10 Best Criminal Justice Schools in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Seal

Pennsylvania has several of the best criminal justice schools in the United States.

These colleges and universities provide many opportunities to learn criminal justice specialties, including police technology, applied criminology, forensic science, and criminal justice administration.

Many programs are available in hybrid or entirely online formats to give students the ultimate flexibility.

Pennsylvania has 113 schools with criminal justice degrees, 25 of which rank in College Factual’s Best Criminal Justice Colleges.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice, keep reading to learn more about the best schools in Pennsylvania!

1 Drexel University


As one of the many institutions on this list in Philadelphia, Drexel University boasts a strong commitment to practical education and experiential learning.

The Department of Criminology and Justice Studies offers a criminal justice program.

Given its urban setting in Philadelphia, students are exposed to extensive diversity and can tackle real-world criminal justice challenges.

Courses/Programs Offered

In addition to the criminal justice degree program, which covers topics like the American court system, forensics, and criminology, Drexel is best known for its cooperative education program.

This allows students to alternate between work experience and classroom learning, thus delivering a more well-rounded education.

If you’re interested in attending Drexel or speaking with an academic advisor for more information about the criminal justice program, dial 215-895-2000.

Contact Information

  • Address: 3141 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States
  • Phone: 215-895-2000
  • Website: Visit School Website

2 Duquesne University


Situated in Pittsburgh, Duquesne University combines law, forensic science, and criminology into its criminal justice degree program.

Its location in downtown Pittsburgh gives students around-the-clock access to the vibrant criminal justice community, including networking and internship opportunities.

The university places a significant emphasis on social justice and ethics, which helps prepare them to address complicated moral issues.

Courses/Programs Offered

Duquesne focuses on integrating numerous disciplines into a single curriculum, ensuring students have a well-rounded view of the criminal justice system.

Since the school has opted to include forensic science, students have a different viewpoint on common criminal justice tasks that most other programs don’t offer.

During the program’s first year, students will learn the basics of criminal justice through the Introduction to Criminal Justice course, with other classes covering the law, ethics, behaviors, and criminology.

For more information about Duquesne’s criminal justice program, call 412-496-6000.

Contact Information

  • Address: 600 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15282, United States
  • Phone: 412-396-6000
  • Website: Visit School Website

3 Gannon University


Ninety-seven percent of graduates of Gannon University’s criminal justice programs find a job within one year of graduation.

This program is hands-on, and one of several graduate criminalistics offers among all U.S.-based institutions.

Students can access immersive learning experiences using the Forensic Investigation Center and experienced instructors dedicated to student support, thus maintaining retention rates.

Courses/Programs Offered

Boasting a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Master of Science in Criminalistics, Gannon University has classes taught by retired ATF and FBA special agents and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime lab director.

This means students gain a unique experience-based learning opportunity.

The curriculum covers topics like social justice, public safety, and criminology for graduates of various roles within the criminal justice system.

If you’re interested in Gannon’s criminal justice programs, call 1-800-GANNON-U for more information.

Contact Information

  • Address: 109 University Square, Erie, PA 16541, United States
  • Phone: 814-871-7000
  • Website: Visit School Website

4 Indiana University of Pennsylvania


Located in Indiana, Pennsylvania, the Department of Criminology at IUP has earned recognition and awards for its contributions to the criminal justice field.

Instructors and faculty hold considerable expertise and experience so that students will gain a strong educational foundation through the IUPs program.

One of the best aspects of the school is the various criminal justice student organizations, which lead to community involvement and networking opportunities.

Courses/Programs Offered

The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and is best known for its faculty expertise and comprehensive curriculum, which includes topics like criminal justice research, criminal law, and crime prevention.

After graduation, students also learn about different specialties within the broad field to specialize in specific areas.

Foundational courses include the American legal system, forensics, criminology, and an introduction to criminal justice.

To request more information about IUP’s criminal justice program, call 724-357-2100.

Contact Information

  • Address: 1011 South Drive, Indiana, PA 15705, United States
  • Phone: 724-357-2100
  • Website: Visit School Website

5 La Salle University


Also located in Philadelphia, La Salle University’s criminal justice programs are offered through the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The programs maintain a holistic approach to the criminal justice field.

The school is dedicated to being at the forefront of innovations and developments within criminal justice.

La Salle encourages students to increase practical experience through cooperative education and internships.

Courses/Programs Offered

Offering undergraduate and graduate programs in criminal justice, La Salle University integrates insights from numerous fields, including law, psychology, and sociology, into its curriculum.

Other topics include forensics, criminal behavior, corrections, American court, and ethics.

Also, the university offers plenty of research opportunities for those interested in exploring criminal justice system issues in detail.

To speak with an academic advisor, request more information about the criminal justice program, or schedule a campus tour, call 215-951-1000.

Contact Information

  • Address: 1900 W Olney Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19141, United States
  • Phone: 215-951-1000
  • Website: Visit School Website

6 Pennsylvania State University


Located in State College, Penn State University is an internationally recognized institution in the criminal justice field.

The school takes lengthy steps to ensure students are supported and there’s a commitment to academic excellence.

The College of the Liberal Arts offers a criminal justice program, and the campus boasts several research centers, providing students with an opportunity to gain firsthand experience through cutting-edge research.

Courses/Programs Offered

The criminal justice program boasts a broad curriculum, so students are prepared to enter one of the many criminal justice disciplines after graduation.

Core educational topics include public policy, criminology, criminal law, and law enforcement.

The entire curriculum focuses on considering criminal justice from a global perspective and understanding how justice issues cross borders.

If you want to visit the campus or request more information about Penn State’s criminal justice program, call 814-865-4700.

Contact Information

7 Temple University


Temple’s criminal justice graduate degree program is consistently ranked in the top 20 best schools in the U.S. New and World Report due to its accommodating research facilities and well-respected faculty.

Boasting over 24 world-renowned criminal justice specialists, instruct students and supervise projects, most of which emphasize community justice.

Courses/Programs Offered

Temple offers a Bachelor’s, Master of Arts, and PhD in criminal justice with seven research themes: innovation, building capacity, shaping policy, social justice, communities, space and place, and governance.

The school also has a criminal justice training program with nine customized courses developed for law enforcement professionals.

For more information about Temple’s bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD degrees in criminal justice, call 215-204-7000.

Contact Information

  • Address: 1801 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19122, United States
  • Phone: 215-204-7000
  • Website: Visit School Website

8 University of Pennsylvania


Referred to as Penn in the academic community, the University of Pennsylvania is a prestigious Ivy League school known for its incredible academic programs, including criminal justice.

The Department of Criminology offers Penn’s criminal justice program as a comprehensive learning experience designed to teach students how to solve and understand complicated social issues.

Courses/Programs Offered

The school’s interdisciplinary approach helps students explore subjects from different angles, such as law, psychology, and sociology.

Also, Penn has an excellent reputation for criminology research initiatives, working closely with esteemed faculty and staff.

The school has many diploma options, including a PhD, Master of Science, and undergraduate degree, as well as three dual degree programs (MS/MSW, MS/JD, and MS/MGA).

Although there are many degree options, all educational paths start with basic courses like criminology, law enforcement, corrections, the American legal system, and forensics.

University of Pennsylvania criminal justice staff and faculty can be contacted by calling 215-573-9097 or emailing crim-info@sas.upenn.edu.

Contact Information

9 University of Pittsburgh


Commonly referred to as just Pitt, the University of Pittsburgh is a prominent global research school allowing graduates to learn to tackle real-world social issues.

Given the broad curriculum in Pitt’s criminal justice specialization, graduates are well-prepared to work in policy analysis, victim advocacy, corrections, or law enforcement roles.

The school is also heavily connected to Pittsburgh’s criminal justice and social work communities, giving students excellent networking opportunities.

Courses/Programs Offered

Pitt has a Master of Social Work with a specialization in criminal justice, which prepares students to work in social work but focuses on the criminal justice aspect of the position.

The curriculum focuses on practical education and fieldwork, ensuring a firsthand learning environment.

This gives graduates an edge over many other program graduates when seeking a job.

To speak with an academic advisor or to learn more about Pitt’s criminal justice program, call 412-624-4141.

Contact Information

  • Address: 4200 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, United States
  • Phone: 412-624-4141
  • Website: Visit School Website

10 West Chester University of Pennsylvania


Nationally recognized for its contributions to the criminal justice field and academic quality, West Chester University of Pennsylvania offers a career-oriented criminal justice degree program developed to assist students with advancing their careers across numerous fields.

Communication skills are highly emphasized and essential in all criminal justice disciplines.

Courses/Programs Offered

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Criminal Justice program take classes like corrections, policing in America, and criminal procedure.

All students must also complete a 12-week summer practicum, a full-time graduation requirement.

Additionally, students must complete 27 elective credit hours, which can be focused on a specific area.

The school features a fast-track to master criminal justice offering.

In addition to the general education core classes required in the first two years of enrollment, students learn more about ethical issues, the law, and criminology as the program progresses.

For students interested in attending West Chester University or learning more about their criminal justice program, dial 610-4436-1000.

Contact Information

  • Address: 700 S High St, West Chester, PA 19383, United States
  • Phone: 610-436-1000
  • Website: Visit School Website

Schools Summary Table

Rank School
#1 Drexel University
#2 Duquesne University
#3 Gannon University
#4 Indiana University of Pennsylvania
#5 La Salle University
#6 Pennsylvania State University
#7 Temple University
#8 University of Pennsylvania
#9 University of Pittsburgh
#10 West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Criminal Justice Salary Information

A criminologist living in Pennsylvania can expect to make $69,600 annually, with compensation ranging from $36,400 to $83,400.

In comparison, the U.S. national annual salary is $58,100, so living in the state has a significantly higher average salary than most other locations.

Annual Salary Range:
Item Percent

Average Salary in Pennsylvania

City Name Salary
Philadelphia $80,904
Pittsburgh $75,095
Allentown $76,833
Erie $70,422
Williamsport $72,651
Reading $75,840
Scranton $70,767
Bethlehem $76,833
Lebanon $74,401
Greensburg $72,743

Regional Salary

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ180$92,760$44.6$150,820$65,840
Erie, PA80$90,690$43.6$113,670$68,890
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA290$80,530$38.72$111,990$56,200
Lancaster, PA60$82,480$39.66$100,370$63,930
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD2,060$101,100$48.61$150,340$66,560
Pittsburgh, PA620$93,190$44.8$146,060$68,530
Reading, PA60$84,240$40.5$100,150$79,040
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA130$88,960$42.77$129,750$64,190
State College, PA30$84,700$40.72$101,190$67,430
York-Hanover, PA60$94,300$45.34$142,420$64,530
* 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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