A career in criminal justice begins with picking the right school for you. Whether you're looking to earn a bachelor or a master degree, through distance or on-campus education, there are plenty of opportunities available. There are so many opportunities, in fact, that a number of organizations have developed ranking guides in an effort to help prospective criminal justice students find the perfect program. Many rankings are based on the opinions of academic and industry experts.
Arguably the most popular ranking resource, U.S. News and World Report ranks the top criminology graduate programs. Thirty-two programs are judged by peer assessment and academic experts. Deans, program directors and senior faculty are asked to judge the academic quality of programs in their field.
The Journal of Criminal Justice Education occasionally publishes ranking in their journals. Visit the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences for subscription and membership information to have access to the journal and criminal justice school rankings.
While rankings can help narrow down a list of prospective schools, they should not be the sole determining factor in your choice. Potential criminal justice students should look at curriculum, reputation, and faculy when selecting a school.
When choosing a school, also take into account personal criteria such as cost, location, degree and specialty programs and admission requirements. It's possible that a highly ranked school may not have everything you're looking for, while a school that is lower in the rankings does.
Ranking guides can be a terrific source for you as a prospective criminal justice and criminology student. While no guide can substitute individual research, it can certainly help you in the selection process, and help you discover more schools and programs you might not otherwise have considered.