Top University in Philadelphia for a Criminal Justice Degree

Oct 20, 2021

School and Ranking Information

Students looking into a criminal justice program in Philadelphia have about two dozen schools to choose from, including community colleges, public and private universities, and smaller schools, some of which provide programs online. Based on national rankings, undergraduate graduation rates, and program variety, the top three schools in this area are:

  • Winner: Temple University houses one of the top 15 criminology programs nationwide and is tied for the top graduation rate in the area, earning it first place on this list. Ranked as a top public school and national university by U.S. News & World Report, Temple is the only local school to offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs in criminal justice.
  • Runner Up #1: Drexel University is ranked as an up-and-coming school by U.S. News & World Report and is tied with Temple for graduation rates among the three schools profiled here. Drexel offers bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice, and its students are given hands-on experience opportunities as part of the required coursework.
  • Runner Up #2: Holy Family University offers both bachelor's and master's degree programs in criminal justice and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top regional university. Holy Family comes in a close third for graduation rates and also offers low student-to-faculty ratios and small class sizes.

School Comparison Chart

Category Temple University Drexel University Holy Family University
Rankings #13 Graduate Criminology Programs - Nationwide*
Tied for #44 Top Public Schools*
Tied for #104 Top National Universities*
Tied for #23 Most Innovative Schools*
TIed for #97 Top National Universities*
#129-#170 Regional Universities - North*
Location Philadelphia, PA Philadelphia, PA Philadelphia, PA
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2019-2020) $16,970 (in-state), $29,882 (out-of-state)** $54,516** $31,040**
Criminal Justice Degree Award Levels Offered Bachelor's, master's, doctorate** Bachelor's** Bachelor's, master's**
Criminal Justice Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in (2018-2019) 200** 4** 27**
Most Popular Criminal Justice Program (2018-2019) Bachelor's** Bachelor's** Bachelor's**
Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2013 Entering Class 74%** 69%** 58%**
Noteworthy The school's PhD program ranks 6th in the nation, according to the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index*** Drexel is a global research institution and one of the 15 largest private universities in the nation**** The university offers an accelerated baccalaureate-level program in criminal justice that can be attended either part- or full-time*****

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, 2020 **NCES, College Navigator, ***Temple University, ****Drexel University, *****Holy Family University.

Winner: Temple University

  • Students enrolled in the undergraduate program have the option of participating in a three-credit internship
  • Established in 1968, Temple houses a criminal justice training program designed to offer continuing education options or development programs for professionals working in the field
  • The Department of Criminal Justice boasts 26 faculty members who are all well-respected in different areas of the field, including juvenile justice policy, criminal law, and cybercrime

With its beginnings tracing back to 1884, Temple University offers hundreds of undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs through its 17 schools and colleges. The Department of Criminal Justice has a range of degree programs, including a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Master of Arts (MA), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Students pursuing a baccalaureate degree will also have the option of enrolling in the BA to MA program, enabling them to earn both degrees in five years.

All of Temple's criminal justice programs offer a flexible academic plan, allowing students to choose the courses that best fit their interests. Through an interdisciplinary curriculum and internship options, students enrolled in the undergraduate program will be prepared to seek entry-level positions in the field. The 30-credit master's program will cover topics within the field, such as theories of crime and deviance and decision-making in criminal justice. Students will have the option of either completing additional electives or completing a thesis in order to successful graduate from the program. The PhD option is geared towards scholars in the field who are interested in positions in leadership, either in academia, governmental agencies, or policy organizations.

Runner-Up #1: Drexel University

  • All criminal justice students will complete two professional placements at local criminal justice agencies. These experiences will allow students to gain hands-on experience and possible future employment
  • Drexel's criminal justice program places a strong emphasis on computer applications and statistics in conjunction with coursework specific to the field
  • Beginning in the 2013-2014 summer term, Drexel will offer a Inside-Out course that will enable students to participate in a prison exchange program

Established in 1891, Drexel University now houses three campuses throughout Philadelphia and a handful of regional campuses. Working towards being a one of most civically engaged universities in the nation, Drexel places a strong emphasis on hands-on training and community involvement. Students can choose from a wide range of degree programs offered through the university's 14 schools and colleges. Administered through The College of Arts and Sciences, the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice provides students with an overview of various areas within the criminal justice field, including law, forensic sciences, and political and social sciences.

Students will participate in internships and community partnerships which will enable them to apply learned methods and theories to real world scenarios. In addition to using current scientific developments and technologies as they relate to the criminal justice field, the didactic portion of the program will cover restorative justice, theories of justice, and ethical issues in criminal justice.

Runner-Up #2: Holy Family University

  • Holy Family is a rooted in the Catholic tradition and the main campus is located in Northeast Philadelphia
  • The schools offers an accelerated Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice in addition to the traditional baccalaureate and graduate-level programs
  • All students enrolled in the master's program will complete a professional experience which will require them to apply learned skills and theories to an area of focus within the field

Founded in 1954, Holy Family University boasts smaller class sizes and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1. The university offers roughly 40 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a BA and MA in Criminal Justice. Additionally, the Division of Extended Learning houses the accelerated BA in Criminal Justice, a program geared towards working adults. In this format students will attend class once per week for five week increments.

All criminal justice programs are taught by faculty members with backgrounds in various areas of criminal justice, such as law enforcement, the courts, or corrections. Curriculum will integrate research-based and theoretical classes with foundational coursework covering criminal law, social theory, and the nature of crime. Students enrolled in the bachelor's program who are interested in pursuing a master's degree will have the option of completing both through the university's unique five-year program.

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