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Best Criminal Justice Schools in Michigan: Online/Campus

Whether you’re interested in working in law enforcement, the court system, victim services, or another field, you’ll find plenty of criminal justice schools in Michigan that prepare you for exciting career possibilities. Review today’s top-ranked online and campus programs, and find the one that’s right for you.

Author: Shannon Lee
Editor: STEPS Staff

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Criminal justice programs in Michigan delve into all aspects of crime. This includes the causes of crime, how most people react to criminal acts, and crime prevention. By completing a criminal justice program in Michigan, you’ll be ready to step into many criminal justice jobs, such as police officer, correctional officer, crime scene investigator, security guard, victim advocate, court officer, and crime lab technician, just to name a few.

But not all of these careers require the same type of academic training. For example, to become a police officer, you must take academy training that meets the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards; typically, you don’t need a bachelor’s or graduate degree. But if you’re interested in management responsibilities in law enforcement, a bachelor’s or even a graduate criminal justice program in Michigan can be very helpful.

This guide will help you figure out which program is right for you and find an accredited college that offers it. Get started with our list of top-rated criminal justice schools in Michigan below.

School Spotlights: Best Michigan Colleges for Criminal Justice in 2024

Michigan is home to many criminal justice schools; choosing the right one can be almost as challenging as the academic curriculum itself. To help you find the best program for you, we’ve spotlighted a handful of schools in Michigan with criminal justice programs that stand out in terms of affordability, accreditation, and academic quality. Use this as a preview for our more complete rankings list.

North Central Michigan College

North Central Michigan College’s criminal justice programs offer certificates and associate degrees. Students interested in earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice enroll in the Associate of Arts with a Concentration in Criminal Justice pathway, which prepares them to pursue their bachelor’s degree immediately after graduation. Students must meet the academic requirements of the Michigan Transfer Agreement, which covers number of credits, GPA, and specific prerequisite courses.

Students looking to enter the criminal justice workforce after earning their associate degree enroll in the Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice program. If you choose this track, after graduating you’ll still need to complete additional training to receive your Michigan certification to become a law enforcement or correctional officer.

Students who only want to become law enforcement or correctional officers may want to consider completing one of North Central Michigan College’s related programs, such as the Associate of Applied Science in Law Enforcement or the Certificate of Development in Corrections.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $144/credit in-district | $240/credit in-state| $310/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus, Full-Time
  • Specializations: None
  • Credits: 60-62
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $144/credit in-district | $240/credit in-state| $310/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus, Full-Time
  • Specializations: None

Alpena Community College

Alpena Community College offers three options for associate degrees and one option for a certificate program in criminal justice. The Associate in Arts Criminal Justice Transfer Program is intended for students who want to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Alpena Community College also offers the Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice degree, which is ideal for students who want to work after they graduate. Two specializations are available: Pre-Service and Corrections. The former is for aspiring police officers, and the curriculum prepares graduates to move on to academy training. In contrast, the Corrections specialization includes the necessary coursework for future corrections officers. Another option is the Corrections Officer Academic Program Certificate, which provides the necessary academic requirements for those interested in working in the Michigan state prison system after graduation.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 61-62
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $150/credit in-district | $239/credit out-of-district
  • Delivery: On-Campus, Full-Time
  • Specializations: None
  • Credits: 63-66
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $150/credit in-district | $239/credit out-of-district
  • Delivery: On-Campus, Full-Time
  • Specializations: Pre-Service and Corrections
  • Credits: 17-18
  • Length: Less than 1 year
  • Cost: $150/credit in-district | $239/credit out-of-district
  • Delivery: On-Campus, Full-Time
  • Specializations: None

Michigan State University

Michigan State University is one of the state’s premier institutions for higher learning, and its School of Criminal Justice offers degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels. Students interested in getting a bachelor’s degree can choose the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, which also allows them to minor in Security Management.

Future graduate students have three programs to choose from. Those wishing to earn a master’s degree can enroll in the online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice while on-campus students have the option of earning a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. One special feature of the Master of Arts program besides being online is that students can complete the Security Management specialization. There’s also a master’s in Forensic Science and an online master’s in Law Enforcement and Digital Investigation

Lastly, there’s the PhD in Criminal Justice. Of the 60 required credits to earn this Doctor of Philosophy degree, 24 will be in dissertation and research. While the doctoral program no longer requires comprehensive exams, students instead complete two papers in their specialty areas (Criminological Theory; Criminal Justice; and Law and Society).

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: About 4 years
  • Cost: $521.75/credit in-state | $1,434.25/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus, Full-Time
  • Specialization: Security Management
  • Credits: 30
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $867/credit in-state | $1,703.50/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: Online, Full-Time
  • Specialization: Security Management
  • Credits: 30
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $867/credit in-state | $1,703.50/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus, Full-Time
  • Specializations: None
  • Credits: 60
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $867/credit in-state | $1,703.50/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus, Full-Time
  • Specializations: Criminological Theory; Criminal Justice; and Law and Society

Top-Ranked Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs in Michigan

Many of the criminal justice schools in Michigan offer coursework through on-campus classes and experiential learning. However, many students interested in a criminal justice program have families and/or careers, and the only way they can go back to school is if some or all of the classes are online. Thankfully, schools offer many online criminal justice degree programs in Michigan.

Depending on the school, many of these programs are fully online, with no in-person requirements. Some or all of the courses are available asynchronously, meaning students can attend class from anywhere and at any time. Other online criminal justice degrees in Michigan have blended or hybrid curricula, combining online classwork with on-campus classes and/or other in-person learning requirements.

Below are a few notable schools in Michigan with online criminal justice programs to give you an idea of what’s available. If you’d like to learn more about options in Michigan and in other states, check out our guide to online criminal justice degrees.

University of Michigan – Dearborn

The University of Michigan – Dearborn offers its online Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice for those already in the criminal justice field who want to shift into management, administration, research, or policymaking. Because of the diverse careers available with this degree, the curriculum has an extensive number of flexible learning options. For example, the program can be completed 100% online or in a hybrid format, with students taking classes online and on-campus. Some of the on-campus classes are available during the evenings. Of the required 30-32 credits, nine credits will be in elective courses.

Students complete their program with either a master’s essay or master’s thesis. The former is ideal for those who want to continue working in the criminal justice field after they graduate, while the latter is better suited for those who want to move on to a doctoral program or move into teaching or research.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 30-32
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $909/credit in-state | $1,640/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: Online, Hybrid; Full-Time
  • Specialization: Administration

Oakland Community College

Students thinking about starting a career in criminal justice will appreciate Oakland Community College’s online Associate of Applied Science Criminal Justice Generalist program. Students with busy schedules will appreciate that the program can be completed without any in-person requirements. The coursework provides foundational knowledge in law enforcement protocols and criminal procedures and satisfies the academic requirements for entry into a Michigan police academy and future career as a certified Michigan law enforcement officer.

Students not interested in immediately entering a criminal justice occupation after graduation can transfer to a four-year school and earn their bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. In addition to the core criminal justice courses, students choose two elective classes so they can tailor their degree to their specific professional and academic needs. Besides taking courses remotely, students also have the option of enrolling in this online criminal justice degree in Michigan on a part-time or full-time basis.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 61-62
  • Length: About 2-3 years
  • Cost: $107/credit in-district | $205/credit out-of-district
  • Delivery: Online; Full-Time, Part-Time
  • Specializations: None

Wayne State University

When it comes to earning a graduate criminal justice degree as flexibly as possible, it’s hard to beat what Wayne State University’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers. The Master of Science in Criminal Justice is available 100% online, which makes it ideal for working students. Besides online learning, the program also offers small class sizes and opportunities to gain real-world experience. Another way in which the online master’s program from Wayne State University provides flexible learning is the fact that, of the required 30 credits needed to graduate, 18 are in elective courses. Finally, students can choose to complete either a master’s thesis or a master’s essay as the final portion of this online criminal justice degree in Michigan.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: Less than 2 years
  • Cost: $762.53/credit in-state | $1,651.64/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: Online, Full-Time
  • Specialization: Joint program combining JD and MS in Criminal Justice degrees

Types of Criminal Justice Degrees in Michigan You Can Earn

With the tremendous growth in online learning, many schools in Michigan and elsewhere have begun shifting their traditional criminal justice college programs into hybrid or fully online criminal justice programs. This makes learning much more convenient for students who are also managing other responsibilities, such as a job or family. The next few sections look at various types of traditional and online criminal justice programs offered by Michigan schools.

Associate Degrees

A college degree is required for some entry-level positions within the criminal justice realm. An associate degree in criminal justice generally takes two years, making it ideal for those who want to begin working and gaining experience as quickly as possible. Many programs allow students to easily transfer into a four-year bachelor’s program if they decide to continue their education instead of entering the workforce after graduation.

Examples of Accredited Michigan Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Bay CollegeEscanabaOn-CampusHLC
Lake Michigan CollegeBenton HarborOn-CampusHLC
Northwestern Michigan CollegeTraverse CityOnline and On-CampusHLC
Washtenaw Community CollegeAnn ArborOnline and On-CampusHLC
Northern Michigan UniversityMarquetteOnline and On-CampusHLC

Bachelor’s Degrees

Some criminal justice jobs call for a more comprehensive education and therefore require a four-year degree. Plus, some students know they’ll want to earn a graduate degree in the future, so getting a bachelor’s instead of an associate degree makes sense. Students pursuing a criminal justice program in Michigan that leads to a bachelor’s degree will complete additional coursework not only in general education subjects but also within the criminal justice major. This can make them more marketable and make it easier to get hired for a legal, correctional, or law enforcement position.

Examples of Accredited Michigan Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
University of Michigan – FlintFlintHybridHLC
Western Michigan UniversityKalamazooOnline and On-CampusHLC
Southwestern Michigan CollegeDowagiacOn-CampusHLC
Saginaw Valley State UniversityUniversity CenterOn-CampusHLC
Central Michigan UniversityMount PleasantOn-CampusHLC

Master’s Degrees

Master’s degree in criminal justice programs in Michigan are typically aimed at prospective students who are already working in the field but want to take on additional responsibility or new roles within their current organization. A master’s degree may help the student meet eligibility requirements for a transfer or promotion. Other times, a student will need a master’s degree for specialized knowledge in a particular area of criminal justice, like cybersecurity, to do their job effectively.

Examples of Accredited Michigan Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Ferris State UniversityBig RapidsOn-CampusHLC
University of Michigan – DearbornDearbornOnline and On-CampusHLC
University of Detroit MercyDetroitOn-CampusHLC
Eastern Michigan UniversityYpsilantiOnline and On-CampusHLC
Wayne State UniversityDetroitOnline and On-CampusHLC

Doctoral Degrees

Most criminal justice programs in Michigan offer certificate, associate, bachelor’s, and master’s level tracks; very few positions within the criminal justice profession require a doctorate. However, a criminal justice doctorate can be helpful for individuals who want to teach at the post-secondary level, conduct high-level research, and/or play a role in creating new policies that address social issues, including crime. Much of the curriculum focuses on research skills, as well as learning about new theories and approaches to societal law enforcement and penal systems.

Examples of Accredited Michigan Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Michigan State UniversityEast LansingOn-CampusHLC

Certificate Programs

Criminal justice certificate programs in Michigan offer a perfect balance of enhanced skills and training without the financial and time commitments of earning a degree. Some certificate programs focus on a very specific area of criminal justice and are best for those currently in the field who are looking to specialize or take on additional responsibilities. Other certificate programs provide more general criminal justice knowledge and allow individuals who already have a college or graduate degree to enter the field without wasting time and money retaking general education courses.

Examples of Accredited Michigan Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Kellogg Community CollegeBattle CreekOn-CampusHLC
Monroe County Community CollegeMonroeOn-CampusHLC
Montcalm Community CollegeSidneyOn-CampusHLC
Grand Valley State UniversityGrand RapidsOn-CampusHLC
Mid Michigan CollegeHarrisonOn-CampusHLC

Financial Aid Opportunities for Criminal Justice Students in Michigan

Students enrolled in one of the many criminal justice schools in Michigan will have access to the same financial aid resources that students in other areas of study enjoy. This includes student loans (private and federal) and gift-based aid, such as scholarships, fellowships, and grants. These latter forms of financial aid are ideal because they don’t have to be paid back. They’re typically available from corporations, nonprofit and student organizations, and the schools themselves. To increase the chances of receiving an award, students may want to focus on awards and scholarships reserved for those studying criminal justice. Examples include scholarships offered by Alpha Phi Sigma, the Michigan Association of Police, and Michigan State University.

Because many students enrolled in criminal justice schools in Michigan are working professionals, another source of financial assistance can be an employer tuition reimbursement or discount program. Students pay a discounted tuition rate (or no tuition at all) as long as they enroll at an eligible school or program. To learn more about financial aid options for criminal justice students, please visit our criminal justice scholarships and resources page.

Job Outlook and Earnings for Criminal Justice Professionals in Michigan

Graduates from criminal justice schools in Michigan will appreciate the fact that most positions they’re likely to work in earn a respectable wage, as evidenced by the chart below. In addition to good earnings, most criminal justice jobs have solid projected growth rates.

One exception is correctional officers and jailers. However, Michigan stands out compared to the national average in that its 2020 to 2030 growth rate of -3.8% is far more favorable than the -7.2% that’s projected for the rest of the country.

As for many of the other common jobs that employ graduates of on-campus and online criminal justice schools, Michigan’s anticipated growth is very similar to the average for the United States.

Job Growth Rate
(2020-2030)
Average Annual Openings
(2020-2030)
Annual Mean Wage (2022)
Security Guards13.8%3,760$33,320
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers7.9%1,580$63,450
Private Detectives and Investigators8.8%80$58,490
Court, Municipal, and License Clerks7.8%840$44,160
Correctional Officers and Jailers-3.8%760$55,180

Sources: Projections Central;Bureau of Labor Statistics

Resources and Organizations for Criminal Justice Professionals in Michigan

  • Alpha Phi Sigma
    Alpha Phi Sigma is a criminal justice honor society with school-specific chapters, including those in Michigan. Some of the benefits of membership include a newsletter, conferences, and access to job and professional resources.
  • American Criminal Justice Association
    Also known as Lambda Alpha Epsilon, this is one of the largest criminal justice student associations in the United States. You’ll find collegiate, professional, and regional chapters in Michigan.
  • Michigan Association of Police
    The Michigan Association of Police’s mission is to protect and promote the interests of the state’s law enforcement officers. It accomplishes this goal by providing professional, legislative, and financial resources. Members can also take advantage of seminars, networking events, and fundraising activities.
  • Michigan Corrections Association
    The Michigan Corrections Association represents the interests of all Michigan corrections professionals and offers resources and tools. These include networking events, training seminars, and newsletters.
  • Michigan Sheriffs’ Association
    As the oldest professional organization for law enforcement personnel, the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association works to establish ethical and professional guidelines for sheriffs and their deputies within the state. This organization also offers education and training programs to law enforcement members and civilians.