15 Best Bachelor’s in Criminology Degrees in 2023

bachelor's in criminology

Criminology has always been a fascinating field of study for many people.

From the investigation of major crimes to the rehabilitation of offenders, the scope of criminology is vast. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in criminology, you’ll need a degree in the field – and not just any degree, but one of the best BS in criminology degrees.

With so many degrees to choose from, it can be challenging to pick the best one. We’re here to help!

Are Criminology Degrees Worth It?

While it would be nice to imagine otherwise, crime isn’t going anywhere – it’s a fixture in our society. The good news is that there are experts out there who make it their life’s work to study and prevent crime. These people are known as criminologists.

A criminology degree might seem like an unusual choice, but this is a degree that has become increasingly popular over the years.

A criminology degree opens up a wide range of career paths, from police officers and detectives to forensic psychologists and criminal lawyers. Criminology is a field that is constantly evolving, which means that new career opportunities are always emerging.

A criminology degree provides students with skills that are transferable to other fields. These skills include analytical thinking, critical thinking, research, and communication skills. Graduates can take these skills to their future professions, whether that be in law, social work, or even business.

What is the Difference Between a Degree in Criminology and One in Criminal Justice?

Criminology is the study of crime, its causes, and its prevention, while criminal justice is the study of the system by which society responds to crime, including law enforcement, the courts, and corrections.

The former is more theoretical, exploring the social, psychological, and economic factors that lead people to commit crimes and the best ways to prevent or reduce crime.

The latter is more practical, examining the processes and procedures of the criminal justice system and the roles of its various components.

Criminology is often considered a social science and may be offered as a specialization (or with additional specializations) within a broader degree program in sociology, psychology, or similar fields.

What Will I Study in a BS in Criminology?

In a criminology program, you’ll learn different theories and explanations for criminal behavior, as well as the social and cultural factors that contribute to crime. You’ll also become familiar with the various types of crimes, the criminal justice system, and the role of law enforcement agencies.

Some other topics you’ll study include:

  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Forensic science
  • Research and statistics

Many BS in Criminology programs also offer elective coursework in specialized areas that align with your interests and career goals.

Examples of specialized areas include:

  • Cybersecurity
  • White collar crime
  • Victimology
  • Juvenile justice

What is a BS in Criminology Good For?

Are you curious about what you can do with a BS in criminology? Here are a few of the most popular options:

  • Police officer or detective: As a criminology graduate, you can enter law enforcement as a police officer or detective. The mean wage for police officers is about $66,000 per year, whereas detectives earn an average salary of about $83,000 per year.
  • Forensic psychologists: These are in-demand professionals who work in the intersection of psychology and criminal justice. You can expect to earn a salary of around $81,000 a year in this role.
  • Crime scene evidence technician: Crime scene technicians are responsible for gathering and analyzing evidence at crime scenes. This role offers an average salary of around $62,000 a year.
  • Criminologist/sociologist: As a criminologist/sociologist, you would analyze crime data and look for trends and patterns. This profession offers an average salary of around $93,000 a year.
  • Immigrations and customs inspectors: Customs inspectors work for the Department of Homeland Security and inspect items coming into the country. The average salary for this profession is around $95,000 a year.
  • Financial examiners: In this role, you would investigate financial crimes such as fraud and embezzlement. The average salary for financial examiners is around $81,000 a year.
  • College professor: Criminology graduates can also choose to become college professors and impart knowledge that they have gained. The average salary of a college professor is roughly $80,000 a year.

Choosing the Best BA in Criminology

If you are interested in pursuing a degree in criminology, then you may be wondering how to choose the best program for you. Here are some tips!

Programmatic Accreditation

Programmatic accreditation ensures that a program meets certain quality standards and can be trusted to provide a high-quality education.

Look for programs that are accredited by organizations such as the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences or the Council on Social Work Education. If a program is not accredited, it may not be recognized by employers, and you may have difficulty finding a job after graduation.

Admissions Requirements

Another important factor to consider when choosing a criminology program are the admissions requirements. What are the GPA and test score requirements for the program? Do you need to complete any prerequisite courses before applying?

Be sure to carefully read the admissions requirements for each program you are considering to ensure that you meet all of the qualifications.


When choosing a criminology program, it is also important to consider the location. Do you want to study close to home, or are you willing to relocate to attend the best program?

Faculty & Curriculum

The faculty and curriculum of a criminology program can also make a big difference in your education. Look for programs with experienced and knowledgeable faculty who have a background in the field.

Also, consider the courses offered in the program. Do they align with your interests and career goals? Look for programs with a variety of course options, including courses that specialize in your area of interest.

How We Made Our Final Cut

To decide which of these BS in criminology degrees is best, we looked at a variety of factors – namely, those described above.

We took a deep dive into the following factors:

  • Accreditation
  • Selectivity, admissions, and retention rates
  • Affordability
  • Academic reputation
  • Accessibility
  • Earnings potential

Here’s a link to our detailed methodology n case you want to learn more!

15 Best BS in Criminology Degrees

1. University of Maryland – College Park

With a highly-ranked Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the University of Maryland’s program offers a blend of theory, research, and practical experience.

Requirements for admission include a minimum GPA of 2.0 and completion of lower-level courses in criminology or sociology.

2. University of California Irvine

UCI’s criminology program emphasizes hands-on experience through internships and research opportunities. The program also offers a minor in forensic science.

Admissions requirements include a minimum GPA of 3.0 and completion of lower-division courses in social science.

3. University of Delaware

The University of Delaware’s criminology program is unique in that it requires students to specialize in one of six areas: criminal justice policy and administration, law and society, justice studies, global justice, forensic science, or homeland security.

Admissions requirements include a minimum GPA of 2.0 to apply for the major, along with completion of lower-division courses in social science.

4. University of Florida

UF’s criminology program is well-known for its rigorous curriculum and research opportunities. The program offers a variety of courses on topics such as gangs, white-collar crime, and criminal justice policy.

Admissions requirements include a minimum GPA of 2.8 by the time you’ve completed 60 hours as an undergrad, and completion of lower-division courses in criminology or sociology.

5. Pennsylvania State University – University Park

Penn State’s criminology program offers a wide range of courses on topics such as policing, corrections, and criminal law. The program also requires students to complete a capstone course in which they design and conduct their own research project.

Admissions requirements include a minimum GPA of 3.0 and completion of lower-division courses in social science.

6. George Mason University

George Mason University’s curriculum is highly recognized and includes courses such as Law Enforcement, Criminal Law, and Research Methods.

Admission requirements include an SAT or ACT score, high school transcripts, and an application fee. There’s no specific minimum GPA for this program.

7. CUNY – John Jay College of Criminal Justice

CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice has a top-notch criminology degree program.

Their curriculum covers a wide range of topics such as Policing, Crime and Justice, and Victimology.

Admission requirements include high school transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and a high school diploma.

8. University at Albany – SUNY

The University at Albany in SUNY has an excellent Bachelor of Science in Criminology degree program that prepares students for careers in law enforcement, policy, and research.

Some of their notable course offerings include Criminal Law, Theories of Deviance, and Race, Ethnicity, and Crime.

Admission requirements include high school transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and a completed application. You’ll need to have a 3.20 GPA or higher to declare a criminology or criminal justice major.

9. Temple University

Temple University’s criminology degree program is one of the most sought-after in the country. Their curriculum is comprehensive and includes courses like Criminology, Law Enforcement Administration, and Research Methods.

You will need a minimum GPA of 2.0 to qualify for admission to this program.

10. American University

Located in Washington, DC, this university offers a BS in Justice, Law, and Criminology. The program includes courses in criminology, legal research, and criminal justice ethics.

The minimum GPA requirement is 3.0, and the average acceptance rate is around 64%, making this a more selective university.

11. Sam Houston State University

This Texas-based university offers a BS in Criminal Justice and Criminology. The program emphasizes research and analysis, with courses in statistical methods, criminal justice theory, and social inequality.

It consists of 120 credit hours with start dates in the fall, spring, and summer. It’s available both as a B.A. and a B.S.

The program has a higher acceptance rate of around 97%.

12. Stockton University

This New Jersey-based university offers a BS in Criminal Justice Studies. It’s offered through the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and has a more sociological focus, making it ideal for aspiring Criminology majors.

The program includes courses in policing, ethics, and corrections.

The minimum GPA requirement is 3.3.

13. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

This Minnesota-based university offers an affordable BS in Criminal Justice/Criminology. The program includes courses in crime and society, criminal law, and the criminal justice system.

The minimum GPA requirement is 2.0. No SAT/ACT scores are required.

14. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey -Newark

This New Jersey-based university offers a BS in Criminal Justice that includes courses in criminal law, criminology, and victimology. Again, this degree has a focus on the causes and contexts of crime, making it ideal for students interested specifically in criminology.

The minimum GPA requirement is 2.0.

15. Northeastern University

This Massachusetts-based university offers a BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The program includes courses in criminal law, forensic psychology, and criminal justice policy. For students who might be interested, there is also a program with a specific focus on cybersecurity.

There is no minimum GPA requirement listed on the university website. You’ll complete a total of 128 credit hours of study.