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Criminal Justice Schools in Philadelphia

Public safety and order is important everywhere, but you may have noticed that it plays an even bigger role in Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s booming tourist industry requires criminal justice professionals to keep the streets safe for tourists and residents alike. Have you ever wanted to serve your city and its residents? If so, criminal justice may be the field for you.

One of the biggest criminal justice employers in Philadelphia is the Philadelphia Police Department, which serves 21 districts. They have more than 6,300 sworn members and 800 civilian personnel, a proud legion that you may join after earning a criminal justice degree.


No matter the career you want to pursue in the field of criminal justice, it all starts with your education. Philadelphia and its surrounding areas have several different educational institutions open to you. Explore our list of programs and contact any schools that catch your eye to get more information on the benefits of their criminal justice programs.

As you begin your search for the right school, don’t worry about limiting yourself to those in the immediate area. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) makes it easy for you to get to class, work, and anywhere else you need to go in Philadelphia. This makes school convenient—instead of having to choose the school closest to you, you can pick the school that best fits your needs and get there affordably. College students can get discounted passes and tickets when traveling to and from school.

Criminal Justice Education in Philadelphia

As the cultural center of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia has many educational opportunities for you as a prospective criminal justice student. You may be able to consider private and public schools within the city limits, as well as schools in the suburban areas around Pennsylvania.

The field of criminal justice offers several different degree options for you to consider, but the most commonly available degree is an associate degree, which can be earned in four full-time semesters. Early in your degree, you may take general education courses in different subjects. However, the majority of your educational career may be spent in criminal justice courses such as victim assistance, policing procedures, and ethics in criminal justice. Many programs also include an internship portion.

A bachelor’s degree may be less commonly available, but it can offer you a more in-depth education. In addition to the course subjects listed above, you may take courses in advanced fields like identity theft, cybercrime, and criminal investigation. Many bachelor’s degree programs require or allow you to choose a specialty. Your specialty area may qualify you for higher-ranking, specialized jobs.

Tuition rates vary significantly, depending on whether you attend a public or private school. For example, Temple University charges $16,658 for in-state residents and $28,418 for out-of-state residents. If you attend an accredited criminal justice program, you may be eligible for several different types of financial aid. Many schools recommend filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year, which shows you what federal aid you may qualify for.

Consider becoming part of local groups and organizations to build a strong network of criminal justice contacts. Philadelphia-based organizations include the Pennsylvania Prison Society, the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, and the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals.

Job Outlook for Criminal Justice Graduates in Philadelphia

Starting your criminal justice career may be one of the most exciting parts of the entire process! Look at different careers and decide which career path you want to follow.

If you want to work for the Philadelphia Police Department, you may want to know that the starting salary for a police officer is $61,888 per year and that they offer regular raises up to a maximum salary of $89,417 per year.

With an associate degree, there are numerous careers you can pursue, including the following, listed with their average salaries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2022:

  • Security guard: $37,550 per year
  • Bailiff: $42,430 per year
  • Correctional officer: $58,150 per year

If you earn a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to pursue higher-ranking jobs. The following are just a selection, listed with their average salaries:

  • Correctional officer supervisor: $85,290
  • Private detective: $59,890 per year
  • Criminal investigator: $101,100 per year

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Philadelphia, Camden, Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD positions contained here reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed November 2023.