Top School in Tampa for a Criminal Justice Degree

Students interested in studying criminal justice in Tampa, FL, have many schools to choose from. Read about the top local schools' degree programs, tuition, and ranking info to find the right one for you.

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Top Schools in Tampa for Criminal Justice

The area surrounding the heart of downtown Tampa, FL has a variety of schools to choose from that offer criminal justice programs. Within 15 miles of the downtown area, there are 12 schools that have undergraduate and graduate-level programs in the field. After taking into consideration each schools' graduation rate and variety of programs offered, the top three schools in the Tampa area to offer criminal justice degree programs are the University of South Florida - Main Campus (USF), Hillsborough Community College, and Remington College - Tampa Campus.

USF has the largest criminal justice and criminology program and the most degree level offerings as well as the highest graduation rate of the top three schools, making it the top choice in the area. USF is one of the only schools in the area and the lone school on our list to offer graduate-level options in criminal justice. Hillsborough awarded the second most certificates and degrees in the field and has a wide variety of undergraduate certificate options and associate degree tracks. Remington's Tampa Campus boasts both associate and bachelor's degree options, not to mention one of the highest graduation rates among area schools.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of South Florida - Main Campus Hillsborough Community College Remington College - Tampa Campus
Location Tampa, FL Tampa, FL Tampa, FL
School Type Four-year, public Two-year, public Four-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $6,334 (undergraduate, in-state)
$16,257 (undergraduate, out-of-state)
$10,415 (graduate, in-state)
$20,603 (graduate, out-of-state)*
$2,506 (undergraduate, in-state)
$9,111 (undergraduate, out-of-state)*
$14,695 (undergraduate)*
Criminal Justice Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's, master's, doctorate* Associate* Associate, bachelor's*
Criminal Justice Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in (2011-2012) 417* 218* 21*
Most Popular Criminal Justice Program (2011-2012) Bachelor's* Certificate* Associate*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) 52% (for 2005 entering class)* 29% (for 2008 entering class)* 47% (for 2005-2006 entering class)*
Noteworthy The Department of Criminology was founded in 1972 and started offering a master's degree in 1974** Students are not required to, but can choose a track of study for both the degree and certificate programs, such as corrections, pre-law, or crime scene*** Associate and baccalaureate programs in criminal justice are offered online and in the traditional format****

Sources: *NCES, College Navigator, **University of South Florida - Tampa Campus, ***Hillsborough Community College, ****Remington College - Tampa Campus.

Winner: University of South Florida - Tampa Campus

  • Began offering a PhD in Criminology in 1998, becoming only the second department in Florida to do so
  • According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the program offerings administered through the Department of Criminology are among the top 10 in the nation
  • USF's Master of Criminal Justice Administration is strictly designed for working professionals who would like to gain additional training in the field in order to seek advanced positions

Established in 1956, USF is a research institution that offers more than 200 undergraduate and graduate or post-graduate degree programs through its 14 colleges. The Department of Criminology was founded in 1972 and administers an undergraduate degree in criminology in addition to master's-level programs in criminology and criminal justice administration, and a Doctorate in Criminology. The department is comprised of 30 faculty and staff members who are well-respected in a variety of areas within the field, including victimology, policing, and juvenile justice.

The undergraduate program in criminology will provide students with a solid understanding of various aspects of the criminal justice system, such as law enforcement, corrections, and probation and parole. Students will take a series of core criminology classes as well as individualized electives, preparing them for graduate work or to seek employment. The university's Master in Criminology program requires students interested in pursuing a PhD in the field to complete a thesis, whereas those who do not plan to continue their studies will complete a project that showcases the practical application of learned theories and skills. The Master in Criminal Justice program is restricted to individuals who are already working in the field and would like to gain advanced training. Classes are held on Saturdays and students will be able to hone their technical and decision-making skills as well as their problem-solving capabilities. The research-centric doctorate program combines didactic training with an examination, residency, and final dissertation in their chosen area of specialty.

Runner-Up #1: Hilllsborough Community College

  • According to Community College Week, Hillsborough Community College awards the 5th most associate degrees in the nation among all two-year community colleges
  • Hillsborough offers two associate-level degrees in criminal justice technology and one associate degree program in criminal justice
  • The college has five career certificates and one college credit certificate (crime scene technology)

Hillsborough Community College boasts one of the most eclectic criminology and criminal justice programs of our top schools. Hillsborough awards the second most degrees overall in criminal justice, behind only registered nursing. Located in the center of Tampa's historic Latin Quarter, Hillsborough is committed to preparing students for positions in law enforcement, corrections, and the court system.

The school offers an Associate of Science (AS) with eight program tracks, an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) with three program options, and an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice that is designed for students interested in transferring to a four-year program in the field. Some programs may be offered in the online format and students should check the school's website for more information. All students enrolled in one of the AS tracks must complete an internship at one of the approved criminal justice agencies, whereas AAS students have the option of participating in an internship for elective credits. In addition to foundational classes covering the criminal justice system, some of the areas of specialty students may choose to focus in include criminology, corrections, crime scene, police, and pre-law.

Runner-Up #2: Remington College - Tampa Campus

  • The criminal justice program has placed a strong emphasis on real world, hands-on training since 2003
  • Students will participate in lab-based classes, lectures, and field trips to various criminal justice agencies as well as listen to guest speakers from those working within the criminal justice field
  • The bachelor's program is designed for students new to the criminal justice field as well as those who already hold positions in criminal justice and would like to gain advanced training

Remington College is a two-year, not-for-profit technical college that houses three campuses in Florida, including one in Tampa. The school offers a handful of diploma programs, three associate-level options, and their sole bachelor's degree program is in criminal justice. Programs administered through the Tampa Campus emphasize community involvement and hands-on training, encouraging students to work closely with local agencies and residents. In addition to a bachelor's degree program in criminal justice, the school has an associate-level program offered in the traditional classroom setting and through the online division. Core curriculum for both degree levels focus on providing students with a fundamental understanding of the criminal justice system. Coursework for the associate degree program may include constitutional law, career development, and forensic science. Curriculum for the bachelor's degree will cover main topics in the field, including corrections, risk management, forensic psychology, and narcotics. Students will also have the opportunity to gain real-world training and learn how to handle evidence and control inmates as well as participate in mock trials and crime scene preservation tactics.

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