Top School for a Criminal Justice Degree - Charlotte, NC

School and Ranking Information

Within a 25-mile radius of the Charlotte area, there are eight schools that have criminal justice programs. The following schools are considered the top three based on rankings, tuition and number of degrees awarded in the field:

  • Winner: University of North Carolina in Charlotte secured the top spot for its multiple national rankings from U.S. News & World Report, levels of criminal justice degrees offered and the program's high productivity ranking.
  • Runner Up #1: Central Piedmont Community College, located in Charlotte, came in second place due to its large number of criminal justice degrees and certificates awarded, as well as the program's required field experience component.
  • Runner Up #2: Gaston College in Dallas received the second runner up spot for its low tuition rates, multiple program level options and available specialization in evidence.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of North Carolina at Charlotte Central Piedmont Community College Gaston College
Rankings (2014) 210th among top national universities*,
111th among top public schools nationwide*
Location Charlotte, NC Charlotte, NC Dallas, NC (21.4 miles from Charlotte)
School Type 4-year, public 2-year, public 2-year, public
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $5,873 (undergraduate, in-state),
$18,402 (undergraduate, out-of-state),
$6,349 (graduate, in-state),
$18,636 (graduate, out-of-state)**
$2,481 (undergraduate, in-state),
$8,625 (undergraduate, out-of-state)**
$2,480 (undergraduate, in-state),
$8,237 (undergraduate, out-of-state)**
Criminal Justice Program Levels Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees Certificate; associate's degree Certificate; associate's degree
Criminal Justice Certificates and Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 214** 238** 83**
Most Popular Criminal Justice Program in 2011-2012 Bachelor's in Criminal Justice (213 awarded)** Certificate in Criminal Justice/Safety Studies (214 awarded)** Certificate in Criminal Justice/Police Science (47 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) 53% (for 2006 Entering Class)** 12% (for 2009 Entering Class)** 26% (for 2009 Entering Class)**
Noteworthy Ranked 17th among the most productive Criminal Justice Department in the U.S.*** Required co-op experience at a local criminal justice agency Offers a specialty degree in latent evidence

Sources: *2013 U.S. News & World Report rankings, **National Center for Education Statistics, *** The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Winner: University of North Carolina at Charlotte

  • Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology is associated with the Center for Justice Studies in China
  • Criminal justice-oriented scholarships available
  • London study abroad program option

At the undergraduate level, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. Students with an associate's degree in criminal justice are allowed to transfer some of their criminal justice credits over to the bachelor's degree program. Core courses in the program cover corrections, law enforcement, juvenile law and the American criminal courts.

Students that want a higher-level education can pursue the Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program. This program has both a non-thesis track and a thesis track. Classes include police problems, correctional strategies, criminal justice research and law enforcement legal issues.

Runner-Up #1: Central Piedmont Community College

  • Criminal justice classes are available at three Charlotte campuses, plus campuses in nearby Matthews and Huntersville, NC
  • The Belk Center for Justice on the Merancas campus houses special facilities like mock crime scenes, science labs and computer labs
  • Criminal justice classes are available online
  • Numerous specialty certificates to choose from in criminal justice

The only criminal justice degree offered at Central Piedmont Community College is an associate's degree; however, there are several criminal justice technical certificates to choose from. The criminal justice technology degree program requires the completion of 50-credit hours of criminal justice-specific courses and 20-credit hours of general education courses. Core courses cover constitutional law, criminology, ethics and criminal law. Electives are available in areas like terrorism, investigative photography and court procedures. A co-op experience is also required.

Certificates are available in eight areas: courts and the law, crime scene and criminal investigations, criminal justice basics, criminal justice and special populations, essential elements of the criminal justice system, criminal justice management and administration, police operations and corrections. There are flexible course and program offerings for police officers who're looking to earn a degree or certificate.

Runner-Up #2: Gaston College

  • A criminal justice academy on campus offers training options
  • Continuing education options are available here

Gaston College is home to an Associate in Applied Science degree program in criminal justice. The curriculum of the AAS in Criminal Justice Technology program has an emphasis in community relations, ethics, investigative principles, and criminal and constitutional law, juvenile justice and criminology. There are also courses on counseling, government, computers, technology and communications. This program is also available with a concentration in latent evidence. This program allows students to concentrate on the evidence system, including the processes to collect and analysis evidence. Specifically, students may study fingerprint classification, tire print recognition and chemical development. They ill also learn to process crime scenes. This college also offers certificates in homeland security and technology corrections.

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