10 Best Criminal Justice Schools in Iowa

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Iowa’s criminal justice professionals specialize in fighting crime, administering justice to criminals, and implementing much-needed social services to victims of crime in their local communities.

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of top criminal justice colleges and universities that offer certificates, degrees, and post-doctoral education.

If you have been thinking about becoming a police officer, corrections officer, legal advocate, or criminal investigator in Iowa — this is the guide for you!

Best Criminal Justice Schools in Iowa

The best criminal justice schools in Iowa prepare local students for careers in criminal justice, public service, and social justice professions that serve their communities.

Iowa criminal justice universities train students to become criminal justice professionals with some of the following job titles.

  • Court Clerks
  • Drug Enforcement Agents
  • Forensic Science Technicians
  • Lawyers
  • Legal Assistants
  • Immigration Officers
  • Intelligence Analysts
  • Paralegals
  • Police Officers
  • Park Rangers
  • Victims Advocates

1 Briar Cliff University

About the Program

Briar Cliff University has a few options for getting a criminal justice education in Iowa.

They offer a Professional Concentration in Homeland Security and a pre-law preparation program for students wanting to level up their criminal justice careers.

Their programs teach students the fundamentals of America’s legal systems and provide hands-on experience in critical areas.

The pre-law program is available on campus. Their homeland security program is offered remotely and on campus.

Courses Offered

  • Homeland Security
  • Legal Studies
  • Critical Infrastructure Protection
  • Immersive Instruction
  • Degree Specializations
  • Cybersecurity
  • Emergency Management
  • National Security
  • International Security
  • Terrorism

Average Program Costs: $14,950.00 = $16,405.00 per year.

Contact Information

  • Address: 3303 Rebecca Street, Sioux City, Iowa - 51104
  • Phone: 712-279-5200
  • Website: Visit School Website

2 Iowa State University

About the Program

The Department of Sociology at Iowa State manages its criminal justice program that educates students about the theories of crime, conflict, and finding alternative solutions to incarceration for non-violent offenders.

Students who complete their program will learn how social factors like race, gender, and wealth relate to crime and victimization and how to use scientific research methods to predict and deter violent crimes.

Aspiring police officers, corrections officers, and other law enforcement students will learn how to navigate America’s courts and criminal justice system as it applies to their role.

Courses Offered

  • American Judicial Process
  • Youth and Crime
  • White Collar Crime
  • Introduction to the US Criminal Justice System
  • American Judicial Process
  • Police and Society
  • Drugs and Crime
  • Psychology and Law
  • Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Justice Policies
  • Prevention of Crime and Delinquency
  • Latinas and Victimization
  • Punishments Corrections and Society

Average Program Costs: $9,634.00 – $25,446.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 510 Farm House Lane, Ames, Iowa - 50011
  • Phone: 515-294-6480
  • Website: Visit School Website

3 Simpson College

About the Program

Iowa students interested in pursuing law enforcement education tracks can take classes at Simpson College’s Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice.

They prepare students to work in law enforcement institutions, probation offices, and corrections facilities.

They teach their students the fundamentals of policing as a method to deter and enforce crime, along with how to apply criminal justice theories to everyday situations on the job.

Their students delve into underlying components of the criminal justice system to learn about drivers of crime caused by societal issues like equality, justice, and wealth.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Inequality and Justice
  • Statistics for Social Science
  • Criminology
  • Race and Ethnic Relations
  • Methods of Social Research
  • Field Experience in Criminal Justice
  • Juvenile Delinquency

Average Program Costs: $44,030.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 701 North C Street, Indianola, Iowa - 50125
  • Phone: 515-961-6251
  • Website: Visit School Website

4 Mount Mercy University

About the Program

MMU offers Iowa-based students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Arts or a minor in criminal justice to begin careers as local law enforcement officers, social justice advocates, and criminal justice administrators.

Their program gives students a solid foundation and educates them on how the American justice system and the criminal justice systems work together to deter crime and administer justice.

Their four-year programs have experiential learning components that allow enrolled students to earn credit toward degree completion while working in their desired field.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Policing
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Justice Research Methods
  • Diversity and the Criminal Justice System
  • White Collar Crime
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Media and Crime
  • Corrections
  • Law and Literature
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Criminal Justice Electives

Average Program Costs: $36,540.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 1330 Elmhurst Drive Northeast, Cedar Rapids, Iowa - 52402
  • Phone: 319-363-1323
  • Website: Visit School Website

5 Dort University

About the Program

Dordt is a private university in Iowa offering a multidisciplinary criminal justice studies program.

Students who take classes at Dordt learn about essential topics in criminal justice, psychology, sociology, law, and law enforcement.

They offer immersive and experiential learning opportunities where students learn personal safety skills, self-defense, and firearms training for careers where carrying a firearm is required.

Dordt University, criminal justice majors can specialize in administrative, security, or intelligence and research-based areas of criminal justice, including private investigations, intelligence, and paralegal studies.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Corrections
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Policing
  • Speaking and Writing for Public Service
  • Victimology and Family Violence
  • American Constitutional Law
  • Introduction to Public Administration
  • Criminal Law
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Domestic Preparedness
  • State and Local Politics
  • Field Experience in Criminal Justice

Average Program Costs: $34,170.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 700 7th Street Northeast, Sioux Center, Iowa - 51250
  • Phone: 800-343-6738
  • Website: Visit School Website

6 Hawkeye Community College

About the Program

Students thinking about studying police science or working in public service can study criminal justice at Hawkeye Community College.

They offer transferable criminal justice degrees that prepare students for careers in public service as law enforcement, corrections, probation, and security officers.

Their program emphasizes physical and mental fitness and teaches the fundamentals of police operations, how to investigate crime scenes, and how to write police reports.

Hawkeye students also learn legal and ethical fundamentals of policing in Iowa and self-defense techniques that make them eligible to attend their Regional Law Enforcement Police Academy, which is approved by the state.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Constitutional Law
  • Police Operations
  • Criminology
  • Basic Firearms
  • Advanced Firearms
  • Current Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Defensive Tactics
  • Report Writing and Testifying
  • Physical Conditioning for Public Service
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Tactical Police Operations.

Average Program Costs: $5,977.00-$6,524.00
*This program offers criminal justice scholarships for qualified students.

Contact Information

  • Address: 1501 East Orange Road, Waterloo, Iowa - 50704
  • Phone: 319-296-2320
  • Website: Visit School Website

7 University of Dubuque

About the Program

The University of Dubuque has a pathway for aspiring human services professionals, social justice majors, and criminal justice professionals to earn a minor or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Their program teaches students the fundamentals needed to work as officers of the court, law enforcement officers who serve and protect the community, corrections officers, and mental health professionals who provide much-needed community resources and support.

Students will graduate from the program with a deep understanding of how Iowa courts, law enforcement, and corrections work together to manage and deter crime while offering protection and support to victims and other members of the community.

Courses Offered

  • Criminal Justice Prerequisites
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Law
  • Corrections
  • Introduction to Law Enforcement
  • Human Rights and Civil Liberties in Criminal Justice
  • Social Theory
  • Introduction to Constitutional Law
  • Internship
  • Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in Justice
  • Court Systems and Judicial Processes
  • Writing Proficiency in Criminal Justice

Average Program Costs: $36,010.00

Contact Information

  • Address: 2000 University Avenue, Dubuque, Iowa - 52001
  • Phone: 563-589-3000
  • Website: Visit School Website

8 Kirkwood Community College

About the Program

Kirkwood Community College has a comprehensive criminal justice training program that prepares its students for success in a variety of related fields.

Their program educates students on how the criminal justice and court systems work in America and within the state of Iowa.

Students learn about fundamental strategies for detecting and deterring crime and how to develop and implement critical strategies for public relations officials to communicate with and support their local communities.

Graduates of Kirkwooods CJ programs are ready to begin a variety of entry-level criminal justice, social justice, and human services-related careers in Iowa.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Police and Society
  • Criminal Law
  • Ethics in Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Corrections
  • Correctional Law
  • Correctional Treatment Methods
  • Community Oriented Policing and Problem-Solving
  • Constitutional Criminal Procedure
  • Community-Based Corrections
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Internship

Average Program Costs: $5,308.00 – $7,072.00

Contact Information

9 University of Northern Iowa

About the Program

UNI has a criminal justice and criminology program that focuses on the aspects of what drives criminals to commit crimes.

Their students learn how to identify patterns of behavior for criminals and victims that allow them to administer justice to convicted criminals and provide rehabilitation and support for criminals and victims.

Its four-year program incorporates general studies and skills like writing, communications, and research and combines those skills with major coursework.

Courses Offered

  • The Criminal Justice System
  • Total Perspectives in Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Research Methods
  • Introduction to Statistical Methods
  • Social Problems
  • Oral Communication
  • College Research and Writing
  • Criminal Justice Electives
  • University Electives

Average Program Costs: $21,409.00

Contact Information

10 North Iowa Area Community College

About the Program

Iowa students seeking a two-year criminal justice degree can take classes at Northern Iowa Area Community College.

Their associate’s degree program emphasizes the skills and abilities needed for graduates to begin entry-level employment in Iowa courts, police departments, and corrections facilities.

Completing the NIACCs program also prepares continuing education students to earn bachelor’s degrees at local area colleges and universities accepting criminal justice transfer credit.

North Iowa Area Community College gives students a solid foundation for starting criminal justice careers in Iowa.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Introduction to Corrections
  • Police and Society
  • Criminology
  • Introduction to Ethics
  • American National Government
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Public Speaking
  • American State and Local Government
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Report Writing

Average Program Costs: $5,971.00 – $8,547.00.

Contact Information

  • Address: 500 College Drive, Mason City, Iowa - 50401
  • Phone: 641-423-1264
  • Website: Visit School Website

Schools Summary Table

Rank School
#1 Briar Cliff University
#2 Iowa State University
#3 Simpson College
#4 Mount Mercy University
#5 Dort University
#6 Hawkeye Community College
#7 University of Dubuque
#8 Kirkwood Community College
#9 University of Northern Iowa
#10 North Iowa Area Community College

Criminal Justice Salary Information

The following are examples of annual salaries for selected CJ professions.

  • Police Officers: $60,508.00
  • Corrections Officers: $42,141.00
  • Probation Officers: $54,598.00
  • Paralegals: $42,315.00
  • Lawyers: $32,874.00
  • Criminal Investigators: $43,036.00
  • Victims Advocates: $38,989.00
Annual Salary Range:
Item Percent

Average Salary in Iowa

City Name Salary
Des Moines $73,625
Cedar Rapids $72,945
Davenport $72,356
Sioux City $66,183
Waterloo $69,324
Iowa City $72,350
Council Bluffs $72,079
Dubuque $71,965
Ames $72,939
West Des Moines $73,625

Regional Salary

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Cedar Rapids, IA30$97,750$47$153,340$56,530
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL60$91,820$44.14$147,200$65,040
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA200$85,300$41.01$141,940$54,200
* 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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