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Best Criminal Justice Schools in Virginia: Online/Campus

Considering a criminal justice career in Virginia? Discover how you can launch or advance that career by earning your degree or certificate — online or on-campus — from top programs in the state. Keep reading to browse these spotlights and learn about financial aid resources and job opportunities.

Author: James Mielke
Editor: STEPS Staff

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Whether you’re interested in law school, public policy, law enforcement, or different professional goal, criminal justice degrees in Virginia offer solid preparation for countless careers and graduate-level studies. Virginia is home to a roster of outstanding undergraduate and graduate criminal justice programs that are available for both in-person and online learners.

Throughout this page, we’ll walk you through criminal justice programs in Virginia, what you can expect, what you’ll pay, and what your career prospects will be upon graduation. Additionally, we spotlight the best criminal justice programs that Virginia has to offer. Keep scrolling to see how a criminal justice degree can help propel your career forward.

Best Virginia Colleges for Criminal Justice in 2024

A successful criminal justice career starts with the right education, and our spotlights are here to help in the hunt for the best school for you. We’ve taken the time to highlight schools that prioritize affordability, accreditation, and comprehensive student support—essential elements to your college experience. Continue reading to see which programs top our list.

While we’ve only showcased three Virginia criminal justice programs below, stay tuned for our full college ranking to see a more comprehensive list of quality programs.

George Mason University

Based in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., George Mason University is a public research institution that’s home to undergraduate and graduate degrees in criminal justice and criminology, law, and society. Throughout these programs, students dive into the American justice system and its impact on everything from communities to the court system.

As undergraduate students progress through this 120-credit program, they tackle core classes such as introduction to criminal justice, criminal justice ethics, constitutional law, and a degree-culminating capstone course. In addition to core coursework, students choose from three concentrations: criminal justice, homeland security and justice, and law and society.

Additionally, students have access to a 4 + 1 pathway, allowing them to complete a criminal justice master’s in just five years. A standalone criminal justice master’s is also available; students complete essential classes such as leadership in justice organizations, criminal justice research methods, and legal and ethical issues in criminal justice.

Because of Mason’s proximity to Washington, D.C., students can access countless internship opportunities in roles spanning from nonprofits to law enforcement. When applying to Mason, prospective students are evaluated holistically. The school considers past academic performance, personal experiences, and standardized test scores.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $421/credit in-state | $1,428/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Specializations: Criminal justice; homeland security and justice; law and society
  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $772/credit in-state | $1,687/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Credits: 138
  • Length: 5 years
  • Cost: $421/credit in-state (undergraduate); $772/credit in-state (graduate) | $1,428/credit out-of-state (undergraduate); $1,687/credit out-of-state (graduate)
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Credits: 72
  • Length: 5 years
  • Cost: Varies with funding
  • Delivery: On-Campus

Radford University

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Radford University was established in 1910 and serves over 10,000 students. This public university is home to both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice that prepare students for a long list of careers including business, law, law enforcement, and social services. Radford also offers a crime analysis graduate certificate that professionals can use to enhance their skills and expand their career options.

Throughout Radford’s undergraduate criminal justice program in Virginia, students tackle 24 credits of core major classes, including introduction to criminal justice, corrections, diversity issues in the criminal justice system, and research methods in criminal justice. At the graduate level, students complete courses covering topics such as quantitative methods in criminal justice research, studies in criminological theory, and public policy and criminal justice.

Prospective undergraduate students can apply directly to Radford or through the Common App; there is no fee when applying. Additionally, grad students must hold a minimum 2.9 GPA and submit letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and a personal statement. Applicants aren’t required to submit standardized test scores for admission.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $6,143/semester in-state | $12,593/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $394/credit in-state | $770/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Credits: 15
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $394/credit in-state | $770/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: Online

Virginia Commonwealth University

Founded in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is a public research institution with more than 82,000 students. VCU is based in Richmond and is home to both undergraduate and graduate criminal justice programs that prepare students for a diverse set of careers or further graduate-level study. In addition to major requirements, VCU criminal justice students can pursue a specialization in forensic crime scene investigation.

Throughout VCU’s 120-credit criminal justice bachelor’s program in Virginia, students complete core requirements while also having the option of completing a forensic crime scene investigation specialization. Alongside traditional undergraduate options, VCU also offers 4 + 1 pathways that allow students to complete both undergraduate and master’s coursework in just five years.

Prospective VCU undergrads must apply through the Common Application; successful applicants typically complete a college-prep curriculum in high school. VCU does not require criminal justice students to submit standardized test scores for undergraduate or graduate admission.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $443/credit in-state | $582/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Specialization: Forensic Crime Scene Investigation
  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $745/credit in-state | $1,531/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus
  • Credits: 15
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $596/credit in-state | $1,531/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus

Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs in Virginia

In the world of criminal justice education, online programs in Virginia have not only emerged as a compelling alternative to campus-based options but also have expanded access to higher education. Particularly suited for busy professionals, adult learners, and those seeking convenience and affordability, online criminal justice programs in Virginia offer flexibility while providing quality academic content.

While earning your criminal justice degree online, you’ll likely encounter virtual classes, recorded lectures, online course materials, and group discussions. In addition to course content, standout online criminal justice programs in Virginia provide robust resources for distance learners, including online libraries, tutoring, counseling, and faculty support.

To aid in your pursuit of the right online criminal justice program, we’ve identified three standout criminal justice schools in Virginia. For a more comprehensive guide to online criminal justice degrees, be sure to check out our main guide to online criminal justice degrees in Virginia and elsewhere.

Liberty University

Established in 1971 and based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is a private Christian university that’s known for its expansive roster of online programs. Among the school’s online options are criminal justice programs that span associate to doctoral degrees. These flexible, 100% online degrees offer multiple start dates per year, and students complete classes in eight-week sessions.

Through these online criminal justice degrees in Virginia, students explore the criminal justice field while developing marketable skills in areas such as policy analysis, crisis response strategies, public administration, and management and leadership techniques. Undergraduates complete core classes and general education requirements; students can also complete a concentration in criminal psychology, crime scene investigation, homeland security, or public administration.

Prospective Liberty University students can apply online or over the phone. While you only need an unofficial transcript for admission, when you enroll you must supply an official transcript within 60 days of acceptance.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 1.5 years
  • Cost: $390/credit
  • Delivery: Fully Online/Part-Time/Full-Time
  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 3.5 years
  • Cost: $390/credit
  • Delivery: Fully Online/Part-Time/Full-Time
  • Specializations: General; Business Administration and Management; Corrections and Human Services; Criminal Psychology; Crime Scene Investigation; Homeland Security; Juvenile Justice; Public Administration; Strategic Intelligence Studies
  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 1.5 years
  • Cost: $565/credit
  • Delivery: Fully Online/Part-Time/Full-Time
  • Specializations: General; Corrections Management; Cybercrime Investigation; Forensic Psychology; Homeland Security; Law Enforcement Leadership; Legal Studies; Public Administration; Restorative Justice
  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 3 years
  • Cost: $595/credit full-time | $650/credit part-time
  • Delivery: Fully Online/Part-Time/Full-Time
  • Specializations: General; Homeland Security; Leadership
  • Credits: 21
  • Length: 1 year
  • Cost: $565/credit
  • Delivery: Fully Online/Part-Time/Full-Time

Old Dominion University

Based in Norfolk, Virginia, Old Dominion University is a public research institution that serves over 24,000 students. Among this public school’s online programs is a bachelor’s in criminal justice that offers a flexible and affordable pathway toward careers in fields such as corrections, law, public policy, and policing.

As learners work through this 100% online criminal justice degree in Virgina, they encounter the legal, social, and tech foundations of the criminal justice field. With the required 120 credits, students tackle core classes such as introduction to criminology, law and the criminal justice system, criminological theory, and a degree-culminating capstone research project.

Every Old Dominion applicant gets paired with an admission coach. Students can apply for start dates in the fall, spring, or summer. Additionally, Old Dominion partners with Virginia community colleges to ensure a seamless transition for those wanting to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $393/credit in-state | $423/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: Fully Online
  • Specializations: None

Virginia Wesleyan University

Established in 1961, Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU) is a small, private Christian institution based in Virginia Beach. The school offers a 100% online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in Virginia that leans on an interdisciplinary approach and liberal arts foundation. VWU’s online programming prioritizes flexibility and allows students to complete coursework at their own pace and on their own time.

Throughout this 128-credit online program, students complete core classes such as criminology, introduction to social research, criminal law, corrections, and law enforcement. VWU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and is a military-friendly institution participating in the Yellow Ribbon program.

Prospective students with fewer than 12 credits of college-level coursework must submit high school transcripts and SAT/ACT scores. Those transferring to VWU must have a cumulative college GPA of at least 2.0.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 128
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $399/credit
  • Delivery: Fully Online
  • Specializations: None

Types of Criminal Justice Degrees in Virginia You Can Earn

Whether you’re just starting your academic journey or looking to start a new career, you’ll discover a diverse range of criminal justice programs in Virginia. From traditional campus-based options to flexible online programs, Virginia provides academic opportunities for degree-seekers at every stage of their higher education journey. The section below highlights various degree programs that can help you achieve your academic and professional goals. Keep reading to learn more about which criminal justice schools in Virginia stand out.

Criminal Justice Associate Degrees

An associate degree in criminal justice serves as a foundational education for individuals seeking entry-level positions in the field. These programs cover fundamental concepts of law enforcement, corrections, and law, with graduates often securing jobs as police officers, security guards, and in various administrative positions. Additionally, an associate degree from a criminal justice school in Virginia can be a stepping stone for a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

Examples of Accredited Virginia Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC
Tidewater Community CollegeNorfolk, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC
Regent UniversityVirginia Beach, VAOn-Campus, OnlineSACSCOC
Northern Virginia Community CollegeAnnandale, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC
Virginia Western Community CollegeRoanoke, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC

Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degrees

A bachelor’s degree from a criminal justice school in Virginia is designed for students aspiring to develop in-depth knowledge and prepare for leadership roles in the criminal justice system. These programs suit individuals seeking an understanding of law enforcement, criminology, and legal processes. Graduates are well-prepared for various careers in criminal justice and often pursue advanced degrees in law or graduate studies in criminal justice.

Examples of Accredited Virginia Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VAOnlineSACSCOC
Virginia Wesleyan UniversityVirginia Beach, VAOnlineSACSCOC
Old Dominion UniversityNorfolk, VAOn-Campus; OnlineSACSCOC
George Mason UniversityFairfax, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmond, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC

Criminal Justice Master’s Degrees

A master’s degree from a criminal justice school in Virginia is ideal for individuals pursuing expertise and leadership positions within criminal justice and related fields. Tailored for students seeking a deep understanding of topics such as criminology, law enforcement strategies, and public policy, this program equips graduates for diverse roles, including criminal justice administrators, policy analysts, and forensic psychologists. Additionally, graduates often thrive in dynamic careers across government agencies, research institutions, and advocacy organizations.

Examples of Accredited Virginia Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VAOnlineSACSCOC
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmond, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC
George Mason UniversityFairfax, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC
Radford UniversityRadford, VAOn-Campus; OnlineSACSCOC
South UniversityVirginia Beach, VAOnline; HybridSACSCOC

Criminal Justice Doctoral Degrees

Criminal justice programs in Virginia at the doctoral level are ideal for students wanting to max out their expertise in the field. These programs are crafted for graduate students with a passion for advancing criminological theory, policy analysis, and justice reform, preparing graduates for roles as university professors, high-level researchers, consultants, and leaders in criminal justice–related fields. Graduates often go on to shape forward-looking policies and drive change within the field.

Examples of Accredited Virginia Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VAOnlineSACSCOC
Old Dominion UniversityNorfolk, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC
George Mason UniversityFairfax, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC

Criminal Justice Certificates

Criminal justice program certificates in Virginia offer targeted information for individuals seeking specialized skills in the field. These programs are ideal for students who want to enhance their professional toolbox while not committing to the hefty academic requirements and time commitment of a full undergraduate or graduate program. Criminal justice certificates vary, but popular topics include cybersecurity, forensic science, homeland security, criminal justice policy, and crime scene investigation.

Examples of Accredited Virginia Colleges with this Criminal Justice Degree

CollegeLocationDeliveryAccreditation
Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VAOnlineSACSCOC
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmond, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC
Radford UniversityRadford, VAOn-CampusSACSCOC
Regent UniversityVirginia Beach, VAOn-Campus; OnlineSACSCOC
Reynolds Community CollegeRichmond, VAOnlineSACSCOC

Where to Get Help Paying for Your Criminal Justice Degree in Virginia

Attending a criminal justice school in Virginia often requires a significant investment of both time and money. And while a criminal justice degree can significantly enhance your career options and earning potential, finding a way to cut costs and secure funding is often vital when deciding which Virginia criminal justice school offers the best program for you. Thankfully, the state is home to a long list of financial aid opportunities that can help mitigate the financial stress often associated with higher education.

Criminal justice schools in Virginia offer various avenues for students to secure financial aid and scholarships to support their education. The Virginia Department of Education offers the need-based Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program, which provides financial aid to eligible in-state students. Additionally, the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant Program assists Virginia residents attending private, nonprofit colleges in the state.

Scholarships are also widely available, with financial assistance coming from both private sources and schools themselves. From Virginia State University’s institutional awards and George Mason University’s OLLI Scholarship to the Virginia Sheriffs’ Institute scholarship program, these opportunities can help fund your education while empowering you to pursue your academic and career goals.

Be sure to check out our criminal justice scholarships and resources page to learn more ways to fund your criminal justice program in Virginia.

Employment and Earnings Outlook for Criminal Justice Grads in Virginia

Virginia is a large and diverse state and, as a result, the criminal justice career options, employment projections, and earnings outlooks vary widely. Factors such as experience, location, and education impact how much you’ll earn with a criminal justice degree from a school in Virginia.

Whether you’re in the Shenandoah Valley or working in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., many criminal justice jobs are projected to grow over the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analyst roles could expand by as much as 32% by 2032, forensic science technicians will grow by 13%, and corrections counseling jobs will grow by 9%.

And while workers in Virginia tend to earn less than national averages, these numbers don’t tell the whole story. For example, Virginia police officers earn an average salary of about $58,000, but police in Washington, D.C., begin their careers earning about $66,000. As a result, be sure to consider how your location will impact how much you make.

Read on as we spotlight wage and job growth data for various criminal justice jobs in Virginia below.

Job Growth Rate
(2020-2030)
Average Annual Openings
(2020-2030)
Annual Mean Wage
(2022)
Police and Detectives3%1,750$69,160
Forensic Science Technicians13%60$63,740
Correctional Treatment Specialists3%240$59,860
Information Security Analyst32%1,970$112,000
Private Detectives and Investigators6%240$52,120

Sources: Projections Central;Bureau of Labor Statistics

Resources for Criminal Justice Students and Professionals in Virginia

  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Careers
    This is your hub for DHS jobs, with ample options in Virginia and Washington, D.C. Featured hiring paths include cybersecurity careers, women in law enforcement, and students and recent college graduates.
  • FBI Jobs
    For students interested in a career with the FBI, this page is the home base for all of your FBI career needs. From a job placement quiz to job postings, this recruiting site can help jumpstart your career as one of the over 37,000 FBI professionals across the United States.
  • Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services
    Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services is a state agency providing training, resources, and oversight to enhance professionalism and effectiveness in the state’s criminal justice system. Check out this page for news, conferences, and training.
  • Virginia Sheriffs’ Association
    The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association provides valuable resources, training, and networking opportunities for law enforcement professionals across the state, enhancing their skills and promoting effective law enforcement practices.
  • University of Virginia’s Center for Criminal Justice
    For future lawyers, the University of Virginia’s Center for Criminal Justice is a solid resource that promotes a more just society. This group offers clinics in areas such as juvenile justice, criminal defense and prosecution, and arrest procedures.