supervisors: Police & Detectives85,810132,240
Admin Law Judges, Adjudicators93,140121,390
Detectives, Criminal Investigators79,62097,000
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers61,27093,550
Supervisors: Correctional Officers62,77088,550
Fire Inspectors and Investigators59,80085,970
Fish and Game Wardens54,97072,630
Arbitrator, Mediator, Conciliator69,06076,300
Court Reporters54,72070,490
Correctional Officers and Jailers45,32069,040
Paralegals and Legal Assistants52,39059,230
Private Detectives52,84055,420
Animal Control Workers35,33047,660
Transportation Security Screeners40,05041,310

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

JOBNATIONALCALIFORNIA
Private Detectives0.1120.2
Law Teachers, Postsecondary0.1760.2
Paralegals and Legal Assistants0.1670.177
Criminal Justice Professor0.1310.167
Security Guards0.1210.16
Judicial Law Clerks0.0430.111
Lawyers0.0980.113
Fire Inspectors and Investigators0.0620.1
Court Reporters0.0960.097
Legal Support Workers0.0310.08
Compliance Officers0.0460.073
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers0.0590.068
Supervisors: Correctional Officers0.040.063
Correctional Officers and Jailers0.0490.062
Admin Law Judges, Adjudicators-0.0170.05
Judges, Magistrates0.0230.045

Source: Projections Central, 2015

After Criminal Justice School in California: Where the Jobs Are

California needs to employ many protective and legal service professionals to accommodate its large population, but certain parts of the state show particularly high employment numbers for those working in criminal justice fields. After attending criminal justice school in California, graduates may find greater potential career opportunities and larger professional networks in these places. Scroll over the dots on the map to learn more about each area, the number of people employed in legal and protective services and their average salaries.

Protective Services

Potential Employers

Superior Court of California; California State Prison Sacramento; Los Angeles Police Department; California Department of Fish and Game Wildlife; City of Santa Barbara; University of California San Diego; CalTrans; San Bernardino Animal Control; California Bureau of Gambling Control; City of Riverside Parks and Recreation; Oakland International Airport

Total Number of Employees in California: 380,720

Legal Occupations

Potential Employers

Private practice law firms; Legal Services of Northern California; California Court of Appeals; Supreme Court of California; Silicon Valley Arbitration Center; Los Angeles Paralegal Association; California Court Reporters Association; California Department of the Interior; State of California Department of Human Resources

Total Number of Employees in California: 120,200

Professional Resources for Criminal Justice in California

Business Compliance Resources

California Chamber of Commerce

An organization committed to helping businesses in the state of California thrive through business compliance practices, the Cal Chamber focuses efforts on making the state a great place to work. From political action to worker compensation, the group tackles many issues facing businesses.

California Secretary of State

For a list of business related regulatory information for the state of California, head to this page on the Secretary of State website. It provides everything from e-file forms to tax information to a California business lookup.

Small Business California

Dedicated solely to serving small businesses and their employees, the SBC responds to the unique needs of small businesses. The site provides information on advocacy campaigns and allows users to submit their input, so ideas are easily shared and acted upon.

Correctional Resources

California Correctional Peace Officers Association

Representing the men and women who work in California’s correctional facilities, this page provides information on the industry, prison reform and culture.

California Correctional Supervisors Organization

Serving the supervisors and managers working in the California State Corrections system, the CCSO protects and represents the values of members through legal representation and with labor-related issues.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Academy

A site dedicated to California’s Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center. Learn what it takes to serve, what a day in the life of a CDCR Cadet looks like and find more information on becoming a peace officer in California.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Careers & Exams

An all-encompassing page from the Department of Corrections, users can find career and general information about the California Corrections and Rehabilitation program here. The page also includes information on the exams necessary to work in the state, and other employee-specific resources

California Probation, Parole & Correctional Association

Representing correctional personnel and citizens interested in the professional workings of the California Correctional System, the CPPCA works in government affairs and supports research relevant to the corrections system.

Court and Judicial Resources

California Commission on Judicial Performance

A department of the state of California dedicated to investigating complains of judicial misconduct and assigned to disciplining judges. Check out this site for more details on pending cases, obtaining certification to become eligible for commission membership or to file a complaint.

The California Court Association

This committee was designed to help past and present employees of California’s court system train and prepare for leadership roles, keep up with ever-changing laws and help review and make recommendations on pending legislation.

California Department of Justice

The California Department of Justice provides information on government careers in the criminal justice field, including fellowships and scholarship programs.

California Judges Association

A professional group supporting judges and justices across the state of California, the CJA holds educational conferences, provides publications for currently serving and retired justices and appoints ethics and other committees to ensure the well-being of judges in California’s justice system.

Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

With a focus on balancing California’s justice system and impacting policymaking, the CJCJ offers news and educational information on juvenile justice and adult correctional reform.

Legal Resources

Association for Criminal Justice Research

The California Branch of the ACJR is a professional group that aims to improve criminal justice practices in all sectors through discussion and research. Members have access to conferences and networking opportunities with other criminal justice professionals.

California Attorneys for Criminal Justice

This professional association’s goal is to protect and promote people’s rights under the Constitution. Their website provides information on legislation as well as internship and career opportunities.

The Campaign for Justice

With an aim of increasing access to justice and legal resources for underserved California citizens, the Campaign for Justice offers opportunities for everyone from community members to attorneys to get involved in legal aid activities and events.

State Bar of California

Students looking to become attorneys in California will want to visit this website for all the information they need to become practicing lawyers in the state.

Western Association of Criminal Justice

This association of western states, including California, aims to improve criminal justice practices through academic research. Students are encouraged to become members.

Law Enforcement Resources

California Law Enforcement Association

A non-political organization established to help offer California peace officers the best possible benefits for their service. Information on Long Term Disability plans can be found here, as well as scholarship opportunities for students.

California Peace Officers’ Association

A collection of information for California’s police, sheriffs and highway patrol officers, this site provides information on specific departments across the state, as well as training information, community partnership opportunities, news and events.

California Police Youth Charities

With a mission of building a relationship between the law enforcement community and California youth, the CPYA provides productive activity opportunities for at risk youth. For more information on the program, becoming a positive adult role model and scholarships.

California Statewide Law Enforcement Association

This professional association is comprised of all types of law enforcement professionals throughout California. Members receive a variety of benefits, but even non-members have access to news articles, press releases and more.

Journal of California Law Enforcement

A quarterly publication from the California Peace Officers Association that includes timely articles written by law enforcement, judicial and law education professionals on subjects like leadership, community expectations and building credibility.

Peace Officers Research Association of California

California’s largest public safety organization provides this site, with information on advocacy programs, training sessions and labor relations for peace officers across the state. There is also a job board for peace officer prospects.

Statewide University Police Association

A page representing police officers working on college and university campuses across the state of California. The site addresses pertinent current events and news items, conducts leadership surveys and provides information and links to supported charities.

Wildlife and Environmental Resources

California Association of Environmental Professionals

From legislative advocacy to professional awards, the CAEP has a variety of local chapters across the state of California. They publish a quarterly magazine, “The Environmental Monitor”, which gives information on leaders in the profession, news and job opportunities.

California Conference of Arson Investigators

Fire is a major problem in California, and this site is dedicated to providing information on criminal fire investigation training, employment, scholarships and public fire safety.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Find information on hunting and fishing regulations and environmental action plans being implemented across the state of California. Users can purchase licenses and permits, contribute to wildlife programs, get tips on conservation and find out more about recreational services in their region.

Environmental Law Foundation

A collection of attorneys and legal administrators focused on environmental justice, ELF provide access to legal information regarding environmental preservation, enforcement and resources, and works to link at-risk communities to legal and scientific resources they need to combat environmental problems.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, California Watch

This local branch of the national PEER alliance works with scientists, land managers, environmental law enforcement agencies and other field specialists to help manage and protect public and environmental resources is California.