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Best Criminal Justice Schools in Georgia: Online/Campus

Begin or advance your criminal justice career by exploring the best degree and certificate programs available in Georgia today. Learn about the many undergraduate and graduate options available, both online and on-campus, to find the best fit for you.

Author: Michael Hoffman
Editor: STEPS Staff

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Service to others is what a career in criminal justice is all about. And one of the great things about the criminal justice field is that you can choose from so many career paths. From corrections and law enforcement to forensic investigation and courtroom administration, the list goes on and on. Whatever path appeals to you the most, you’re going to need a formal education, such as the kind you can get with a degree or certificate from a criminal justice school in Georgia.

This guide introduces you to the full range of degree and certificate programs available from the best criminal justice schools in Georgia. Most importantly, we’ll explore who each type of program is designed for and how to pick the one that best suits your individual academic needs and career goals. So, if you’re ready to take the next – or maybe the first – step in your criminal justice career, keep reading to discover how you can get a degree or certificate from one of the top criminal justice programs in Georgia for 2024.

Highlighting the Top Georgia Colleges for Criminal Justice in 2024

Start your search with a look at some of the very best Georgia colleges with criminal justice programs. We’ve surveyed all of the schools offering criminal justice degrees and certificates and identified three that offer an exemplary mix of student-friendly elements, including proper accreditation, affordability, financial aid assistance, quality academics and faculty, and access to student support services.

Once you’ve read the spotlights, you’ll have a solid idea of what to expect from the criminal justice program in Georgia that you ultimately choose. These spotlights will also provide you with a preview of our full rankings of Georgia criminal justice schools. Those are coming soon, so don’t forget to check back.

Georgia Southern University

The University System of Georgia offers Georgia residents access to one of the finest and most extensive selections of public colleges and universities in the nation, with many schools offering criminal justice degree and certificate programs. A prime example is Georgia Southern University (GSU), which offers several undergraduate and graduate options through its Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. These include a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology that can be completed both online and in person on either GSU’s Statesboro or Armstrong (Savannah) campus (the specific campus depends on your specialization). GSU’s Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology is also available both online and on campus. Students currently employed in the law enforcement field also have the option of the Executive Master’s in Criminal Justice (EMCJ) program. The EMCJ program features a unique part-time hybrid format in which students complete three course modules each semester (two three-week-long online modules and a single one-week-long module attended in-person on the school’s Armstrong campus).

Program Highlights:

BS in Criminal Justice and Criminology

  • Credits: 124
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $182.13/credit in-state and out-of-state (online)|$182.13/credit in-state (on-campus)| $642.73/credit out-of-state (on-campus)
  • Delivery: Online; On-Campus; Full-Time
  • Specialization: Criminal Justice and Criminology; Cybercrime

MS in Criminal Justice and Criminology

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $358/credit in-state and out-of-state (online)|$277/credit in-state (on-campus) |$1,105/credit out-of-state (on-campus)
  • Delivery: Online; On-Campus; Part-Time; Full-Time
  • Specializations: Criminal Justice; Criminology; Cybercrime

Executive Master of Criminal Justice (EMCJ)

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $277/credit in-state | $1,105/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: Hybrid; Part-Time
  • Specializations: None

Graduate Certificate in Cybercrime

  • Credits: 12
  • Length: As little as one semester
  • Cost: $358/credit
  • Delivery: Online; Part-Time
  • Specializations: None

Georgia State University

Located in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia State University is one of only four research universities in the University System of Georgia and one of the largest (by population) and most diverse universities in the nation. Housed in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State offers four degree options in the field of criminal justice and criminology—one bachelor’s, two master’s, and a doctorate. The PhD in Criminal Justice & Criminology program is one of only two doctoral level criminal justice degree programs available in Georgia. Offered exclusively on the school’s campus, the PhD program provides students with the core research and teaching skills needed to take on top-level academic and research roles at universities and with policy think tanks. Georgia State’s MIS in Criminal Justice Administration is a unique degree program combining coursework in criminal justice and criminology with public management principles and practices.

Program Highlights:

BS in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: As few as 4 years
  • Cost: $298.27/credit in-state | $932.87/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: Online; On-Campus; Part-Time; Full-Time
  • Specializations: None

MS in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: As few as 2 years
  • Cost: $398/credit in-state | $1,259/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus; Part-Time; Full-Time
  • Specializations: None

MIS in Criminal Justice Administration

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: As few as 2 years
  • Cost: $398/credit in-state | $1,259/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: Online; Full-Time; Part-Time
  • Specializations: None

PhD in Criminal Justice & Criminology

  • Credits: 54 (beyond the master’s degree)
  • Length: Varies (depending on dissertation completion pace)
  • Cost: $398/credit in-state | $1,259/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Specializations: None

University of North Georgia

The University of North Georgia (UNG) is the state’s other school offering a doctorate degree in the criminal justice field. The PhD in Criminal Justice with a Concentration in Intelligence is designed to provide graduates with the critical research, investigative, and operational skills required to meet the intelligence needs of federal, state, and local governments, as well as private corporations engaged in the business of intelligence. The program is delivered 100% online in an asynchronous format with no campus visits required.

UNG’s Criminal Justice Program also offers both a fully online criminal justice master’s and, most notably, a bachelor’s program with four specialized options. Bachelor’s students attend classes on UNG’s Dahlonega Campus. All criminal justice bachelor’s students participate in a 12-credit internship experience. Students commonly complete their internships with sheriff’s and police departments, as well as at corrections facilities, attorney’s offices, courts, and even with the FBI.

Program Highlights:

BS in Criminal Justice

MS in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $303/credit
  • Delivery: Online; Part-Time; Full-Time
  • Specializations: None

PhD in Criminal Justice with a Concentration in Intelligence

  • Credits: 54 (past the master’s degree)
  • Length: Varies (depending on dissertation completion pace)
  • Cost: $303/credit
  • Delivery: Online; Part-Time; Full-Time
  • Specialization: Intelligence

Georgia’s Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Online college programs provide an excellent alternative to traditional on-campus ones, particularly for working professionals who consider study convenience and flexibility a top priority. The good news is that there are lots of quality and affordable online criminal justice degrees in Georgia. Not all online programs are the same, however. Each comes with its own mix of completion times, program structures (full-time, part-time, fully or partially online, etc.) and content delivery methods (synchronous or asynchronous).

To help you figure out the mixture that’s right for you, here’s a look at three of the top schools currently offering online criminal justice programs in Georgia. And be sure to check out our guide to the top online criminal justice degrees to learn more about what these degrees have to offer and to explore programs available in other states.

Georgia Southwestern State University

Georgia Southwestern (GSW) State University is a University System of Georgia public institution offering a full range of undergraduate and graduate degrees online and on campus in Americus, Georgia. GSW offers two highly affordable undergraduate criminal justice options through its Department of Psychology and Sociology, both of which can be completed entirely online. Its Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree is offered in partnership with the University System of Georgia as part of the system’s eMajor program, which features a number of fully online degrees. A key benefit to eMajor programs is that all coursework is delivered in an asynchronous format that allows students to attend to their studies at any time. Another important benefit is that students with POST training typically receive course credits for prior learning, thus saving them time and money in earning their degree. Bachelor’s students also have the option of choosing a concentration in either law enforcement or social justice.

GSW also offers a fully online 18-credit undergraduate Criminal Justice Certificate that provides students with a foundational understanding of the “purpose, function, and operation” of the criminal justice system.

Program Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: About 4 years
  • Cost: $169.33/credit
  • Delivery: Online; Part-Time; Full-Time
  • Specializations: Law Enforcement; Social Justice

Criminal Justice Undergraduate Certificate

  • Credits: 18
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $169.33/credit
  • Delivery: Online; Part-Time; Full-Time
  • Specializations: None

Northern Georgia Technical College

The importance of the role state and technical colleges in Georgia play in the education and training of criminal justice professionals can hardly be overstated. Many Georgia state and technical colleges offer criminal justice associate degree and nondegree undergraduate options designed specifically to provide students with the most time- and cost-efficient means to launching their careers. There’s likely no better example of such a school than Northern Georgia Technical College. Along with its Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice Technology, Northern Georgia Tech’s Criminal Justice Department offers a Criminal Justice Technology Diploma and four certificate options, all of which feature core criminal justice coursework delivered online in an asynchronous format. As a result, students in the certificate programs complete all required coursework online. Associate degree and diploma students may be able to complete all requirements online as well, depending on their choices of noncriminal justice courses and if they opt to complete an in-person internship/externship experience.

Program Highlights:

AAS in Criminal Justice Technology

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 5 semesters
  • Cost: $100/credit in-state | $200/credit out-of-state | $400/credit international students
  • Delivery: Online; Hybrid
  • Specializations: None

Criminal Justice Technology Diploma

  • Credits: 48
  • Length: 4 semesters
  • Cost: $100/credit in-state | $200/credit out-of-state | $400/credit international students
  • Delivery: Online; Hybrid
  • Specializations: None

Criminal Justice Specialist Certificate

  • Credits: 15
  • Length: 2 semesters
  • Cost: $100/credit in-state | $200/credit out-of-state | $400/credit international students
  • Delivery: Online
  • Specializations: None

Criminal Justice Fundamentals Certificate

  • Credits: 12
  • Length: 1 semester
  • Cost: $100/credit in-state | $200/credit out-of-state | $400/credit international students
  • Delivery: Online
  • Specializations: None

Introduction to Criminal Justice Certificate

  • Credits: 12
  • Length: 2 semesters
  • Cost: $100/credit in-state | $200/credit out-of-state | $400/credit international students
  • Delivery: Online
  • Specializations: None

Crime Scene Fundamentals Certificate

  • Credits: 12
  • Length: 2 semesters
  • Cost: $100/credit in-state | $200/credit out-of-state | $400/credit international students
  • Delivery: Online
  • Specializations: None

Valdosta State University

Criminal justice students in the southern region of Georgia and beyond can take advantage of the study flexibility, convenience, and affordability of the online bachelor’s and master’s criminal justice programs at Valdosta State University. Coursework in both programs is available entirely online, and the tuition rates are among the most affordable in the state. Additionally, students interested in earning both their bachelor’s and master’s in criminal justice at Valdosta save time and money through the Accelerated Undergraduate-to-Graduate Track option. Accelerated track students complete up to 12 credits of graduate-level coursework that can be applied to both their bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Online criminal justice degrees at Valdosta provide students with access to valuable support services, including optional participation in internship experiences with program-affiliated state and local organizations and agencies. Qualifying online criminal justice students are also eligible to become members of Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society.

Program Highlights:

BS in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $299/credit
  • Delivery: Online; Full-Time
  • Specializations: None

MS in Criminal Justice Administration

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $293/credit
  • Delivery: Online; Part-Time
  • Specializations: None

Types of Criminal Justice Degrees in Georgia

You’ll find that just about every type of criminal justice program is available from one or more Georgia colleges. In fact, there are so many options that finding the right one can be confusing. To help with that, keep reading to find descriptions of the five most common criminal justice program types. We’ve also listed a few program examples for each currently available from Georgia criminal justice schools.

Associate Degrees

An associate degree in criminal justice offers students a quick and affordable path to entry-level positions primarily with police departments, corrections facilities, parole services, and private security agencies. Credits earned in most programs are fully transferable to bachelor’s programs at four-year colleges and universities. Associate degree programs are quite popular and available throughout Georgia on state and technical college campuses, as well as at a few universities. Like most associate degree programs, earning your criminal justice associate degree will normally require two years of full-time study.

Examples of Accredited Georgia Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Georgia Military CollegeMilledgevilleOnline; HybridSACSCOC
Gwinnett Technical CollegeAlpharetta; LawrencevilleOnline; HybridSACSCOC
Middle Georgia State UniversityMaconOnlineSACSCOC
South Georgia State CollegeDouglas; WaycrossOn-CampusSACSCOC
South Georgia Technical CollegeAmericus; CordeleOn-CampusSACSCOC

Bachelor’s Degrees

The foundational degree for criminal justice programs at four-year colleges and universities in Georgia, the criminal justice bachelor’s degree offers students a more advanced and interdisciplinary course of study compared with an associate degree program. The degree additionally prepares graduates to advance into master’s programs in criminal justice, criminology, and other closely related fields. Many Georgia schools (such as Georgia Southwestern State University, spotlighted above) offer their criminal justice bachelor’s degrees in partnership with the University System of Georgia’s Online BS in Criminal Justice Degree Program, which allows students to complete degree requirements 100% online.

Examples of Accredited Georgia Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
College of Coastal GeorgiaBrunswickOn-CampusSACSCOC
Columbus State UniversityColumbusOnlineSACSCOC
Georgia Highlands CollegeRomeOnlineSACSCOC
University of GeorgiaAthensOn-CampusSACSCOC
University of West GeorgiaCarrolltonOnlineSACSCOC

Master’s Degrees

Master’s in criminal justice programs in Georgia provide current professionals with the advanced criminal justice and leadership education and training to move into administrative and management roles. These programs also provide students with the foundation to continue their academic studies to earn a criminal justice doctorate. Program lengths vary depending mostly on the student’s study pace (particularly regarding thesis completion), but most students earn their degrees in 18 months to two years. There are several criminal justice master’s programs available in Georgia offered on campus, fully online, and in hybrid formats.

Examples of Accredited Georgia Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Albany State UniversityAlbanyOnline; On-CampusSACSCOC
Clark Atlanta UniversityAtlantaOn-CampusSACSCOC
Georgia College & State UniversityMilledgevilleOnlineSACSCOC
Kennesaw State UniversityKennesawHybridSACSCOC
South UniversitySavannahOnlineSACSCOC

Doctoral Degrees: PhD and Doctor of Criminal Justice

Criminal justice professionals seeking top-tier positions in academia or leadership will want to consider earning a doctoral degree. There are two basic types of criminal justice doctorates. The first is the PhD in Criminal Justice, which is designed for those interested in careers in research, policy-making, and teaching at the post-secondary and post-graduate levels. The second type, the Doctor of Criminal Justice, is geared toward students pursuing top-level jobs in criminal justice leadership and administration.

Two schools offer criminal justice doctorates (both PhDs) in Georgia. As an alternative, Georgia students may want to consider the fully online Doctor of Science in Public Safety program from Middle Georgia State University or the Doctor of Criminal Justice in Education program at Florida’s Saint Leo University. The Saint Leo program is offered entirely online with the exception of three-day residencies at the university’s Florida campus and at its two education centers in Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia.

Examples of Accredited Georgia Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Georgia State UniversityAtlantaOn-CampusSACSCOC
University of North GeorgiaGainesvilleOnlineSACSCOC

Undergraduate and Graduate Certificates

Undergraduate and graduate certificates in criminal justice provide students with the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and skills in the criminal justice field without the time and expense of completing a full degree program. Undergraduate certificates are the most common and typically offer an introduction to criminal justice for those with no professional experience. On the other hand, graduate certificates (like the cybercrime certificate from Georgia Southern University linked below) often focus on a particular facet of the larger criminal justice profession. Credit requirements and completion times vary, but most certificates are completed in six months to one year.

Examples of Accredited Georgia Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Ashworth College (undergraduate)NorcrossOnlineDEAC
Augusta Technical College (undergraduate)AugustaOn-CampusSACSCOC
Georgia Piedmont Technical College (undergraduate)ClarkstonOnlineSACSCOC
Georgia Southern University (graduate)StatesboroOnlineSACSCOC
Georgia Southwestern State University (undergraduate)AmericusOnlineSACSCOC

Financial Aid for Criminal Justice Students in Georgia

If you’re like most students, finding the money to pay for your criminal justice school in Georgia requires time and effort. Fortunately, there are lots of funding resources out there to help. They include:

  • Scholarships and grants, such as those available through both external and internal (college and program) sources. Examples of criminal justice schools in Georgia that offer exclusive scholarship opportunities include Georgia Highlands College and the University of Georgia.
  • Student loans, such as those available through Federal Student Aid
  • Fellowships and assistantships (primarily for graduate students)
  • VA education benefits (for military veterans, service members, and their qualifying family members)
  • Work-study
  • Employer tuition reimbursement

Be sure to speak with the financial aid office at your school for information on resources available specifically for your program. Another great resource is the State Scholarships, Grants and Loans website from the Georgia Student Finance Commission. And for more information on funding your criminal justice degree in Georgia and elsewhere, visit our Criminal Justice Scholarships and Resources page.

Earnings and Employment Outlook for Criminal Justice Degree Holders in Georgia

As long as there’s been human civilization, there’s been crime. That’s an unfortunate reality, but it also means that there will always be a need for criminal justice professionals. Nevertheless, prospective and current criminal justice students want to know what the job market looks like today. To help answer that question, below we’ve listed recent Georgia earnings and job growth estimates from the U.S. Department of Labor for five common criminal justice occupations. What you earn in your criminal justice job in Georgia will, of course, depend on a number of factors, including your particular occupation, employer, and level of professional experience. Your specific location within the state will also have a major impact on your salary. To illustrate the point, here are the current mean salary figures for police and sheriff patrol officers in three Georgia metropolitan areas, also from the Department of Labor:

  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell: $54,120
  • Augusta-Richmond County: $47,630
  • Albany: $41,170

As you consider these figures, keep in mind that by earning your criminal justice degree or certificate, you put yourself in a better position to land employment with better pay and more solid job prospects.

Job Growth Rate
(2020-2030)
Average Annual Openings
(2020-2030)
Annual Mean Wage
(2022)
Detectives and Criminal Investigators6.7%290$72,000
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives9.9%630$69,300
Police and Sheriff Patrol Officers10.1%1,940$49,520
Private Detectives and Investigators17.6%100$55,380
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists11.8%230$44,830

Sources: Projections Central;Bureau of Labor Statistics

Resources for Criminal Justice Students and Professionals in Georgia

  • Alpha Phi Sigma: The Criminal Justice Honor Society
    With over 500 campus chapters in the United States and Canada, Alpha Phi Sigma is the preeminent fraternal organization for criminal justice students and educators. Nineteen campus chapters are active in Georgia, including on the campuses of Augusta University, Columbus State University, Georgia Gwinnett College, and Georgia State University.
  • Criminal Justice Association of Georgia (CJAG)
    This nonprofit organization of criminal justice professionals, students, and faculty is dedicated to the promotion of professionalism and academic advancement in the criminal justice field. CJAG members enjoy a variety of benefits including participation in the association’s annual state conference.
  • Criminal Justice Society (University of Georgia)
    The Criminal Justice Society (CJS) is a registered student organization on the campus of the University of Georgia that offers professional development and support for students planning careers in criminal justice and related fields. Society members have access to a number of CJS-sponsored functions, including guest speakers, employment seminars, field trips, and alumni networking events. Many other Georgia colleges and universities sponsor similar criminal student organizations on their campuses. Examples include the Criminal Justice Student Association at Georgia State University and the Justice Studies Club at Georgia Southern University.
  • Georgia Justice Project (GJP)
    The goal of the GJP is to serve individuals in the state impacted by the criminal justice system, lowering the number of people under correctional control and reducing the barriers to reentry. The GJP offers students interested in criminal justice the opportunity to spend a semester or summer during their time in college or graduate school to gain firsthand experience working with GJP clients.
  • Southern Criminal Justice Association (SCJA)
    The SCJA is a nonprofit organization representing the interests of criminal justice practitioners, researchers, educators, and students in 11 southern states (including Georgia) as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Student members are eligible for a number of financial awards and enjoy networking opportunities at conferences, receptions, and other events.