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Criminal Justice Degrees in TX: School and Career Training Info

Texas has more than 80 colleges and universities that offer criminal justice programs. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for the 10 largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

Criminal justice programs are found at a large number of public educational institutions in Texas in the form of associate's, bachelor's, master's, doctoral and certificate programs. Various programs might include optional tracks and concentrations as well as thesis and non-thesis options.

Depending on the school, students may be able to earn their degrees online. Internships and practicum experiences may be offered. Read below about the 10 largest 2-year colleges and 4-year universities in the state of Texas that offer criminal justice programs.


Amarillo College

Amarillo College is located in Amarillo, in the northern tip of the state, and offers certificate and associate's degree programs in criminal justice. The Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree prepares program participants for careers in homeland security and law enforcement with optional tracks in each of those areas. The core requirements for the program include criminal justice, court systems, correctional systems and policing systems. The Associate of Science degree program is designed for students planning to transfer to a 4-year degree program. In addition to the core requirements for the A.A.S. program, learners must complete classes in U.S. crime, criminal law and criminal investigation.

Additionally, the college offers a certificate program in criminal justice law enforcement, which provides training for those planning to become police officers. Completion of the program allows students to complete the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education exam to become a licensed peace officer. Credits from the certificate program can be applied to the school's criminal justice A.A.S. degree program with a law enforcement option.

Lone Star College System

With the main campus located in The Woodlands, the Lone Star College System has 6 campuses in the Houston area and is the largest higher education institution in Texas. An A.A. degree program in criminal justice is offered at the CyFair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris and Tomball locations. The program prepares students for transfer to a criminal justice bachelor's degree program at a 4-year school. This 2-year program includes coursework in American government and criminal law, as well as courts, policing and correctional systems and practices.

Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University (SHSU) is located about 70 miles north of Houston, in Huntsville, and houses The Criminal Justice Center, which is home to the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Institute of Texas and the Correctional Management Institute of Texas. Some of the core studies for the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree programs in criminal justice include criminal justice and social diversity, criminology and criminal justice problem analysis.

The online Master of Science (M.S.) degree program in criminal justice prepares working professionals for criminal justice administration, management and social policy roles. Those interested in performing research in crime control, corrections and crime theory might consider the Master of Arts (M.A.) program in criminal justice and criminology. SHSU also offers a 58-credit Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in criminal justice that's intended for students interested in research and academia.

Other programs intended for those already in the workforce include a fully-online graduate certificate program in criminal justice leadership and management, and a fully-online M.S. degree program in criminal justice leadership and management. The certificate program takes about 1 year to complete and the 18 credits earned can be applied toward the online M.S. program. This M.S. degree program prepares students for careers in advanced criminal justice management roles.

South Plains College

South Plains College is situated in Levelland, which is roughly 30 miles west of Lubbock. The school's A.A. degree program in criminal justice prepares students for transfer to a bachelor's degree program in corrections or criminal justice. Following guidelines set by the school, program participants may become eligible to complete the state exam to become a police officer at the local, county or state level. Some of the required coursework includes American government organizations and functions, criminal law, legal aspects of law enforcement and criminal investigation.

Tarleton State University

Tarleton State University is in Stephenville, which is about 70 miles from Fort Worth, and is part of The Texas A&M University System. The school's B.S. degree program in criminal justice requires that students complete studies in police or correction systems, criminal procedure, criminal investigation, criminal law and a Spanish language class. Also offered is a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science (BAAS) program in criminal justice administration, which is designed for those currently working in the field of criminal justice, such as Texas law enforcement, the military police and federal criminal justice organizations. Courses in the BAAS program are offered at the Stephenville, Fort Worth and Waco campuses, as well as online. Some of the curriculum may include supervision and management, criminal evidence, homeland security and criminal justice ethics.

The Master of Criminal Justice program is a 30-credit professional program that's offered fully online. Several courses involve criminology theories, legal aspects of criminal justice administration, research methods and criminal justice personnel management.

Texas State University - San Marcos

Texas State University in San Marcos is situated about halfway between San Antonio and Austin, and has a B.S. program in criminal justice with 3 concentrations, all of which offer an optional internship. The concentration in general criminal justice is designed for those interested in non-traditional criminal justice careers, such as research, private investigation, halfway houses and rehab counseling. Some of the courses could include crime theory and victimization, juvenile justice and mid-level management. The corrections concentration prepares graduates to work as probation and parole officers, while the law enforcement track trains students to work as police officers at the local, regional and federal levels.

The 36-credit M.S. program in criminal justice has thesis and non-thesis options, and involves some courses in administration of justice, legal issues in criminal justice, criminal justice management and criminological theory. This master's degree program prepares graduates for roles in criminal justice planning and evaluation. Those interested in research or academic careers may choose to pursue the university's Ph.D. program in criminal justice, which is catered to the working professional.

The University of Texas at Brownsville

The University of Texas at Brownsville is less than 5 miles from the border of Mexico and has a student body, which is nearly 93% Hispanic. The university has an A.A.S. degree program in criminal justice with some of the core requirements including criminal law, juvenile justice and a criminal justice internship.

The university's B.S. degree program in criminal justice involves concentrations in corrections and police administration. The track in corrections is designed for those planning to become adult or juvenile parole officers or work for protective services, and includes curriculum in casework and counseling, juvenile justice, legal aspects of corrections, issues in corrections, criminal justice management, as well as a practicum in criminal justice corrections. The police administration track has some requirements in law enforcement management, legal aspects of evidence, and also involves a field practicum. Students interested in working for a sheriff's office, local police department or federal agency may consider this concentration.

The University of Texas - Pan American

The University of Texas - Pan American is located in Edinburg, about 30 miles north of the Mexican border. The B.S. degree program in criminal justice prepares students for careers in the field. Some of the undergrad coursework could include police and community relations, probation and parole, white collar and organized crime, criminal evidence and private security.

The university's 36-hour M.S. degree program in criminal justice highlights issues specific to the region, which includes southern Texas, Mexico and South America. Some of the electives offered through the program involve women and justice, world criminal justice systems, environmental crime and terrorism. Thesis and applied research projects are also available.

The University of Texas at San Antonio

The School of Public Policy at The University of Texas at San Antonio offers bachelor's and master's degree programs at the university's downtown campus location. Completion of the B.A. degree program in criminal justice prepares undergrads for employment in a variety of criminal justice environments or for admission to graduate school. Topics of study may include sex and violent crimes, family violence, drugs and crime, and white collar crime.

The M.S. degree program provides students with the skills needed to manage criminal justice environments and participate in policy planning. Courses focus on minorities and the criminal justice system, ethics and social control, evaluation of criminal justice programs and jury trials. During the program, learners are required to complete a research project or thesis.

University of North Texas

The University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton is roughly 40 miles north of Dallas, and is the flagship school of the University of North Texas system. Graduates of the B.S. criminal justice program at UNT may qualify for positions as police officers, corrections officers, special agents and security officers. In addition to some required studies in criminal procedures and law, criminal justice ethical issues and diversity in criminal justice, students can specialize through the selection of elective courses. Electives may include domestic and international terrorism, organized crime, corporate security, criminalistics, computer crime and offender behavior. Those interested in studying documentation and preservation of crime scenes might also choose to complete the 18-credit certificate program in criminalistics.

A 36-credit M.S. degree program in criminal justice offered at UNT enhances career opportunities for those working in criminal justice. Students might study criminals and drugs, cybercrime, victimization and evidence. Participants are able to choose between a thesis and a non-thesis track.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Criminal Justice Degree Programs Offered Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
Amarillo College 2-year, public; midsize city Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice (Homeland Security, Law Enforcement),
Associate of Science in Criminal Justice,
Certificate in Criminal Justice Law Enforcement
$2,010, in-district; $3,042, in-state; $4,578, out-of-state (undergrad)*
Lone Star College System 2-year, public; small city Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice $1,504, in-district; $3,184, in-state; $3,544, out-of-state (undergrad)*
Sam Houston State University 4-year, public; distant town Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice,
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice,
Master of Science in Criminal Justice,
Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology,
Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice,
Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management,
Master of Science in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management
$7,618, in-state; $16,978, out-of-state (undergrad),
$7,213, in-state; $14,233, out-of-state (graduate)*
South Plains College 2-year, public; distant town Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice $2,240, in-district; $3,176, in-state; $3,560, out-of-state (undergrad)*
Tarleton State University 4-year, public; remote town Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice,
Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science in Criminal Justice Administration,
Master of Criminal Justice
$6,630, in-state; $15,990, out-of-state (undergrad),
$5,666 in-state, $12,686, out-of-state (graduate)*
Texas State University - San Marcos 4-year, public; small suburb Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (General Criminal Justice, Corrections, Law Enforcement),
Master of Science in Criminal Justice,
Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice
$9,348, in-state; $20,268, out-of-state (undergrad),
$7,786, in-state; $15,604, out-of-state (graduate)*
The University of Texas at Brownsville 4-year, public; midsize city Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice,
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (Corrections, Police Administration)
$3,198, in-district; $4,398 in-state; $5,598, out-of-state (undergrad)*
The University of Texas - Pan American 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice,
Master of Science in Criminal Justice
$7,292, in-state; $16,652, out-of-state (undergrad),
$6,498, in-state; $13,518, out-of-state (graduate)*
The University of Texas at San Antonio 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice,
Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology
$7,447, in-state; $17,169, out-of-state (undergrad),
$6,586, in-state; $20,945 out-of-state (graduate)*
University of North Texas 4-year, public; midsize city Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice,
Certificate in Criminalistics
Master of Science in Criminal Justice
$9,730, in-state; $19,090, out-of-state (undergrad),
$7,165, in-state; $14,185, out-of-state (graduate)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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