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Best Criminal Justice Schools in Tennessee: Online/Campus

Explore the best criminal justice schools in Tennessee and see how a criminal justice degree can launch or advance your career as a law enforcement, security, or legal system professional.

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11/29/2023

Serving your community while protecting the rights of individuals: Criminal justice professionals in Tennessee do both. Through careers as police and corrections officers, probation and parole officials, private investigators, security experts, policymakers and more, criminal justice pros are on the front lines of ensuring the public’s safety. Getting started in your criminal justice career, though, requires a formal education, the kind available from degree and certificate programs at criminal justice schools throughout the state.

We’ve created this guide to introduce you to the best criminal justice schools in Tennessee today. You’ll start by exploring the top on-campus and online criminal justice degree programs in Tennessee. Then you’ll learn about financial aid options, and we’ll also give you a preview of the job opportunities awaiting you upon graduation. If you’re ready to serve your community by earning your criminal justice degree, keep reading to discover the best Tennessee has to offer.

Best Colleges in Tennessee to Earn Your Criminal Justice Degree: 2024

One of the best ways to find out what a criminal justice education is all about is to look at what the best degree and certificate programs have to offer. That’s why we surveyed the criminal justice schools in Tennessee and chose three of the very best to spotlight below. Our selections were made by considering several important student-focused program factors, including accreditation, affordability, quality curriculums and faculty, and access to useful academic and career support services. Bookmark this page, as we have a complete ranking of criminal justice schools in Tennessee coming soon.

East Tennessee State University

East Tennessee State University in Johnson City offers lots of quality, affordable options for criminal justice students through its Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology. Undergraduate students choose between a general Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology or a degree with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Science. Both bachelor’s programs include the same set of core criminal justice courses. Select seniors have the option of participating in a 200- to 400-hour field experience (available during the summer semester only) with a program-affiliated law enforcement agency or other criminal justice organization.

ETSU offers its Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology in both on-campus and fully online formats. On-campus students have the option of completing either a thesis or comprehensive exam as their culminating experience, while online students are limited to the comprehensive exam only. Also available is a 100% online graduate certificate in Forensic Document Examination designed for students seeking credentials in handwriting and document analysis.

Program Highlights:

BA in Criminal Justice and Criminology

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost (tuition + fees): $441 per credit in-state | $469 per credit border states (GA, KY, NC, SC, VA) | $569 per credit out-of-state | $1,202 per credit returning USA seniors and international students
  • Delivery: On campus; Full time
  • Specializations: General; Social and Behavioral Science

MA in Criminal Justice and Criminology

  • Credits: 33 (with thesis); 36 (with comprehensive exam)
  • Length: As few as 20 months
  • Cost (tuition + fees): $613 per credit in-state | $1,454 per credit out-of-state | $550 per credit all online students (after tuition waivers)
  • Delivery: On campus; Fully online; Full time; Part time
  • Specializations: None

Graduate Certificate in Forensic Document Examination

  • Credits: 12
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $550 per credit all students (after student tuition waivers available to all online students)
  • Delivery: Fully online; Part time
  • Specializations: None

Tennessee State University

The Criminal Justice Department at Tennessee State University in Nashville offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a very unique bachelor’s degree option for off-campus students. The Off-Campus Bachelors Degree Completion (2+2) Program allows area students to earn their TSU criminal justice bachelor’s at select community colleges in the Middle Tennessee state region. Students first earn a criminal justice associate degree at their community college, and then complete all junior and senior year TSU criminal justice coursework at that same community college campus. This program is currently available in partnership with Motlow State Community College and Volunteer State Community College, but TSU expects to add additional schools to the program in the future.

TSU additionally offers a standard BS in Criminal Justice degree that can be completed online, as well as a campus-based Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ) program that features both thesis and non-thesis (comprehensive exam) options.

Program Highlights:

BS in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost (tuition + fees): $500 per credit in-state and out-of-state
  • Delivery: Online; Full time
  • Specializations: None

Off-Campus BS in Criminal Justice Degree Completion

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost (tuition + fees): $500 per credit in-state and out-of-state (TSU courses only). Check with the community college you wish to attend for associate degree tuition rates.
  • Delivery: Blended; Full time
  • Specializations: None

Master of Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: Varies (depending on student’s chosen study pace and choice of thesis or exam culminating experience).
  • Cost (tuition + fees): $533 per credit in-state | $1,115 per credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On campus; Full time; Part time
  • Specializations: None

University of Memphis

The University of Memphis is a major public research university serving over 21,000 students on its Memphis and satellite campuses, as well as around the world through its UofM Global program. UofM’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is home to bachelor’s and master’s criminal justice degree programs available both on-campus and online. Students in the Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice program can complete their coursework entirely online, entirely on-campus (at either UofM’s main campus in Memphis or its Lambuth campus in Jackson), or through a hybrid approach. Additionally, bachelor’s students who have completed at least 55 course credits with a GPA of 3.25 or higher may apply for the department’s Honors Program. All UofM students interested in the fields of criminology and criminal justice, regardless of whether they are pursuing a degree in the field, may join the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice Student Association — with active groups on both the Memphis and Lambuth campuses.

Program Highlights:

BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost (tuition + fees): $431 per credit in-state and all online students | $616 per credit out-of-state on-campus students| $801 per credit international on-campus students
  • Delivery: On campus; Online; Hybrid; Full time
  • Specializations: None

MA in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 33
  • Length: Varies by student’s chosen study pace.
  • Cost (tuition + fees): $623 per credit in-state and all online students | $846 per credit out-of-state on-campus students| $1,069 per credit international on-campus students
  • Delivery: On campus; Online; Full time; Part time
  • Specializations: None

Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs in Tennessee

As the spotlights above indicate, some criminal justice programs in Tennessee are available online. These programs offer busy students, especially working professionals, the flexibility and convenience of completing some or all criminal justice coursework at home or from anywhere with access to a reliable internet connection. Saving students the added cost of traveling to and from campus to attend classes is another major feature of earning your degree or certificate online. To learn more about the benefits of online study and to explore online criminal justice programs in Tennessee and other states, be sure to visit our guide to online criminal justice degrees. And here’s a look at three quality schools offering online criminal justice degrees in Tennessee:

Austin Peay State University

Austin Peay State University in Clarksville offers two bachelor’s and two master’s degree options through its Criminal Justice Department, all four of which are available fully online. Bachelor’s students additionally have the option of completing their coursework entirely on campus or by combining online and on-campus classes. All on-campus classes are available on both the Clarksville and Fort Campbell campuses. Students on both degree levels have the option of either a standard criminal justice curriculum or a concentration in Homeland Security. Faculty members are drawn from both APSU’s criminal justice department and military members from Fort Campbell. The bachelor’s program is presented in a four-year, full-time format, while master’s students choose between one-year of full-time study and two-year, part-time study. Tuition discounts are available to all uniformed military personnel. All qualifying APSU criminal justice students, on-campus and online alike, can take advantage of the many benefits of membership in the Phi Kappa Chapter of the Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society.

Program Highlights:

BS in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost (tuition + fees): $410.35 per credit in-state (online) | $375.35 per credit in-state (on-campus) | $556.35 per credit out-of-state (fully online students) | $606.35 per credit out-of-state (on-campus and hybrid students)
  • Mode: Online; On campus; Hybrid; Full time
  • Specializations: Homeland Security

MS in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 1 or 2 years
  • Cost (tuition + fees): $609.35 per credit in-state | $844.35 per credit out-of-state
  • Mode: Fully online; Part time; Full time
  • Specializations: Homeland Security

University of Tennessee Martin

The Department of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Tennessee Martin features what is likely the most comprehensive slate of online criminal justice degree and certificate program options available from any four-year college or university in the state. On the undergraduate level, UTC offers five options as part of its Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program. Students choose either the Generalist curriculum or one of four specialization tracks in Forensics, Justice Studies, Juvenile Justice, or Law Enforcement. The Generalist track can be completed 100% online, while each of the other tracks includes some program elements that must be completed on campus or otherwise in person. Graduate students can also complete UTM’s Master of Science in Criminal Justice entirely online. UTM additionally offers three fully online graduate certificates in Corrections Administration, Law Enforcement Administration, and Leadership. MSCJ students may incorporate the Corrections Administration Certificate or the Law Enforcement Certificate, or both, into their master’s course of study.

Program Highlights:

BS in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost (tuition + fees): $425 per credit in-state (on-campus courses) | $677 per credit out-of-state (on-campus courses) | $434 per credit in-state (online courses) | $472 per credit out-of-state (online courses)
  • Mode: Fully online (Generalist); Hybrid (all others); Full time
  • Specializations: Generalist, Forensics; Justice Studies; Juvenile Justice; Law Enforcement

MS in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: Varies by student’s chosen study pace
  • Cost: $644 per credit in-state | $702 per credit out-of-state
  • Mode: Fully online; Part time; Full time
  • Specializations: None (but may complete graduate certificates as part of their master’s curriculum)

Criminal Justice Corrections Administration Graduate Certificate

  • Credits: 12
  • Length: Varies by student’s chosen study pace
  • Cost: