Criminal Justice Certificate Programs in Tennessee

According to the National Center for Education Statistics,Tennessee currently has nine colleges offering certificate programs in criminal justice. Read an overview of certificate programs, tuition info and program options for five of the schools, and decide which is right for you. Information is also provided about corrections-related degree programs that these schools offer.

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Essential Information

Many 2-year community colleges in Tennessee have certificate and/or associate's degree programs in criminal justice that prepare graduates to pursue employment or transfer to a 4-year school to earn a bachelor's degree. Some programs offer areas of concentration as well as externship opportunities.

In some cases, students can choose online study options. Several schools offer training programs that meet Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) Commission rules for local law enforcement officers. Below are short summaries of the criminal justice programs at ten of the largest Tennessee schools, along with a table containing information about the colleges, including tuition.

Cleveland State Community College

In Cleveland, TN, law enforcement officers can develop their skills through a criminal justice associate's degree program at Cleveland State Community College. This two-year program is not designed for transfer. First-year courses include legal writing, legal research, corrections and juvenile justice. Students also complete an externship. Much of the second year consists of meeting the requirements for law enforcement officer training; the 22 credit hours for the second year include courses such as physical defense tactics, traffic procedures and physical conditioning. Students can also complete this training program apart from the degree program to earn a Basic Law Enforcement Technical Certificate.

Dyersburg State Community College

Dyersburg State Community College in Dyersburg offers a certificate program in corrections and law enforcement for people seeking entry-level jobs in those two areas or in the courts. In the 21-semester hour certificate program, students take introductory courses in the court system and criminal justice as well as courses in computer applications, psychology, speech and sociology. Dyersburg also offers an AAS in Criminal Justice for students who want to enter the workforce after graduation. Those who intend to transfer to a baccalaureate program should earn an AA or AS. All the associate's degree programs total 60 semester hours. The AAS program includes more criminal justice courses, while the AA and AS programs are heavy on the general education courses needed for a four-year degree program.

Nashville State Community College

At Nashville State Community College in Nashville, students who want careers as law enforcement officers can earn a Law Enforcement Technical Certificate. They can also pursue an AAS in Police Science with a concentration in crime scene investigation or police administration. They can attend the ten-week Police Science Academy that meets state requirements for law enforcement officers; 21 of the 23 credits students earn in the academy will transfer to the AAS program. Students who want to transfer to a bachelor's degree program in criminal justice can earn an AA or AS in Criminal Justice. They complete 41 credit hours of general education courses and 19 hours of introductory courses in the field of criminal justice.

Volunteer State Community College

Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin offers an 18-credit technical certificate in criminal justice that includes introductory courses in corrections, criminal justice, the legal process and law enforcement, along with two electives in the field. An intensive fast track option, which allows students to finish in one semester, also is available. Certificate holders can apply credits from the certificate program to associate's degree programs in criminal justice. The 60-credit AAS program at Volunteer State allows students to choose a concentration in corrections, law enforcement, investigation or management. Students who choose the AS program can transfer to a bachelor's program through the TTP program. They can also transfer to the 2+2 program offered at Austin Peay State University Center at Fort Campbell, where they can earn a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in homeland security.

Walters State Community College

Walters State Community College in Morristown has several options for criminal justice students, including a certificate program that meets state standards for law enforcement officers. The program consists of an eight-week academy training program and a 40-hour in-service program required for officers to maintain their certification. Credits acquired in the certificate program can be applied to an AAS in Public Safety with a law enforcement concentration. An AAS in Criminal Justice is available online from Walters State. Students who want to transfer to a four-year school can earn an AS in Criminal Justice. Those who want to do so via the Tennessee Transfer Pathway option can earn an AS in Criminal Justice

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Criminal Justice Certificate and Degree Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-16)*
Cleveland State Community College Two-year; public; small city Basic Law Enforcement Technical Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Public and Government Service with a Concentration in Law Enforcement
$3,947, in-state; $15,347, out-of-state
Dyersburg State Community College Two-year; public; distant town Certificate - Corrections and Law Enforcement,
Associate of Applied Science - Criminal Justice,
Associate of Science or Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice Emphasis
$3,947, in-state; $15,347, out-of-state
Nashville State Community College Two-year; public; large city Law Enforcement Technical Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Law Enforcement,
Associate of Science or Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
$3,873, in-state; $15,273, out-of-state
Volunteer State Community College Two-year; public; large suburb Criminal Justice Technical Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice,
Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
$3,925, in-state; $15,325, out-of-state
Walters State Community College Two-year; public; small city Basic Law Enforcement Education Technical Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice,
Associate of Applied Science in Public Safety - Law Enforcement,
Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
$3,936, in-state; $15,336, out-of-state

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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