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Every day, the criminal justice community of Charlotte works hard to solve crimes and prevent new ones from occurring—do you want to be part of that dedicated, hardworking group? With various crime and justice employers located throughout the city, Charlotte has many opportunities for you to consider.

One of the most prominent institutions in Charlotte is the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. With response teams in 13 city districts, the Department relies on a large police force to keep the city safe.


Are you curious about what you need to do to get into this field? It all begins with a high-quality education from a criminal justice program in the Charlotte area. Check out our school listings below, and contact as many schools as you want to receive information from. Before you know it, you could be attending the school of your dreams.

Getting around Charlotte doesn’t require a car or a huge budget. Wherever you live in the city, you can take advantage of CATS (Charlotte Area Transit System). CATS offers a bus and rail system to make it as easy as possible for you to get around the city. Many schools in Charlotte have pass purchase programs with CATS, qualifying you for reduced fare passes.

Criminal Justice Schools in Other Major North Carolina Cities

Criminal Justice Education in Charlotte

Earning an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is the first step to starting an exciting new career. The degree choices you have depend on what school you attend and how much time you want to spend in school. An associate degree can usually be completed in about two years, and you can likely complete a Bachelor’s degree in four years.

Your criminal justice courses are designed to give you education in a huge range of fields, since criminal justice careers may take you to the courtroom, prison, community, and beyond. You might take courses in diverse fields like criminal justice ethics, courtroom procedures, and policing procedures. It’s likely that you may have space for elective courses, so you can choose to focus on a field that most interests you.

Field learning is likely to be a big part of your education in Charlotte. Whether you complete a short six-week practicum or semester-long internship, you can expect to get experience that you simply cannot get in the classroom. In addition, field experiences can allow you to start networking with professionals in the community.

As you look at different schools, note the difference in tuition rates. However, don’t just look at tuition rates and end your analysis there—look into financial aid opportunities as well! Depending on the semester credit hours, tuition at University of North Carolina Charlotte is approximately $3,522 for residents and $10,239 for non-residents.

You can go the extra mile in your education by becoming part of the local criminal justice association. Get started by joining local groups like the North Carolina Jail Administrators’ Association, the North Carolina Paralegal Association, the North Carolina Association of Private Investigators, and the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association.

Job Outlook for Criminal Justice Graduates in Charlotte

Taking your time to explore career options before graduation can make the job search much easier once you do graduate. Consider the different career paths you can follow to find out which one is right for you!

Many criminal justice graduates want to become police officers. If you want to join the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, you can start at a base salary of $56,347 per year. If you are proficient in Laotian, Vietnamese, Spanish or several other languages, you may be eligible for a 5% pay incentive. As a police officer, you can join the Charlotte Police Foundation. This foundation helps give police officers the support they need.

If you have an associate degree, consider the following job titles (listed with their median salaries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2022):

  • Security guard: $30,960 per year
  • Correctional officer: $47,830 per year
  • Bailiffs: $34,500 per year

Bachelor’s degree graduates may have more job titles open to them, including specialized job titles in the police department. Popular job choices for bachelor’s degree graduates include the following higher-level criminal justice careers:

  • Detective: $81,170 per year
  • Sheriff’s patrol officer: $58,740 per year
  • Supervisor of correctional officers: $78,740 per year

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Charlotte, Concord and Gastonia, NC-SC positions contained here reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed November 2023.

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