Criminal Justice Schools in North Carolina

North Carolina Education Options, Employment Possibilities and
Resources for Students



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Although the violent crime rate in North Carolina is five percent below the national average, a large selection of local employment opportunities are available for students who earn a degree in criminal justice. A criminal justice degree is applicable to several fields of state-funded employment, including local policing, wildlife protection services, and corrections. In addition, students may also go on to achieve private employment in security or as a detective. Continue reading below to learn about available schools and academic programs that will be best fitted for students interested in pursuing a criminal justice-based career in North Carolina.



    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.

A quality program in criminal justice will teach students the field-specific information while providing hands-on experience. Comparing North Carolina’s best criminal justice schools allows students to develop a sense of what qualities are desirable in a criminal justice program. In the ranking list below, students will be able to find institutions with reasonable tuition costs, low student-teacher ratios, and high graduation rates, helping them to find the program that best fits their needs. Explore North Caorlina’s top criminal justice schools and programs for 2017 below.

Top 10 Bachelor Criminal Justice Schools in North Carolina

Rank School Location
1 Pfeiffer University Misenheimer, NC
2 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
3 North Carolina Central University Durham, NC
4 Fayetteville State University Fayetteville, NC
5 Greensboro College Greensboro, NC
6 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
7 Methodist University Fayetteville, NC
8 Saint Augustine's University Raleigh, NC
9 North Carolina Wesleyan College Rocky Mount, NC
10 Campbell University Buies Creek, NC

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  1. Pfeiffer University

    Misenheimer, NC

    A thorough and holistic examination of law enforcement is at the heart of Pfeiffer University's criminal justice program. Degree requirements include coursework in specific topics from the field such as forensic evidence and constitutional law, as well as training in ethics, psychology and race and ethnic relations. The Ray Harrington Criminal Justice Club provides interested students with an opportunity to meet criminal justice professionals and participate in demonstrations and mock scenarios. Graduates can go on to work in law enforcement, corrections, forensic science and private security, among other fields. Ultimately, Pfeiffer University aims to instill leadership, communication and critical thinking skills in all graduates.

  2. East Carolina University

    Greenville, NC

    The Department of Criminal Justice at East Carolina University explores all angles of preventing crime and improving public safety both in the U.S. and internationally. Through the program curriculum, students will explore institutions from the police to correctional and juvenile systems to sociological issues. Students are also expected to arrange a field education for hands-on learning with agencies and organizations in the field of criminal justice. This program's graduates are employed by diverse institutions including police and sheriff departments, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Secret Service. East Carolina University also offers a Master of Science degree and two minors (criminal justice and forensic science).

  3. North Carolina Central University

    Durham, NC

    NCCU's criminal justice program provides a comprehensive exploration of the adult and juvenile justice systems, how they function and their historical foundations. The coursework trains students to analyze criminal justice systems and problems, apply ethical principles to criminal justice issues and examine crime's impact on policies and practices. Students can also gain real-world experience with a practicum placement in institutions such as police department's, youth homes and district attorneys' offices. Graduates can seek work in a range of criminal justice careers or continue their studies in a graduate program or law school. This program can also serve as continuing education for students already working in the criminal justice field.

  4. Fayetteville State University

    Fayetteville, NC

    This program aims to teach not only the state of the existing criminal justice system, but also how it can be improved. Coursework examines prisons and society, treatment of crime victims and sustainable justice among many other topics. Students with an eligible GPA can complete an internship for real-world criminal justice experience. Ultimately, Fayetteville State University's criminal justice degree is designed to produce graduates who are skilled in critical thinking and ethical decision making, as well as versed in the technology of the field. Distance students can also take advantage of an online degree completion program offered in collaboration with North Carolina Community College.

  5. Greensboro College

    Greensboro, NC

    At Greensboro College, students can major in criminal justice through the sociology department. As such, students gain a perspective of society as a product of human development that can undergo change. Students have access to resources like internships, community service opportunities and research projects. Also, students who major in criminal justice will be prepared to enter the criminal justice system for work upon graduation, whether at the local, state or federal level. The program teaches students about the criminal justice system, law, research methods, diversity, theoretical thought and trends in the criminal justice field.

  6. Western Carolina University

    Cullowhee, NC

  7. Methodist University

    Fayetteville, NC

  8. Saint Augustine's University

    Raleigh, NC

  9. North Carolina Wesleyan College

    Rocky Mount, NC

  10. Campbell University

    Buies Creek, NC

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Top 10 Associate Criminal Justice Schools in North Carolina

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  1. Rockingham Community College

    Wentworth, NC

    Rockingham Community College is situated on the largest campus in the North Carolina Community College system, with more than 260 acres and six walking trails. Rockingham students each year choose from 70 degrees (associate in applied science) or certificate and diploma programs. The community college also offers three college transfer degrees and four baccalaureate degrees offered in conjunction with Winston-Salem State University and Greensboro College. Criminal justice majors can complete an AAS degree in two years or one-year criminal justice certificates. CJ technology courses focus on financial crime and computer fraud.

  2. Coastal Carolina Community College

    Jacksonville, NC

    Coastal Carolina Community College was founded in 1972. Through its articulation agreement with University of North Carolina Wilmington, associate degree graduates with a cumulative B average are admitted as juniors In UNCW bachelor degree programs. More than 50 transfer courses are offered through a military partnership with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River. Criminal justice students can enroll in a two-year, 76-credit AAS degree program in CJ technology. Students interested in preparing for entry level law enforcement jobs can enroll in CCCC's 19-credit Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program.

  3. Wayne Community College

    Goldsboro, NC

    Wayne Community College was founded in 1960 as a member of 58 community and technical colleges in the Tar Heel State. Today, WCC's 3,363 full time students pursue associate degrees, diplomas and undergraduate career certificates. The associate of applied science in criminal justice technology is a two-year, 70-credit program that can be completed online or on campus at WCC. Students learn theoretical and hands-on skills in processing crime scene evidence and conducting witness interviews. Electives include studies in terrorism, abnormal psychology, and incident management. CJ students may also choose a one-year, 16-credit undergraduate certificate in latent evidence technology.

  4. Forsyth Technical Community College

    Winston-Salem, NC

    Forsyth Technical Community College was founded in 1960 as the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Industrial Education Center, joining the North Carolina Department of Community Colleges in 1963. It currently serves some 12,000 undergraduates, who can enroll in one of the 69 associate in applied science degree programs, 36 diploma programs or more than 80 certificate programs. The undergraduate AAS degree program in criminal justice technology requires completion of 64 hours, plus a 16-week spring internship with a local law enforcement/criminal justice organization. There is also an 18-credit undergraduate CJ certificate program at the community college.

  5. Southwestern Community College

    Sylva, NC

    Southwestern Community College was established in 1964 to serve the residents of Macon, Jackson, and Swain counties. In 2009, enrollment surged with the opening of the Jerry Sutton Public Safety Training Complex in Macon to host programs in law enforcement, EMS, and fire/rescue. The state-accredited North Carolina Basic Law Enforcement Training program is offered in 36 instruction blocks. The college also hosts the North Carolina Detention Officer Certification Course (DOCC), preparing candidates for detention certifications in entry level positions. Students can also enroll in and complete 16 hours of required in-service training for detention officers.

  6. Guilford Technical Community College

    Jamestown, NC

  7. Catawba Valley Community College

    Hickory, NC

  8. Durham Technical Community College

    Durham, NC

  9. Pitt Community College

    Winterville, NC

  10. Isothermal Community College

    Spindale, NC

By utilizing the search tool found below, students will be able to find the criminal justice program that is in line with their interests. Data available includes program costs, student population, and acceptance rates. Students will also be able to compare the variety of programs and emphases available at each school.

Whether students are interested in becoming a patrol officer or a forensic scientist, North Carolina’s criminal justice programs may help students to achieve their career goals. The table below lays out a selection of career paths typically available to students who graduate with a criminal justice degree. This table will also allow students to compare employment rates and average salaries of criminal justice employees in North Carolina.

  • Police, Sheriff & Highway Patrol Officers

    • Total Employed in North Carolina
    • Median Salary in North Carolina
    • Degree Level Required in North Carolina
      Academy Program

  • Correctional Officer

    • Total Employed in North Carolina
    • Median Salary in North Carolina
    • Degree Level Required in North Carolina

  • Compliance Officer

    • Total Employed in North Carolina
    • Median Salary in North Carolina
    • Degree Level Required in North Carolina

  • Paralegal and Legal Assistant

    • Total Employed in North Carolina
    • Median Salary in North Carolina
    • Degree Level Required in North Carolina
      Varies; up to Bachelor’s

  • Court, Municipal and License Clerks

    • Total Employed in North Carolina
    • Median Salary in North Carolina
    • Degree Level Required in North Carolina
      Varies; up to Bachelor’s

  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators

    • Total Employed in North Carolina
    • Median Salary in North Carolina
    • Degree Level Required in North Carolina
      Varies; up to Bachelor’s

  • Probation Officer

    • Total Employed in North Carolina
    • Median Salary in North Carolina
    • Degree Level Required in North Carolina


By looking at the table below, students may compare the average salary of a criminal justice employee living in North Carolina with the national salary average. Students will also be able to compare rates of job growth projected to develop between now and 2024, both on North Carolina’s local level and on the national level.



One of the first steps of finding the right criminal justice career is finding who is hiring graduates with a criminal justice degree. The following table looks at the major industries that are hiring criminal justice graduates in North Carolina and analyzes them in terms of the number of employees being hired, the North Carolina cities that exhibit a need for these employees, and the annual wage these workers earn.

  • Protective Services
    Potential Employers
    Hyde County Courthouse; Sanford Correctional Center; Lillington Police Department; Nicholson Creek Game Land; Wilmington Police Department; Middlesex Police Department; AlliedBarton Company Police; Cumberland County Animal Control; Private Detective office; Bladen Lakes State Forest; Currituck County Beaches; Raleigh-Durham International Airport
    Total Number of Employees in North Carolina: 101,800
  • Legal Occupations
    Potential Employers
    Chowan County Courthouse; Vance County Courthouse; North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings; Mediation Inc.; Camden County Courthouse; Northampton County Courthouse; Davidson County Courthouse; Wells Fargo
    Total Number of Employees in North Carolina: 24,660



Michael G. Turner, PhD is Chair and Professor of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at UNC Charlotte. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. His research is centered on understanding the causes of delinquency and crime over the life course.

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

    Students should seek out a school where they feel comfortable. There is not much difference between curricula from school to school. So, find a school where they are comfortable with the environment.

    I think what makes any program unique is what the faculty bring to the table in terms of their research expertise. Our faculty have expertise in delinquency, theory, law enforcement, courts, corrections, etc. In addition, our curriculum has a specialty concentration area in Crime Analytics, which is basically using data to answer researchable questions in criminal justice and criminology.

  • How can criminal justice programs prepare students specifically to work in North Carolina?

    I don’t think schools prepare student to specifically work in North Carolina. Rather, schools prepare students to work wherever they may live.

  • If there are readers who are not sure whether or not criminal justice is the right degree for them, what would you tell them?

    I would tell them to take a course or two and identify if they enjoy the material and can foresee working in the criminal justice system.

  • What makes someone a good candidate for a criminal justice career?

    Good candidates are those individuals who want to work with people and to make a difference in the lives of those people.








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