Top Criminal Justice Degrees - Chicago, IL

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

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School and Ranking Information

There are over a dozen schools in the Chicago area that offer programs in criminal justice. The University of Illinois - Chicago, Elmhurst College, and Loyola University - Chicago are the top three schools offering criminal justice programs based on school rankings, program offerings, and graduation rates.

  • Winner: The University of Illinois - Chicago has the highest ranked criminology program so it is the top choice among these three schools. It offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in criminal justice.
  • Runner Up #1: Elmhurst College takes second place due to its high regional rankings and high graduation rate. It offers criminal justice bachelor's degree programs.
  • Runner Up #2: Loyola University - Chicago offers bachelor's and master's degree programs and awarded the second most number of criminal justice degrees; however, this school also has the highest tuition among the top three options.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of Illinois - Chicago Elmhurst College Loyola University - Chicago
Ranking(s) Graduate criminology program ranked #19 among national universities (2009),
Ranked #128 among national universities (2014)*
Ranked #11 among regional universities in the Midwest (2014)* Ranked #101 among national universities (2014)*
Location Chicago Elmhurst (15.5 miles from Chicago) Chicago
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $13,122 (undergraduate, in-state)
$25,512 (undergraduate, in-state);
$15,467 (graduate, in-state)
$25,763 (graduate, out-of-state)**
$31,650 (undergraduate)** $34,578 (undergraduate);
$17,010 (graduate)**
Criminal Justice Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees** Bachelor's degrees** Bachelor's and master's degrees**
Criminal Justice Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 164** 25** 96**
Most Popular Criminal Justice Program (2011-2012) Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, Law, and Justice (152 awarded)** Bachelor's (25)** Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology (88 awarded)**
Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2006 Entering Class 58%** 74%** 70%**
Noteworthy Largest university in the Chicago area*** Elmhurst ranked #1 in a Chicago magazine survey of the best places to live*** Part of the 8% of all American universities with a Phi Beta Kappa honor society chapter***

Sources: *US News and World Report, **NCES College Navigator, ***Schools' websites.

Winner: University of Illinois - Chicago

  • Students can become members of the Criminal Justice Society
  • Many students do research at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority

Through the 120-credit hour Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Criminology, Law, and Justice program, individuals study the justice system, criminal justice organizations, and research methods in the field. The 40-credit hour Master of Arts (MA) in Criminal Justice program is divided into four areas of focus: law and society, research methods, criminology, and organizations. The program also offers a 16-credit hour interdepartmental concentration in conjunction with the gender and women's studies program, and faculty-supervised internships are available at a variety of Chicago-based locations. Students can also earn a PhD in Criminal Justice, which offers concentrations in criminology, organizations, and law and society. Graduate students take courses in trial interaction, law and society, topics in legal studies, and the history of criminal justice institutions.

Runner-Up #1: Elmhurst College

  • Ranked #11 among regional universities in the Midwest, according to US News and World Report's 2014 list
  • Students can become members of Pi Gamma Mu, a national social science honor society
  • Students do field work organizing case information for the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Illinois Department of Revenue

Elmhurst College offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice degree program and BA degree programs in that field. Students must take 12 required courses in the criminal justice field as well as electives in sociology, philosophy, psychology, and communications. Students can also earn a major in sociology with a concentration in criminal justice. Students in this program take sociology classes centering on social problems, juvenile delinquency, the justice system, and criminology. Students can also gain credit completing independent research and fieldwork.

Runner-Up #2: Loyola University - Chicago

  • Has Criminal Justice Student Organization (CJO)
  • Students can become members of Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Criminal Justice Honor Society.

Loyola University - Chicago (LUC) offers BS degree programs in Criminal Justice and Criminology. Undergraduate students take courses in criminal law, organized crime, research methods, and contemporary police issues. An MA program is also offered as well as a combined BS/MA program, which can be completed in five years. Courses in the MA curriculum include courses in theories of criminal behavior, professional ethics, as well as advanced topics in policing, courts, and corrections. Students at LUC can complete research internships and internships at corrections, law enforcement, and probation and parole organizations.

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