10 Best Criminal Justice Schools in California

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Start Your Criminal Justice Career in California!

If you’ve ever imagined yourself working in the criminal justice field as a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, or homeland security agent, a criminal justice education can help you achieve your goals.

The first step to starting a California Criminal Justice Career is to complete your high school diploma or to earn an equivalent like a GED.

Once you’ve completed high school and are over the age of 18, you can begin applying to criminal justice schools in California.

Best Criminal Justice Schools in California

The best criminal justice schools are accredited and put students on track to entry-level criminal justice careers working in law offices, courtrooms, and corrections facilities.

Below, we provide an overview of some of the best criminal justice schools in California! Find details on programs of study, courses, offered, current tuition rates for each program, and contact information.

1 Sonoma State University

About the Program

The Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies Program at Sonoma State University offers students a comprehensive criminal justice education that includes topics on law enforcement concerns, public awareness issues, and diversity.

Sonoma State students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Studies or a minor in the same.

The 120-credit hour bachelor’s degree program takes most students about four years to complete courses in general education, core courses, and elective criminal justice studies.

Courses Offered

  • White Collar Crime
  • Women and Crime
  • Drugs and Society
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Media, Crime, and Criminal Justice
  • Rights of the Accused
  • Police, Courts, and Community Relations
  • Punishments and Corrections

Program Costs: $7,988.00 – $20,828.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, California - 94928
  • Phone: 707-664-2880
  • Website: Visit School Website

2 California State University - Los Angeles

About the Program

Cal State LA gives local area students several options for completing their criminal justice education.

Their School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a Criminal Justice minor.

Students who enroll at Cal State gain a comprehensive education that introduces them to key concepts related to the administration of justice for adults and juveniles moving through America’s courts and correctional facilities.

Their curriculum also readies students for practical work using California Criminal Justice policy and police procedures.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to the Administration of Justice
  • Judicial Organization
  • Juvenile Justice
  • California Criminal Justice Policy
  • Forensic Mental Health
  • Police and the Media
  • Hate Crimes
  • Civic Engagement in Criminal Justice
  • Offender Reentry
  • Criminal Justice Leadership

Program Costs: $6,814.00 – $18,468.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles, California - 90032
  • Phone: 323-343-3000
  • Website: Visit School Website

3 University of California - Irvine

About the Program

The University of California at Irvine operates its Criminology, Law, and Society program offers several routes for students seeking criminal justice education.

They have undergraduate, graduate, and certificate-based programs with on-campus and online options.

Students who enroll in the CLS program offered by UCI gain access to an interdisciplinary criminal justice program that intersection with social, political, and economic forces and studies them as potential drivers of criminal behavior.

This program offers a pre-law-based curriculum that prepares students for practical criminal justice careers and entering law school to further their education.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminology, Law and Society
  • Formal Institutions of Social Control
  • Crime and Criminology
  • Justice and Inequalities
  • The Legal System Law and Society
  • American Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Introduction to the Comparative Study of Legal Cultures
  • Domestic Violence
  • Drugs Crime and Social Control

Program Costs: $15,185.00 – $47,759.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 2340 Social Ecology II, Irvine, California - 92697
  • Phone: 949-824-1442
  • Website: Visit School Website

4 University of California - Los Angeles

About the Program

UCLA offers an extensive criminal justice program that exposes students to the skills, curriculum, and hands-on Practicum required to work in the field.

Students can take a variety of criminal justice-related coursework and take part in immersive experiences and clinics like the Criminal Defense Clinic, Prisoners Rights Clinic, and several other immersive learning clinics managed by their CJP program.

Their courses are taught by instructors with years of experience in the field and they encourage students to participate in student engagement activities where they can network with other students on the same learning track.

Courses Offered

  • Criminal Procedure
  • Prison, Law and Policy
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Habeas Corpus
  • Federal White Color Crime
  • Global Prospective on Criminal Procedure
  • Suing the Police
  • Sentencing, Law, and Policy

Program Costs: $53,910.00 – $64,417.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 385 Charles E Young Drive East, Los Angeles, California - 90095
  • Phone: 310-825-4841
  • Website: Visit School Website

5 San Diego State University

About the Program

The criminal justice major at San Diego State University follows a social justice and policy track.

This program is managed by the School of Public Affairs and prepares students for practice in the local justice systems and corporations.

They train future law enforcement officers, probation officers, and corrections officers on the skills needed to work in these areas.

Their coursework also prepares pre-law students for continuing their education in law school.

Students who take criminal justice studies at SDSU learn analytical skills, and rhetorical skills, and gain research experience.

Courses Offered

  • Criminal Justice and Social Control
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Crime, Law, and Justice
  • Law in Society

Program Costs: $8,290.00 – $20,170.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, California - 92182
  • Phone: 619-594-6224
  • Website: Visit School Website

6 California State University - Long Beach

About the Program

California State University at Long Beach provides criminal justice education through its School of Criminology and the School of Criminal Justice and Emergency Management.

They offer undergraduate, graduate, and certificate-level programs for aspiring criminal justice students.

Undergraduate students seeking criminal justice education at CSU can earn a bachelor of science degree or a minor in criminal justice.

Courses Offered

  • Criminal Justice Research Methods
  • Victimology
  • Criminal Courts and Judicial Processes
  • Crime and Inequality
  • Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Criminal Justice
  • The Criminal Justice System in Society
  • Investigating High Tech Crimes
  • Forensic Photography
  • Criminal Evidence and Trials
  • Correctional Environments

Program Costs: $6,904.00 – $20,936.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 1250 Belleflower Boulevard, Long Beach, California -90840
  • Phone: 562-985-4111
  • Website: Visit School Website

7 California State University - San Bernadino

About the Program

CSU at San Bernadino offers a criminal justice studies major designed to educate its students on the history and function of America’s criminal justice system.

Their program teaches foundational knowledge across a variety of related disciplines and addresses disparities within the system.

CSU’s criminal justice program ranks high on US News and World Reports Best Online Criminal Justice Degree programs.

They offer bachelor of arts and science degrees in crime analysis, criminology, and criminal justice and a certificate program in Spanish as part of their undergraduate curriculum as well as a master’s level program.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to the Criminal Justice System
  • Theories of Crime and Delinquency
  • Correctional Theory and Institutions
  • Intelligence and Crime Analysis
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Research Methods
  • Independent Study
  • Statistics
  • Police and Police Systems

Program Costs: $6904.00 – $20,936.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 5500 University Parkway, San Bernadino, California - 92407
  • Phone: 909-537-5506
  • Website: Visit School Website

8 University of California - Davis

About the Program

UC Davis School of Law has a Criminal Law and Policy Certificate that teaches students the fundamentals of criminal justice education and prepares them for practical experience in the field.

Their program requires students to complete designated coursework, and writing assignments, and to complete two practical substantive experiences in the form of an externship.

Students seeking the Criminal Law and Policy Certificate will complete a series of foundation courses and electives to satisfy the program requirements.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminal Litigation
  • The Law of Policing
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Comparative Criminal Justice
  • Advanced Criminal Procedure
  • Appellate Advocacy
  • Trial Practice
  • Evidence
  • Criminal Trials Theory and Practice

Program Costs: $12,264.00 – $46,043.00

Contact Information

  • Address: One Shields Avenue, Davis, California - 95616
  • Phone: 530-752-1011
  • Website: Visit School Website

9 University of California - Berkeley

About the Program

The University of California at Berkeley has a comprehensive criminal justice studies program that provides students with practical and hands-on education and earning a J.D. or LL.M. in a criminal justice concentration.

Berkeley Law has a variety of criminal justice-related programs and resources where students can immerse themselves in real-world learning environments and take advantage of criminal field placements.

The school has established partnerships with local criminal Justice employers in state, federal, and non-profit organizations where students can practice their skills.

Courses Offered

  • International and Comparative Law
  • Social Justice and Public Interest
  • Death Penalty Clinic
  • Constitutional and Regulatory
  • Environmental Law
  • Law and Technology
  • Policy Advocacy Clinic
  • Criminal Field Placement
  • Domestic Violence Practicum

Program Costs: $59,306.00 – $111,070.50

Contact Information

  • Address: 214 Law Building #7200, Berkeley, California - 94720
  • Phone: 510-642-1476
  • Website: Visit School Website

10 Sacramento State University

About the Program

Sacramento State University offers students a variety of Criminal Justice education options.

They have undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and professional certificate programs in criminal justice.

Students who study criminal justice at Sacramento State can take classes in person or online and even in Spanish.

SU has criminal justice-related internships and a Pre-Law advising track for criminal justice majors who want to continue their education through law school.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice and Society
  • The Community and the Justice System
  • Law of Crimes
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Law of Arrest, Search, and Seizure
  • Police and Society
  • Police Administration
  • Interviewing and Detection of Deception
  • Introduction to Crime and Intelligence Analysis

Program Costs: $7,392.00 – $19,272.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 6000 J Street, Sacramento, California - 95819
  • Phone: 916-278-6011
  • Website: Visit School Website

Schools Summary Table

Rank School
#1 Sonoma State University
#2 California State University - Los Angeles
#3 University of California - Irvine
#4 University of California - Los Angeles
#5 San Diego State University
#6 California State University - Long Beach
#7 California State University - San Bernadino
#8 University of California - Davis
#9 University of California - Berkeley
#10 Sacramento State University

Criminal Justice Salary Information

There are a wide variety of job titles that fall into the category of criminal justice jobs in California.

Jobs in the field can include titles like judges, policemen, correctional officers, criminal investigators, and more.

Online salary reports from Indeed show that the average salary for criminal investigators falls around $88,223.00.

Criminal Justice Salaries Reported by America’s BLS are as follows.

  • Forensic Science Technicians: $63,740.00
  • Police and Detectives: $69,160.00
  • Private Detectives and Investigators: $52,120.00
  • Correctional Officers and Bailiffs: $49,610

Students who continue their criminal justice education, those who work in specialized fields, and those who work for larger employers in major metropolitan areas can often earn higher salaries than their counterparts.

Annual Salary Range:
Item Percent

Average Salary in California

City Name Salary
Los Angeles $85,593
San Diego $82,274
San Jose $95,679
San Francisco $95,298
Long Beach $85,006
Fresno $83,115
Sacramento $83,115
Oakland $93,011
Santa Ana $85,082
Anaheim $85,197

Regional Salary

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA160$104,570$50.27$140,150$77,180
El Centro, CA740$101,710$48.9$114,070$65,020
Fresno, CA320$98,200$47.21$138,720$63,330
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA2,930$117,570$56.53$162,760$79,980
Modesto, CA30$79,770$38.35$125,700$45,330
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA80$117,410$56.45$167,270$81,270
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA1,240$111,710$53.71$143,170$77,800
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA1,450$102,960$49.5$142,150$61,900
Salinas, CA40$106,980$51.43$175,080$60,530
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA2,800$109,760$52.77$154,980$74,570
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA720$117,990$56.72$173,890$81,260
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA230$132,600$63.75$169,040$81,050
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA60$123,540$59.39$167,020$100,380
Santa Rosa, CA50$105,170$50.56$154,560$60,530
Stockton-Lodi, CA70$110,810$53.27$173,890$76,210
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA50$94,940$45.64$123,490$63,510
Visalia-Porterville, CA60$70,040$33.67$91,910$36,520
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Detectives and Criminal Investigators, OCC Code 33-3021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Criminal Justice Schools by State

Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

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