Guide to the Best Criminal Justice Schools in Florida

Discover online and traditional programs from top criminal justice schools in Florida and find the one that matches your budget, learning style, and career goals.

Last Updated: 08/31/2021

Are you fascinated with how the criminal justice system works? Do you want to join a rewarding field that helps to keep people and communities safe? Or are you already a criminal justice professional looking for career advancement? No matter what your motivation, the best criminal justice schools in Florida have programs that can help you get the most out of your current or future career. Continue reading to find out more about these schools and the degrees they offer at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as information on careers you can pursue after graduation and what your earning potential will be.

Best Criminal Justice Schools in Florida for 2021

When looking for a criminal justice school in Florida, chances are you want to know about the quality of the curriculum and faculty, how much the program costs, and the resources schools offer—such as financial aid, academic support, and professional networking opportunities. To make your search easier, we’ve put together this best-in-class list, which is a compilation of the top criminal justice schools in Florida. The following schools have been handpicked based on the qualities you care about most; keep reading for detailed descriptions of some of the standout schools that made our list.

1

Saint Leo University

When students enroll at Saint Leo University, they benefit from classes taught by faculty members with decades of criminal justice experience—working as detectives, FBI advisors, crime scene investigators, and local or federal agents. Students at this top criminal justice school in Florida get firsthand accounts of what it’s like to work in some of the most challenging scenarios—from hostage negotiation to interrogation to sex trafficking investigations.

Saint Leo offers degrees on the graduate and undergraduate level. Undergraduates at this criminal justice school in Florida who are preparing for entry-level jobs enroll in the school’s associate and bachelor’s programs, while those who are on a more advanced level in their careers enter the master’s and doctoral programs. Also, students tailor their education based on their interests and goals by choosing one of the school’s specializations, such as corrections, homeland security, legal studies, and forensic science. Most programs are available online or on campus, with the exception of doctoral degrees, which are only offered online.

Delivery:

  • Online
  • On-Campus
  • Full-Time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • AA in Criminal Justice
  • BA in Criminal Justice

Graduate Programs:

  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice

Specialization Options:

  • Criminalistics
  • Homeland Security
  • Clinical Criminal Justice
  • Behavioral Studies 
  • Corrections
  • Criminal Investigations
  • Critical Incident Management
  • Forensic Science
  • Legal Studies
  • Education

2

University of West Florida

The University of West Florida (UWF) offers a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice that focuses on criminology, the courts, policing, and corrections so students learn the nuts and bolts of how the system works—from its policies to its practices. Students at this top criminal justice school in Florida can minor in forensic science or juvenile justice to become experts in these areas. On the graduate level, UWF offers an MS program that is a combination of coursework and an internship or thesis.

The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is dedicated to students’ success inside and outside of the classroom at this criminal justice school in Florida. When people enroll, they enjoy the benefits of small classes that allow for individualized attention and engaging discussions. Outside the classroom, students participate in internships and research opportunities that help to enhance their learning and provide practical skills that employers expect. Also, the department offers academic and needs-based scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students.

Delivery:

  • Online
  • On-Campus
  • Full-Time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • BA in Criminal Justice
  • Certificate in Intelligence Analysis 

Graduate Programs:

  • MS in Criminal Justice

Specialization Options:

  • Forensic Studies
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Clinical Criminal Justice

3

The University of Tampa

The University of Tampa offers a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice that is designed to prepare students for graduate study. The curriculum at this top criminal justice school in Florida includes coursework covering law and justice, forensic science, criminal investigation, and corrections. Students are encouraged to participate in internships, which are provided in law enforcement, corrections, courts, safety and security, and law office settings. 

This criminal justice school in Florida also has a bachelor’s degree in forensic science—accredited by the Forensic Science Educational Programs Accreditation Commission—which trains students for positions in scene investigation, forensic firearms examination, fire debris analysis, forensic toxicology, and forensic biology. When students complete this degree, they understand the legal and scientific principles of the forensics field, forensic methods and instruments, data collection and interpretation, and forensic science ethics.

Delivery:

  • On-Campus
  • Full-Time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • BS in Forensic Science

Graduate Programs:

  • MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Specialization Options:

  • Criminal Investigation
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Clinical Criminal Justice

Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs in Florida

Many Florida colleges and universities offer online and hybrid degree options, which are an excellent alternative to traditional programs for students whose work and family commitments don’t allow them to participate in traditional on-campus studies. Programs may be offered entirely online, but in some cases, schools offer hybrid classes that require students to travel to campus for certain coursework. No matter what format programs use, students receive the same quality education that traditional students enjoy at the best criminal justice schools in Florida.

For more information about what you can expect when you enroll in online programs, review our main guide to online criminal justice degrees, where you can find schools around the country. Keep reading to discover topic criminal justice schools in Florida offering flexible online degrees.

1

University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida offers an online bachelor’s degree that takes four years to complete and gives students a choice between a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science. The program has a highly interactive curriculum that focuses on criminal justice research, the history of crime in America, and how crimes are investigated and prosecuted. After graduation from this top criminal justice school in Florida, students go on to work at government agencies on the local, state, or federal level. The school also offers a master of science degree in criminal justice, which takes two years to complete. Students in this program are trained to become leaders in the field by gaining an understanding of criminal justice theory and how it is applied in the real world.

Undergraduate Programs:

  • BA in Criminal Justice 
  • BS in Criminal Justice

Graduate Programs:

  • MS in Criminal Justice 

Program Delivery:

  • Full-Time
  • Fully-Online 

2

University of South Florida

From law enforcement to detention to corrections to juvenile justice, the University of South Florida (USF) criminology bachelor’s degree program prepares students for the rigors of various careers in the criminal justice profession. Students build a foundation of knowledge in the theories that guide the field, the issues professionals face, and the methodologies used to study the causes of crime. Among the best criminal justice schools in Florida, USF offers classes about victimology, white collar crime, drug addiction, issues in policing, and crime mapping.

USF also has a master’s degree program that gives students the advanced level knowledge and skills they need to become leaders in the field. Specific classes cover quantitative criminology analysis, research methods, criminal justice administration, and law enforcement.

Undergraduate Programs:

  • BA in Criminology

Graduate Programs:

  • MA in Criminal Justice 

Program Delivery:

  • Full-Time
  • Fully-Online 

3

Florida State University

The Florida State University (FSU) College of Criminology & Criminal Justice has an online bachelor’s degree program that helps students understand the foundational principles of criminal justice while developing critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Although students are not on campus, they benefit from the same curriculum as those in traditional programs at the best criminal justice schools in Florida plus resources provided specifically to online learners to help them with their coursework, including guides that include key information from each course, audio recordings, and more.

Students who want to pursue an advanced degree can enroll in FSU’s online master’s program in criminology. To be admitted to this top criminal justice school in Florida, applicants must submit the transcripts from their bachelor’s program, GRE scores, a personal essay describing professional goals, and a resume. Once admitted, they take coursework that covers criminal justice theory and research, applied statistics, crime prevention, delinquency, and criminal justice administration.

Undergraduate Programs:

  • BA in Criminology

Graduate Programs:

  • MA in Criminology 

Program Delivery:

  • Full-Time
  • Fully-Online 

Types of Criminal Justice Degrees in Florida You Can Earn

Those who aspire to criminal justice careers, as well as those already in the field who want to advance in their jobs, can find numerous criminal justice schools in Florida that have the degree programs to help them reach their goals. Continue reading to find out what degree options are available on undergraduate and graduate levels at some of the best criminal justice schools in Florida. 

Undergraduate Criminal Justice Degrees in Florida

Associate Degrees in Criminal Justice

Those who want to train for an entry-level criminal justice position can get the foundational skills and knowledge they need by enrolling in an associate’s degree program. Offered at top criminal justice schools in Florida, these programs take two years to complete and prepare students for corrections officer, court reporter, paralegal, or police officer jobs. Specific coursework may cover the court system, the juvenile justice process, criminology, crime scene investigation basics, and criminal justice ethics.

Examples of Accredited Florida Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

  • City: Melbourne
  • Delivery: Online 
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • City: St. Leo
  • Delivery: Online/On-Campus 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Fort Myers
  • Delivery: Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Manatee-Sarasota
  • Delivery: On-Campus 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Fort Pierce
  • Delivery: Online 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC

Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminal Justice

A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice gives students a deep understanding of different areas of the discipline, including juvenile delinquency, the courts, criminology, forensic science, and corrections. These programs, which have a four-year curriculum, allow students at the best criminal justice schools in Florida to choose between a bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degree. The criminal justice BS programs tend to have coursework that is more technical and specific in nature, like policing in the United States and criminal justice technology. On the other hand, BA programs tend to have coursework that is more broad, such as classes in white collar crime and criminology.

Examples of Accredited Florida Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

  • City: Orlando
  • Delivery: Online/On-Campus
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Tallahassee
  • Delivery: Online/On-Campus 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Miami
  • Delivery: Online/On-Campus 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Boca Raton
  • Delivery: Online/On-Campus 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Tallahassee
  • Delivery: Online/On-Campus 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC

Graduate Criminal Justice Degrees in Florida

Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice professionals who aspire to advance in their careers can earn a master’s degree to enhance their skills and increase earning potential and job opportunities. Students concentrate their studies on areas like homeland security, cybersecurity, forensic technology, corrections, or public administration. These programs at the best criminal justice schools in Florida can generally be completed in two years.

Examples of Accredited Florida Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

  • City: Orlando
  • Delivery: Online 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Jacksonville
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Tallahassee
  • Delivery: Online/On-Campus 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Boca Raton
  • Delivery: Online/On-Campus 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Miami
  • Delivery: Online/On-Campus 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC

Criminal Justice PhD Programs

A PhD program in criminal justice prepares students for some of the highest-level jobs in the field, whether they want to become college professors, researchers, intelligence analysts, or police chiefs. Rigorous programs at the best criminal justice schools in Florida focus on advanced theory and research, allowing students to become strong leaders in the profession. Students complete these degrees in about six years and they take classes that culminate in a dissertation based on original research.

Examples of Accredited Florida Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

  • City: Tallahassee
  • Delivery: On-Campus 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Orlando
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Miami
  • Delivery: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Fort Lauderdale
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: St. Leo
  • Delivery: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC

Criminal Justice Graduate Certificates

Graduate level certificate programs at criminal justice schools in Florida allow professionals to sharpen their skills. These programs are generally one year long and have a curriculum that focuses on one specific part of the field, such as criminal law, forensic science, and homeland security.

Examples of Accredited Florida Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

  • City: Tampa
  • Delivery: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Orlando
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Miami Gardens
  • Delivery: Online 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Miami
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
  • City: Lynchburg
  • Delivery: Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC

Financial Aid Opportunities for Criminal Justice Students in Florida

Students at criminal justice schools in Florida have multiple avenues for the financial aid they need to pay for their degree programs. For example, schools like Florida State University, Florida Atlantic University, and the University of North Florida award scholarships to graduate and undergraduate students in their departments. Also, students can get scholarships from organizations like Alpha Phi Sigma, which is the criminal justice honor society, or private companies like employment screening company Crimcheck. Additionally, scholarships and grants are available through the state and federal government. 

If you’re looking for financial aid to attend a criminal justice school in Florida and you don’t know where to start, turn to our financial aid guide and scholarships guide, which provide a comprehensive look at ways to fund your degree. 

Employment and Earnings Outlook for Criminal Justice Grads in Florida

Professionals who graduated from criminal justice schools in Florida may see healthy growth in job opportunities in the next several years, depending on which jobs they pursue. For example, the state’s forensic science technicians will see a 17.6 percent increase in jobs from 2018 to 2028, or 260 new openings on average each year. This is higher than the national projections for job growth, which, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, will be 14 percent from 2019 to 2029. However, forensic science technicians in Florida make an average salary of $54,570 annually, which is slightly lower than the national average of $60,590. 

For more information about job growth and salary potential of criminal justice graduates in Florida, review the table below.

Job Growth
(2018-2028)
Avg. Annual Openings (2018-2028) Annual Mean Wage (2020)
Forensic Science Technicians17.6%260$54,570
Detectives and Criminal Investigators5.7%510$80,360
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists1.9%330$40,260
Fire Inspectors and Investigators7.9%110$61,940
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives7.4%510$88,850

Source: Projections Central; Bureau of Labor Statistics

Resources for Criminal Justice Professionals and Students in Florida

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS)

This international association is dedicated to supporting the professional and scholarly work of criminal justice professionals. ACJS offers members access to journals, mentoring services, and events.

American Academy of Forensic Sciences

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences has promoted the interests of those in the forensic science field since 1948. Members receive discounts on resources and events provided by the organization, access to news and research, and research assistance.

American Correctional Association (ACA)

The ACA is made up of individuals and groups that are part of the corrections profession. The association promotes professional development, diversity, research, and ethics in the field.

Justice Research and Statistics Association

The Justice Research and Statistics Association conducts research on criminal and juvenile justice issues. The association publishes The JRSA Forum, JRSA Fact Sheets, and The SAC Publication Digest.

National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)

NOVA is dedicated to ensuring that crime victims get the assistance they need by supporting professionals who work as victim advocates and crisis responders. The organization offers training programs, publications, and networking opportunities.