Top School in Reno for Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement Degree

Students interested in studying criminal justice in the Reno, Nevada, area have four schools to choose from. Read about the top schools' degree programs, tuition and ranking info to choose the right one for you.

School and Ranking Information

There are only about four schools in the Reno, NV, area that offer programs in criminal justice, including two 4-year public colleges, one community college and a for-profit institute. The top three schools are ranked below based on program offerings and number of criminal justice-related degrees awarded:

  • Winner: The University of Nevada - Reno is the top choice since it is located right in Reno and is the only school on the list ranked by U.S. News and World Report. This school offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in criminal justice and law enforcement.
  • Runner Up #1: Western Nevada College is located nearly 25 miles outside of Reno; however, it takes second place due to its variety of criminal justice programs. WNC offers associate's degree programs, certificates and professional certification training programs in this field as well as specialized peace officer training.
  • Runner Up #2: Truckee Meadows Community College also offers associate's degree options in criminal justice and academy training. This school takes the third spot on this list since it has the lowest graduation rate of these schools.

School Comparison Table

University of Nevada - Reno Western Nevada College Truckee Meadows Community College
Ranking #189 among national universities (2013)* N/A N/A
Location Reno Carson City, Nevada (25 miles from Reno) Reno
School Type 4-year; public 4-year; public 2-year; public
Tuition and Fees (2012-2013) $6,602 (in-state, undergraduate),
$20,512 (out-of-state, undergraduate),
$5,412 (in-state, graduate),
$19,322 (out-of-state, graduate)**
$2,700 (in-state),
$9,345 (out-of-state)**
$2,700 (in-state),
$9,345 (out-of-state)**
Criminal Justice Degree Programs Offered Bachelor of Arts,
Master of Arts
Associate of Applied Science,
Associate of Arts
Associate of Applied Science,
Associate of Arts
Degrees Awarded (2011-2012) 108 (Bachelor of Arts),
6 (Master of Arts)**
17 (associate's)** 52 (associate's)**
Most Popular Program Bachelor of Arts (108 degrees awarded)** Associate (17 degrees awarded)** Associate (52 degrees awarded)**
Graduation Rate (150% of Normal Program Time, 2005-2012) 51%** 19%** 17%**
Noteworthy Pre-law program available Peace officer academy and emergency dispatch certification available Peace officer academy

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

Winner: University of Nevada - Reno

  • Undergraduate and graduate degrees available
  • Pre-law program option
  • Specialized research opportunities

Established in 1874, the University of Nevada - Reno began as the first Nevada state university in the town of Elko. Through the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Criminal Justice, students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with coursework that includes a pre-law curriculum plan. Program coursework also includes social sciences topics and core topics in criminal law procedures, practical statistics, corrections and criminological theory. Undergraduate elective groups include topics in administration, jurisprudence and multicultural community policing.

At the graduate level, students can pursue a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice. The program, consisting of 33 credits plus a thesis or professional paper, includes courses on planned change, policy analysis and ethics. Graduate research has been conducted in areas such as child welfare, pre-retirement training and organized crime.

First Runner-Up: Western Nevada College

  • Two associate degree track options
  • Peace Officer Academy certification program
  • Emergency dispatch certification program

Western Nevada College is a 4-year public institution offering primarily associate's degrees. Students can pursue an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Criminal Justice, with courses that include investigations, criminology and first-responder training. The AAS program includes the Peace Officer Academy training program, offering 27 completed credits out of the required 63.5 degree credits.

Students hoping to use their 2-year degree to transfer to local bachelor's degree programs may pursue the Associate of Arts (AA) in Criminal Justice program with no academy requirement. Prospective professionals can seek a Certificate of Achievement or professional certification through the police officer training program as well as the 12-credit 911 dispatch program.

Second Runner-Up: Truckee Meadows Community College

  • Two associate degree options
  • Peace Officer Academy certification program
  • Pre-law option with articulation agreement to the University of Nevada - Reno

Truckee Meadows College was formed as an independent public community college in 1979 when it split from Western Nevada College. In addition to the Peace Officer Academy training program, students can pursue an AAS in Criminal Justice with four areas of emphasis, including corrections/probation, investigations, juvenile justice and law enforcement.

Students may also choose to pursue an AA program offered through the Division of Applied Industry Technology. Criminal justice coursework covers border security, police patrol techniques, intelligence analysis and evidence. Truckee Meadows maintains an articulation agreement with the University of Nevada - Reno for students hoping to pursue a bachelor's degree.

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