Top School with Criminal Justice Degrees - Denver, CO

Many schools in the Denver area have top ranking criminal justice programs. Read on to find out more about what these top schools have to offer for criminal justice, as well as tuition and degree information.

School and Ranking Information

Roughly 12 public and private schools in the Denver Metro area offer some type of criminal justice program. Based on program variety, school ranking, and graduation rate, the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Johnson and Wales University - Denver are the top three schools offering criminal justice studies in the Denver area.

  • Winner: The University of Colorado Denver (UC - Denver) is ranked among the nation's top public schools and top national universities, according to U.S. News & World Report, and offers both bachelor's and master's degree programs in criminal justice.
  • Runner-Up #1: Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) awarded the most degrees in the field, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). It offers bachelor's degrees.
  • Runner-Up #2: Johnson and Wales University - Denver (JWU - Denver) is a well-renowned private school that boasts the highest graduation rate among the three schools, in addition to offering an in-depth bachelor's degree program in the field.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of Colorado Denver Metropolitan State University of Denver Johnson and Wales University - Denver
Rankings 108th among top public schools, nationwide*
189th among national universities*
Location Denver, CO Denver, CO Denver, CO
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $7,494 (undergraduate, in-state);
$21,006 (undergraduate, out-of-state);
$7,358 (graduate, in-state);
$20,676 (graduate, out-of-state)**
$5,341 (undergraduate, in-state);
$17,022 (undergraduate, out-of-state)**
$26,412 (undergraduate)**
Criminal Justice Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees Bachelor's degrees Bachelor's degrees
Criminal Justice Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in (2011-2012) 73** 167** 6*
Most Popular Criminal Justice Program (2011-2012) Bachelor's in Criminal Justice (60 awarded)** Bachelor's in Criminal Justice (167 awarded)** Bachelor's in Criminal Justice (6 awarded)**
Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2006 Entering Class 45%** 25%** 51%**
Noteworthy Awarded the most graduate degrees of any other public Colorado school*** Recently updated its criminal justice curriculum Offers a dedicated criminal justice lab

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES, College Navigator, *** University of Colorado Denver

Winner: University of Colorado Denver

  • The school's criminal justice programs emphasize training that will prepare students for law school or an advanced degree in the field
  • NCES reported a 71% retention rate for full-time students from 2011-2012
  • Students have access to 22 faculty members with the public affairs school at the Denver campus

The University of Colorado Denver is a four-year, public university with its main campus in downtown Denver. Offered through the School of Public Affairs, the university offers bachelor's and master's degree programs in criminal justice. Within the bachelor's degree program, students develop critical thinking and communication skills, understand how the criminal justice system works, and determine how public policy plays a role in different cultures. In addition to general education subjects, students take courses in crime theory, research methods, corrections, and judicial process. All students must complete an internship of at least 135 hours before they graduate.

The master's degree program in criminal justice delves into law enforcement, juvenile justice, and corrections. The program is offered in an online format and features a concentration in domestic violence. Students are taught how to evaluate, analyze, and administer issues pertaining to criminal justice. Required courses include law and social control, criminal justice administration, causes of crime, and criminal justice research methods. Students who do not have any previous criminal justice experience must complete a minimum of 240 hours of supervised criminal justice work. All students who are not completing a thesis within the master's degree program must partake in a seminar capstone, which involves writing and presenting either an independent or client-instructed project.

Runner-Up #1: Metropolitan State University of Denver

  • Internship opportunities are available at various agencies throughout the Denver area
  • Criminal justice is one of the top ten majors at the school

Established in 1965, MSU offers bachelor's and master's degree programs in a wide variety of subject areas. Serving more than 23,000 students annually, MSU sees more Colorado residents through its doors each year than any other university in the state. Boasting small class sizes and three campuses throughout the Denver area, the school has more than 55 majors and 90 minors through three schools and one division.

The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology offers a baccalaureate-level program that consists of 120 total credits. Implementing a new curriculum in the fall of 2013, students are now required to complete a serious of core major classes, as well as courses within each of the following areas: police, courts and law, corrections, and administration of justice. Core requirements include coursework covering criminological theory, corrections, and American policing, as well as a final senior experience. Students have the option of gaining additional, hands-on experience through internships.

Runner-Up #2: Johnson and Wales University - Denver

  • Students will gain invaluable hands-on experience through the university's criminal justice lab, including training specific to police work and forensic science investigation
  • All students will complete an internship in their chosen area of specialty

Administered through the College of Business, the university offers a bachelor's program in criminal justice that prepares students for careers in a wide variety fields. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the history of the field and the practical and theoretical tools to work successfully, as well as become versed in specific procedures. This program also emphasizes the history of incarceration, as well as other information pertaining to the prison system. An internship, study abroad, and individualized courses are available to further a student's involvement and comprehension of the field. The school also offers a master's program in criminal justice management, designed for students interested in pursuing leadership positions within the field.

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