Top Criminal Justice Degree Program in Richmond, VA

Richmond, VA, has few schools with programs in criminal justice. Find the best programs for you by reading about schools' rankings, program offerings and tuition info.

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School and Ranking Information

Students interested in pursuing a degree in criminal justice in the Richmond, VA, area have eight schools to choose from, including public and private universities and community colleges. This article profiles three traditional not-for-profit institutions. Based on such considerations as diversity of degree programs and rankings, the top schools for criminal justice in Richmond, VA, are:

  • Winner: Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) offers bachelor's, master's and post-graduate certificate programs and is a top-ranked school in multiple U.S. News & World Report categories.
  • Runner-Up #1: The University of Richmond (UR) offers a bachelor's degree option and is also highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Runner-Up #2: J. Sargent Reynolds Community College (JSRCC) offers certificates and associate's degrees in the field. It also boasts the lowest tuition costs among the three schools profiled.

School Comparison Chart

Category Virginia Commonwealth University University of Richmond J. Sargent Reynolds Community College
Rankings #14 in National Top Up-and-Coming Schools (2014),
#53 in Top National Public Affairs Graduate Schools (2012),
#92 in Top National Public Schools (2014),
#167 in Top National Universities (2014)*
#2 in National Top Up-and-Coming Schools (2014),
#14 in National Best Value Schools (2014),
#25 in Top National Liberal Arts Colleges (2014)*
Location Richmond, VA Richmond, VA Richmond, VA
School Type 4-year, public** 4-year, private, not-for-profit** 2-year, pubic**
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $9,886 (in-state, undergraduate)**, $23,913 (out-of-state, undergraduate)**, $11,521 (in-state, graduate)**, $21,585 (out-of-state, graduate)** $44,210 (undergraduate)** $4,053 (in-state, undergraduate)**, $9,816 (out-of-state, undergraduate)**
Criminal Justice Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees and postgraduate certificates** Bachelor's degrees** Undergraduate certificates and associate's degrees**
Criminal Justice Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in (2011-2012) 253** 5** 29**
Most Popular Criminal Justice Program (2011-2012) Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (223 awarded)** Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (5 awarded)** Associate of Applied Science in Administration of Justice (22 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) 56% for students entering in 2006** 83% for students entering in 2006** 13% for students entering in 2009 (14% transfer-out rate)**
Noteworthy Home to first undergraduate degree program in homeland security and emergency preparedness in the United States*** UR partnered with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services to create the commonwealth's first Victim Assistance Academy*** Third largest school in Virginia Community College System***

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator, ***Schools' Websites.

Winner: Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Ranked #9 nationally by Chronicle of Higher Education on the Scholarly Production Index
  • Has more than $8 million yearly in research volume
  • Operates the Commonwealth Poll dealing with political, social and public policy issues

Students interested in studying criminal justice at VCU can find programs at the J. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at the university's College of Humanities and Sciences. Students completing the 120-credit program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice can concentrate in either justice or forensic crime scene investigation. With the instructor's approval, students may participate in independent study programs. In addition, students may apply to participate in a pass-fail, 3-credit internship as they near the end of the program.

VCU also offers a 15-credit hour, post-baccalaureate certificate program. Intended for students who have either an academic or professional background in criminal justice, the program consists of five courses that are transferable to a master's program. The Master of Science in Criminal Justice program at VCU consists of 36 credit hours. Students who do not have at least one year of professional-level experience are encouraged to participate in a three-credit internship as part of their requirements.

Runner-Up #1: University of Richmond

  • Offers undergraduate research practicums and internships
  • Offers study abroad programs
  • Has chapter of Phi Alpha delta pre-law fraternity

The University of Richmond offers a program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice through its School of Arts and Sciences. In addition to required general education and criminal justice core courses, which include a senior seminar, students must choose five elective courses. Among the available electives are an individual, supervised internship; a self-designed, faculty-approved independent research practicum; and an independent study project.

UR also gives criminal justice students the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs, which may last for a summer, semester or a year. In addition, summer research fellowships are available to qualified students, as are travel grants for students who may want to present their research findings at a regional or national conference. Students may opt to attend the Victim Assistance Academy, which offers training courses in such areas as domestic violence, victims' rights, crisis intervention and sexual assault.

Runner-Up #2: J. Sargent Reynolds Community College

  • Complete programs only available at Parham Road Campus
  • Scholarships available specifically for administration of justice majors
  • Some courses may be transferable to a 4-year program

The School of Business at J. Sargent Reynolds Community College offers criminal justice programs leading to certificates and associate's degrees. Though the college maintains three campuses, complete criminal justice degree program is only available at the Parham Road campus. Individual courses are available at the other two campuses and online.

The degree program results in an Associate of Applied Science in Administration of Justice. Students who are not employed at a criminal justice agency are required to serve a 3-credit internship. Those already employed in the criminal justice field may request advanced credit, in lieu of the internship. The 66-credit program includes six faculty-approved electives in specified areas. Though designed to prepare students for immediate employment, some courses in the program may be transferable to a 4-year college. In addition, students may be able to substitute transferable courses for non-transferable courses.

The complete 18-credit program leading to a Career Studies Certificate in Criminal Justice is also only available at the Parham Road campus. The program is designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in various areas of law enforcement. All courses may be applied toward an associate's degree.

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