Criminal Justice Schools in Tennessee

April 27, 2021 • 6 Min Read

Find a program that’s right for you.

Academic Programs and Career Trajectories for Students

Despite being ranked by Law Street Media as one of the most dangerous states in the country in 2015, the law enforcement community has made great strides to reduce crime—thanks in part to the work of graduates from criminal justice schools in Tennessee. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, violent offenses in the state dropped 2.1 percent between 2014 and 2015.

Making a difference in the community is why many people pursue criminal justice careers. And whether they want to walk the beat or sit behind the bench, professionals can get a solid foundation for their careers by completing a degree program at one of Tennessee’s colleges. Read this page to find out information about criminal justice schools in Tennessee, as well as the jobs that graduates can obtain and the salaries they earn.

Tennessee Criminal Justice Programs

#1 Christian Brothers University Memphis, TN
#2 Bethel University Mckenzie, TN
#3 East Tennessee State University Johnson City, TN
#4 Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN
#5 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
#6 Tennessee State University Nashville, TN
#7 Cumberland University Lebanon, TN
#8 Freed-Hardeman University Henderson, TN
#9 Lincoln Memorial University Harrogate, TN
#10 The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Chattanooga, TN 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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Tennessee's Best Criminal Justice Programs


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.

All students want to enroll in the best programs—but they may need help finding them first. To help with this, we’ve analyzed and ranked schools across the state based on factors such as teacher-student ratio, and acceptance and enrollment rates. Use the list below to find the highest ranking criminal justice schools in Tennessee.

2-Year Colleges

  1. Christian Brothers University

    Memphis, TN

    Students attending Christian Brothers University offers a bachelor's degree program in professional psychology with an optional concentration in criminal justice. Core requirements offer a solid foundation in psychology focused on the study of human behavior, while remaining credit courses are derived from the area of concentration. The criminal justice concentration is designed to guide students toward careers in law enforcement, corrections, counseling, and other potential facets of the justice system. Hybrid classes are available to offer flexible scheduling and require only one on-campus meeting per week, supplemented with coursework in an online learning environment.

  2. Bethel University

    Mckenzie, TN

    Catered to professionals with busy schedules, the Bethel University College of Professional Studies offers a fully online bachelor's degree completion program in criminal justice. Accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College, the institution focuses its mission on fostering success for professionals and adult learners through both classroom knowledge and real-world experience. The required course curriculum includes 48 credit hours of major-specific coursework and offers an introduction to adult learning as part of the curriculum, in addition to a foundation of knowledge in forensics, criminal procedures, statistics, and corrections.

  3. East Tennessee State University

    Johnson City, TN

    Three criminal justice degree options are available through East Tennessee State University: undergraduate options include a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science, each with a focus on social and behavioral science and offering a broad spectrum knowledge base of criminal justice and criminology; the graduate level program is more acutely focused on developing analytical skills and communication while providing a detailed look into criminal behavior and operations within the criminal justice system. A certification in forensic document examination is also newly available at the graduate level. The field experience option provides course credit for work within agencies and courts.

  4. Middle Tennessee State University

    Murfreesboro, TN

    The criminal justice administration program at Middle Tennessee State University offers both graduate and undergraduate degree path options. Accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the program offers a bachelor's degree with concentration path in either homeland security or law enforcement, as well as minors in criminal justice administration and homeland security. Graduate students are offered the option of a master's degree in criminal justice. Online course options are available, as well as a closely-related degree in forensic science which combines the fields of biology, chemistry and criminal justice administration.

  5. University of Memphis

    Memphis, TN

    Students pursuing careers in the field of criminal justice can achieve a bachelor's or master's degree in the field through the University of Memphis. The bachelor's degree in criminology and criminal justice requires a total of 120 credits and can be completed in 4 years when following the major course plan set forth by the university. The graduate degree program is housed within the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, which applies a strong focus on building rapport within the community,. Both degree paths have online course options or can be combined with on-campus course work.

  6. Tennessee State University

    Nashville, TN

  7. Cumberland University

    Lebanon, TN

  8. Freed-Hardeman University

    Henderson, TN

  9. Lincoln Memorial University

    Harrogate, TN

  10. The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

    Chattanooga, TN

4-Year Colleges

  1. Columbia State Community College

    Columbia, TN

    Classes in Columbia State Community College's two-year criminal justice degree program are broad enough to provide adults sufficient training to potentially enter several criminal justice careers. Included among these careers are probation officers, private security officers, police officers and criminal and civil investigators. It takes 60 credits to earn an associate of applied science at Columbia State Community College. Classroom learning is strengthened with hands on training. Students can learn how to operate law enforcement equipment. They can also practice writing reports and conducting investigations. Good physical fitness, math and communications skills assist students throughout the program.

  2. Walters State Community College

    Morristown, TN

    Walters State Community College is located in Morristown, Tennessee which is in the Eastern part of the state. The college started in 1970. It enrolls about 5,900 students in credit courses. The Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice program operates within the college's public safety division. Sociology, corrections, law enforcement and the legal process are practical and theoretical topics presented by instructors. The 60 credit hour program can be completed online as well as on campus. Although applications are accepted online, new students are encouraged to meet with an advisor before they register for classes.

  3. Volunteer State Community College

    Gallatin, TN

    Volunteer State Community College is part of the Gallatin, Tennessee public postsecondary school offerings. In addition to its main campus in Gallatin, the college has a campus in Livingston, Springfield and Cookeville, Tennessee. The college's Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice degree targets students who want to serve in government agencies, the military or private organizations as police, security officers, investigators, counselors or probation or corrections officers. A fast track and a traditional learning track are offered in the criminal justice program. Through the fast track option, students can earn their degree in 18 months. It takes about two years to earn the degree via the traditional track.

  4. Dyersburg State Community College

    Dyersburg, TN

    Adults interested in getting trained to enter the criminal justice field have two degree options at Dyersburg State Community College. The college awards a Criminal Justice Associate of Arts and a Criminal Justice Associate of Applied Science degree. Degree requirements include the completion of about 63 credits and no lower than a C average. Current events, evidence and procedures, criminal law and law enforcement are classes that students take. To meet advanced degree requirements at four year schools, students can take electives that focus on criminal law or law enforcement. Sociology, math and composition are required general education classes.

  5. Nashville State Community College

    Nashville, TN

    Nashville State Community College is located in the capital city of Tennessee. Founded in 1970, the college confers an associate of arts and an associate of science in criminal justice. Learning outcomes of the 60 credit degrees include to provide adults with a basic criminal justice understanding and skillset and to give adults the academic background to pursue advanced criminal justice degrees. Pathways is the system that the college uses to bridge the transition from earning an associate's to earning a bachelor's degree. Two and four year schools are members of this statewide system.

  6. Roane State Community College

    Harriman, TN

  7. Southwest Tennessee Community College

    Memphis, TN

  8. Motlow State Community College

    Smyrna, TN

  9. Chattanooga State Community College

    Chattanooga, TN

  10. Northeast State Community College

    Blountville, TN

Search Criminal Justice Schools in Tennessee

With so many academic options in Tennessee, prospective criminal justice students may have trouble finding the school that’s right for them. By using the search tool below, users can sort and compare schools based on tuition levels, the types of criminal justice degrees available, and student population. Explore all criminal justice schools in the state here.

[state searches]

Tennessee's Most Popular Criminal Justice Careers

How many criminal justice professionals work in Tennessee? What do these workers earn each year? These questions are normal for anyone interested in attending criminal justice schools in Tennessee to ask. The table below provides that information, as well as the minimum education required for state-specific positions in the field.

Police, Sheriff
  • Total Employed in Tennessee12,450
  • Median Salary in Tennessee$43,810
  • Degree Level Required in TennesseeAcademy Program
Correctional Officer
  • Total Employed in Tennessee8,990
  • Median Salary in Tennessee$31,770
  • Degree Level Required in TennesseeCertification
Compliance Officers
  • Total Employed in Tennessee5,010
  • Median Salary in Tennessee$60,450
  • Degree Level Required in TennesseeBachelor's
  • Total Employed in Tennessee3,830
  • Median Salary in Tennessee$49,500
  • Degree Level Required in TennesseeVaries; up to Bachelor's
Detectives, Criminal Investigators
  • Total Employed in Tennessee1,360
  • Median Salary in Tennessee$69,500
  • Degree Level Required in TennesseeVaries; up to Bachelor's
Probation Officer
  • Total Employed in Tennessee1,800
  • Median Salary in Tennessee$38,960
  • Degree Level Required in TennesseeBachelor's
Judicial Clerk
  • Total Employed in Tennessee140
  • Median Salary in Tennessee$47,610
  • Degree Level Required in TennesseeVaries; up to Bachelor's

Career Averages for Criminal Justice Occupations in Tennessee

Students who graduate from criminal justice schools in Tennessee want to be confident in their chosen field’s average salaries and job growth rates. This section provides information on the earnings of specific careers in the criminal justice field, as well as projected job growth in the state compared with the national average.


[Line Chart]

Private Detectives and Investigators50,43053,530
Detectives and Criminal Investigators69,50081,490
Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators, and Hearing Officers93,140100,250
Paralegals and Legal Assistants49,50053,180
Fish and Game Wardens54,76060,670
Court Reporters56,94063,050
Correctional Officers and Jailers31,77046,750
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists38,96054,080

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

Job Growth

[Line Chart]

Animal Control Workers0.0580.116
Compliance Officers0.0330.12
Court, Municipal, and License Clerks0.0450.116
Detectives and Criminal Investigators-0.0120.041
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates0.0060.083
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists0.0360.048
Paralegals and Legal Assistants0.0760.2

Source: Projections Central, 2015

Tennessee Employment Opportunities with a Criminal Justice Degree

Criminal justice professionals around the state can make a difference in their communities, but some locations in Tennessee have more opportunities to do that than others. This chart provides information on the areas of the states that have the most employment opportunities and the average wages workers earn in these locations.

Protective Services

Potential Employers

Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts; Tennessee Department of Correction; Nashville Investigative Services Bureau; Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; City of Kingsport Tennessee Police Department; Metropolitan Government of Nashville; City of Memphis ; Williamson County Animal Center; Montgomery County Animal Control; Nashville Metro Animal Care and Control; King & King Detective Agency; Tennessee Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission; Christian Brothers University; G4S; Dynamic Security, Inc.; Murray Guard; Nashville Metro Police School Crossing Guard Section; AquaMobile Swim School; YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga; Lifetime Fitness

Total Number of Employees in Tennessee: 66,000

Legal Occupations

Potential Employers

Private practice law firms; Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts; Tennessee Supreme Court; Tennessee Court of Appeals; Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals; Tennessee Appellate Court Clerk's Office; Tennessee General Sessions Court; Tennessee Court Juvenile & Family Courts; Tennessee Chancery Courts; Tennessee Circuit Courts; Tennessee Municipal Courts

Total Number of Employees in Tennessee:


Professional Resources for Criminal Justice in Tennessee


Business Services - Tennessee Secretary of State

Includes information on how to file an annual report, register a new business, and obtain a Certificate of Existence.

How to Start a Business

This page of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s website includes information on the steps for starting a new business in the state. Entrepreneurs can find out information on licensing requirements, taxes, and hiring employees.

Tennessee 2016 Small Business Resource

This report provides information from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry

This membership-based organization seeks to advocate for business interests, provide resources and help businesses start and grow in the state of Tennessee.

Department of Economic and Community Development

A government initiative, this organization seeks to promote business growth and development for corporations, small businesses and rural areas.

Tennessee Chapter, Association of Corporate Counsel

The ACC provides a network of support and information for corporate law professionals. The Tennessee chapter is part of a larger national network.


Employment Opportunities

This site has job openings from the Tennessee Department of Correction.

FCI Memphis - Federal Bureau of Prisons

FCI Memphis is a federal correctional institution located in Memphis.

Tennessee Department of Correction

Includes information on the state’s correctional facilities, as well as the services provided by the agency.

Juvenile Justice, Department of Children’s Services

This government page provides resources and information about correctional and justice services for minors in Tennessee.

Southern States Correctional Association

This membership-based collection of 14 Southern states offers advocacy and continuing education for members of the correctional profession.

Tennessee Board of Parole

The BOP provides information about the function of parole officers in Tennessee and the resources available to the public.


Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee

Since 1976, the Board has ensured that the public is not harmed by unscrupulous attorneys. In order to do that, the agency creates and enforces disciplinary rules attorneys must adhere to.

Employment Information  

Job seekers who are interested in working for the Tennessee judiciary can find leads here.

Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Includes information on the different types of courts in the state, the programs offered by the court, and forms used by the judiciary.

Tennessee Court Reporters Association

The TCRA is a membership-based organization that that provides resources, education and networking opportunities to court reporters in Tennessee.

Find a Mediator, Tennessee State Courts

This government search allows citizens to find mediators in the state of Tennessee who can help with alternative dispute resolution.

Tennessee CASA Association

This local chapter is part of a national organization of Court Appointed Special Advocates whose aim is to provide children who have been neglected or abused with a secure home.


Legal Aid/Legal Services in Tennessee

Provides information on how low-income individuals can obtain pro bono legal representation on civil matters.

Tennessee Bar Association

The Tennessee Bar Association has been supporting the legal community in the state since 1881. Members can participate in continuing education courses, a mentoring program, and pro bono programs.

Tennessee Paralegal Association

Promotes the work of the paralegal profession in Tennessee by offering continuing education, scholarships, and helpful resources.

Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association

Supports the needs of trial attorneys around the state.

Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

This membership-based association is specifically designed to connect criminal defense lawyers in the state of Tennessee with resources and education.

Tennessee Attorney General

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office provides legal counsel and representation to the state’s agencies, employees and consumers.


Police Department - Investigative Services Bureau

This agency works on personal and property crimes, provides services for victims of domestic violence, and conducts specialized investigations related to narcotics, prostitution, gangs, and gambling.

Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission

The Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission provides licenses to polygraphers and private detectives. In addition, the agency investigates complaints against these professionals and, when necessary, takes disciplinary action against those who do not uphold professional standards.

Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy

Provides training for law enforcement professionals on the city, state, and county levels.

Tennessee Association of Licensed Professional Investigators

Created to help investigators foster connections and communication, TALPI is a professional, membership-based group.

Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association

This non-profit provides education and resources for the state’s sheriffs.

Tennessee State Trooper Association

The Tennessee State Trooper Association connects highway patrol officers from around the state.


Careers In Wildlife Management

Includes job listings from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge

Provides a home for different wildlife species in the state.

Tennessee Watchable Wildlife

Includes information on conservation and the different types of wildlife in the Tennessee.

Law Enforcement, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

This landing page contains resources about the many responsibilities that law enforcement cover for Tennessee’s wildlife.

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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