10 Best Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois

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Start Your Criminal Justice Career in Illinois!

If you have ever imagined yourself fighting for justice on the right side of the law, a career in criminal justice may be the right pathway for you!

Today’s criminal justice programs train students to become lawyers, judges, corrections officers, police officers, homeland security agents, and beyond.

This guide provides an overview of some of the best criminal justice schools in Illinois.

If you’re looking for a description of the best programs around, along with contact details and estimated tuition costs, this guide is for you!

Most criminal justice programs in Illinois have their own entry requirements.

The majority of programs will require students to have a minimum of a high school diploma or proof of an equivalent before they can apply to bachelor’s, master’s, or certificate-level programs in criminal justice.

Best Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois

The best criminal justice schools in Illinois prepare students for entry-level or continuing education in the field.

These criminal justice programs offer students fundamental knowledge, theory, and practical application which usually includes on-the-job training in a local, state, or federal criminal justice agency.

Some of the programs below are ranked as the best in Illinois and the best in the US as they combine comprehensive criminal justice education with immersive labs, resource libraries, and student networks that help their students skyrocket to the top of the class.

1 University of Illinois - Chicago

About the Program

UIC operates a Criminology, Law, and Justice program that prepares local area students for exciting and rewarding criminal justice careers.

Their multidisciplinary program helps students learn the fundamentals of how the American Criminal Justice system works and the fair application of justice for all.

Students who complete their comprehensive criminal justice program begin careers in law enforcement, sociology, public administration, paralegal studies, and beyond.

Courses Offered

  • Criminology
  • Criminal Justice Ethics
  • Police and Society
  • Corrections
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Victimology
  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Justice Internship

Program Costs: $1,200.00 – $1,500.00 per credit hour.

Contact Information

  • Address: 1007 West Harrison Street, 4th Floor, Chicago, Illinois - 60607
  • Phone: 312-996-5290
  • Website: Visit School Website

2 Loyola University - Chicago

About the Program

The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology has a variety of options for Chicago area students seeking a criminal education.

They offer a four-year and five-year bachelor of science degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology along with Master of Arts programs in criminal justice and several related minors.

Their program places a strong emphasis on teaching the fundamentals of the American Justice System in a multidisciplinary format that includes liberal arts-related studies in sociology, psychology, and statistics.

Courses Offered

  • Criminal Justice in a Global Context
  • Criminal Courts
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Theories of Criminal Behavior
  • Policing
  • Research Methods
  • Corrections
  • Capstone Experience Internship

Program Costs: $33,750.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 1032 West Sheridan Road, Mundelein Center, 8th Floor, Chicago, Illinois - 60660
  • Phone: 773-508-8891
  • Website: Visit School Website

3 Bradley University

About the Program

The Criminal Justice program at Bradley University readies its students for success as criminal justice professionals and preparation for graduate degree programs.

Students who take courses at Bradley learn the root causes of crime and how to develop workable theories and solutions and gain hands-on experience through internships with local, federal, and state criminal justice agencies.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to the Criminal Justice System
  • Research Methods
  • Introduction to Public Administration
  • Criminal Law
  • Violence, Crime, and Punishment in US History
  • Judicial Politics
  • Police Organization and Administration
  • Correctional Policies and Society

Program Costs: $36, 360.00 per year or $1,039.00 per credit hour.

Contact Information

  • Address: 1501 West Bradley, Peoria, Illinois - 61625
  • Phone: 309-676-7611
  • Website: Visit School Website

4 Illinois State University

About the Program

I-State University has a nationally recognized criminal justice program that educates students on the history, theories, and practical applications of criminal justice.

Courses are taught by criminal justice professionals with years of experience in their respective professions.

Program graduates are prepared for a variety of criminal justice careers in law enforcement, social services, education, and public policy.

Students who enroll at Illinois State can pursue a major, minor, or Master’s in Criminal Justice sciences.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Police and Society
  • Criminology
  • Criminal Justice Ethics
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Victimology
  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Justice Internship

Program Costs: $15,171.00 – $29,941.00 per year.

Contact Information

  • Address: Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois 61790
  • Phone: 309-438-2181
  • Website: Visit School Website

5 Lewis University

About the Program

Lewis University has an accelerated Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Program that gives aspiring criminal justice students a strong foundation while preparing them for real-world experience as law enforcement officers, corrections officers, and other in-demand criminal justice careers.

This 128-credit hour bachelor’s degree program gives students the option to participate in on-the-job training and education via internships with local law enforcement agencies and nearby criminal justice organizations.

They also offer Bachelor to Masters level programs and a minor in criminal justice.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Court Systems and Probation
  • Domestic Violence
  • Criminology
  • Law Enforcement
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Criminal Procedure and Rules of Evidence
  • Introduction to Corrections

Program Costs: $37,592.00 per year

Contact Information

  • Address: 1 University Parkway, Romeoville, Illinois
  • Phone: 815-205-0943
  • Website: Visit School Website

6 Western Illinois University

About the Program

WIU’s School of Law Enforcement ranks at the top of the list of the best criminal justice schools in Illinois.

They offer on-campus and online options for students who want to earn a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement and other criminal justice fields.

Western Illinois University has established partnerships with over a thousand agency partners that accept criminal justice interns for local placements and on-the-job training.

Their criminal justice program is one of the most extensive programs in the US.

It features internships, an immersive crime laboratory, and several options for completing your criminal justice education in Illinois.

Courses Offered

  • Emergency Management – Tactical or Operational
  • Fire Protection Services
  • Public Safety Administration
  • Law Enforcement and Justice Administration
  • Corrections
  • Legal Studies
  • Homeland Security
  • Fire Science
  • Fire Administration

Program Costs: $23,768.00 per year.

Contact Information

  • Address: 1 University Circle, Macomb, Illinois - 61455
  • Phone: 309-298-1038
  • Website: Visit School Website

7 Elmhurst University

About the Program

Elmhurst University has a criminal justice program with a rolling application period where students can complete their studies in criminal justice or criminology.

Their program provides students with a foundational knowledge of criminal justice and criminology topics together with multidisciplinary courses in sociology, political science, and computer sciences.

Students who enroll at Elmhurst University gain a fundamental knowledge of how the American criminal justice system works, research methods, and theories of criminology that earn them a bachelor’s degree upon completion of required prerequisites, core courses, and electives.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to the Criminal Justice System
  • Selected Topics in Criminal Justice
  • Constitutional Law: Civil Rights
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Policing and Society
  • Law and Politics
  • Gender and Crime
  • Organized and White Collar Crime

Program Costs: $750.00 per credit hour plus books, supplies, and fees.

Contact Information

  • Address: 190 Prospect Avenue, Elmhurst, Illinois - 601216
  • Phone: 630-617-3400
  • Website: Visit School Website

8 Olivet Nazarene University

About the Program

Olivet Nazarene University has a criminal justice major that prepares its students for criminal justice careers and pre-law education through its College of Professional Studies in the Department of Social Work and Criminal Justice.

Students who enroll at Olivet Nazarene University gain practical experience that prepares them for careers in law enforcement, corrections, and probation.

Their program includes over 200 hours of field placement where students get on-the-job training for a variety of criminal justice careers.

Students who choose a law enforcement track are prepared to enter the Illinois State Police Academy for ongoing training and support.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Criminology
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Corrections
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Victimology
  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice

Program Costs: $36,950.00.

Contact Information

  • Address: One University Avenue, Bourbonnais, Illinois - 60914
  • Phone: 800-648-146
  • Website: Visit School Website

9 Governors State University

About the Program

GSU has both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts degree with a concentration in Criminal Justice.

They also offer a criminal justice and pre-law minor for students on a law school track.

Their programs delve into the cause of crime and teach theoretical approaches.

It prepares students to work as entry-level criminal justice professionals, including law enforcement, corrections, and security.

Pre-law students learn the fundamentals of criminal justice needed to succeed in law school as they begin to understand how to use analytical skills and social justice approaches for deterrence and crime prevention.

Courses Offered

  • Professionalism, Diversity, and Ethics in Criminal Justice
  • Corrections
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Policing
  • The Judicial Process
  • Restorative Justice
  • Mediation
  • Peace Circles
  • Restorative Justice in Schools

Program Costs: $706.00 – $884.00 per credit hour.

Contact Information

  • Address: 1 University Parkway, University Park, Illinois - 60468
  • Phone: 708-534-5000
  • Website: Visit School Website

10 University of Illinois at Springfield

About the Program

The University of Illinois Springfield’s campus gives aspiring criminal justice students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Arts in their Criminology and Criminal Justice Program.

They also offer an online program where students can earn their degree or a minor in the field.

Their program focuses on the general study of crime, its causes, and the administration of justice for those who break the law.

Students who take classes at UIS learn the nature and investigation of crimes and are prepared for entry-level criminal justice careers or to continue their legal education in law school.

Courses Offered

  • Criminology Theory
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice
  • Critical Thinking in Criminal Justice
  • Statistics for Criminal Justice
  • Theoretical and Applied Explanations of Crime
  • CCJ US Communities
  • CCJ US Global Awareness

Program Costs: $9,645.00 – $27,722.00

Contact Information

  • Address: One University Plaza, Springfield, Illinois - 62703
  • Phone: 217-206-6301
  • Website: Visit School Website

Schools Summary Table

Rank School
#1 University of Illinois - Chicago
#2 Loyola University - Chicago
#3 Bradley University
#4 Illinois State University
#5 Lewis University
#6 Western Illinois University
#7 Elmhurst University
#8 Olivet Nazarene University
#9 Governors State University
#10 University of Illinois at Springfield

Criminal Justice Salary Information

Illinois criminal justice salaries vary by job description.

Years of experience on the job and education and training are both factors that can increase the earning potential of graduates pursuing the following careers.

Judges and Magistrates in Illinois are among the top earners in the field, with an average salary of around $183,582.00.

  • Judge and Hearing Officers – $183,000.00
  • FBI Agent: $55,201.00
  • Criminologist: $78,335.00
  • Police and Detectives
  • Lawyers
  • Private Detectives and Investigators: $51,902.00
  • Probation Officers: $48,004.00
  • Corrections Officers: $55,385.00
Annual Salary Range:
Item Percent

Average Salary in Illinois

City Name Salary
Chicago $80,424
Rockford $75,080
Aurora $79,744
Naperville $78,947
Peoria $73,639
Springfield $72,145
Joliet $78,383
Elgin $79,123
Waukegan $76,181
Cicero $80,424

Regional Salary

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Champaign-Urbana, IL60$80,370$38.64$99,330$52,370
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI1,860$106,500$51.2$161,740$65,640
Peoria, IL30$87,200$41.92$129,750$57,450
Rockford, IL120$86,600$41.63$106,290$50,470
Springfield, IL150$84,860$40.8$122,680$61,150
* 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.

2 Responses to 10 Best Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois

  1. Avatar
    Lily Torres #

    As a current student at one of these schools, I can say that the faculty’s dedication to our success is unmatched. Proud to be part of such a prestigious program.

  2. Avatar
    Drew Harris #

    I’m considering pursuing a degree in criminal justice, so this list is incredibly helpful. It’s reassuring to see so many reputable options right here in Illinois.

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