Colleges with Criminal Investigation Degrees: How to Choose

Criminal investigation is often part of the curriculum of criminal justice degree programs. Some schools also offer degree programs in more specialized areas of criminal investigation. Learn about the options for studying criminal investigation in this video.

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Select a Criminal Investigation Degree Program

Programs that prepare students for a career in criminal investigation are available at community colleges and 4-year colleges and universities. Students who eventually plan to pursue a degree beyond the associate level may look for schools that offer bachelor's degree programs with an emphasis in criminal investigation, or confirm that a particular associate degree program is transferable.

Some schools offer internships in a variety of investigative agencies, such as State Attorney's offices, law enforcement agencies, private law firms, circuit and county courts, medical examiner's offices, and victims' assistance agencies, among others.

Here are a few other things to consider when choosing a school:

  • Degree programs with similar curriculum may go by different names, such as police science, criminal investigation or criminal justice technology.
  • Some schools offer certificate or degree programs in criminal justice with specialized tracks in various areas of investigation, such as investigative photography, computer crime, economic crime and fraud.
  • Students interested in pursuing a degree in criminal investigation should take into account the affiliations and internships offered by their chosen schools.

Criminal Investigation Program Overviews

Associate Degree in Criminal Investigation

Programs at the associate's degree level prepare students for positions in loss prevention, cyber security, private security, crime scene investigation or crime scene photography. In addition to the required general education classes, core coursework covers:

  • Criminal justice
  • Forensic science
  • Investigative techniques

Students may obtain skills in fingerprinting, investigative photography, interrogation, evidence collection and analysis, bloodstain evidence and traffic accident investigation.

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Investigation

Coursework for a bachelor's degree will typically cover subjects such as:

  • Criminology
  • Criminal law
  • Research and analysis methods
  • Correctional systems
  • Ethics in law enforcement

The curriculum will also include classes in criminal investigation, evidence, forensic science and interrogation techniques. Students may be required to complete an internship or culminating experience. This degree is typically offered as a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Technology. Students graduating from a bachelor's degree program with the appropriate skills may find work in federal law enforcement agencies, private investigation firms or as criminal investigators for police departments.

Top 10 Criminology Schools

Several four-year public schools throughout the United States have criminology/criminal investigation degree programs. The top ten schools include:

College/University Institution Type
University of Maryland-College Park 4-year, Public
University of Albany-SUNY, which is part of the state university of New York system 4-year, Public
University of Cincinnati 4-year, Public
University of Missouri-St. Louis 4-year, Public
Pennsylvania State University-University Park 4-year, Public
University of California-Irvine 4-year, Public
Florida State University 4-year, Public
Michigan State University 4-year, Public
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Newark 4-year, Public
CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which is part of the city university of New York 4-year, Public

Criminal Investigation degrees are available at both the associate's and bachelor's degree levels, though they may go by different names, include highly specialized tracks, and require internships in addition to classroom and laboratory study.

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