25 Top Criminal Justice Professors

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With criminal justice being an issue that pervades all levels of society and indeed all reaches of the world, those that teach and study it have the opportunity to contribute in many different ways. Those that choose to dedicate their lives to the pursuit of justice and improvements in our own justice system must start with a strong foundational education. The professors on this list each bring their own unique perspectives and experiences to the classroom and are able to help provide that foundation for every student that passes through their doors.

Jana Arsovska

Dr. Jana Arsovska is an assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. She currently teaches courses related to international criminology as well as organized crime and criminal justice. Dr. Arsovska, who is a native of Macedonia, focuses much of her research efforts on the investigation of organized crime among ethnic Albanians. In 2013, she was awarded the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Commitment of Excellence award for her mentorship efforts.

Simon Cole

Dr. Simon Cole is a professor of Criminology, Law & Society at the University of California, Irvine. UCI's School of Social Ecology is among the top ranked in the nation for criminal justice studies. Dr. Cole is an active researcher and writer who, in 2003, was the recipient of the Rachel Carson Prize from the Society for Social Studies of Science for his book Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification.

Ivan Yihshyan Sun

Dr. Ivan Yihshyan Sun is a University of Delaware professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Additionally, he is on the faculty of the Asian Studies department at the same institution. With a PhD in Criminal Justice from the State University of New York in Albany, he is a highly educated and widely published academic. His research and teaching focuses largely on international criminal justice, in particular crime and enforcement in China.

Devon Johnson

Dr. Devon Johnson is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Dr. Johnson's research interests lie in the sociopolitical aspects of the U.S. criminal justice system and her publications reflect that interest. She has taught a number of criminal justice classes at GMU and in 2010 was awarded the Teaching Excellence Award, which is the university's highest teaching honor.

Pauline K. Brennan

Dr. Pauline K. Brennan is an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice as well as the Doctoral Program Chair at that institution. Dr. Brennan received her PhD from the State University of New York at Albany and has published many academic articles as well as a book entitled Women Sentenced to Jail in New York City. In 2008, she received the UNO Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award for her contributions at the school.

Mary Cuadrado

Dr. Mary Cuadrado is an Associate Professor and Chair of Criminal Justice at the University of Texas, El Paso. Prior to her appointment at UTEP, Dr. Cuadrado was an Associate Professor of Criminology at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee. During her time at USF she was the recipient of the Outstanding Professor Award and served as Interim Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Cassia Spohn

Dr. Cassia Spohn is a Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. Dr. Spohn teaches courses in criminal justice as well as courts and sentences and race, ethnicity, gender, and crime. Through her prestigious career, Dr. Spohn has published numerous articles and books. In 2013, she became an American Society of Criminology Fellow and received the Faculty Achievement Award for Defining Edge Research in Social Science.

Michael Hallett

Dr. Michael Hallett is a Professor at the University of North Florida in the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, a department where he was founding chairman. Dr. Hallett's research largely focuses on corrections and social inequality as well as critical theory and the history and philosophy of punishment. In 2006, he was the recipient of of the Gandhi, King Ikeda Award for his book Private Prisons in America: A Critical Race Perspective.

Walter S. DeKeseredy

Dr. Walter S. DeKeseredy is the Anna Deane Carlson Endowed Chair of Social Sciences as well as the Director of the Research Center on Violence at West Virginia University. Additionally, he is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology where he teaches courses that frequently focus on violence against women. In 2004, he received the 2004 Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology's Division on Women in Crime and in 2014, the Academy of Criminal Justice's Critical Criminal Justice awarded him the Critical Criminal Justice Scholar Award.

Richard Bennett

Dr. Richard Bennett is a Professor of Justice in the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University where he is also the Director of Graduate Studies. Over the course of his long academic career, Dr. Bennett has published a wide array of academic articles as well as books, monographs and book chapters. In 2012, Dr. Bennett was the recipient of the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Bonnie S. Fisher

Dr. Bonnie S. Fisher is a Professor at the Center for Criminal Justice Research at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Fisher received her PhD from Northwestern University and has continued to work in academia since that time. In 2012 she received the George Rieveschl Jr Award for her scholarly work. She has also received recognition for her outstanding service to the School of Criminal Justice along with numerous publications and presentations.

Jamie Fader

Dr. Jamie Fader is an Assistant Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York in Albany. Her research interests include corrections, juvenile justice, prisoner reentry, and desistance. She joined the faculty at SUNY Albany in 2008 and since then has published a number of articles and been named a Career, Leadership and University Excellence Fellow as well as a Ford Foundation Diversity Fellow.

Robert Agnew

Dr. Robert Agnew is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. His research and teaching at Emory focus largely on crime and delinquency. Dr. Agnew's career has included a PhD from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill as well as more recent award for Georgia Sociologist of the Year from the Georgia Sociological Association. Dr. Agnew was also the recipient of the Emory Faculty Research Award in 2004.

Denise Gottfredson

Dr. Denise Gottfredson is a Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. In addition to her teaching duties she serves as Director of the Honors Program. Dr. Gottfredson has her PhD in Social Relations from the Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests include delinquency prevention and evaluation research. In 2009, she was the recipient of the Academy of Experimental Criminology Joan McCord Award, which followed her 2007 award of Outstanding Woman of the Year from UM.

Richard Hollinger

Dr. Richard Hollinger is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He is also the Chir of that that department as well as the Director of the Security Research Project. Dr. Hollinger's career has largely focused on the study of white collar crime and he has published numerous articles and books on the subject. In 1998 Dr. Hollinger was named the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Teacher of the Year

Julie Horney

Dr. Julie Horney is a Professor of Criminology in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Penn State University. Dr. Horney completed her PhD in Experimental Psychology at the University of California in San Diego. Since then, her research and teaching interests have tended largely toward the situational aspects of crime and violence. She has served on the editorial boards of Criminology, Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency, and Justice Quarterly.


Daniel Isom

Dr. Daniel Isom is the E. Desmond Lee Professor of Policing and the Community at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. Before coming to academia, Dr. Isom worked as the Chief of Police for the Metropolitan Police Department in the City of St. Louis. In 2013, Dr. Isom was selected as an Eisenhower Fellow and was able to study police education and training in Europe.

Gennaro Vito

Dr. Gennaro Vito is a Professor in the Department of Justice Administration at the University of Louisville. Dr. Vito is also a Distinguished University Scholar. He has been president and fellow of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and was the recipient of the Educator of the Year Award from the Southern Criminal Justice Association. Dr. Vito has a PhD from the Ohio State University.

Gary Kleck

Dr. Gary Kleck is the David J. Bordua Professor of Criminology at the Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Dr. Kleck has taught an array of courses during his time at FSU, including criminology, law enforcement, and violence theory. He has a particular research interest in gun control and has written numerous, frequently cited articles on the issue. Dr. Kleck won the Michael J. Hindelang Award from the American Society of Criminology for his book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America.

Jennifer Cobbina

Jennifer Cobbina

Dr. Jennifer Cobbina is an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University where she teaches in the School of Criminal Justice. Dr. Cobbina's primary research interest is the issue of corrections, reentry, and the understanding of recidivism and desistance among female offenders. In 2013, Dr. Cobbina received the New Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology's Division of People of Color and Crime.

Anthony Braga

Dr. Anthony A. Braga is the Don M. Gottfredson Professor of Evidence-Based Criminology in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. Dr. Braga is also a Senior Research Fellow in the Program in Criminal Justice, Policy and Management at Harvard University and a member of the University of Chicago Crime Lab. In 2009, Dr. Braga was the recipient of the U.S. Attorney General's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Community Partnerships for Public Safety.

Elizabeth Groff

Dr. Elizabeth Groff is an Associate Professor in the Temple University Department of Criminal Justice, which is part of the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Groff's research interests include crime and place, crime prevention, and policing. She has had numerous articles published in academic journals including Prevention Science, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and Security Journal. In 2010, Dr. Groff became an elected Fellow of the Academy of Experimental Criminology.

Ineke Marshall

Dr. Ineke Marshall is a Professor at Northeastern University with a joint appointment in Sociology and Criminal Justice. Her specialities lie in the areas of comparative and global criminology, along with other areas of crime, ethnicity, and delinquency. In 2004, Dr. Marshall was named Faculty Member of the Year at the University of Nebraska - Omaha.

Faith Lutze

Dr. Faith Lutze is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Washington State University. She received her PhD in Administration of Justice from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Lutze's research interests include the rehabilitative nature of prison environments and other implications of prison on offenders, both before and after incarceration. In 2013 she was the recipient of WSU Criminal Justice Honor Society's Criminal Justice Professor of the Year Award.

Sarah Ullman

Dr. Sarah Ullman is a Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law & Justice at the University of Illinois - Chicago where she has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses. In addition to numerous publications, Dr. Ullman was the recipient of the University's Professor of the Year award for the Criminal Justice Department and was the Great Cities Faculty Scholar in 2003.


Choosing 25 top criminal justice professors in the U.S. was a tall task, with universities in every state offering criminal justice studies. In order to narrow down the great many, highly qualified and highly educated professors, we used the following criteria:

  1. University Rankings

    Although imperfect, looking at the rankings of individual university criminal justice programs was a good starting point. The professors on this list teach at or were educated at criminal justice programs that have ranked in the top 25 themselves. We used the U.S. News & World Report Criminology rankings from 2009.

  2. Institutional & Peer Recognitions

    The professors on this list have been recognized by their peers and their employers as being among the top in their field. Whether they received Faculty of the Year awards, special recognition for their publications, or notable grants and research funding, these professors are dedicated to their field and to their students.

  3. Professional Commitment

    In addition to teaching and research obligations, the professors on this list have gone above and beyond in terms of leadership and professional contributions. Not only have they been published numerous times in academic journals, they have taken the time to become members and often leaders of professional organizations on their campuses and around the world. This dedication to the world of criminal justice is what makes them the top criminal justice professors in the country.

Featured Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

BS in Criminal Justice

MS - Criminal Justice

MBA - Criminal Justice

Utica College

Online BS - Criminal Justice

St. Joseph's University

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ)

  • Behavior Analysis
  • Behavior Management
  • Federal Law Enforcement
  • Intelligence & Crime Analysis
  • Homeland Security

Post-Master's Certificate - CJ Behavior Analysis

Regis University

Online MS in Criminology

  • Cybercrime/Terrorism Focus
  • Human Behavior Focus
  • Leadership Focus

Online BS in Criminology


Barry Franklin

Barry is Managing Editor of ForensicsColleges.com, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, which he co-founded. Barry was previously VP for a financial software company, and currently sits on the board of a K-8 school and lives with his wife and daughters in the San Francisco Bay Area.