Get A Real Degree

Criminal Justice Schools: California

Students interested in earning a criminal justice degree are most likely seriously considering attending a traditional university program in the subject in California or enrolling in one of the many Internet-based criminal justice schools in California. California criminal justice instructors and officials have a ton of practical experience in the subject. Criminal justice colleges in California are also a good choice because many of them are located in major research universities that are respected all around the world. Finally, the diverse population of California means that students can enjoy incredible diversity in their education, diversity that shows itself in the student body, subjects for the case studies that criminal justice students perform, the faculty, and more.

This page is a basic guide to criminal justice education in California and what students should expect from the criminal justice schools that are located there.


As you know, accreditation is always an important consideration when you are considering colleges in California for criminal justice education. In California, traditional four-year colleges and universities are accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities. Two-year programs offered at community and junior colleges have received accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges that is also part of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. If the school that offers the criminal justice degree is accredited by one of these associations, then you can be assured that you will receive a superior education in the discipline of criminal justice.

Online programs offered through traditional criminal justice schools in California have also been evaluated to guarantee their quality if their schools have been accredited by one of the aforementioned accrediting bodies. However, some online programs in criminal justice may receive accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training or the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. The U.S. Department of Education also recognizes these accrediting bodies and can be trusted to certify the caliber of criminal justice colleges in California.

What Are Criminal Justice Programs in California Like?

The different colleges in California for criminal justice all offer programs that differ according to the specialties the schools have chosen. The basic education program in criminal justice, however, will look very much the same from school to school. Differences will appear mainly in the electives offered and the concentrations that each school is able to provide their students.

At the undergraduate level, the best criminal justice schools in California will require all their students to complete two years worth of general education courses before students can major in the subject. Majors in a criminal justice program that culminates in a bachelor of science degree will then take classes such as the following:

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Concepts of Criminal Law
  • Correctional Systems
  • Policy and Society
  • Judicial Organization
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Ethics and Professional Responsibility
  • Criminal Justice Research
  • Statistics in Criminal Justice
  • Advanced Criminal Justice Theory and Practice
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Theories and Perspectives in Criminal Justice
  • Contemporary Criminal Procedures
  • Written Communication in Criminal Justice
  • several electives in various criminal justice topics

This curriculum outline has been borrowed from the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice offered at Cal State L.A.

A graduate degree in criminal justice opens up more doors for the criminal justice student. It is almost always required for those who want to advance into a leadership role in their criminal justice vocation. Again, the best criminal justice schools in California all have slightly different emphases in their graduate programs; yet the following curriculum outline from Cal State L.A. is representative of the kinds of requirements for most programs that lead to a Master of Science in Criminal Justice:

  • Seminar in Forensic Mental Health
  • Seminar in Administration of Justice
  • Research Principles
  • Theories and Perspectives in Criminal Justice
  • Seminar in Criminal Justice Problems

Graduate criminal justice schools in California also require electives that can include courses such as the following:

  • Qualitative Research in Criminal Justice
  • Seminar in Social Psychology
  • Seminar in Abnormal Psychology
  • Seminar in Racial and Ethnic Minorities
  • Seminar in Children’s Disorders

Students in graduate criminal justice colleges in California must also complete a major research thesis or project. Colleges in California for criminal justice require this capstone work to prove the graduate’s advanced competence in the subject.