The Best Schools, Degrees and Resources for Colorado Students
Several state colleges, universities and technical colleges in Colorado offer comprehensive training and education programs for those interested in a criminal justice career. From working in law enforcement to legal fields, there a number of career training options available at reputable and accredited criminal justice schools in Colorado. Explore different career options, degrees available and salary information for a rewarding career in the legal or protective services fields specific to Colorado below.
Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.
COLORADO’S BEST CRIMINAL JUSTICE SCHOOLS
OUR METHODOLOGY +
To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:
Accredited at the institutional level
Private nonprofit or public school
Minimum of 1 bachelor’s or master’s degree in subject area for 4-year schools
Minimum of 1 associate degree or certificate program in subject area for 2-year schools
Schools were then scored on factors such as:
Cost & Financial Aid
Number and variety of program offerings
Graduation rates (4-year schools only)
Placement and support services offered
Academic/Career counseling services
Loan default rates
These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or “bang for your buck” of a college or degree program.
Students who are on a tight budget or are in the process of changing careers need time to compare different schools and find the perfect match. Whether the career focus is on forensics, law or detective work, there are several things to consider when selecting a school, including cost and graduation rates. This list of the top criminal justice schools in Colorado can help kick start the research process.
Colorado Mesa University's (CMU) criminal justice degree programs are geared towards students planning to work in law enforcement and related areas such as law, corrections, parole, liquor, tobacco and gaming enforcement, forensics and research. Students can earn a bachelor's degree or can minor in criminal justice or forensic science and investigation. CMU provides several interesting learning opportunities, including an on-campus Crime Scene House, FIRS (Forensic Investigation Research Station) and have access to pursuit driving courses and simulated city blocks at the Law Enforcement Training Academy. Students can also earn POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy certification) simultaneously with a BAS degree in criminal justice.
The criminal justice programs at Colorado Christian University emphasize theory and practice, along with integration of the Christian faith with academics. Students can earn bachelor's degrees, associate degrees or certificates in criminal justice, all of which are designed to provide maximum flexibility for working professionals and those with other outside obligations. Most courses are offered online, with a face-to-face class meeting one evening a week, plus students typically take one course per semester. After general education requirements are met, degree specific course work can be completed in four semesters. Students may also qualify to earn credits towards their degrees for prior educational and life experiences.
At the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS), students planning a career in the criminal justice system can choose to minor in or pursue a BA degree in criminal justice. Depending on a student's needs, the BA degree can be completed entirely online, on-campus or a combination of both. Through elective courses, students can concentrate on law enforcement, forensic studies or law. Opportunities for graduates of the UCCS criminal justice program include employment and advancement in the field of law enforcement with agencies at the local, state and federal level, corrections, parole, probation, forensics and security. Upon completion of the BA degree, students are also prepared for related graduate school work and law school.
The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in criminology and criminal justice, along with a minor in criminal justice and a certificate program in criminal investigation. The master's degree program is designed for flexibility, with evening classes and online courses available. Master's degree students will take a comprehensive exam towards the end of the program, and will complete a research project or thesis, if planning further graduate work. UNC's criminal justice students will have a variety of opportunities for fieldwork, including working with probation officers, adult and juvenile inmates, and participating in police ride along.
Students interested in a criminal justice career have several degree paths to choose from at the University of Colorado Denver. Both bachelor's and master's degrees are available as fully online or hybrid programs, depending on individual needs. Master's degree students can specialize in areas such as crime scene analyst, gender-based violence and emergency management and homeland security. Dual programs include a combined bachelor's/master's degree in criminal justice, with the master's portion taking about a year to complete, and a dual master's degree in criminal justice and public administration. Dual degree program students get to pay the same tuition while completing both degrees simultaneously.
Located in Greeley, Colorado, the Aims Community College has been in operation since 1965 and has helped many students reach their academic goals while maintaining the lowest cost of tuition in the state. Those interested in studying a career in criminal justice such as law enforcement, corrections, forensic science, or crime scene investigation may consider enrolling in the criminal justice program at ACC. Upon graduation, students should be able to demonstrate the cognitive, communication, physical and other skills required for their area of interest.
While designed to further the education of individuals already employed in the criminal justice field, Pikes Peak Community College's associate of applied science degree in criminal justice is also an excellent opportunity for students interested in starting a career as a justice professional. Students will be afforded a well-rounded general education on top of their field-specific curriculum, guaranteeing that they will receive the encompassing knowledge base that is necessary for success in any future career. Many PPCC classes are available in online formats, as well, if a student is unable to attend on-campus courses due to external conflicts.
Attending Trinidad State Junior College may be an excellent opportunity for students interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice. Offered as both an associate of arts degree and an associate of applied science degree, these programs will provide its students with the critical communicative and analytical skills necessary to become a valuable employee later in life. Trinidad State ensures that any student transferring to their institution will have as many of their previously earned credits valued as possible. Financial support may be awarded in the forms of federal aid, scholarships, and grants. Students who feel they may need assistance with their academics may make use of several tutoring options.
Studying in Red Rocks Community College's associate of arts in criminal justice or victim assistance program is a valuable step in either entering the workforce or moving on to earn a bachelor's degree. Students will receive hands-on training from experienced faculty members who have several years of experience in their field. Students who are looking for some more freedom in their schedule may wish to consider online, night, or weekend courses to work around any time constraints. Students looking to become more integrated with their academic community may wish to consider one of RRCC's student clubs, Greek life chapters, or student government opportunities.
Because the associate of arts degree in criminal justice offered at Pueblo Community College is available in an online format, students will be able through their degree at the pace which best fits their study habits. Several of these class„as is the case with many Pueblo CC's classes„are fully transferable, allowing students to transition into a four-year bachelor's degree program after completing their associate degree. Student who excel in their studies or meet other specified criteria may be eligible for scholarships or grants. Students will also have the benefit of utilizing on-campus recreation and dining facilities.
There are many reputable criminal justice schools in Colorado that can prepare students to work as police officers, investigators and other legal and protective service professionals. Learn more about the specialty programs offered at each college and university in Colorado with the search tool below, then compare different schools by student population, financial aid offerings, graduation rate and other key factors.
MOST POPULAR CRIMINAL JUSTICE CAREERS IN COLORADO
When thinking about what kind of career in criminal justice to go to school for, it can help students to review educational requirements and salary information relevant to criminal justice careers in Colorado. Some jobs may require training at a professional academy while others require a degree from an accredited school and work experience. Use the table below to see salaries and employment levels of some of the most popular criminal justice careers in Colorado:
Police, Sheriff & Highway Patrol Officers
Total Employed in Colorado9,380
Median Salary in Colorado$67,330
Degree Level Required in ColoradoAcademy Program
Total Employed in Colorado6,860
Median Salary in Colorado$43,190
Degree Level Required in ColoradoVaries; up to Bachelor’s
Paralegal and Legal Assistant
Total Employed in Colorado6,030
Median Salary in Colorado$50,070
Degree Level Required in ColoradoAssociate
Total Employed in Colorado4,790
Median Salary in Colorado$66,380
Degree Level Required in ColoradoBachelor’s
Court, Municipal and License Clerks
Total Employed in Colorado4,530
Median Salary in Colorado$38,910
Degree Level Required in ColoradoVaries; up to Associate
Total Employed in Colorado2,490
Median Salary in Colorado$54,050
Degree Level Required in ColoradoBachelor’s
Detectives and Criminal Investiagors
Total Employed in Colorado1,680
Median Salary in Colorado$80,350
Degree Level Required in ColoradoAssociate
SIDE BY SIDE: COLORADO COMPARED WITH CRIMINAL JUSTICE NATIONALLY
Many major colleges and universities in Colorado offer comprehensive programs that train students on how the criminal justice system works, how different agencies across the state interact and what to expect in the field of corrections, parole, probation, courts and private security. The job prospects for Colorado criminal justice school grads are also positive in comparison with the national average. Scroll over the graphs below to compare average annual salaries and job growth in Colorado to national numbers, and find Colorado’s degree requirements for these positions.
Administrative Law Judges
Detectives, Criminal Investigators
Police, Sheriff and Patrol Officers
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Criminal Justice Professor
Fire Inspector, Investigator
Fire Inspector, Investigator
Source: Projections Central, 2015
WHERE TO GET HIRED AFTER CRIMINAL JUSTICE SCHOOL IN COLORADO
According to data from the FBI and local law enforcement, Denver has a higher than average crime rate compared to national numbers. This implies a steady need for qualified and dedicated legal and protective service professionals in the area. Other larger cities, including Colorado Springs, Boulder and Aspen are home to numerous law enforcement agencies and legal offices. Those who have completed training at accredited criminal justice schools in Colorado can explore job opportunities at the Colorado Department of Corrections, Colorado State Patrol, various county sheriff’s offices, courts and other organizations. The map below provides information about the largest areas of employment and annual wages for the protective and legal services industries in the state, scroll over the map to see how each area stacks up.
Colorado County Courthouses; Colorado Department of Corrections; private detective firms; Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control; Colorado State University; Denver Police Department; Colorado Department of Transportation; Arvada Public Schools; Colorado State Patrol; Colorado Parks and Recreation Association; Denver International Airport
Total Number of Employees in Colorado: 54,260
Private law firms; Park County Courthouse; Colorado State Judicial Branch; First Judicial District Court; Colorado Department of Transportation; Colorado Supreme Court; Colorado Office of the State Court Administrator; Colorado Department of Human Services; City and County of Denver; Colorado District Attorney; Colorado Secretary of State
Total Number of Employees in Colorado: 21,610
PROFESSIONAL RESOURCES FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN COLORADO
The Business Center section of the site includes information about permits, on-the-job training forms, evaluation reports and other compliance regulations businesses must adhere to. There are also details about employee recruitment.
Helping new and existing small businesses grow, the CSBDC website contains a collection of information from federal, state and local governments on regulations, certifications, consulting and low- and no-cost training programs for Colorado entrepreneurs and small business groups.
Promoting a healthy business climate, this organization offers membership benefits and hosts numerous events throughout the year. The website includes information about Colorado’s manufacturing initiative and political program.
This non-profit organization is comprised of all community corrections boards in the state, providing training and educational opportunities as well as networking events for leaders in correctional agencies and professional groups around Colorado.
A group designed to combat the incarceration crisis in Colorado, promoting public safety reform, advocacy and funding strategies to help curb the growing prison population and improve overall health and safety in the state.
A chapter of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, this statewide association consists of Colorado’s mediators and arbitrators. It is an invitation-only, membership based organization, and is a major benchmark for judges and attorneys in Colorado.
An all-encompassing page covering adult and juvenile justice, community corrections, domestic violence and sex offender management and victim assistance programs, the DCJ is a helpful resource for those interested in learning more about different facets of criminal justice in Colorado.
As an evaluation and accountability organization for Colorado’s judicial system, the CJI hosts research projects and examines the effectiveness of courts, judges and judicial department staffers and provides continuing education opportunities, dispute resolution and general court improvement projects.
The Colorado Department of Law and Attorney General’s office provides this online listing for criminal justice students and grads, with posting for open attorney positions, staff positions, fellowships and internship opportunities.
Responsible for the oversight of all law enforcement entities throughout the state, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation website includes information about its different divisions, executive team and their overall mission.
Designed for low-income Coloradans who need legal assistance or legal advocates, Colorado Legal Services provides information on how criminal justice professionals can get involved and give back to the community.
This comprehensive website features a wealth of research resources for legal professionals, a listing of upcoming events and a learning center. The library itself is located inside the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center.
The official union website for law enforcement in Colorado, those interested in learning more about the behind-the-scenes issues and services available to police and protective service workers can find a variety of information here.
The Colorado Legislative Council provides a collection of information about criminal law and how it relates to law enforcement in Colorado. Topics include firearms, controlled substances and other criminal infractions, as well as information on courts and corrections in the state.
A non-profit group of law enforcement officers working to improve work environments and fight for legislative rights for police officers in Colorado. The PPA offers special events, benefit and insurance information, scholarships and job postings to its members.
Takes the lead on enforcing rules, licensing requirements and permits to preserve and protect the wildlife and natural territories in Colorado, the Parks and Wildlife Law Enforcement website also includes a careers section for aspiring wardens and wildlife officials.
The Colorado Bureau of Land management manages 8.3 million acres of public land in Colorado and works to protect the state’s natural resources. This website allows visitors to report a crime occurring on Colorado land and also includes career opportunities.
This citizen-board organization is appointed by the Governor or Colorado and is responsible for setting the regulations and policies for Colorado’s state parks and wildlife programs. Information about policies and resolutions can be found on this page.
Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.
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