Criminal Justice Schools in Kentucky [2022 Guide]

Updated August 24, 2022 • 6 Min Read

Programs, Resources and Careers for Kentucky Students

The FBI ranks Kentucky's largest city, Louisville, 33rd in the nation when it comes to violent crime, but the Kentucky State Police report 50% of all violent crimes and 26% of property crimes reported were successfully solved in 2014. These stats show there is an ever-present need for criminal justice workers in the state. With law enforcement agencies and legal services spread throughout 120 counties, there are a number of different opportunities for those interested in attending criminal justice school in Kentucky. Whether students are interested in representing legal cases as a lawyer, teaching students as a police academy professor or researching evidence as an investigator, this page explores different educational paths and degree requirements for criminal justice in Kentucky.

Top 10 Best Criminal Justice Schools in Kentucky

#1 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
#2 Campbellsville University Campbellsville, KY
#3 University of Louisville Louisville, KY
#4 Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights, KY
#5 The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts Merrimack, NH
#6 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY
#7 Murray State University Murray, KY
#8 University of Pikeville Pikeville, KY
#9 Kentucky State University Frankfort, KY
#10 Bellarmine University Louisville, KY 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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Best Criminal Justice Schools in Kentucky


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 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.

4 - Year Colleges

  1. Eastern Kentucky University

    Richmond, KY

    The criminal justice programs at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) include a bachelor of science in criminal justice or a master of science in criminal justice. By attending Eastern Kentucky, criminal justice majors can choose to specialize in the following areas of expertise: drug control, police liability, ethics, administration and management, organized crime, white-collar crime, property crime, international criminal justice and media and criminal justice. Career options for students include law enforcement, crime policy analyst, family service counselor, corrections and juvenile/youth care worker. EKU students have also done internships and co-op experiences with the FBI, Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration, to name a few.

  2. Campbellsville University

    Campbellsville, KY

    Campbellsville University in Somerset, Kentucky, offers students a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice administration. It is a blended program (online and at the Larry and Beverly Noe Somerset Education Center) on an accelerated timeline, where classes meet two weekday nights for four-hour sessions. Financial aid programs are available for students, including those transferring from Somerset Community College. Upon graduation, students should be eligible for career options as a bailiff, legal specialist, paralegal, court reporter, or similar careers within criminal justice. If students wish to continue on to earn a graduate degree, they may qualify for careers as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney or private investigator after graduating.

  3. University of Louisville

    Louisville, KY

    The University of Louisville in Kentucky offers students both undergraduate and graduate degrees in criminal justice. In addition, the University also offers online programs in criminal justice for both undergraduate and degree programs. Students can apply for the J. Allen Lamb and Edward S. Pocock Foundation Criminal Justice Scholarship, along with other financial aid options. In addition, students can also get involved with campus activities including becoming a member of Lambda Alpha Epsilon or Alpha Phi Sigma, which are criminal justice honor societies. The Southern Police Institute is a division within the department, which gives students opportunities for hands-on learning.

  4. Northern Kentucky University

    Highland Heights, KY

  5. The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts

    Merrimack, NH

    Students who enroll at Thomas More College will enjoy smaller class sizes, personalized attention, internship opportunities and many resources for student activities. The College offers two programs in the criminal justice field: a bachelor of arts in criminal justice (typically consists of 36 credit hours) or an associate of arts in criminal justice (typically consists of 18 credit hours). Occupation opportunities include youth counselor, police officer, attorney, parole officer, correctional counselor, U.S. Deputy Marshal, private investigator, court administrator, wildlife enforcement officer, IRS fraud investigator, etc. Some of the career options may require further training, work experience and education.

  6. University of the Cumberlands

    Williamsburg, KY

  7. Murray State University

    Murray, KY

  8. University of Pikeville

    Pikeville, KY

  9. Kentucky State University

    Frankfort, KY

  10. Bellarmine University

    Louisville, KY

2 - Year Colleges

  1. Bluegrass Community and Technical College

    Lexington, KY

    Bluegrass Community and Technical College offers both an AAS degree in criminal justice and certificate options. In order to graduate, students must complete the Criminal Justice KCTCS Curriculum Committee post-exit exam. Program checklists are available to help students succeed in selecting the right courses and in developing a successful schedule. Free tutoring is available from peer tutors and faculty members, and the college is home to a mentor program. The BCTC Library provides not just books, articles and journals, but databases, research tools and other learning materials. Students can connect with classmates through a variety of clubs and organizations.

  2. Maysville Community and Technical College

    Maysville, KY

    The associate in applied science degree at Maysville Community and Technical College has four different specializations: security and loss prevention, law enforcement, criminal justice and corrections. Full-time students taking 15 credits per semester can complete any of the four programs in two years. Students can get involved in social events, academic teams and intramural athletics. The school maintains an office of cultural diversity, and tutoring assistance is available on all campuses. Students can earn credit for prior learning, and a dual credit program is also available. The MCTC Library maintains databases, research materials and other academic resources.

  3. Madisonville Community College

    Madisonville, KY

    Students can earn an associate in applied science degree at Madisonville Community college with a focus on either criminal justice or law enforcement. There are also several certificate programs available. Graduates should be eligible for the workforce or can pursue further education at a four-year university. The applied science degree, which can also serve as a foundation for a future law degree, should prepare graduates for work in a range of professions, including institutional corrections, court administration and law enforcement. The college maintains a career services office, as well as many clubs and organizations that students can join.

  4. Hazard Community and Technical College

    Hazard, KY

    Criminal justice students at Hazard Community and Technical College have several options to choose from in pursuit of an associate in applied science degree. They can specialize in security and loss prevention, corrections, criminal justice and law enforcement. There is also a certificate in computer forensics. The college provides students with access to computers, and tutoring services are available for a range of subjects and coursework. Placement testing is available, as are specialty services for students with disabilities. Student support services include career counseling, transfer advising, workshops, cultural enrichment trips and academic advising.

  5. West Kentucky Community and Technical College

    Paducah, KY

    Upon graduating, students who complete an associate in applied science degree will be qualified for entry-level work in corrections and policing, and will be ready to advance into supervisory positions, whether they choose the criminal justice track, the law enforcement track, the security and loss prevention track or the corrections track. Students not seeking an associate degree can participate in one of five certificate programs. Academic assistance and tutoring is available to all students through the tutoring center, and students can utilize the FOCUS Assessment, an online, self-paced education and career planning tool.

  6. Owensboro Community and Technical College

    Owensboro, KY

  7. Ashland Community and Technical College

    Ashland, KY

  8. Somerset Community College

    Somerset, KY

  9. Gateway Community and Technical College

    Florence, KY

  10. Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College

    Cumberland, KY

[Search School Tool]

In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were around 45,000 people working in protective and legal service occupations in the state of Kentucky, including police officers, correctional officers, detectives and many more. Students interested in exploring different specialties before enrolling in criminal justice school in Kentucky can take a look at some of the state's most popular criminal justice careers below. Click the corner of each box to find out how many people are employed in each sector in Kentucky, their average salary and the degree level they need to work.

Police, Sheriff & Highway Patrol Officers

  • Total Employed in Kentucky6,930
  • Median Salary in Kentucky$42,200
  • Degree Level Required in KentuckyAcademy Program

Correctional Officer

  • Total Employed in Kentucky6,600
  • Median Salary in Kentucky$29,130
  • Degree Level Required in KentuckyVaries; up to Bachelor's

Paralegal and Legal Assistant

Court, Municipal and License Clerks

  • Total Employed in Kentucky2,970
  • Median Salary in Kentucky$29,990
  • Degree Level Required in KentuckyVaries; up to Associate

Compliance Officer

  • Total Employed in Kentucky2,730
  • Median Salary in Kentucky$52,160
  • Degree Level Required in KentuckyVaries; up to Bachelor's

Probation Officer

  • Total Employed in Kentucky890
  • Median Salary in Kentucky$36,350
  • Degree Level Required in KentuckyBachelor's

Detectives and Criminal Investiagors

  • Total Employed in Kentucky700
  • Median Salary in Kentucky$50,650
  • Degree Level Required in KentuckyBachelor's

Side by Side: Kentucky Compared with Criminal Justice Nationally

A career upholding the law and providing peace and justice can be very rewarding for students planning to attend criminal justice school in Kentucky. With a higher-than-average job growth potential in several criminal justice careers, grads have the chance for major successes in the state of Kentucky. There are many careers that can emerge from a criminal justice degree; here are a few career options, with information on where Kentucky bests the national stats in growth and salary. Scroll over the bars on this graph for details on which type of degree each of these careers requires.


Private Detective65,90079,620
Correctional Officers32,42045,320
Police, Sheriff & Patrol Officers42,03061,270
Court Clerks32,17038,230
Security Guards23,95028,460
Court Reporters32,75054,720
Title Examiners, Abstractors39,79049,840
Judges, Magistrates116,100125,320
Paralegals, Legal Assistants46,43052,390
Fire Inspectors, Investigators47,33059,800

Job Growth

Private Detective0.0520.083
Criminal Justice Professor0.2130.352
First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers0.0320.159
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers0.050.215
Crossing Guards0.0630.114
Police, Fire and Ambulance Dispatchers-0.0290.05
Transportation Security Screeners-0.090.089
Judges and Magistrates0.0070.144

Source: Projections Central, 2015

Where to Get Hired After Criminal Justice School in Kentucky

Whether pursuing a career in protective or legal services after criminal justice school in Kentucky, there are many job opportunities for each. The map below is a reflection of locations in Kentucky where these careers can be put to work, the employment numbers in these areas, and the annual wage students can aim for in each after getting their degree.

  • Protective Services Potential Employers Kentucky Supreme Court; Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife; Fayette County Jail; Parking Authority (PARC); Kentucky State Police; Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control; various private investigation offices; Kentucky Department of Charitable Gaming; various private security companies; Lexington Parks and Recreation; Louisville International Airport Total Number of Employees in Kentucky: 36,220
  • Legal Occupations Potential Employers Private practice law firms; Kentucky Court of Appeals; Kentucky Supreme Court; Kentucky Bar Association; Kentucky Insurance Arbitration Association; Kentucky Paralegal Association; Kentucky Court Reporters Association; State of Kentucky Human Resources Total Number of Employees in Kentucky: 9,680

Largest areas of employment in descending order

Protective service

  1. Louisville
  2. Lexington, Fayette
  3. Central Kentucky Non-Metro Area
  4. South Central Kentucky Non-Metro Area
  5. West Kentucky Non-Metro Area

Legal service

  1. Louisville
  2. Lexington, Fayette
  3. Central Kentucky Non-Metro Area
  4. West Kentucky Non-Metro Area
  5. South Central Kentucky Non-Metro Area

Professional Resources for Criminal Justice in Kentucky

Business Compliance Resources

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Through partnerships and networking, the KCC seeks to support Kentucky businesses through community advocacy. They assess business policy to create beneficial resources for businesses and also offer events and training.

Louisville Community Development

This organization provides community resources for residents of the state, information for visitors, government programs and initiatives, and business and economic development information among many other services.

Kentucky Secretary of State

For a list of business services, election services, and business forms head to this page. It offers information on tax filing, business lookups and registering to vote.

Kentucky Small Business Development Center

The KSBDC acts as a resource for aspiring and active small business local entrepreneurs by providing consulting, training and other information for success. Check here for information from experienced professionals.

Correctional Resources

Kentucky Department of Corrections

The Department of Corrections employs individuals who will help uphold community protection standards. This site can also provide resources for individuals to find institutions and programs for community assistance. To learn more visit here.

Louisville Metro Department of Corrections

For those interested in learning more about joining the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, this page will offer information on career opportunities, job descriptions and other resources.

Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex

Located in Morgan County, this complex acts as a secure space for the growing need for correctional housing. Visit this website for more information on possible careers and opportunities.

Court & Judicial Resources

Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association

This association represents a front for all of Kentucky's Fiscal Courts. They advocate for effective legislation by promoting education and programming.

Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet

This site provides information about state law enforcement and corrections as well as information about those serving on the cabinet.

Kentucky County Judge Executive Association

This association works primarily to serve and represent county judges and executives. They have served all 120 county judges since 1982.

Legal Resources

American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky

Kentucky's branch of the ACLU advocates for fair community and individual legal practices. Learn more about ACLU events, resources, information and ways to volunteer here.

Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training

This department offers legal training, leadership opportunities and other career opportunities. If interested in the criminal justice system, check out this website.

Kentucky Bar Association

Students looking to practice law in Kentucky will want to visit this website for all the information they need to become practicing lawyers in the state.

Law Enforcement Resources

Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police

This is a resource for all Chiefs of police and offers testing materials, job opportunities, legislative updates, information on accreditation and membership.

Kentucky Peace Officers Association

This is a site that offers information on current events for law enforcement officers. They promote ethical behavior and work towards crime prevention.

Kentucky State Police

This site offers many resources for students interested in crime prevention in Kentucky. Go to this website to see updates on crime and traffic data, view the sex offender registry and look for career opportunities.

Wildlife & Environmental Resources

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Visit here to learn about the enforcement and education of fish and wildlife resources. Learn about the duties of game wardens and county officers.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation

This charitable organization seeks to empower and educate Kentucky youth on ways to preserve fish and wildlife habitats through camps and community engagement. Use this link to learn more about their mission, resources and how to get involved with youth programs.

Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection

DEP works educate and involve businesses with environmental preservation. Check out this site to learn more about environmental regulations and emergencies, potential careers, and public notices and hearings.

Popular Resources

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.

See All Posts 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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