Education Options and Resources for Michigan Students
Expert Contributor: Robert A. Hanson
Criminal justice schools in Michigan help students prepare for careers in various law enforcement, protective service and legally-based industries. The state boasts positive statistics when it comes to the legal system; the Michigan Supreme Court Annual Report for 2015 showed the state finishing 96 percent of trial court cases within allotted timeliness guidelines, with 93 percent of court users saying they were treated with courtesy and respect. Michigan’s criminal justice schools can provide training in many specializations and at many levels, from associate or entry-level certifications all the way to professional or doctoral level study. Those interested in becoming Michigan’s next criminal justice students can read on to learn about education and training opportunities, careers and the places in Michigan that need criminal justice professionals most.
Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.
The Best Criminal Justice Schools in Michigan
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.
Comparing programs is a great way for aspiring students to learn about and explore their educational options. The list below ranks schools with criminal justice programs in Michigan, scoring each based on factors most important to students, including cost, acceptance rates and student-to-teacher ratios. The following schools provide Michigan’s best criminal justice education opportunities.
The Delta College School of Social Science offers a large menu of options for students interested in criminal justice, including associate in applied arts degrees. Specialties include corrections, security and loss prevention expert, law enforcement and law enforcement with basic police training. Each track also comes with an option for a certificate of achievement. There are also certificates and advanced certificates available in the field of youth services. The Delta College Police Academy has been providing training for local law enforcement since the 1970s. The college also provides job postings and application procedure guidance.
The criminal justice pre-service associate of applied sciences degree program at Kirtland Community College helps students transfer into a four-year university. Other students may choose to continue on to the Kirtland Regional Police Academy, where they can receive advanced instruction to qualify for careers as law enforcement officers or servants in related occupations. Upon program completion, graduates should be ready to work in police departments, sheriff's offices or correctional institutions. Students can supplement their academic work with resources from the library, including not just books, periodicals and articles, but databases and research materials.
There are four options for criminals justice students at Oakland Community College: law enforcement, police evidence technology, corrections and generalist. Students can also pursue a police academy certificate of achievement. Students will have opportunities to participate in volunteering and community service programs in the area. There are also many student clubs, activities and organizations, as well as leadership development programs. Cultural offerings include the Smith Theatre and diversity and inclusion programs. The school offers academic advising and counseling, as well as career services, which include placement services, job postings, resume help and workshops.
Lansing Community College was founded in 1957 to meet the region's growing need for career and workforce development. LCC subsequently developed career and technical programs and matching partnerships with employers in business, industry, and community service. Criminal justice majors can choose among three career objectives, including a corrections focus, a criminal justice associate's degree, or entry into the 18-week Mid-Michigan Police Academy training program. Students enrolling in the criminal justice/corrections sequence select either juvenile justice or adult corrections. The law enforcement option is a full associate degree program that includes the police academy training. Students with at least 37 undergraduate units can opt for the academy only.
West Shore Community College offers criminal justice students a choice among an associate of sciences degree and one-year certificates. SSCC was founded in 1967 to build a comprehensive range of degree programs focusing on students who intend to transfer to a baccalaureate degree program or enter their occupations immediately after graduation. In two years, criminal justice majors can complete an associate degree and qualify for licensing as a police officer. Students undertake general education requirements in their first year and enter the police academy in their second year. Eligible transfer students with one year of post-secondary classes or applicants with an associate degree may enter directly into the academy.
A wide variety of people work in the criminal justice field in Michigan, from patrol officers to forensic scientists. Education levels for each professional field associated with criminal justice vary immensely, as shown in the data below. Some of Michigan’s more common career paths for people interested in criminal justice are highlighted here, along with their employment rates and average salaries locally. Criminal justice students interested in working Michigan after graduation can check which area of study and level of education they should pursue to land their ideal job.
Police, Sheriff & Highway Patrol Officers
Total Employed in Michigan16,220
Median Salary in Michigan$58,230
Degree Level Required in MichiganAcademy Program
Total Employed in Michigan9,710
Median Salary in Michigan$52,400
Degree Level Required in MichiganVaries; up to Associate
Court, Municipal and License Clerks
Total Employed in Michigan7,010
Median Salary in Michigan$38,540
Degree Level Required in MichiganAssociate
Paralegal and Legal Assistant
Total Employed in Michigan5,300
Median Salary in Michigan$47,610
Degree Level Required in MichiganVaries; up to Bachelor’s
Total Employed in Michigan5,240
Median Salary in Michigan$66,760
Degree Level Required in MichiganBachelor’s
Total Employed in Michigan2,830
Median Salary in Michigan$60,500
Degree Level Required in MichiganBachelor’s
Detectives and Criminal Investiagors
Total Employed in Michigan1,950
Median Salary in Michigan$75,460
Degree Level Required in MichiganAssociate
Side by Side: Comparing Michigan’s Criminal Justice Careers
Statistics show students planning to attend criminal justice school in Michigan will have the chance to pursue local careers after graduation that are on-pace with national averages when it comes to salary and job growth. The charts below compare the average salary of a criminal justice employee in Michigan with the national average, and also examine how these fields are projected to grow in this state as compared to the United States as a whole through 2024.
Forensic Science Technician
Administrative Law Judge
Detective, Criminal Investigator
Court, Municipal, License Clerk
Criminal Justice Professor
Forensic Science Technician
Criminal Justice Professor
Source: Projections Central, 2015
Getting Hired After Criminal Justice School in Michigan
Criminal justice students in Michigan have many options when it comes to where to earn their degree, and also have plenty of places to consider when it comes to finding a job after graduation. Check out the map below, pinpointing some of the biggest job centers for Michigan’s next generation of criminal justice school grads. Explore the major cities and regions and how average wages stack up by area.
Protective Services Potential Employers Kalkaska County Courthouse; Gus Harrison Correctional Facility; Decatur Police Department; Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Central Michigan University; Covert Township Police Department; Detroit Transit Police; Michigan Gaming Control Board; Bishop International Airport Total Number of Employees in Michigan: 73,540
Legal Occupations Potential Employers Private Practice Law Firms; Baraga County Courthouse; Michigan Supreme Court; Michigan Administrative Hearing System; Private Practice Law Firms; Kalamazoo County; Michigan District Attorney’s Office; Michigan Secretary of State Total Number of Employees in Michigan: 24,940
Largest areas of employment in descending order
Grand Rapids, Wyoming
Mishawaka, South Bend
Grand Rapids, Wyoming
Lansing, East Lansing
Professional Resources for Criminal Justice in Michigan
This statewide business organization represents employers, trade associations and local chambers of commerce across Michigan, promoting legal, legislative and political advancement for local businesses.
The Business Law Section of the Michigan State Bar helps enhance and protect the business, legislative and regulatory environment in the state. Participation is voluntary and provides networking and mentoring opportunities for members.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan dedicates a portion of their efforts to Prisoner Rights and fighting unconstitutional conditions in prisons across the state. Details on cases, legislation, campaigns and media support are shared here.
This non-profit public policy organization works to better corrections spending practices and examine correctional policies in the state of Michigan in hopes of preventing crime, better rehabilitating offenders and serving crime survivors.
A branch of the Michigan Legislative Council, the CJPC is assigned to collect, prepare and analyze information regarding state and local judicial policies, prison and jail use policies, sentencing and research related to the judicial and correctional system.
Working within the Michigan justice and human service systems, the MCCD is a non-profit organization that addresses issues related to juvenile and criminal justice, including policy improvement and reduction and prevention of youth and adult crime.
Links to appellate and bankruptcy courts; Michigan’s district, state, and local courts; laws and regulations; lawyer resources; state agencies; and various departments that may assist with legal education opportunities or other judicial system information.
A collection of links to legal services, aid and assistance programs located across Michigan. Specific topics addressed include pro bono work and lawyer referral programs, as well as military legal assistance and general legal aid.
This site provides information on simple civil legal problems that allow users to represent themselves in court. This website also contains information on lawyers or community legal services in different areas across Michigan.
Providing legal assistance to low-income communities across Michigan, this non-profit organization is comprised of attorneys, political and legal advisors, community advocates and students looking for court room, legal writing and client communication experience.
An initiative organized by Detroit Mercy Law School, Project Salute and the Veterans Law Clinic assists low and moderate income veterans and families with obtaining VA benefits and pairs veterans with attorneys when legal support is needed.
For more information on law enforcement positions available in Michigan, visit this page. The Commission works to support law enforcement professionals and other criminal justice workers in Michigan, and this site also provides information on news and current issues in law enforcement.
A group promoting public service and professional policing, Youth Advisory Committee holds annual competitions for officers to participate in, and provides educational demonstrations and exploration opportunities for young people to engage with law enforcement professionals.
The oldest law enforcement organization in the state of Michigan, this site provides information on conferences, training and community programs sponsored by local Sheriff’s Offices. The Association also works on initiatives that improve professional standards amongst offices and better protect the community.
A collection of resources for law enforcement departments and offices across Michigan, including legislative, legal and current event information, training opportunities and videos for members. Police Academy and training information can also be found here.
A band of eleven Ojibew tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan who partner with the U.S. Government to establish treaties, enforcement and legal policies regarding hunting, fishing and gathering rights in the Great Lakes region.
For information on the commissions, boards and committees involved in wildlife and game management and details on law enforcement related to the environment and conservation in Michigan visit this page. Details on Conservation Officer Academy can also be found here.
The National Park Service employs rangers and other people interested in conserving national parks, and there are employment opportunities in Sleeping Bear Dunes, Keweenaw National Park and Isle Royale in Michigan.
A collection of links and contact information for Michigan’s offices of fish and wildlife service organizations.
Expert Advice on Criminal Justice in Michigan: Robert A. Hanson, MA, MS
Robert A. Hanson is the Loss Prevention Management Degree Coordinator of the Criminal Justice Department at Northern Michigan University. Professor Hanson served eight years in counter-intelligence and criminal investigations with the U.S. Army prior to entering academia. Since coming to Northern Michigan University in 1976, he has directed the Regional Police Academy, created the American Legion Cadet Officer Program and served as a trainer for law enforcement and correctional officers. Currently he is serving as the coordinator of Northern’s Loss Prevention Management program. Professor Hanson has a B.S. in psychology and economics from University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse, and an M.A., M.S. in executive development for public service from Ball State University. In addition to teaching in the masters’ program, he teaches subjects such as judicial function, investigating, interviewing and interrogation.
What can students do to prepare for a criminal justice degree program?
Realize that popular television programs are fiction and not reflective of the actual work done by the men and women who work in this field. Even the reality videos are mostly fake and often show unprofessional and dangerous behavior. Honestly, ask yourself what motivates your interest? Evaluate your strengths. Participate in programs such as Law Enforcement Explorers, volunteer for search and rescue units, ride-along with local police and stay out of trouble. Interpersonal communication and writing skills are essential. Get involved in your local community.
What should prospective criminal justice students look for in a school?
Find a place with actively engaged faculty who blend the practical with theory. Our faculty have at least five years paid full-time experience in some aspect of CJ in addition to academic qualifications. Ask about class size and internship opportunity. Beware of programs that depend heavily on adjunct instructors. Seek out institutions that encourage active student learning and embrace technology. By all means, visit the campus and talk with students there.
What skills do students gain in a criminal justice degree program?
This reminds me of that joke about putting lipstick on a pig. A college degree is no guarantee of competence. That’s why most employers test for basic communication skills.
A better question is what do prospective employers look for in CJ graduates. Law enforcement recruiters tell me that they train rookies in firearms, criminal law, police procedures, but they can’t train good interpersonal communication skills. I add critical thinking skills and a perspective of the professional behavior expected from those who serve. The ability to read, analyze, and verbalize effectively to a wide range of cultures and mindsets. Familiarity with technology beyond the cell phone.
Given the reports in the media of the violence in big cities like Detroit, how concerned should prospective criminal justice students be about safety when they pursue a career?
When I started in criminal investigation, my training officer said, “Hanson, I can’t do my job if I’m afraid.” Courage and character are the hallmarks of a professional law enforcement officer. Even before the latest tragedies, parents more than students, have expressed reservations about police work. Some people, after a few classes, realize they should find another career to pursue. (It is more dangerous to be in an African-American neighborhood in Chicago than to be a Chicago officer.) Not all cities are combat zones. This will have some effect on potential students, but we have no way to track it.
In Michigan, the greater danger is unfunded pension liability that contributes to the fact that we have about 15 percent fewer officers in Michigan today than we had on 9/11.
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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