Criminal Justice Schools in Florida [2022 Guide]

Updated August 15, 2022 • 6 Min Read

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The Best Resources for Students in Criminal Justice Schools in Florida

From 1995 to 2015, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported a significant decrease in both the number and rate of total crimes. These stats might suggest the criminal justice system is high-functioning, and criminal justice schools in Florida are successfully preparing the next generation of legal and protective service workers in the state. With a population that's grown 40 percent over the last 20 years, the demand for public services in Florida has also increased. This is indicated by the many positive trends detailed on the page below, designed to help aspiring criminal justice students in the state weigh their educational options.

Top 10 Criminal Justice Schools in Florida 4-Years Colleges

#1 Keiser University Fort Lauderdale, FL
#2 Saint Leo University St. Leo, FL
#3 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
#4 Indian River State College Fort Pierce, FL
#5 Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Myers, FL
#6 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
#7 Florida International University Miami, FL
#8 Polk State College Winter Haven, FL
#9 St. Thomas University Miami Gardens, FL
#10 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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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:

  • Financial Aid
  • Number and variety of program offerings
  • Student-teacher ratios
  • Graduation rates (4-year schools only)
  • Placement and support services offered
  • Academic/Career counseling services
  • Employment 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.

With a number of criminal justice schools in Florida, it can be difficult to narrow down the options. Specializations aside, this list of top criminal justice schools in Florida can help students find which general criminal justice programs rank the highest in the state. Based on factors like tuition and graduation rate, read on for more details on Florida's best.

  1. Keiser University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    After completing a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice from Keiser University, students will have knowledge of many topics relating to a career in criminal justice, such as victimology, private security and forensics. If students are interested in a more flexible way to pursue a criminal justice degree, they can earn a bachelor's degree completely online. Keiser University also offers a master's degree in criminal justice for students who are looking to further their education and experience. Students at the Fort Lauderdale location have access to a library, financial service departments, and academic affairs offices.

  2. Saint Leo University

    St. Leo, FL

    Students at Saint Leo University who pursue a bachelor's degree in criminal justice will learn about topics ranging from interrogation, to hostage negotiation, and international sex and organ trafficking. The university also offers master's level degrees in criminal justice if students are interested in furthering their studies. First year students can take advantage of a first-year student transition program to get comfortable on campus. There is also an on campus medical facility that provides services for medical issues and can issue over the counter medication. Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, and is the oldest Catholic educational institution in Florida.

  3. Florida State University

    Tallahassee, FL

    At Florida State University, students can pursue a degree in criminal justice at the bachelor's and master's level. The program prepares students for careers in criminal justice fields in the public and private sectors. Students who are looking for a more flexible school schedule can pursue a bachelor's degree in criminology entirely online at Florida State University. Peer tutoring is available in all subjects to help students learn to better help themselves. During their time at Florida State University, students will have access to the University Counseling Center as a confidential place to come for help.

  4. Indian River State College

    Fort Pierce, FL

    With a criminal justice degree from Indian River State College, students will be ready to pursue a career at the local, state, or federal level. Upon enrollment at the university, students will be able to meet with an advisor to discuss both career and educational goals. Indian River State College offers in person tutoring and online tutoring through Blackboard, an online learning platform. Students can use the Health and Wellness Center on campus to maintain good health and for any medical emergencies that happen on campus. Students looking to get involved in on-campus life can participate in the many clubs and organizations on campus.

  5. Florida Gulf Coast University

    Fort Myers, FL

    Florida Gulf Coast University offers a bachelor's degree in criminal justice that is available through on campus learning, as well as distance learning for students who are looking for a more flexible school schedule. For those who are looking to further their education, a master's degree is also available. By the end of the program, students will develop communication skills, critical thinking skills, and knowledge relating to the criminal justice field. The university has free tutoring available to every student, helping enhance materials learned in the classroom. The Counseling and Psychological Services program is also available to provide support and encourage students to seek help in times of need.

  6. University of Central Florida

    Orlando, FL

  7. Florida International University

    Miami, FL

  8. Polk State College

    Winter Haven, FL

  9. St. Thomas University

    Miami Gardens, FL

  10. Nova Southeastern University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

Top 10 Criminal Justice Schools in Florida 2-Years Colleges

#1 Hillsborough Community College Tampa, FL
#2 Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee, FL
#3 The College of the Florida Keys Key West, FL
#4 North Florida College Madison, FL
#5 City College Altamonte Springs, FL is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

  1. Hillsborough Community College

    Tampa, FL

    Hillsborough Community College strives to empower students by providing quality academics and learning opportunities designed to propel them towards their educational goals. HCC's Criminal Justice Institute reflects these values by giving students the opportunity to enter or advance a career in criminal justice. The institute offers both degree and certificate programs in various criminal justice fields including corrections, security, juvenile justice and law enforcement. Academic advisors are available for students who need help planning an academic path that aligns with their personal and professional goals.

  2. Tallahassee Community College

    Tallahassee, FL

    College bound students seeking to enter or advance their career in criminal justice may consider the Criminal Justice Technology Associate degree program at Tallahassee Community College. To be eligible for graduation, students must complete 60 credit hours of academics that are comprised of core curriculum and area-specific instruction. All courses are taught by trained professionals and are designed to cover the material needed to excel in criminal justice professions. The school's Career Coach service allows students to find occupational information on their desired profession which allows them to anticipate academic requirements and job outlooks of their field.

  3. The College of the Florida Keys

    Key West, FL

    The criminal justice program at Florida Keys Community College gives students the opportunity to excel in the criminal justice field of their choice. A sequence of courses was created to educate students through a blend of theory and hands-on training. Students can be sure that they are receiving relevant information since the program meets all requirements set forth by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. Upon successful program completion, graduates may be eligible to work as professionals in public and private agencies.

  4. North Florida College

    Madison, FL

    North Florida Community College gives students the opportunity to take the first steps in becoming a professional in criminal justice. The school's comprehensive Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Technology program consists of core curriculum along with area-specific study and elective courses. Upon successful completion of the required 60 credit hours, students may be equipped with the necessary skills to enter a criminal justice profession or continue their education in a bachelor degree program. The school also offers a Criminal Justice Technology Specialist certificate program to advance their understanding of the field.

  5. City College

    Altamonte Springs, FL

    At City College _ Altamonte Springs, students interested in studying legal and justice professions can enroll in paralegal and private investigation programs that result in an Associate of Science degree upon completion. Each program can typically be completed in eight quarters, which consist of 11 weeks of instruction. These programs are designed to develop students' skillset through comprehensive instruction and hands-on learning opportunities taught by experienced professionals in these fields. Students can also further their professional development by utilizing one of the Career Assistance and Development Center's various services.


As criminal justice students begin to narrow down their educational options, they should also begin to consider specializations offered within the field-from forensics to law enforcement to judicial and paralegal work, there are many different training options for criminal justice in Florida. Search and sort through the colleges and universities that offer various legal and protective service training options in Florida with the search tool below. 


Florida's criminal justice schools prepare students for a variety of legal and protective service careers, but what exactly are the most popular careers in criminal justice? Find out with the chart below, detailing the seven most popular criminal justice jobs in Florida, with statistics on how many people are employed in each field and their median annual salary. Prospective students will also see which degree they need to pursue these careers in Florida.

Police, Sheriff & Highway Patrol Officers

Total Employed in Florida 40,370 Median Salary in Florida $55,050 Degree Level Required in Florida Academy Program

Correctional Officer

Total Employed in Florida 34,470 Median Salary in Florida $37,910 Degree Level Required in Florida Academy Program

Paralegal and Legal Assistant

Compliance Officer

Total Employed in Florida 15,160 Median Salary in Florida $57,360 Degree Level Required in Florida Bachelor's

Detectives and Criminal Investiagors

Total Employed in Florida 6,120 Median Salary in Florida $63,270 Degree Level Required in Florida Certificate

Court, Municipal and License Clerks

Total Employed in Florida 5,660 Median Salary in Florida $32,920 Degree Level Required in Florida Associate

Probation Officer

Total Employed in Florida 4,210 Median Salary in Florida $38,200 Degree Level Required in Florida Bachelor's


There are some promising career stats students attending criminal justice schools in Florida, who also plan to work in the state after graduation. Many professions are growing as quickly as the state's population, especially compared to nationwide numbers. Some of these positions also pay more in Florida than the national average. Find out more about the educational requirements for each job by scrolling over the graphs below, and see which position could be the most lucrative in the interested field.

[chart block]


Professions in the criminal justice field, more specifically the legal occupations make an annual wage of over $100,000. There are thousands of people employed in the protective service and legal occupation fields in different Florida counties. Some of the professions below include correctional officers, judges, Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers. The majority of these positions aim to preserve the safety and well being of Florida residents.

  • Protective Services
    Potential Employers

    Florida Department of Law Enforcement; Florida Department of Juvenile Justice; Florida Association of Licensed Investigators; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles; Florida Animal Control Association; Florida Department of Transportation; Florida State Parks

    Total Number of Employees in Florida: 231,010
  • Legal Occupations
    Potential Employers

    Private practice law firms; Florida Bar Association; Florida State Court; Florida Supreme Court; various Judicial Circuit Courts of Florida; Florida Attorney General's Office; Florida Secretary of State; Florida Department of Defense; Miami-Dade County Courthouse; City of Tampa

    Total Number of Employees in Florida: 81,430


Protective service

Miami, Miami Beach, Kendall

Orlando, Kissimmee, Sanford

Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater

Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach

West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach

Legal service

Miami, Miami Beach, Kendall

Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater

Orlando, Kissimmee, Sanford

Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach

West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach


  • Business & Professional Women of FloridaAn organization focused on furthering women in business, this membership group offers young careerist and leadership programs for aspiring professionals, as well as a political action committee for those interested in the legal and political aspects of business rights in Florida.
  • Enterprise FloridaThe official Economic Development Organization for the State of Florida, EF provides information on trade, industry and the overall business climate in the state. Those interested in compliance can check out the many industries and small businesses offered in the state here.
  • North Florida Association of Corporate CounselBased in Jacksonville and serving the surrounding counties, the North Florida chapter of the ACC hosts free compliance seminars and networking events on corporate legal compliance. Members also enjoy benefits of the association's advocacy and continuing education programs.
  • South Florida Association of Corporate CounselServicing Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, the South Florida chapter of the ACC is a membership based organization for corporate regulators. From advocacy programs to continuing education, students interested in legal compliance can find out more about business-related issues and action here.
  • CURE FloridaA prison reform advocacy group in Florida, CURE addresses issues such as abuse in women's prisons, prison funding and prison inspections. Those interested in learning more about challenges facing correctional facilities can explore information here.
  • Ex-Offender Re-Entry Coalition, Pinellas CountyThis group assists those recently released from Florida's correctional facilities become more educated and prepared for employment. Those interested in parole and probations may consider volunteering with this or other re-entry and transition programs in Florida.
  • Florida Association of Community CorrectionsAn organization dedicated to training those employed in Florida's county probation programs. From encouraging cooperation and communication to hosting training events, the main goal of the program is to build a collaborative network of community corrections programs.
  • Florida Department of CorrectionsIf interested in joining the Florida Department of Corrections, this page contains information about career paths, benefits and employment processes.
  • Florida Department of Juvenile JusticeThis agency strives to make a difference in Florida's youth. This page includes information about job opportunities, position descriptions and benefits, as well as the organization's hiring policy.
  • Florida Academy of Professional Mediators, Inc.A membership based organization that offers training, networking, community involvement opportunities and dispute resolution resources for judges, mediators and attorneys in Florida.
  • Florida Clerks of Court Operations CorporationCreated by the Florida Legislature, the Florida CCOC supports court clerks dealing with state Department of Revenue budgets, including reviewing and certifying court-related proposals. Employment opportunities are listed here, along with a breakdown of various committees and workgroups.
  • Florida CourtsThe Florida Courts system provides information and resources to Florida residents about how to navigate through the system. There are also publications and statistics on the judicial system, judgeships and clearance rates listed here.
  • Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute AssociatesThe purpose of this association is to share research information with other professionals and students about criminal justice problems as well as to find innovative solutions.
  • Florida State Attorney's Office Peer Court / Teen Court ProgramA unique program from the Florida State Attorney's Office in Brevard and Seminole counties, Peer/Teen Court gives first-time juvenile offenders to have their case brought before a group of peers before going to Juvenile Court. The Attorney's Office seeks volunteers between the ages of 13 and 18 to facilitate the courtroom process.
  • Central Florida Gay & Lesbian Law AssociationThis membership-based group is a regional Voluntary Bar Association that supports, assists and encourages gay and lesbian criminal justice professionals and students. The site provides support and resources for Central Florida's LGBT legal community.
  • Florida Academy of Collaborative ProfessionalsA non-profit group of law professionals dedicated to using collaborative processes to settle legal and family disputes, such as divorce, custody, business, guardianship, probate cases and more outside of court.
  • Florida Bar AssociationThe Florida Bar is a statewide organization for lawyers. The website includes educational and employment information for members as well as providing Lawyer referral service for private citizens.
  • Florida Justice Reform InstitutePromoting fair and equitable legal practices in Florida, the FJRI's mission is to provide information about the state of civil justice in the state. The group battles state liability laws by researching and advocating for tort reform legislation.
  • Florida Legal Services, Inc.Dedicated to providing legal services to all, including at-risk, low-income and homeless clients, Florida Legal Services connects the legal community to those in need.
  • Southern Criminal Justice AssociationSouthern Criminal Justice Association is a professional association to connect students, criminal justice professors and practitioners. The purpose of this organization is to promote the criminal justice field through its "American Journal of Criminal Justice" publication and conferences.
  • Florida Crime and Intelligence Analyst AssociationA professional association formed based on the need for training on intelligence analytics and technology in regards to law enforcement in Florida. Both training and coaching opportunities are detailed on this page.
  • Florida Department of Law EnforcementOffering a wide variety of information on Florida's law enforcement system, the DLE also provides officer certification information, crime statistics and other publications for those interested in learning more.
  • Florida Gang Investigators AssociationAn organization for law enforcement and various other members of the criminal justice system in Florida directly associated to working on curbing criminal gang activity. Visit this site for more information on workshops, training programs and news.
  • Florida Law Enforcement PIO AssociationAnother facet of law enforcement criminal justice students can consider is becoming a Public Information Officer. Working for various law enforcement agencies, this position requires excellent media and communication skills. Find more information on the profession on this professional organization page dedicated to Florida's PIOs.
  • Florida Police Chiefs AssociationAs the third largest state police chief association in the United States, this association's purpose is to promote laws that safeguard the security of residents in Florida.
  • Fish & Wildlife Foundation of FloridaWorking closely with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Fish & Wildlife Foundation finances programs that preserve and restore wildlife habitats and creates opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy Florida's wildlife resources.
  • Florida Department of Environment ProtectionThis division of law enforcement is in charge of acting on behalf of citizens when natural disasters strike as well as the investigation of environmental related crimes.
  • Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission From boating to hunting and fishing regulations, the FWCC provides research, educational and conservation information, as well as licenses, permits and employment information on this site.
  • Florida State Parks A collection of information on the various state park facilities in Florida. Students can find details about park programs and initiatives, as well as volunteer and junior ranger programs here.


After twenty-four years as a Special Agent with the United States government, Ricky Langlois made the decision to retire. His career as a federal law enforcement officer included assignments placing him in charge of several major field offices including, New Orleans, Miami and Atlanta. He joined Florida Atlantic University in 2011 as an instructor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and was recently named the Undergraduate Degree Online Program Coordinator for the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. He holds two M.S. degrees: Criminal Justice and Emergency Planning and Administration. His academic interests include the criminal justice system's response to white collar crime, crimes against the environment and applied public safety theory.

What should prospective criminal justice students look for in a school in Florida?

My thoughts are when you are looking for the right schools there are a few things to consider, such as affordability, the expertise and academic credentials of the faculty that will be teaching and mentoring you, and the availability of online classes. Equally as important would the hiring rates of recent graduates.

What makes someone a good candidate for a criminal justice career in Florida?

Students who pursue a criminal justice degree usually follow one of three paths: law enforcement, law school, or corrections. For an individual to be a good candidate for a criminal justice career in Florida, we really have to look at the qualifications the police departments are requiring of their perspective recruits. Many of the major police departments and sheriff's offices require a four-year degree, physically fit, no excessive tattoos, body ornamentation, or intentional disfigurement that cannot be completely covered by a dress collar, long sleeves or long pants. Additionally, candidates must be drug free. When developing policy, departments often consider the following areas: recency of usage, patterns or frequency of usage, types of drugs used, involvement in sale and distribution of drugs. Most police departments use the polygraph in the selection process. The polygraph is frequently used so candidates must be able to speak truthfully about their past (e.g., criminal history, drug and alcohol usage and ethics). Many departments here in Florida consider applicants who have experimented with soft drugs such as marijuana but have strict prohibitions against long-term usage or the use of hard drugs such as cocaine, LSD or opiates. As a practitioner, a former Special Agent for the U.S. government, and an Instructor at FAU I often mentor perspective candidates. It is important for them to know the realities of being a 21st century law enforcement officer. Their job is to protect and to serve. This can come at a terrible price.

What can Florida students do to prepare for a criminal justice degree program?

I would suggest researching the programs offered within the criminal justice degree program. Individuals with higher aspirations would want to research the graduate programs offered as well. In general, because of the unsuccessful prosecutions of both Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman, and the recent tragic mass killing at a night club in Orlando, I think all criminal case prosecutions in Florida are under more pressure to exact swift and substantive justice, which in turn places more pressure on the defense of the same.

Many people consider Florida the weird crime capitol of the country. Do criminal justice courses address these phenomena and its impact on the criminal justice profession? If so, how is it discussed?

Although Florida is the fourth most populous state in the United States, it does contain more of nation's most dangerous cities, outranking California, Texas and New York. Many of the criminal justice courses do address this. One course in particular is Criminological Theory, where crime and crime causation are discussed at length. Another course, Policing in America, also addresses this phenomena from a different perspective. For example, when you have a state that leads in this ranking, you also have to have police departments that are capable of policing in the 21st century. Sheriffs and police chiefs are beginning to realize that the best way to tackle high crime rates is not only through men and women on the street, but also through technological innovation (e.g., drones to predictive policing).

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