Criminal Justice Programs in Illinois

With over 40 institutions offering criminal justice programs, Illinois has many options for students interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement and corrections. In 2010, there were 2,218 criminal justice degrees awarded in the state of Illinois. This number comprises all degree levels (associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral). Graduates with criminal justice degrees often work for government agencies, especially at the state and local levels. Examples of agencies in Illinois that hire criminal justice graduates include the Department of Corrections, the Department of Natural Resources, Illinois State Police, county sheriff’s offices, and city police departments.

Criminal Justice Schools in Illinois

Western Illinois University: The law enforcement and justice administration program at Western Illinois University is one of the best in the state of Illinois as well as in the nation. The program has over 10,000 alumni and is one of the top majors at the university. Students can earn their bachelor’s and master’s degree in criminal justice from Western Illinois, or they can earn a minor in the field. All students who are working towards a bachelor’s degree must complete a one-semester internship.

Illinois State University: For over five years, Illinois State University has been included on Kiplinger’s list of top 100 public universities for quality and value. The Department of Criminal Justice Sciences at the university is located within the College of Applied Science and Technology. The department awards bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice as well as a minor in the subject. In 2012, the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences at Illinois State University celebrated its 40th year of service to students in Illinois.

Univeristy of Illinois at Chicago: The University of Illinois at Chicago is one of the top 200 research-funded institutions in the world and boasts an impressive 11-1 student-teacher ratio. The school’s Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice is housed within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It awards both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in the field of criminal justice. Although not required, the department does give college credit for participation in an internship and/or an independent study related to criminal justice.

Northeastern Illinois University: In 2012, Northeastern Illinois University was ranked sixth in the U.S. for best college investment by Newsweek. According to the rankings, only 13% of Northeastern Illinois graduates incur debt from college tuition, while the average student at the school pays less than $20,000 per year in tuition and living expenses. The Justice Studies program at NEIU awards a bachelor’s degree in justice studies as well as minors in social justice or criminology. The school does not have a justice studies program for graduate students.

Criminal Justice Career Statistics in Illinois

Illinois is the fifth most-populous state in the nation and maintains a crime rate that is consistently above the national average. These two facts motivate the state to maintain a strong criminal justice system and provide the best training and education for employees in the field. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 46,279 full-time state and local police protection workers in Illinois in March 2007. Patrol officers in Illinois earn an average annual salary of $66,680, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the actual salary amount earned varies depending location, agency, position, experience, and education.

Throughout the recession, the unemployment rate in Illinois has remained slightly higher than the national average. For example, the unemployment rate in Illinois in November 2012 was 8.7%, while the national average was 7.7%. However, there are no reports that indicate employment problems for graduates of criminal justice programs in Illinois. In fact, many of the career options available in the criminal justice field are recession proof. Those options include police and detective work, corrections and probation work, court work, and homeland security.