Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois [2022 Guide]

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Updated November 9, 2022

Learn about criminal justice schools in Illinois. Find programs and resources to help students overcome these challenges.

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The Best Programs and Criminal Justice Resources for Illinois Students

Criminal justice is one of the most flexible academic areas of study, and students in Illinois have a wide variety of options when it comes to earning a degree in criminal justice. Criminal justice schools in Illinois train graduates for an array of potential career paths, working in law enforcement, corrections, law practices and the judicial system. Illinois boasts a workforce of nearly 200,000 people in legal and protective services across the state, with approximately 135,000 of those working in Chicago alone. Illinois has a growing criminal justice industry, with numerous occupations showing higher long-term growth projections than the national average. Prospective students can use the following page to read about degree options, compare criminal justice schools in Illinois and learn about criminal justice employers and jobs in the state.

The Best Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois

Prospective criminal justice students have a wide range of options when it comes to criminal justice schools in Illinois. To help in the decision making process, check this list of the top programs, ranked based on a variety of the most important factors to students, including tuition costs, graduation rates and student-teacher ratios.

#1 Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois [2022 Guide]

George Mason University

  • Fairfax, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

George Mason University is a public college offering premier bachelor's-level education to students worldwide. Enrollees can pursue remote study or learn from the college's campus in Fairfax, Virginia. Undergraduate students connect with peers, faculty, and staff.

After enrollment, criminal justice students join a supportive learning community, connecting with peers, faculty, and staff in person and online. The college provides students with a competitive education through intensive coursework. Enrollees complete general and advanced classes and can modify their course load to suit their career goals.

Learners can customize their studies in consultation with an academic advisor. Students seeking academic and career guidance can connect with campus resources, such as academic advising and career services.

Learners can meet with a financial aid counselor to determine their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid. The average student receives approximately $6,524 in financial aid, with 74% of all enrollees receiving some form of aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,060
Out-of-state
$32,520
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
37,863
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois [2022 Guide]

Marymount University

  • Arlington, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Undergraduate students can benefit from a flexible, thorough education at Marymount University. Learners can study from the comfort of their homes, or on the college's Arlington-based campus. To date, the school offers 27 bachelor’s programs, including a BA in criminal justice.

After enrollment, students join a supportive learning community, connecting with peers, faculty, and staff in person and online. While enrolled, students complete general and criminal justice-specific coursework. Learners can also pursue internships, research projects, and experiential learning opportunities to supplement their education.

Learners can customize their studies in consultation with an academic advisor, to suit their personal and professional goals. Students seeking further academic and career guidance can access numerous institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising.

When preparing for the cost of education, degree-seekers can meet with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities. Of all enrollees, 98% receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,100
Out-of-state
$32,100
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
3,363
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois [2022 Guide]

Virginia State University

  • Petersburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Virginia State University provides flexible study for learners seeking a bachelor's-level education. Undergraduate students benefit from hybrid learning opportunities, with the option to study in person or online. To date, the school offers 30 bachelor’s programs, including a sociology and criminal justice program.

Learners across modalities benefit from a robust program curriculum. While enrolled, students complete general and criminal justice-specific coursework. Students gain skills and knowledge through their engagement with foundational and advanced classes.

Enrollees work with an academic advisor and customize their degree to meet their academic and career goals. While enrolled, learners can connect with institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, to receive further guidance.

The college connects students with a variety of funding opportunities to defray educational costs. The average enrollee receives $5,205 in financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,540
Out-of-state
$16,542
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
95%
Students Enrolled
4,365
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois [2022 Guide]

Radford University

  • Radford, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Virginia, Radford University provides flexible educational opportunities for learners worldwide. The public institution offers hybrid degree programs at the undergraduate level. To date, the public college supports 48 bachelor's programs, five of which are online.

Learners across modalities benefit from a robust criminal justice program curriculum. While enrolled, students complete general and criminal justice-specific coursework. These classes equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to advance in their future career.

In consultation with an academic advisor, students can modify their coursework, choose electives, and pursue degree concentrations and minors to suit their career goals. While enrolled, learners can connect with institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, to receive further guidance.

Learners can meet with a financial aid counselor to determine their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid. The average enrollee receives $8,884 in financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,922
Out-of-state
$19,557
Retention Rate
71%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
11,870
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois [2022 Guide]

Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Richmond, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Virginia Commonwealth University offers flexible educational opportunities for undergraduate students. The school supports hybrid study from its main campus in Richmond. At present, the college provides 61 bachelor's degree programs, with six programs supporting remote study.

Whether learning in-person or online, students join a supportive learning community, working alongside peers, faculty, and staff. Throughout their studies, enrollees in the criminal justice program complete field-specific coursework as part of the program curriculum. These classes equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to advance in their career.

Enrollees work with an academic advisor and customize their degree to meet their academic and career goals. Students can receive guidance through career services, academic advising, and other institutional resources.

Learners can meet with a financial aid counselor to determine their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid. Typically, students receive an average financial aid package of $10,295.

Average Tuition
In-state
$12,177
Out-of-state
$32,825
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
29,757
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#6 Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois [2022 Guide]

Averett University

  • Danville, VA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Averett University is a private college offering hybrid education in Danville, Virginia. Students can choose from 52 in-person bachelor's degree programs. Enrollees benefit from rigorous coursework, supportive faculty and peers, and a premier education.

Students in the sociology and criminal justice program complete foundational and advanced classes. Students can work with their academic advisor to customize their degree and study trajectory. While enrolled, participants benefit from career and academic counselors, receiving personal and academic guidance throughout their studies.

Students can explore their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid in consultation with the financial aid office. The college notes that 100% of all enrollees receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$35,450
Out-of-state
$35,450
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
65%
Students Enrolled
894
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#7 Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois [2022 Guide]

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students seeking a flexible bachelor's degree program should consider Liberty University. Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, the private institution features in-person and virtual programs, enabling students near and far to benefit from top-ranked classes, prominent faculty, and a supportive learning community.

Students gain skills and knowledge through their coursework, and become better prepared for their future careers. Depending on their career goals, students can declare a double major, minor, or degree concentration and select elective courses. Throughout their program, students can access resources such as career services, academic advising, and library services.

Depending on their eligibility, students can apply scholarships, fellowships, and other funding toward their educational expenses. Of all enrollees, 99% receive financial aid awards.

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois [2022 Guide]

Roanoke College

  • Salem, VA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Roanoke College is a private college offering premier bachelor's-level education to students worldwide. Located in Salem, Virginia, the private institution offers competitive, flexible programs that can be completed in person or online. To date, the school offers 36 bachelor’s programs.

Upon enrollment, criminal justice students connect with a supportive learning community, whether in person or online. While enrolled, students complete general and criminal justice-specific coursework. Students gain skills and knowledge through their engagement with general and advanced classes.

Learners can customize their studies to suit their personal and professional goals. Learners can also connect with career services to receive guidance throughout the criminal justice program.

Depending on their eligibility, students can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. Of all enrollees, 100% receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$43,818
Out-of-state
$43,818
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
2,003
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois [2022 Guide]

Longwood University

  • Farmville, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students seeking flexible study should consider Longwood University. Learners can study from the comfort of their homes or on the college's Farmville-based campus. The college campus and online learning environment enable students to connect with peers, faculty, and staff during their studies.

Enrollees benefit from a supportive learning community. While enrolled, students complete general and criminal justice-specific coursework. These classes equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their future career.

Students have the option to modify their coursework, choose electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations. A leader in students success, the college connects enrollees with career services, academic advising, and other supportive resources.

Students can meet with the financial aid office to determine their eligibility for scholarships and other educational funding. According to the college, 90% of all enrollees receive financial aid, with the average student awarded $7,453 in aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,940
Out-of-state
$23,900
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
90%
Students Enrolled
4,468
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois [2022 Guide]

Virginia Wesleyan University

  • Virginia Beach, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students seeking flexible study should consider Virginia Wesleyan University. Undergraduate students can choose from in-person and remote degree programs. To date, the school offers 35 bachelor’s programs, with five online degree options.

Learners attending the criminal justice program in person and online benefit from a supportive learning community. Throughout their studies, learners in the criminal justice program complete field-specific coursework. Participants take foundational classes, as well as advanced coursework, with the option to modify their schedule and choose electives.

In consultation with an academic advisor, students can modify their coursework, choose electives, and pursue degree concentrations and minors to suit their career goals. While enrolled, learners can connect with institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, to receive further guidance.

Depending on their eligibility, students can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. According to the school, 100% of all enrollees receive some form of aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$36,010
Out-of-state
$36,010
Retention Rate
59%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
1,487
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org 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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The Most Popular Criminal Justice Careers in Illinois

Nearly 200,000 individuals work in criminal justice in Illinois. Employment opportunities can be found across the corrections, judicial and law enforcement systems at the local, county and state level. Although police, sheriff and state patrol officers remain a well-known employment path for criminal justice students in Illinois, the table below includes a variety of the most popular career paths for students to consider after criminal justice school in Illinois.

Police, Sheriff and Highway Patrol Officers

Total Employed in Illinois: 31,710
Median Salary in Illinois: $73,140
Degree Level Required in Illinois: Academy Program


Correctional Officers

Total Employed in Illinois: 13,610
Median Salary in Illinois: $57,470
Degree Level Required in Illinois: High School Diploma or GED


Paralegal and Legal Assistant

Total Employed in Illinois: 11,140
Median Salary in Illinois: $48,310
Degree Level Required in Illinois: Certificate


Compliance Officer

Total Employed in Illinois: 7,460
Median Salary in Illinois: $72,230
Degree Level Required in Illinois: Bachelor's


Court, Municipal and License Clerks

Total Employed in Illinois: 4,920
Median Salary in Illinois: $41,710
Degree Level Required in Illinois: Varies; up to Associate


Detectives and Criminal Investigators

Total Employed in Illinois: 2,840
Median Salary in Illinois: $88,310
Degree Level Required in Illinois: Academy Program plus experience


Probation Officer

Total Employed in Illinois: 2,130
Median Salary in Illinois: $65,890
Degree Level Required in Illinois: Bachelor's

Where To Work After Criminal Justice School in Illinois

Criminal justice is one of the largest employment fields in Illinois, especially in Chicago. Approximately 130,000 individuals are employed in a variety of legal and protective service occupations in the greater Chicago region alone. Students interested in mapping their career options after criminal justice school in Illinois can scroll over the markers below to find more information on the areas that have the highest concentrations of criminal justice employees in the state, and see how much these professionals make annually by area.

Protective Services

Potential Employers: Benton County Superior Court; Dixon Correctional Center; Illinois State Police; Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Chicago Administration Division; Peoria Police Department; Chicago Transit Authority; Kane County Animal Control; Maley Investigations; Illinois Gaming Board; Skytech Security; Chicago Public Schools; Aqua-Guard Management; Chicago Park District; O'Hare International Airport

Total Number of Employees in Illinois: 150,250

Legal Occupations

Potential Employers: Private law firms; Illinois Appellate Court; Office of Disability Adjudication and Review; Decatur Department of Administrative Hearings; Circuit Court of Cook County; Mediation Council of Illinois; Jackson County Circuit Court; Circuit Court of Cook County; State of Illinois; City of Champaign

Total Number of Employees in Illinois: 46,920

Largest Areas of Employment in Descending Order

Protective service

  • Chicago, Naperville, Arlington Heights
  • Lake County, Kenosha County
  • Elgin
  • Rockford
  • Peoria

Legal service

  • Chicago, Naperville, Arlington Heights
  • Lake County, Kenosha County
  • Bloomington
  • Springfield
  • Peoria

Professional Resources for Criminal Justice in Illinois

Business Compliance Resources

One of the largest chapters of ACC in the nation, the group supports the in-house business legal counsel community in Chicago and throughout Illinois. The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection is responsible for inspecting business and ensuring they comply with city laws and regulations. The Business Resource Center is an informational hub that provides a variety of business compliance resources regarding city, state and federal regulations and laws. This state department provides a wide range of services to the public, business and state agencies around human resources, compliance, marketing and information technology.

Correctional Resources

The Illinois Department of Corrections has job opportunities across its 25 adult correctional facilities, work camps, adult transition centers and boot camps. An advisory group to the Governor, General Assembly and Illinois Department of Human Services focused on delinquency prevention, addressing issues at-risk youth face and creating support programs to help young adults in the juvenile justice system. A nonprofit organization that promotes reform in the adult and juvenile prison systems in Illinois to improve prisoner reintegration into the community. An informational website developed by the Corporation for Supportive Housing that helps formerly incarcerated individuals find the services and housing necessary to reintegrate into society.

Court and Judicial Resources

A multifaceted organization with a range of community projects, including restorative justice that helps victims meet their needs and offenders are prepared to reentry society. A nonprofit organization that collaborates with schools, social services, government agencies and the juvenile justice system in Illinois to expand restorative justice programs in the state. This state agency is dedicated to administrative improvement across many criminal justice fields in Illinois, including law enforcement and the legal and justice system. A state group focused on enhancing youth safety and reintegrating juvenile offenders back into the community. A nonprofit organization that works in criminal justice reform to reduce recidivism rates in youth and adults in the state.

Legal Resources

The state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, a nonprofit organization that work in advocacy and litigation on civil liberties issues. The office of the state's chief legal official that offers resources to defend citizen's rights, keep children safe, ensure government accountability and protect consumers. An online hub that offers a variety of legal resources through a community of websites, including IllinoisProBono.org and IllinoisLegalAid.org. A membership based professional group for paralegals in Illinois. Learn more about the profession, networking events and legal resources on this site. A faith-based community organization with chapters across Illinois many counties and rural areas, focusing on legal, justice and civic issues facing communities and individuals. From career information to attorney mentorship, bar exam training tools and more, the Illinois State Bar provides a complete background on the law system in Illinois.

Law Enforcement Resources

A service organization that works to recruit, retain, mentor and professional develop Latino officers working throughout Illinois' law enforcement agencies. A membership-based nonprofit association, the Illinois Drug Enforcement Officers Association provides training to narcotics enforcement officials, including statewide training sessions on critical issues, such as police corruption. A state agency dedicated to monitoring and improving the professional standards used in law enforcement and corrections in the state of Illinois. The primary training body to prepare prospective officers for a future career in law enforcement in Illinois.

Wildlife and Environmental Resources

An organization of more than 200 environmental and natural resource organizations, the CEN offers volunteer and career opportunities in conservation activities, such as urban gardening, composting, recycling and habitat restoration. The state agency responsible for managing natural resources in the state, including hunting and fishing licensing, parks and recreation, conservation and and public safety. Founded in 1972, the foundation works to preserve, protect and restore rivers and watersheds in counties throughout the state. The conservation police agency of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Expert Advice: Tammy Rinehart Kochel, Ph.D.

Tammy Rinehart Kochel, Ph.D.

Tammy Rinehart Kochel, PhD is an Associate Professor and the Graduate Director for Criminology and Criminal Justice at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She conducts research on policing and communities, examining public perceptions of police and how policing strategies and behaviors may influence those views. Her focus addresses the factors that promote police legitimacy and the consequences of police legitimacy. She also examines the effectiveness of policing strategies on crime, with an emphasis on targeted approaches such as problem solving, hot spots policing and focused deterrence.

Q. What do criminal justice departments look for when considering which students to admit?

I believe that what departments are looking for in a student varies for the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. In all cases, departments want students who are self-motivated, interested in learning and in criminology and criminal justice, hard-working, do the work, are good writers, willing to participate in class, reliable, reasonable verbal articulation/presentation skills, and capable of succeeding in the program and ultimately the work environment. Standardized test scores and prior GPA can provide some indications of a students' capacity to succeed in a college setting. Personal statements can shed light on whether the student has a clear direction and motivation, as well as providing an indication of writing skills and maturity as a student.

For master's level applicants, departments are interested in the students with strong critical thinking skills, those that performed at the highest levels in their bachelor's program, and those that their professors advocate can succeed in graduate school. Doctoral students should possess all of these traits, but especially should be able to document clearly in their personal statements their topical areas of interest, research experience, goals for application of the degree, and any specific alignment of research interests with current faculty. Writing, research, analytical and critical thinking skills and independence are essential for success as doctoral students.

Q. What makes criminal justice a rewarding subject to study in Illinois?

There are so many reasons studying criminal justice is rewarding. Crime is a major social issue. Aiming to understand its nature and causes and developing an evidence base about how to reduce and prevent it is inherently valuable. There are many facets to studying crime, criminology and criminal justice and the field fairly new and is growing. It combines concepts from a variety of other fields such as sociology, political science and psychology and so there tends to be something of interest for everyone. Many careers stem from this area of study and expertise including law enforcement-local (loss prevention, sheriff's deputies, detectives, police officers, security, corrections, dispatchers, crime scene, victim advocates), County/State (e.g., probation) and federal (e.g., DEA, U.S. Marshals, Secret Service, FBI, Border Patrol, Immigration). It can be a jumping off point for forensic science degrees, law degrees, social work, etc. Those with advanced degrees have even more opportunities including in policy careers, think tanks and academics.

Q. What skills do students need to be successful in a criminal justice degree program in Illinois

Students will succeed when they are self-motivated, practice good study behaviors, attend class and do the work required-including following instructions, have good critical thinking skills, can write and speak well and are willing to apply themselves.

Q. Given the reports in the media of the violence in big cities like Chicago, how concerned should prospective criminal justice students be about safety when they pursue a career?

Safety has always been a concern for those interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice, particularly for aspiring police officers, probation officers, corrections officers, and those pursuing federal positions. This remains an important issue for those aspiring to serve in these fields and in light of recent events, with officers being targeted and ambushed, I can understand these concerns. Of course, officer safety is also a critical component of training in those careers (beyond the degree). Advances in technology and tactics continue to occur (e.g., reality-based training, foot and vehicle pursuit training and policies, body armor, firearm skills, working with mentally ill subjects, situational awareness training, predictive policing, less lethal weapons, use of force policies). Frankly, some research suggests that as officer experience on the job increases (up to a point), their risk of injury declines. Furthermore, the risks vary in different geographic areas and different contexts even within the same jurisdiction.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, in 2015, 123 officers were killed in the line of duty. However, this figure is much lower than we saw in this country in the 1920s and 1930s. In 2014, officers endured 15,725 assaults. Furthermore, an article in Time Magazine in May of 2016, drawing from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, reported that police and sheriff's deputies had the fifteenth most dangerous job in the United States (among those measured), based on fatality rates. They fall behind such jobs as roofers, airline pilots, taxi drivers, truck drivers, farm workers, construction laborers, groundskeepers, maintenance workers and others. Law enforcement remains a noble and necessary position in society. While safety is and should be a consideration for those contemplating pursuing this career, many officers have expressed to me over the years that their motives for entering the profession are a desire to help people. This is not likely to change. However, I believe that the profession and the population more generally is realizing the importance of working to promote better police-community relations, which should also increase officer safety.

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