Criminology entails the study of society-based crimes' causes, patterns, and responses. A type of sociologist, criminologists often hold an advanced degree and conduct research, teach, or work on evidence-based crime-prevention initiatives.
Bachelor's in criminology programs often include coursework in sociology, criminal justice, history, and public policy. Graduates frequently pursue graduate degrees in fields such as sociology, public administration, community and urban planning, and social services.
Other students enter the workforce immediately after graduation, pursuing roles like police officer, detective, and criminal investigator. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that these professionals make median annual salaries ranging from $65,000-$80,000.
This guide ranks the best online bachelor's in criminology programs. It also covers other important information for prospective students, such as common courses and scholarship opportunities for criminology students.
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Should You Consider an Online Criminology Program
Q. What jobs can I do with a degree in criminology?
A bachelor's in criminology meets the degree requirements for roles such as prison officer, federal law enforcement investigator, and victims advocate. With additional education, criminology graduates can work as forensic scientists or psychologists
Q. Do criminologists get paid well?
Criminology salaries vary by factors like location, employer, and experience. Criminologists who work as researchers or educators in universities or public organizations earn a median annual salary of $83,420.
Q. Is criminology a BS or BA?
Students can pursue a BS or a BA in criminology. BS programs often feature more major-related courses, while BA programs include more liberal arts and theory-focused courses.
Q. Where do criminologists work?
Criminologists may work in industries including criminal justice, education, and mental health.
Why Get a Criminology Degree?
Getting a bachelor's in criminology can help professionals advance their careers and increase their salary potential. Enrolling in flexible, online programs often allows working professionals to keep their day jobs while pursuing their degrees. Online criminology bachelor's degrees also sometimes feature lower tuition rates and fewer additional expenses than on-campus programs.
PayScale salary data from March 2021 indicates that BA in criminology graduates make an average salary of $61,110 annually. Graduates who go on to earn master's or doctoral degrees may work as sociologists, who earn a median salary of $83,420 per year.
How Much Does a Criminology Degree Cost?
College tuition prices vary by factors like school, delivery format, and location. According to a 2020 College Board report, tuition at in-state, public colleges and universities averages around $10,560 per year. The same report found that out-of-state tuition costs over double the in-state rate, while private school tuition averages more than three times as much as in-state tuition.
College prices also vary by state, with Vermont in-district college tuition costing nearly six times more than it does in California. However, online students often save on many of the expenses that on-campus students incur, such as commuting costs. Additionally, many schools offer tuition discounts to online students.
Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.
How Much Do Criminology Majors Make?
Criminology majors can work in fields like corrections, law enforcement, and forensics. Common entry-level careers include corrections officer and police officer, jobs which often pay around $45,000-$65,000 annually.
With requisite professional experience, criminology graduates may qualify for jobs as criminal investigators or police chiefs. Median annual salaries for these professionals fall into the $87,000-$93,000 range. Earning advanced degrees can help students qualify for other high-paying careers, such as forensic psychologist, criminology professor, lawyer, and judge.
Courses in Criminology
Criminology bachelor's programs usually require around 120 credits, including general education, major, and elective coursework. Major coursework often covers topics like psychology, data analysis, sociology, and history. Core coursework may cover research methodologies, deviance theory, and sociology of law. Core requirements may also include a senior seminar, capstone project, and/or internship.
Many programs also feature specialized courses or concentrations on topics such as women and crime, elite and organized crime, drugs and society, and social psychology.
Courses vary by program, but the following list outlines several classes commonly found in bachelor's in criminology programs.
Introduction to CriminologyCriminology students typically complete this foundational course early in their major-related course sequence. The class surveys crime theories, causes, and measurement techniques. Enrollees learn about various kinds of crimes and related social responses, including the criminal justice system.
Criminology Research MethodsThe core course builds key research skills. Participants learn how to perform quantitative analysis using statistical concepts, software, and critical thinking. The class asks learners to critically evaluate research designs and interpretations of various kinds of criminology studies.
The Sociology of LawThe course explores the concept of legality and its practice through laws and related institutions. Students analyze the relationships between everyday life, the law, criminals, and legal professionals. They also study how law can function as a form of domination or as an agent of progressive social change.
Certifications and Licensure for Criminology
A bachelor's in criminology satisfies the degree requirements for many criminology-related careers, but some positions require additional training in specific skill areas. The following certificates and certifications can help criminology professionals learn and demonstrate specialized skills.
The International Association of Forensic Criminologists administers this professional certification. Candidates must pass an exam that covers crime scene analysis, criminal profiling, and forensic science.
The American Board of Criminalistics grants this certification to candidates who pass the Comprehensive Criminalist Examination (CCE) and receive an approving vote from the board. To sit for the CCE, candidates need at least two years of professional experience in criminalistics. CCC-holders maintain their certification by completing continuing education credits.
Scholarships for Criminology
Criminology students can take advantage of scholarships to help offset the cost of their degree. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for students pursuing an online bachelor's in criminology.
Scholarships for Criminology
||Who Can Apply
Hispanic Education Endowment Fund Mike Carona Foundation Law Enforcement Scholarship
||The scholarship supports Orange County Hispanic high school or community college students pursuing criminology or law enforcement-related majors. Only legal residents who qualify for financial aid and enroll in four-year colleges or universities can apply.
Out to Protect Scholarship
||The scholarship supports LGBTQ+ students pursuing law enforcement careers and undergoing basic training. Eligible candidates must serve as role models in their personal and professional lives.
Association on Indian Affairs Scholarship
||Alaskan and continental U.S. tribal members in full-time, degree-seeking programs at accredited schools may apply for this scholarship. Candidates must submit copies of tribal enrollment, official transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.5 GPA, and an essay.
Online Bachelor's In Criminology Programs 2021
UF offers an online bachelor of arts in criminology and law for aspiring active-duty officers and legal professionals. Students learn about advanced principles of criminal justice. They study the inner workings of the judicial system. The coursework blends criminal theory with practical knowledge, so students can understand how the law governs society. Upon graduation, learners should know current laws and their history.
The program also covers how media influences crime and how juvenile justice differs. UF offers a career center to help online students succeed after graduating.
Minimum GPA and test requirements for admission to this online criminology program vary. But first-year students in the fall 2020 class had an average 4.5 high school GPA and 1405 SAT score. UF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Arkansas State University-Main Campus
A-State delivers an online bachelor's in criminology. As of August 2021, the program costs $258 per credit hour. Students complete 120 credits and can transfer up to 90 credits from an accredited institution.
The curriculum blends criminology, sociology, and political science topics. Learners discover how to complete successful negotiations in high-pressure situations. They examine relationship-building principles. The program also covers social research methodology and crime reduction strategies. Graduates may become successful criminal investigators, recruiters, and police officers.
Applicants must possess a cumulative 2.75 high school GPA and a minimum 21 ACT composite or 1070 SAT score. Students with lower scores may receive conditional admission.
A-State allows students to pursue a double major. Competitive enrollees double major in political science or sociology. A-State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of South Florida-Main Campus
USF features an online bachelor of art in criminology. The program requires 36 credits in criminology courses. Students can transfer up to six credits toward the major.
The program explores theories on criminal behavior, white-collar crimes, and miscarriages of justice. The online degree allows students to choose from various course options to meet requirements. Noteworthy courses include terrorism and homeland security, the juvenile justice system, and domestic violence.
To graduate, learners must earn at least a 2.0 GPA in major courses. The program also requires a capstone project and research paper. All students must show competency in a foreign language through coursework or by passing a fluency exam. USF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Missouri State University-Springfield
Located in Springfield, Missouri, MSU offers an online bachelor of science in criminology and criminal justice. Graduates can pursue careers in the field as FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, or secret service agents. MSU allows students to build their degree from a diverse elective selection. Learners can tailor their studies to meet their specific career goals.
Students examine criminal behavior and discover theories on what motivates crimes and terrorism acts. Through peer discussion, students look for solutions to current problems within the criminal justice system.
As of August 2021, tuition costs an average $3,500 per semester. However, the school offers academic scholarships and financial aid packages. MSU only accepts students with GPAs above 2.5. MSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of West Georgia
Students can pursue UWG's bachelor of science with a major in criminology online. The 120-credit program allows learners to transfer up to 90 credits from an accredited school.
The degree covers topics like juvenile delinquency and theories in criminology and victimology. Graduates know the inner workings of the American judicial system and what motivates individuals to commit violent crimes. Coursework in this online criminology program empowers students to create safer communities and prevent crimes. Enrollees must complete a senior thesis on a chosen topic to graduate. The thesis requires a written essay and an oral presentation.
Online students benefit from in-state tuition, regardless of residency status. UWG is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of North Carolina Wilmington
UNCW offers an online bachelor of arts in sociology and criminology. Students can choose to attend a few on-campus classes. Learners may personalize their degree with a concentration in criminal justice or public criminology. Enrollees with an associate degree can finish the program in two years.
The program helps students build a strong foundation in social science. The curriculum covers the basic methodological approaches social scientists use. Courses also cover the theories behind why individuals commit crimes. Graduates can pursue jobs in corrections or as police officers. Graduates can also advance their education and attend law school.
Applicants should hold at least a 2.5 GPA in previous coursework. UNCW is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
SIU's Carbondale campus provides learners with an online bachelor's in criminology and criminal justice. The 120-credit program includes 39 credits in general education courses. Enrollees take 42 credits of major coursework and 39 elective credits. Students work with an academic advisor to help them choose the best electives, additional majors, and minors for their career goals.
Course topics include policing in America and criminal justice research. Another class explores drug abuse in the criminal justice system. Students also learn basic psychology principles and how they relate to breaking the law. Learners complete an independent study in a topic that interests them. Like most online criminology programs, this degree prepares learners to prevent crimes and make communities safer.
SIU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Drexel offers students a chance to earn a bachelor of science in criminology and justice studies online. The program best suits individuals who need flexibility. Learners can complete coursework at their own pace. Enrollees can also pursue a part-time or full-time job during their studies.
The curriculum mixes technology with the practice's past traditions to prepare learners for current jobs in the field. Students learn about computer science principles and forensic science methods. Courses show learners how to develop technical expertise and biotechnological knowledge. Enrollees also discover the common structures, policies, and procedures agencies use to minimize crime and ensure justice.
Drexel is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Loyola University New Orleans
Located in one of America's oldest cities, Loyno offers students an online bachelor of criminology. The degree requires 35 credits of major-specific courses and 39 general education credits. Students also complete 46 elective credits.
The degree covers topics like research methods in criminology and victim services. Another course teaches statistics in criminal justice. Learners can choose six criminology elective credits to tailor the degree to their career goals. The program focuses on social science research and encourages students to critique agency-generated research. Graduates can advocate for justice and discover the root causes of local crimes.
Loyno is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Missouri-St Louis
Located in St. Louis, Missouri, Mizzou offers students a flexible online bachelor's in criminology and criminal justice. Students learn about theories of crime and the field's research methods. They also examine policing principles. Learners can personalize their degree by selecting courses from an approved list. For example, students can take a gender, crime, and justice course or a violence against women class.
Program candidates must possess at least a 2.0 GPA. They must also earn higher than a "C-" in statistical analysis in criminology and criminal justice, and the program seminar. Mizzou is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.