Top Criminal Justice & Legal Studies Degree Programs in Atlanta

Students interested in studying criminal justice and legal studies in Atlanta, Georgia, have a few options to choose from. Read about the top schools' degree options, tuition and ranking info to find the right one for you.

School and Ranking Information

Prospective students seeking criminal justice or legal studies programs near Atlanta, Georgia, have around 17 schools to choose from, though many options are for-profit schools. Based off of program offerings, graduation rates, number of criminal justice degrees awarded and school locations, the top three schools are Georgia State University, Clark Atlanta University and Clayton State University.

  • Winner: Georgia State University in Atlanta, which has applicable programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, has the highest graduation rate among the three schools. It also awarded the most criminal justice degrees among area schools in 2011-2012.
  • Runner-Up #1: Clark Atlanta University is a private university located right in Atlanta, and it has undergraduate and graduate criminal justice programs. It's been ranked among the top 10 historically black colleges and universities by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Runner-Up #2: Clayton State University, which was ranked among the top 75 regional universities in the South in 2014, offers bachelor's degree programs in both criminal justice and legal studies. It awarded the second-most criminal justice degrees in 2011-2012, but it's located the furthest from Atlanta.

School Comparison Table

Georgia State University Clark Atlanta University Clayton State University
Ranking #14 among up-and-coming national universities (2013)* #9 among historically black colleges and universities (2014)* #66 among regional universities in the South (2014); #8 among top public schools in the South (2014)*
Location Atlanta Atlanta Morrow, Georgia (12 miles from Atlanta)
School Type 4-year; public 4-year; private not-for-profit 4-year; public
Tuition and Fees (2012-2013) $8,157 (in-state, undergraduate),
$22,725 (out-of-state, graduate),
$8,176 (in-state, graduate),
$23,728 (out-of-state, graduate)**
$19,830 (undergraduate),
$14,948 (graduate)**
$5,014 (in-state, undergraduate),
$14,537 (out-of-state, undergraduate)**
Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Program Levels Offered Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees Bachelor's and master's degrees Bachelor's degree
Criminal Justice Degrees Awarded (all levels) in 2011-2012 142** 36** 38**
Most Popular Criminal Justice Program (2011-2012) Bachelor's in Criminal Justice (134)** Bachelor's in Criminal Justice (32)** Bachelor's in Criminal Justice (38)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2006 Entering Class) 51%** 39%** 27%**

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **National Center for Education Statistics.

Winner: Georgia State University

  • Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology enrolled more than 560 students as of 2013
  • Bachelor's program includes a track that prepares students for law school
  • Criminal justice faculty rank 14th in the nation in terms of published articles, according to the Journal of Criminal Justice
  • Law school was ranked #54 nationwide by U.S. News & World Report in 2013

Founded in 1913, Georgia State University is home to the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Undergraduate students can pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice with a crime and justice track or legal track. Students in the crime and justice track take classes in corrections, criminal investigations, criminology and domestic terrorism. The legal track courses cover civil liberties, international law, administration law and constitutional law. Graduate students may also choose to pursue a Master of Science (MS) in Criminal Justice or a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice and Criminology. The 36-credit master's program has both a thesis and non-thesis option.

Runner-Up #1: Clark Atlanta University

  • Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice has 10 full-time faculty members
  • Specialized research opportunities

Clark Atlanta University is a private liberal arts college formed through the 1988 consolidation of Clark College and Atlanta University. The Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice program that features coursework in law enforcement, judicial process and criminal law. Undergraduate electives include topics such as organized crime, comparative criminal justice systems and criminal justice management.

The 36-hour Master of Arts in Criminal Justice includes a required thesis and practicum experience. Graduate coursework includes criminology, judicial system, international criminality and cultural relations. Specialized interdisciplinary research opportunities available through Clark Atlanta University include the Environmental Justice Resource Center and the Center of Excellence in National Security Studies.

Runner-Up #2: Clayton State University

  • Undergraduate criminal justice and legal studies program options
  • Legal studies minor available

Located in the city of Morrow, Clayton State University was founded in 1865. Through the Department of Social Sciences, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in either criminal justice or legal studies. Criminal justice students may choose a concentration in computers and economic crime or domestic security. Courses cover constitutional law, criminal justice ethics and judicial process.

The BS in Legal Studies program may be used as preparation for law school. It includes courses such as real estate law, criminal litigation, property law and legal research. This school also offers paralegal certificate and associate's degree programs.


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