Criminal justice programs are offered at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels at a variety of 2- and 4-year public and private non-profit institutions throughout Washington State. Some schools also offer certificate options or allow students to choose an area of specialty in fields related to criminal justice, such as corrections, forensic technology, law enforcement, or crime analysis. Graduate programs may require intensive research that culminates in a thesis or a dissertation. Listed below are brief overviews of the program offerings at ten of Washington's largest institutions, in addition to a school comparison table with information on the specific programs, tuition costs, and school types.
Bellevue College, located in Bellevue, offers a two-year Associate in Applied Science (AAS) transfer program in criminal justice designed to give students a strong foundation in law enforcement, court systems, and corrections. The program requires completion of at least 90 credit hours and includes general education courses in addition to core and elective classes within the major. Required coursework covers criminal justice ethics, criminology, criminal investigation principles, juvenile justice, and criminal law.
Central Washington University
Ellensburg's Central Washington University offers a bachelor's and master's program in law and justice, as well as a minor in the field. The bachelor's degree program requires that students complete 60 major credits, including 32 credits of core classes; the remaining 28 credits are made up of electives. Some of the available courses include social justice and community, criminal procedure, correctional counseling, policing issues, juvenile justice, and domestic violence. Individuals interested in the minor complete 24 credits, including core and elective classes found within the major.
The master's program has two options, including an advanced professional track, which is geared towards individuals who already work in the law and justice fields, and a basic track, which is designed for those who are new to the field. The advanced professional option requires students to complete 45 credits, while students in the basic track take 60 credits. Both tracks include courses in research methods, criminal justice theory, and legal liability issues.
Everett Community College
Everett Community College is located in the city of Everett and has an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) and an Associate in Arts (AA) in Criminal Justice. The AAS is a transfer program that is offered in conjunction with Central Washington University's bachelor's program. This 90-credit program integrates general education courses, major-specific classes, and electives. In addition, the school offers a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program that allows students who complete the Washington State Basic Law Enforcement Academy to earn 20 credits toward the AAS degree.
The AA is also a 90-credit program, and it requires coursework within the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students also take up to 30 credits of electives within the criminal justice field, and some of the choices include patrol operations, criminal law, forensic science, criminal investigation, and intercultural communication.
Spokane-based Gonzaga University has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Criminal Justice program as well as a minor in the field; both are offered by the Department of Sociology. The bachelor's degree option requires 34 major credits, including police sociology, deviant behavior, juvenile delinquency, constitutional law, and forensic psychology. Students interested in earning a minor take 18 credits of criminal justice coursework, most of which are in upper-division classes.
Green River Community College
Located in Auburn, Green River Community College offers an AAS program in criminal justice, as well as several certificate options in related fields. The criminal justice program requires students to complete 112-113 credits, and the curriculum combines coursework in political science, psychology, economics, and sociology with core classes and electives in criminal justice. Major-specific classes may include criminal evidence, the rights of individuals in criminal justice, criminal law, psychological research basics, and policing in the community. The school also offers two 40-credit certificate programs in law enforcement and forensic and fingerprint technology, as well as a 35-credit certificate program in corrections.
Des Moines-based Highline Community College offers an AAS program in criminal justice that is designed to give students a solid foundation in justice administration. This program consists of 90 credits and requires students to take 45 credits of professional or technical classes within the major, 20 credits of electives and supporting courses, and 25 general education credits. Major-specific coursework includes the justice system, criminal law, policing fundamentals, forensic science, and justice communication.
Located in Bremerton, Olympic College offers an Associate in Arts in Criminal Justice program that prepares individuals to transfer to a four-year program in the field. Coursework covers topics in psychology, sociology, human services, social work, political science, and business. Specific classes may include neglect and abuse, juvenile justice, criminal law, intercultural communication, and ethics.
Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom
Lakewood's Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom offers a two-year, 104-credit associate degree program in criminal justice. In addition to major courses, students take general education classes in the humanities, quantitative skills, communication, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. The 44 credits in criminal justice include corrections, criminal law concepts, policing, and work- and problem-based classes. The school also offers professional and technical certificates in cadet pre-law enforcement, reserve pre-law enforcement, law enforcement officer, criminal justice, and forensic technician.
Located in Seattle, Seattle University offers a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science program in criminal justice, a Master of Arts (MA) program in criminal justice, a joint MA in Criminal Justice/Juris Doctor (JD) program, and a graduate certificate program in crime analysis. Students who enroll in the BA program can choose from concentrations in criminology and criminal justice theory, administration of justice, forensic psychology, and forensic science. Those who pick the BS can select between concentrations in forensic psychology and forensic science.
The 55-credit master's degree program allows students to specialize in criminal justice research and evaluation, victimology, or investigative criminology. The combined MA/JD program is administered jointly by the Department of Criminal Justice and the School of Law; it is designed to be completed in four years.
Washington State University
Pullman-based Washington State University offers several relevant programs through the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, including a BA in Criminal Justice, a minor in the field, an MA in Criminal Justice and Criminology, and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Criminal Justice and Criminology. The bachelor's program requires students to complete 48-49 credits in the major, covering topics within criminal justice, the social sciences, and political science. Coursework in criminal justice, institutional classes, electives, and research-based courses are integrated to give students a well-balanced education. Students interested in earning a minor complete 18 credits of criminal justice coursework.
The master's program is comprised of 32 credits, and the curriculum includes seminar-based classes in criminology and evaluation research. Students are also required to produce a research-based essay or writing portfolio. The 72-credit PhD program integrates research experience, didactic learning, qualifying exams, and a final dissertation. Students complete 48 classroom credits and 24 dissertation research credits.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Criminal Justice Degree Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Bellevue College||Four-year, public (primarily associate's); midsized city||Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice||$3,778 in-state; $9,144 out-of-state*|
|Central Washington University||Four-year, public; distant town|| Bachelor of Arts in Law and Justice,
Master of Science in Law and Justice
|$8,072 in-state; $23,053 out-of-state*|
|Everett Community College||Two-year, public; midsized city|| Associate in Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice,
Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice
|$3,794 in-state; $9,160 out-of-state*|
|Gonzaga University||Four-year, private not-for-profit; midsized city||Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice||$43,210*|
|Green River Community College||Four-year, public (primarily associate's); small city|| Certificate of Proficiency in Corrections,
Certificate of Proficiency in Forensic and Fingerprint Technology,
Certificate of Proficiency in Law Enforcement,
Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice
|$4,053 in-state; $4,482 out-of-state*|
|Highline College||Four-year, public (primarily associate's); large suburb||Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice||$4,026 in-state; $4,462 out-of-state*|
|Olympic College||Four-year, public (primarily associate's); small city||Associate in Arts in Criminal Justice||$3,771 in-state; $4,241 out-of-state*|
|Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom||Two-year, public; small city|| Explorer/Cadet Pre-Law Enforcement Certificate,
Reserve Pre-Law Enforcement Certificate,
Law enforcement Officer Certificate,
Criminal Justice Certificate,
Forensic Technician Certificate,
Associate in Criminal Justice
|$3,862 in-state; $4,290 out-of-state*|
|Seattle University||Four-year, private not-for-profit; large city|| Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice,
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice,
(Graduate) Certificate in Crime Analysis,
Master of Arts in Criminal Justice,
Combined Master of Arts in Criminal Justice+Juris Doctor
|Washington State University||Four-year, public; distant town|| Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice,
Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology,
Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice and Criminology
|$11,584 in-state; $25,820 out-of-state*|
Source: *NCES, College Navigator.