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Criminal Justice and Criminology, BS

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology

If you’re driven to serve your community through enforcing the law, helping people within the justice system or performing investigative work, the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology (CJC) at the University of Central Missouri is right for you.

You’ll obtain key knowledge and learn field techniques from accessible, expert faculty who are leaders in their fields and passionately focused on helping you achieve your academic and professional goals. 

  • Study federal law enforcement procedures from a former U.S. Marshal. 
  • Find out how to provide services to youth in the system from a former juvenile probation officer for the city of St. Louis. 
  • Learn about the prison system from a former corrections officer. 
  • Explore the legal side of the criminal justice system from a Missouri municipal judge. 

No matter your interests, you’ll find a mentor ready to help you learn all you need to know to succeed. UCM even provides majors in Criminal Justice and Criminology with a dedicated career coach to help you focus your coursework and find a job. Our faculty and advisors are connected to every step of your learning and development — from sponsoring student activities to involving you in their research projects.

A powerful education delivered how you need it through online and hybrid options

Whether you’re a working adult with family responsibilities or a student right out of high school who’s living on campus, you’ll find a course delivery method that helps you earn your Criminal Justice and Criminology bachelor’s degree your way. You can choose to move through the program at your own pace by opting for either 8- or 16-week classes. We also offer a fully online Criminal Justice degree alongside our on-campus program in Warrensburg, Missouri. These options help you get your education when and where it’s convenient for you — and faculty are always available to help guide and encourage you along the way.

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One of the first CJC programs in the country

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#1 in Missouri for best Law Enforcement program

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Online Criminal Justice degree option

Top 5% best value CJC program badge

Top 5% best value CJC program

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Choose from 8- and 16-week courses

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Average of 25 students per class

What you will study

In addition to gaining the basic skills and knowledge needed in criminal justice careers, you’ll have the opportunity to self-focus and hone your strengths in certain areas based on your goals. 

All in-person and online Criminal Justice degree majors will take core classes such as Introduction to Criminal Justice; Policing a Democratic Society; Criminal Law and Procedure; and Crime, Justice and Social Diversity; among others. You’ll then round out your bachelor’s degree with electives that you can concentrate in areas such as juvenile justice, law enforcement and policing or legal studies. In fact, our students consistently list our wide selection of undergraduate electives as one of the reasons why bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Criminology degrees from the University of Central Missouri are the best. Electives you can choose from include:

  • Evidence and Courtroom Procedure
  • Federal Law Enforcement
  • Homicide Investigation
  • Miscarriages of Justice
  • Terrorism

Earn your BS and MS at the same time

With our program curriculum, students can even earn your BS in Criminal Justice and Criminology degrees faster by enrolling in the Accelerated Dual Degree program. In it, you’ll work toward earning both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Criminology in just five years.

Discover the criminal justice and criminology focus that’s right for you

Our goal is to make sure you get the education you need to fully realize your passions. That’s why we sit down with you as soon as you declare an interest in joining majors in Criminal Justice and Criminology. We learn all about you, your areas of interest and your job goals to ensure you’re signing up for a major and classes that will help you get the criminal justice career of your dreams, from police chief to federal judge and more. Through close mentoring from our dedicated faculty, you’ll be on your way to success.

 

National Rankings

  • Ranked #1 in Missouri — and #34 in the country — for Best Homeland Security, Law Enforcement & Firefighting Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in 2021 by College Factual 
  • Ranked #10 for best online Law Enforcement program in 2021 by Learn.org
  • Ranked #22 for best value Criminal Justice program in 2020 by Best Value Schools
  • Ranked #11 for best value Homeland Security, Law Enforcement and Firefighting undergraduate degree in 2020 by College Factual
  • Ranked #23 for most affordable online BS in Criminal Justice in 2019 by SR Education Group
  • Ranked in the top 10% in the country for best value and the top 15% in the country for most popular undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Corrections in 2020 by College Factual
  • Ranked #4 in Missouri and in the top 10% in the nation for “best value” undergraduate Criminal Justice program in 2019 by College Factual

 

Unique learning opportunities in the Criminal Justice bachelor’s program

We make it easy for you to be an active participant in your CJC education. In addition to engaging undergraduate coursework taught by seasoned experts, you’ll have a breadth of experiential learning opportunities available to you.

  • Internships: Stand out to future employers by entering the job market with tangible experience in the field. Our internship coordinator is dedicated to helping students earning bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Criminology degrees find opportunities that match their career goals. We’ve placed students with local police departments and prosecutors’ offices, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the Missouri Department of Corrections, the U.S. Postal Inspector and more.
  • Study abroad: Go on faculty-led study tours to learn how criminal justice systems work around the world. These 10–14-day trips have included France, Italy, Japan, Turkey, Belize and more. One past trip took students to South Korea’s equivalent of the CIA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and a former prison. You can also take part in a semester-long study abroad program in Spain at the Universidad de Alcalá near Madrid. There, you’ll live with a host family while immersing yourself in Spanish culture.
  • Research opportunities: Engage with faculty members by assisting on research projects. You’ll learn valuable research methods and build connections with mentors who can help you get a job in criminal justice after graduation by providing letters of recommendation, giving career advice and connecting you with influential people in the field. In one past project, undergraduate students worked with Dr. Cho on a study on Korean youth and delinquency.

 

What can you do with degrees in Criminal Justice and Criminology?

Through focused coursework and learning opportunities outside the classroom, your bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Criminology will prepare you for a career serving your community. You’ll be ready to excel in jobs that involve policing and enforcing the law, investigating fraud and abuse and helping people in the criminal justice system through youth programs and legal aid. 

In addition to finding employment in county sheriffs’ offices, local law enforcement agencies and police departments, law practices and insurance companies, graduates have found rewarding careers in security operations, investigations analysis, community mental health liaising and more with organizations such as:

  • American Express
  • Compass Health
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Morgan Stanley
  • National Parks Service
  • State Street Bank and Trust

You can also pursue graduate school or a professional degree if you’re interested in practicing law, teaching or going into a research field.

Criminology and criminal justice careers

No matter the criminal justice career path you choose, you’ll have a wide variety of job opportunities available to you. Use the tool below to discover job openings in the field, employment trends, salary ranges and more.

 

 
 


 

Financial assistance options for degrees in Criminal Justice

The University of Central Missouri’s BS degrees in Criminal Justice and Criminology consistently rank among the best in the nation for its affordability. That means you’re getting a valuable education that you won’t spend the rest of your career paying off.

On top of the program’s affordability, we help you find ways to pay for your undergraduate degree. Some UCM Alumni Foundation scholarships are even available exclusively to majors in Criminal Justice and Criminology degrees, including:

  • Bill P. Colvin Criminal Justice Scholarship
  • Guillermo “Bill” Davila Scholarship for Criminal Justice
  • Paul Joseph “Jack” Lashbrook Scholarship
  • Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI Scholarship

 

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Take your degree further.

You can earn your Criminal Justice MS from UCM faster through our Criminal Justice and Criminology Accelerated Dual Degree program. This pathway helps you save time and money by starting your graduate coursework as an undergraduate student to earn both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Criminology in just five years. 

Our bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Criminology degrees are also a natural pathway to law school. UCM’s Pre-Law Pathway helps you combine the CJC curriculum with relevant skills from other majors, such as Political Science and Business Law, to give you the well-rounded knowledge base to apply for and excel in any law school.

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Make yourself more marketable.

Supplement your in-person or online Criminal Justice degree with a minor or undergraduate certificate. Added to bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Criminology degrees, programs like these can help you stand out among other job applicants:

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Explore programs related to criminal justice and criminology.

We want to help you find your passion and purpose, so you start your career with excitement and confidence. If you’re interested in working in a crime lab, for example, you may want to earn a Chemistry degree with a CJC minor instead. Explore other related undergraduate majors such as: 

Student life for majors in Criminal Justice and Criminology

Join other majors in Criminal Justice and Criminology in learning outside the classroom. From honor societies to networking opportunities, CJC-related student groups have a lot of exciting things to offer.

  • Alpha Phi Sigma (APS): This national criminal justice honor society runs the student mentorship program and attends the annual meeting at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.
  • Juvenile Justice Association: If you’re interested in working with youth and juvenile offenders, join your peers in this group for networking and experiential learning opportunities.
  • Lambda Alpha Epsilon (LAE): In this group, you can participate in volunteerism, social events and national competitions that focus on mastering physical agility, mock crime scene investigations, firearms and overall industry knowledge.
  • Mock Trial Team: Participate in local, regional and national mock trial competitions with students from other majors who share the same interests.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness: This club started as part of an assignment in a CJC course and focuses on educating people about mental illness to reduce the public stigma associated with it.
  • Pre-Law Students Association: Learn about issues concerning the field of law through speaker events hosted by this group, and benefit from their advisor program that helps students prepare for law school and better understand the field as a whole.

 

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