Earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can create a path toward many different occupations within the protective service. Correctional officers and bailiffs, detectives, and private investigators often begin their career with this degree. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a modest 5% growth for this job sector overall, communities continue to need protective service professionals.
Several colleges and universities across the country now offer online criminal justice degrees. Coursework for online programs boast the same quality and requirements as on-campus classes, opening similar professional opportunities for on-campus and online students after graduation.
Use this guide to learn more about the various aspects of criminal justice programs — coursework, job outlook, and scholarships — that can help you decide which program to pursue.
Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factorsData Sources:
Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.
1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.Notes:
The list below ranks several colleges and universities that offer criminal justice programs across the United States. In creating the list, we examined various factors that affect the quality of a program, including coursework variety, tuition, school or program accreditation, and the resources available to both on-campus and online students. You can find specific program information, such as graduation requirements and specialization areas, on the school’s website.
|Rank||School Logo||School Name||Location||Tuition||Financial Aid||Acceptance Rate||Graduation Rate||# of Online Programs||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||University Information|
|1||Rosemont College||Rosemont, Pennsylvania||$18,900||100%||69%||44%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Rosemont College was originally founded in Catholicism, but the school welcomes learners from all faiths and backgrounds. Each academic year is focused on a mission theme, such as the 2018-2019 theme that seeks to develop "open and critical minds." This is exceptionally relevant in the field of criminal justice where students may pursue a bachelor's in criminal justice online. The program is specifically designed for students wishing to pursue entry-level or leadership positions within the American criminal justice system. While requiring the typical 120 credit hours of completion, the program is accelerated by offering 5-week online courses where students can complete the program in is little as 2 years. Students may also bring in as many as 84 credits earned at other accredited institutions. Major requirements include courses such as the criminal justice system, criminal law, diversity and the law, sociology of law and violence, investigational research methods and criminology. The final requirement is the professional seminar in criminal justice ethics and practice. The goal of the program is to help students develop strong analytical and research skills to make informed decisions in their work. Additionally, the program strives to keep up to date with research trends and provide students with the opportunities for real-world application of the skills and knowledge. Upon graduation, students often pursue careers in law enforcement, court administration, corrections, the judicial system and private security. Because of the accelerated pace, students have a faster track to the workforce.School website
|2||Utica College||Utica, New York||$19,446||97%||82%||44%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Founded in 1946 by Syracuse University, Utica College has evolved to offer completely online degree programs that provide an environment the college describes as akin to a small institution but with the flexibility and perks of a large institution. Through its well-established online and distance education programs, Utica offers one of the top online bachelor's in criminal justice programs. The program offers six specializations in the following areas: public policy and leadership, legal issues in criminal justice, cyber criminology and policy, homeland security, white-collar crime and general specialization. To graduate, students must complete a total of 120 credit hours and are obligated to complete an internship requirement. Past students have interned at the FBI, CIA and for Homeland Security. Outside the general education requirements, criminal justice courses include ethics, courts theory and practice, criminology, cyber technology and public policy. Graduates enter fields from law enforcement and private security to counseling and research. Utica graduates of the program have gone on to take leadership positions at organizations such as the U.S. Secret Service, the New York State Office of the Attorney General, the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Veterans Administration. Criminal justice graduates interested in pursuing a law degree in the future will be emboldened by the fact that Utica grads have been accepted to the top 5 U.S. law schools. Additionally, Utica boasts that 92% of graduates have either gone on to grad school or obtained jobs within 1 year of graduation. Because the college is geared specifically toward online education, students can be confident that they'll receive excellent support.School website
|3||Sam Houston State University||Huntsville, Texas||$5,172||25%||72%||56%||2||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Students at Sam Houston State University can earn a Bachelor of Science degree or Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice, but only the Bachelor of Science degree is available in a fully online format. The Bachelor of Science degree requires students to take additional coursework in a social science, such as psychology, political science or sociology. Students can enter the program as undergraduates or with transfer credit, and the online program allows for flexibility in coursework completion. Seniors can choose to participate in an internship program, with placement options in organizations that include local police departments, the FBI and INTERPOL. Program graduates are prepared for careers as police or probation officers, fire inspectors, social workers, lawyers and investigators. Online students earning their criminal justice degree have access to SHSU's Student Services Office, which has advisers who can help students with academic planning, graduation planning and professional and graduate school preparation. SHSU also offers over 40 scholarships to students in the criminal justice degree program, which online students can apply for along with other financial aid opportunities.School website
|4||Liberty University||Lynchburg, Virginia||$23,800||96%||24%||55%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Students enrolled in the Bachelor's in Criminal Justice degree program at Liberty University can earn their degree entirely online. The program addresses court practices and legal environments as well as corrections and law enforcement from a Christian perspective. Students can choose to concentrate their studies on specializations in business administration and management, crime scene investigation, criminal psychology, homeland security, juvenile justice, public administration and strategic intelligence, focusing their educational experiences and developing skills for a future career in their chosen area of the criminal justice field. Courses last for 8 weeks and the program can be completed in less than 4 years depending on how many transfer credits a student applies towards their degree. Military personnel can transfer credit for military training as well. Liberty's online degree program prepares graduates to explore careers as police officers, detectives, crime scene technicians, public relations managers, counterterrorism, youth service workers, probation officers and caseworkers. Online students are eligible for a range of financial aid opportunities and scholarships. Other resources for online students include an online writing center, counseling services, academic advising and opportunities to connect with fellow distance learners through social media. Students who are in the military can use their military benefits for Liberty's online programs, and receive a discounted tuition rate on undergraduate tuition. The self-directed course format is designed to allow members of the military to complete classes on their own schedule, from anywhere in the world. Veterans and spouses of military personnel or veterans can also use military benefits at Liberty.School website
|5||University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus||Norman, Oklahoma||$4,575||80%||71%||70%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
The accelerated, online criminal justice degree program at University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus is designed to be completed in as few as 18 months by working adults. Courses run for 8 weeks and students can apply transfer credits toward this degree. UO provides additional resources for military, Homeland Security and law enforcement-affiliated students around the world through online learning. The criminal justice bachelor's degree program prepares students to work in law enforcement, corrections and the justice system. Each enrolled student meets with an academic adviser to create an individualized academic plan to complete the program. Military students have a separate adviser from civilian undergraduates, but all students can utilize their advisor for help in selecting coursework as well as career planning. There are also library and research advisers available for online students. While earning a criminal justice degree, students can choose to study federal law enforcement, state law enforcement, homeland security, corporate security, narcotics enforcement, investigations, corrections or pre-law within the larger scope of the program. UO also offers a Restorative Justice Certificate and a Corrections Management Certificate to further focus student studies. Military students can apply their veteran's benefits and transfer military experience toward their degree. Students from Homeland Security and law enforcement can also access additional resources, from advisors to financial aid. All online students at UO are eligible for financial aid and scholarships based on merit and financial need. There are 2 scholarships specifically for criminal justice students: the FBINAA Achievement Scholarship and the A.R. Bert Larason Public Service Scholarship.School website
|6||Florida International University||Miami, Florida||$4,721||44%||50%||60%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Florida International University offers a Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice degree program in an online format. Because it focuses on both theoretical and practical knowledge, the program can serve as an introduction to the justice system for students interested in pursuing higher education in law. FIU's online degree program also prepares graduates for careers in police departments, homeland security, border patrol, the CIA or the FBI. Students study topics ranging from public policy to terrorism, developing their skills to work in local, state and federal agencies. As part of the program graduation requirements, students must take upper-level electives in 4 criminal justice topics of their choice, which allows them to focus their studies on areas of interest and further develop their knowledge. Transfer students can apply previous academic credit towards their degree. Online students can apply for scholarships at FIU, and have access to financial aid resources. Veterans and active military members can apply for educational benefits and receive financial aid assistance through FIU's Veteran and Military Affairs office. The fully-online format of FIU's criminal justice degree program is ideal for active military personnel who may be stationed in various locations while earning their degree. Online students can apply to enroll in the Honors College as well as their online criminal justice degree program. FIU also offers online students access to libraries, career services, academic and success coaches, counseling services and other online resources throughout their academic careers at the college. Student organizations allow online students to network and connect with their peers at FIU, even through a distance learning format.School website
|7||Bethel University||McKenzie, Tennessee||$9,305||77%||67%||38%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Bethel University's online criminal justice degree program is designed for students who have taken at least 30 hours of previous college credit. Working professionals can complete a bachelor's of science in criminal justice in under 4 years with Bethel's 5-week course format. Required courses last for 3 full terms, and students can earn additional credit toward their degree with electives and by applying previous academic credit. The required coursework for the bachelor's of science degree exposes students to the knowledge and experience of instructors who are currently employed or who have previous experience as police officers, sheriffs, legal counsel, military personnel and homeland security and intelligence leaders. Graduates from the program are prepared to explore careers in these fields, as well as careers in the fields of juvenile justice, forensic science and victimology. Online students are eligible for financial aid through Bethel, which provides scholarships as well as participating in several state aid programs - including TSAA Tennessee Grant, the Hope Scholarship, the Tennessee Promise Scholarship and the Vocational Rehabilitation Grant - which provide financial assistance to residents of Tennessee. Military students can use their benefits to help pay for their online degree through this college, including tuition reduction, tuition assistance and GI Bill education benefits. Students in the military can also apply for a Military & Veteran Undergraduate and Graduate tuition scholarship. Bethel's Career Services provides a way to locate internships and job opportunities, and distance learning students can explore online career advising resources to help direct their professional development and future plans.School website
|8||Troy University||Troy, Alabama||$20,830||57%||91%||39%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
The online undergraduate criminal justice degree program at Troy University explores law enforcement fields that range from the court systems to correctional institutions. The program focuses on developing students' understanding of criminal justice policy, and allows students to add courses in cybersecurity, crime scene investigation and homeland security to their studies. The degree program allows students to earn an optional certificate in cybersecurity and digital forensics. Most online classes at Troy last for 9 weeks, and students can take courses in an entirely-online format or attend some on-campus classes at the 4 campuses throughout Alabama. Troy's online criminal justice degree program prepares graduates to pursue careers as police officers, detectives, private investigators, FBI or DEA agents, parole officers and correctional treatment specialists, among other justice system careers. Online students are eligible for a range of scholarships, including financial aid for military personnel and family members of people in the military. Currently serving military members can receive the TROY Military and Family Scholarship, which ensures a student does not pay more than $250 per credit hour for tuition. Current employees at certain businesses near Troy campuses - including Lakeland Police Department and the Alabama and Georgia Departments of Corrections - are eligible for tuition discounts and scholarships through Troy's partnerships program. The college does not accept professional experience as transfer credit, but transfer students may be able to apply previous academic credit towards their degree. Students can access support services, including tutoring, technical support, financial aid assistance, academic advising and online career services through the college.School website
|9||Saint Leo University||Saint Leo, Florida||$22,400||100%||70%||43%||3||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Saint Leo University supports students in the bachelor's in criminal justice degree program throughout their academic careers and into their chosen professions. Current professionals and recently-graduated high school students are all eligible to enroll in Saint Leo's online criminal justice program. The college holds an articulation agreement with Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy, which allows credit from this institution to transfer directly to Saint Leo, and the FBI National Academy Associations has approved Saint Leo as an educational partner. Students in the criminal justice degree program can choose to concentrate in criminalistics or homeland security as part of their educational path. With the guidance of faculty experts, students develop a range of skills to identify, catch and prosecute criminals. If students don't have prior professional experience in criminal justice fields, there are field placements available with agencies such as the U.S. Border Patrol, Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, FBI and a variety of local law enforcement agencies and private security firms. This practical experience can also lead to a career at these institutions. Online students are eligible for financial assistance and scholarship opportunities through the college, and receive support in academic planning and career advising from the WorldWide Student Services Center. Saint Leo is approved for Military Tuition Assistance and Veterans Administration Funding, and military service personnel may be eligible to receive tuition assistance from the Department of Defense to achieve their professional and personal development goals through the criminal justice degree program.School website
|10||Bemidji State University||Bemidji, Minnesota||$7,360||82%||64%||47%||4||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Bemidji State University offers an online degree completion program for students who would like to finish the final 2 years of a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Students in this program can choose to concentrate their studies in law enforcement, corrections, or victimology. The college also has an on-campus degree concentration in tribal justice, which is offered in connection with the Indigenous Studies department at BSU. Graduates from the Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice Degree Program are prepared for employment in a diverse range of careers in the American justice system, including careers as peace officers, correctional officers, probation officers, court administrators, FBI agents, customs inspectors, lawyers or private security officers. Graduates of BSU's online bachelor's in criminal justice program who live in Minnesota will have satisfied the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (POST) academic requirements, and the college's website has resources for graduates interested in becoming Minnesota Peace Officers. On-campus students may choose to join the Criminal Justice Club, which provides networking opportunities and professional development to members. All online students pay Minnesota in-state tuition rates and are eligible for FAFSA-based financial aid opportunities through the college. Online students have a specific scholarship available to them through BSU as well. The college provides distance learning students with a range of student resources, including tutoring and writing assistance, technical support and career services. Veterans can access resources tailored for military personnel looking to earn a degree in criminal justice, such as disability services, GI Bill information, scholarships, personal counseling, tutoring and financial aid.School website
|11||University of Nebraska at Omaha||Omaha, Nebraska||$7,790||49%||86%||50%||2||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree program at University of Nebraska at Omaha must prove their commitment to this program through academic success. Enrolled students must complete a pre-criminal justice program with a grade above a C- in all classes before they are admitted into the upper-level criminal justice program. Students also must meet with an academic advisor to pick an area of concentration or minor to further focus their learning experience in this program. Online courses may be delivered entirely online and completed at a student's personal pace; or follow a hybrid format, with some assigned work combined with limited classroom learning. Students complete a learning assessment during their last semester in the criminal justice degree program, which helps to ensure they have had a successful academic experience before earning their degree. Students can participate in an optional internship to further explore potential jobs and workplaces. These internships can connect students with the U.S. Secret Service, the Omaha Police Department, or the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. Initial courses in the pre-criminal justice program provide overviews of the criminal court system, police roles and responsibilities, and correctional environments, which are all areas where graduates of the program can explore careers. All students earning their criminal justice undergraduate degree through UNO are eligible for financial aid, including the Goodrich Scholarship Program, which is a merit-and-need-based scholarship for Nebraska residents. The Office of Financial Support and Scholarships can help connect students with scholarships, grants and other resources to help fund their degree.School website
|12||Bellevue University||Bellevue, Nebraska||$6,840||62%||-||32%||3||Yes||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Bellevue University offers students the opportunity to earn their Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice through an accelerated online format. Current professionals in the criminal justice field as well as students earning their first degree can enroll in the program to learn about law enforcement, corrections and the US court system. Students who have earned an associate degree or who have completed 60 hours of coursework can enroll in the criminal justice degree program, which is part of Bellevue University's Accelerated Cohort program. The cohort program connects students with peers in their program who have the same career goals. As a part of this program, online criminal justice students will complete courses with the same peer group over a 72-week timeframe. The program allows students to enroll with full-time status while focusing on one class at a time, and working adults in the accelerated program can benefit from the shorter degree completion time. Graduates from Bellevue University's undergraduate criminal justice degree program can go on to attend law school, and they are also prepared to enter careers as social workers for schools or families, detectives, criminal investigators, police officers, legal secretaries or security guards. The college accepts federal financial aid to help students pay for college, and also accepts military tuition assistance. Professionals enrolled in the criminal justice degree program may be able to receive corporate billing authorization or corporate reimbursement through their place of work as financial assistance to fund their degree. Active duty military personnel are also eligible for reduced tuition in their programs, and Bellevue University also offers some scholarships for students, including distance learners.School website
|13||Columbia College||Columbia, Missouri||$6,840||27%||-||40%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Columbia College offers both an online Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree program in criminal justice administration. Students who wish to enter the field are advised to pursue the Bachelor of Science, which offers practical experience and internship opportunities for hands-on learning in the criminal justice field. Current professionals who are already in the field are encouraged to pursue the Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice administration. Graduates from Columbia College's online degree program are prepared to enter careers in law enforcement, counseling, corrections agencies and the court system, or to pursue higher education and law school. Students can also earn a Certificate in Crime Scene Investigation to direct their studies in forensics. Columbia College accepts federal financial aid, and current employees at various corporations may be eligible for scholarships through their employers to attend Columbia College's online criminal justice administration program. There are scholarships available for military personnel and transfer students as well. Military personnel who have earned education or training credit through their experience or examinations can apply transfer credit toward earning their degree. The online format of Columbia College's criminal justice administration degree program also allows military students to stop and start as their schedule allows. Online students are able to access the Grossnickle Career Services Center, which can help students identify career paths and opportunities, develop interview skills and resumes, find internships and apply for jobs posted on the college's Handshake website.School website
|14||University of Cincinnati-Main Campus||Cincinnati, Ohio||$9,322||58%||76%||72%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
The University of Cincinnati offers 15 undergraduate online programs across 7 schools, including a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice that's offered fully online for either full- or part-time students. This 4-year, 120-credit-hour degree prepares students to work in law enforcement and crime prevention, to put their skills to work with child behavioral or adolescent delinquency problems or to participate in intervention programs. The university's focus on experience-based learning applies to all students, regardless of major or course-delivery method, and students should expect service learning, clinicals and other hands-on experiences to be part of their experience. To apply, students need to submit high school or college transcripts and ACT or SAT test scores. Other important factors in the admissions process are a student's extracurricular activities, essay and recommendation letters (from teachers and others who know the student academically). Students are admitted directly into their major. Students at the university don't receive any tuition discounts for studying online; all online students pay the nonresident fee, and distance-learning fees are charged based on full- or part-time status. However, many of the fees charged to on-campus students don't apply to those studying criminal justice online (such as equipment fees or certain program fees), and almost all students enrolled in UC Online are eligible for some form of financial assistance, though a GPA of at least 2.0 is required in order to maintain it. To assist with this, UC offers academic coaches, who are high-achieving upperclassmen and graduate students, to help students improve academic achievement and motivate them to succeed. The school also offers free 1-hour Success Skills Workshops to help students improve study skills, time management and other skills.School website
|15||Peru State College||Peru, Nebraska||$4,800||76%||-||40%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Peru State was Nebraska's first college, formed in 1867 as a teacher training school. Today, Peru has grown to offer educational programs at the undergraduate and graduate level in a large number of subjects, including math, music, natural science, social sciences, education, a number of professional and pre-professional subjects and criminal justice. Its programs are offered both on campus and online. Peru's criminal justice major is an interdisciplinary social sciences major that allows students to study law enforcement, corrections, juvenile justice, criminology, victimology, crime research methods and criminal and abnormal behavior. All courses are available both online and on campus. Students interested in studying criminal justice may earn either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, and they have the option of choosing from 3 concentrations: justice administration, for students interest in gaining leadership or management skills; justice counseling, for students who are interested in human services or might want to go into alcohol and drug counseling; or law and society, for those interested in law, court or public administration work. All 3 majors require 57 credits of coursework, and students may not earn any grades lower than C if they want to complete their degrees. A criminal justice minor is available as well. Faculty are practitioners in the field, and students gain real-world education and experience by participating in conferences, hearing from law enforcement professionals, attending court hearings and visiting law schools. Students interested in earning their criminal justice degrees at Peru should submit, along with their applications, their high school transcripts (or any college transcripts) and ACT or SAT scores. Online students enjoy a lower tuition rate than on-campus students, at $289 per credit hour or $867 per class, with no additional fees for online learning. Incoming students also benefit from a College Success course that introduces students to the college environment.School website
|16||Northern Michigan University||Marquette, Michigan||$9,330||82%||76%||52%||2||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
From its home base in the upper peninsula, Northern Michigan University serves approximately 7,900 campus-based and online students. In addition to offerings spanning from 1-year certificates to doctoral degrees, the institution also provides a bachelor's in criminal justice a popular option for local and distance learners alike. Students with no prior college experience complete 124 hours to move from matriculation to graduation. Innovative courses throughout the program include introduction to criminal justice, criminology and criminal procedure. Individuals also have the chance to complete a criminal justice minor if they so choose. Though some students may worry they will miss out on taking full advantage of campus resources and opportunities if they study online, the school makes reasonable efforts to include distance learners when possible. The department hosts a range of degree-specific events, some of which exist as webinars or are streamed online. Because every faculty member possesses real world experience in addition to academic credentials, degree seekers can feel confident knowing that professors have the tools needed to help them succeed. The department also maintains a full-time internship coordinator to help students find meaningful sites where they can build hands-on skills before graduating. Students living in Michigan can review a list of regional criminal justice job openings. To receive consideration for admission, applicants should possess at least a 2.25 high school GPA and minimum scores of 19 for the ACT or 990 for the SAT. All applications are accepted on a rolling basis.School website
|17||Park University||Parkville, Missouri||$11,730||49%||85%||27%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Since 1875, Park University in Parkville, Missouri has served the needs of learners seeking quality educations from a private institution. The university's bachelor of science degree in criminal justice administration appeals to many students by combining a traditional liberal arts core curriculum with cutting-edge topics related to the criminal justice field. Because the university offers discounted tuition for online learners -- regardless of whether or not they reside in Missouri â€“ many students also find Park University to be a financially viable option. In addition to completing 24 credits worth of core topics â€“ including studies in criminal procedure, agency administration and criminal justice research â€“ online students can select from three different areas of concentration: law enforcement, corrections or security. Each of these requires a further 9 hours of study. As students wrap up their time at Park, they must complete a senior seminar and internship (totaling 6 credits) to qualify for graduation. If living far away from the Parkville campus, learners can work with program administrators to find a suitable location in their region. Previous students have found internships at FEMA, Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Marshal's Office. Some internships have led to full-time roles upon graduation, while other students elect to move into a master's program. Individuals hoping to complete a criminal justice administration degree at Park University should have a GPA of 2.0 or higher and ACT/SAT scores of 20/1020 or higher. All degree requirements can be fully met without ever visiting campus.School website
|18||University of Toledo||Toledo, Ohio||$8,052||92%||94%||47%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Originally formed in the decade after the Civil War, the University of Toledo existed in several forms before coming to its present iteration as a public research institution. The school educates 20,500 learners each academic year, with options ranging from associate to doctoral programs. The online bachelor of science in criminal justice offers pathways for both first-time and transfer students to earn their degrees quickly. In addition to offering a special online tuition rate for Ohioans and non-residents alike, the school also provides 3 different criminal justice scholarships to further lower costs.Degree seekers complete 39 credits in criminal justice core courses, with topics spanning policing and penology to criminal justice ethics and juvenile justice. While no concentrations exist, students can choose from a wide variety of electives, from which they take 12 additional credits. Some of the fascinating topics offered include white collar crimes, domestic and international terrorism, laws of evidence and comparative criminal justice systems. The school does not require any type of culminating assignment, but students can elect to complete an internship, independent study, or senior honor thesis in a topic of their choosing. These final two options often appeal to learners considering graduate school who will need writing samples for their applications.Those wanting to attend the University of Toledo need at least a 2.5 high school GPA and ACT scores of 18 or SAT scores of 830. Applications are accepted 3 times annually.School website
|19||Ashland University||Ashland, Ohio||$19,448||94%||72%||57%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Ashland University has provided educations in affiliation with the Brethren Church since 1878. The small, private liberal arts college maintains a campus-based and online student body of less than 6,000 degree seekers, creating an intimate and collegial learning community. The bachelor's degree in criminal justice exists fully online, ensuring distance students never need visit the Ashland, Ohio campus to meet programmatic requirements. In addition to standard topics, Ashland's program offers innovative coursework in areas of criminology and profiling, the role of police in modern society, juvenile delinquency and gang/cult behavior. Learners can elect to undertake concentrations in either law enforcement administration or correctional administration. Online classes are taught in 7-week blocks, making it easy for degree-seekers to complete major and minor requirements in only 3 years. Though Ashland does not provide a discounted tuition for distance learners, the department established a $2,000 scholarship exclusively for online students. The department hosts regular events, some of which can be attended online. Graduates of the program have gone on to work in juvenile detention centers, as correctional officers and with non-profits focused on criminal justice reform. The department maintains a criminal justice blog for students who want to read about coursework, events and activities. Learners who want to attend Ashland University need a 2.5 GPA and ACT/SAT scores of 18/860. Once accepted, students can look forward to paying no registration fees during their time at school.School website
|20||University of Nebraska at Kearney||Kearney, Nebraska||$5,460||70%||85%||60%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
The University of Nebraska at Kearney is a public institution founded in 1905. UNK offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice that can be completed almost entirely online. This program strives to reflect current trends in the criminal justice field. Students choose between two concentrations: Criminal Justice Comprehensive and Criminal Justice Major. The concentrations are similar, except that the Comprehensive track includes alternative electives including Infant Development, Parent Education, Counseling Skills and Families in Crisis. Students in each concentration complete an intensive internship for hands-on experience. The internship takes place at approved locations that are convenient for each distance learner. In the past, students in this program have secured placements at the Nebraska State Patrol, National Security Agency and other respected institutions. After graduation, students from this program typically work in corrections, law enforcement, the court system and in special offender and juvenile services. Prospective students who plan to only take online courses at UNK, with no intention of ever taking an on-campus course, can follow a simplified application process. Online applications need only to include the $45 application fee and official high school transcripts. Incoming transfer students must have a 2.0 GPA or higher with 24 or more transferable semester hours from a regionally accredited collegiate institution. Transfer students and new freshman applications should be submitted no less than 4 weeks before the beginning of the academic term. Distance learners receive access to many student resources, including online tutorials, research and writing help, an IT help desk, and academic and career guidance services.School website
|21||Oakland City University||Oakland City, Indiana||$23,400||95%||33%||53%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Oakland City University is a private institution established in 1885. Serving an undergraduate population of approximately 2,400 students, the school offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Distance learners can complete this 120-credit-hour degree in as few as 18 months. This program is offered entirely online and focuses on the development of future leaders in the field by employing a foundation in criminal justice and general education courses, all of which are 5 weeks in duration. Major core courses include Introduction to Law Enforcement, Community Policing, Victimology and Comparative Justice. Students learn basic criminal investigation and entry-level and advanced crime scene investigation. As an added feature, students in this program also take a series of courses in psychology and sociology to understand both quantitative and qualitative perspectives on criminal justice. Upon completion of the program, online students can apply scientific methods in investigative positions, provide a detailed analysis of the Criminal Justice system, identify and analyze various types of evidence used in investigative forensics and execute the proper procedures for processing a crime scene. Online applicants need only to submit their high school transcripts or GED if they have less than 60 college credits. Applications must also include transcripts from previously attended colleges or universities. OCU reviews applications and gets back to prospective students with an admissions decision within 72 hours. OCU is a Christian faith-based learning community. Undergraduate online students can expect to spend some of their core credits studying foundations in Christianity.School website
|22||Aurora University||Aurora, Illinois||$22,580||98%||88%||58%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Aurora University is a private, nonprofit, liberal arts college with a student population of 5,500. Established in 1893, AU offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. This is an adult degree completion program where incoming students must have at least 15 transferable semester hours from a college or university with regional accreditation, provided they earned those credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA. AU students seek positions in corrections, courts, law enforcement, parole, private security and probation after finishing the program. Some common positions held by AU graduates include criminal investigator, fire inspector, fraud investigator, police officer, security manager and TSA screener. Major core courses for this program include Criminal Law, Correctional Services, Policing America and Strategic Planning and Ethics. AU students have 12 flexible elective credits with which to tailor their curriculum to fit their career aspirations. Students need 120 credit hours for graduation. Competitive applicants should have 2 years of work experience, military service or another relevant position. In most cases, classes are 8 weeks in duration. Full-time students are typically able to finish the degree in 4 year or less, depending on their number of transfer credits. AU uses the Moodle system to deliver online courses, which includes 24/7 IT support. The school also offers 24/7 tutoring services for most subjects through Tutor.com. Distance learners have access to the academic support center and AU Phillips Library. All AU students should complete the FAFSA to be considered for financial aid, which more than 98% of its students receive.School website
|23||Tarleton State University||Stephenville, Texas||$3,900||50%||50%||47%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Tarleton State University, a member of the Texas A&M University System, is a public institution established in 1899 that serves more than 11,000 students. Those students enrolled at TSU can earn a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice through an online, hybrid or face-to-face format. The program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Whether prospective students are currently working in the field or will be new to the job market, TSU's online program prepares its students for both career advancement and entry-level positions. Distance learners at TSU learn directly from its Criminal Justice Department faculty members who have work experience as correctional staff, police officers and other positions within criminal law. All incoming distance learners must complete the Texas Success Initiative assessment before enrolling in their first semester. This exam determines a placement level for courses in reading, math and writing. Those students who already possess an associate or bachelor's degree from an accredited institution are exempt from the placement exam. In total, online Criminal Justice majors need 120 credits to graduate. Depending on the number of transfer credits a student enters with, most students complete the program in less than 4 years. Graduates of this program can move on to careers in the FBI, forensics, law enforcement and private investigation. Online students at TSU can also take advantage of academic advising and career preparation services, including mock interviews and resume and job search assistance.School website
|24||Rutgers University-New Brunswick||New Brunswick, New Jersey||$11,408||46%||57%||86%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Rutgers University is a public research institution established in 1766. The school partners with several other institutions and community colleges to deliver a wide variety of online and hybrid degree offerings. Those who wish to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice at Rutgers can choose from multiple hybrid options: University College-Camden at Atlantic Cape Community College, Raritan Valley Community College, Camden County College, the School of Arts and Sciences at Brookdale Community College and Mercer Community College. A Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice is available through University College-Newark at the County College of Morris. All incoming students are strongly encouraged to have an associate degree in Criminal Justice from an accredited community college. Online students can expect an interdisciplinary, asynchronous curriculum with courses from Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice. Required courses in all of these programs include Police and Policing, Corrections and Confinement, Courts and Criminal Law and Social Research. Distance learners can choose 15 credit hours from a long list of elective courses making this a highly flexible program. Popular electives include White Collar Crime, Juvenile Justice, Drugs and Society and Domestic Violence. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA to remain in good standing. At least half of the credits for the major must be taken at Rutgers. The remaining credits, up to 90, may be transferred toward the degree. The acceptance requirements at any of Rutgers' associated satellite campuses is the same as applying to its main campus. Applications should include official transcripts, a list of activities and volunteer work and a personal essay. SAT and ACT scores are optional.School website
|25||Ball State University||Muncie, Indiana||$8,992||40%||62%||62%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Ball State University is a public institution established in 1918. With a student population of 22,500, the school offers a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology entirely online. Taking online classes at Ball State involves utilizing online discussion boards, file sharing, wiki pages, blogs and online journaling. Distance learners communicate with their instructors and classmates regularly and meet weekly assignment deadlines. Online criminal justice students receive an education with courses in the fine arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences in addition to the major core curriculum. Required courses for the major include Race, Gender and Crime; Research Methods in Criminal Justice; Decision Making and Ethics and Criminal Law. Those seeking the BA will need 12 credit hours in foreign language classes. Upon graduation, Ball State graduates move on to jobs in county jails and state prisons; local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and community corrections agencies. This curriculum can also serve as a pre-law program for those with an interest in areas of public law such as government legal representation, prosecution and defense. All online students must complete a capstone experience that displays mastery over course material and an application to real-life experience in the field. Incoming students can gain college credit through the college level examination program and Ball State departmental exams. Some students may apply for credit based on previous military service, police force experience or other criminal justice training, education and public service situations. In total, distance learners need 120 credits for graduation. Incoming transfer students are considered for admission if they have earned a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00 on all transferable coursework from an accredited Institution. Courses from remedial programs, vocational and non-accredited technical schools and colleges and universities are not transferable. Applicants who are 22 years of age or younger must submit their SAT or ACT scores. Applications must include official transcripts and, if applicable, standardized test results.School website
|26||North Greenville University||Tigerville, South Carolina||$17,594||99%||59%||51%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|27||Wichita State University||Wichita, Kansas||$6,385||74%||86%||50%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|28||The University of Texas of the Permian Basin||Odessa, Texas||$4,312||78%||81%||37%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|29||University of Maine at Fort Kent||Fort Kent, Maine||$6,600||68%||81%||48%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|30||North Carolina Central University||Durham, North Carolina||$3,655||82%||67%||49%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|31||National University||La Jolla, California||$13,016||4%||-||50%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|32||University of Wisconsin-Platteville||Platteville, Wisconsin||$6,418||33%||80%||54%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|33||Northern Kentucky University||Highland Heights, Kentucky||$9,000||61%||91%||40%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|34||University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh||Oshkosh, Wisconsin||$6,422||22%||65%||57%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|35||Louisiana State University at Alexandria||Alexandria, Louisiana||$4,984||75%||33%||28%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|36||University of Houston-Downtown||Houston, Texas||$4,843||33%||83%||24%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|37||Colorado Christian University||Lakewood, Colorado||$22,360||96%||-||41%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|38||Fayetteville State University||Fayetteville, North Carolina||$2,923||73%||59%||37%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|39||St. Joseph's College-New York||Brooklyn, New York||$24,500||95%||67%||69%||1||Yes||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|40||Union Institute & University||Cincinnati, Ohio||$12,240||29%||-||19%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|41||Northwestern State University of Louisiana||Natchitoches, Louisiana||$5,180||49%||62%||40%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|42||Fort Hays State University||Hays, Kansas||$3,789||73%||91%||44%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|43||New England College||Henniker, New Hampshire||$23,162||77%||99%||36%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|44||University of Memphis||Memphis, Tennessee||$7,488||44%||57%||46%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|45||Lamar University||Beaumont, Texas||$5,664||20%||76%||38%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|46||University of Mount Olive||Mount Olive, North Carolina||$19,000||93%||48%||44%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|47||McNeese State University||Lake Charles, Louisiana||$5,147||34%||64%||45%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|48||Eastern Kentucky University||Richmond, Kentucky||$8,568||51%||86%||45%||3||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|49||University of Alaska Fairbanks||Fairbanks, Alaska||$5,936||40%||73%||48%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
|50||University of Maryland-University College||Adelphi, Maryland||$6,816||11%||-||10%||2||Yes||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||School website|
While a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can open the door to several possible careers within the field, it cannot guarantee professional advancement nor a specific salary level. However, many criminal justice positions require applicants to earn at least a bachelor’s degree.
The table below presents the job growth and salary projections for some of the common occupations open to criminal justice degree holders. It also describes the typical responsibilities that come with each position.
This type of criminal justice professional works with individuals in custody, on probation, or on parole. Their responsibilities often include determining effective rehabilitation and/or treatment programs for wards, attending prehearing investigations and testifying in court, counseling, and writing up and maintaining case reports. They also evaluate programs and community resources that can benefit their wards.
Police and detectives perform a variety of duties, depending on their work environment. They investigate crimes, issue citations for violations, patrol designated areas and monitor suspicious behavior, and testify in court. Fish and game wardens also perform policing functions by enforcing hunting, boating, and fishing laws and investigating complaints and accidents.
Attorneys, businesses, and other individuals hire private detectives and investigators for many different reasons. These professionals conduct surveillance, verify a person’s background, and help find missing persons. Detectives and investigators carry out their activities as private citizens, requiring an in-depth understanding of local, state, and federal laws to ensure the gathered evidence is admissible in a court of law.
Security guards monitor alarms and security cameras, control building or property access, respond to emergencies, and detain violators or trespassers. Gaming surveillance officers survey casino gaming areas for suspicious activities, such as cheating, theft, or drunkenness. They make sure both the establishment and patrons comply with state rules and regulations, maintaining and organizing security and surveillance camera recordings.
Several factors influence demand, salary, and job growth potential for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, including population density and the number of prisons and correctional facilities in a state. The state government (excluding public schools and hospitals) employs the highest number of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists. California boasts the highest employment rate in this profession, followed by Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida. California is also the top-paying state for this profession, followed by New Jersey, Iowa, New York, and Alaska.
Each school crafts a curriculum that embodies its educational goals for students. As a result, criminal justice coursework can vary greatly between colleges and universities across the country. However, criminal justice programs generally offer similar core coursework to give students the foundational knowledge and skills needed for this field.
In this course, students examine the ethical, legal, and social issues that led to the corrections methods used today. Studies focus on the effectiveness of probation, parole, diversionary programs, and incarceration alternatives.
Students perform an in-depth philosophical analysis of the concepts and principles comprising criminal law foundations, including courtroom application. Learners study topics like criminal court decisions, criminal elements, and procedural aspects.
Course participants study current and emerging theoretical perspectives in criminal justice, the different explanations behind criminal behavior, and how society influences criminal justice practice.
This course examines the functions and organizational structure of the different agencies making up the criminal justice system, such as corrections, juvenile justice, and law enforcement.
Students explore the effects of mass incarceration on prisoners, their families, and the community at large. They also study the impact of incarceration on democratic principles and justice as a whole.
There are several factors to consider when choosing an online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice program. Prospective students should not only consider cost, but also graduation rates, student retention, and accreditation. The last factor plays an important role if you plan to apply for federal financial assistance, as the U.S. Department of Education only offers financial aid for students attending accredited schools.
In the following section, you can read the answers to five commonly asked questions about online bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice.
Some schools do offer criminal justice programs entirely online. Coursework for these programs often consist of both asynchronous and synchronous classes. This setup gives online students the flexibility to schedule classes at times most convenient for them without foregoing the opportunity to interact with other students and professors in real time.
Most criminal justice programs require both on-campus and online students to complete an internship or practicum prior to graduation. An internship gives students the chance to explore a particular criminal justice arena and experience how their preferred career operates on a daily basis.
As a rule, schools that offer both on-campus and online bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice use the same curriculum for both programs. However, class schedules and course availability may differ, especially for online programs.
If you pursue your bachelor’s degree in criminal justice online, you can take advantage of the flexibility that comes with most online programs, especially if you enroll in asynchronous courses.You can also earn your degree faster if your program offers more than two enrollment or intake periods during the academic year.
Check that the school offering the online criminal justice degree is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and/or by one of the regional accrediting organizations widely accepted in the United States. At the current time, no organization grants specific programmatic accreditation for criminal justice degrees, so the accreditation of your prospective school is crucial.
Some students take out private or federal student loans to help finance their college education. These types of funding options require repayment once a student graduates from or leaves a program. Scholarships and grants do not have to be repaid. Students must meet strict requirements to qualify for many of these scholarship programs, including submitting an essay that lists an applicant’s achievements and the reasons why they should be awarded the scholarship. Below, we have listed five criminal justice scholarships you can explore.
This scholarship opportunity is open to minority students who have been accepted to, or are currently enrolled in, an undergraduate criminal justice program. Scholarship hopefuls must be nominated by a member of the American Correctional Association. Nominees should submit a 250-word essay on the philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and how they have attempted to emulate these ideals. The scholarship amount is $1,000.
Crimcheck administers this annual scholarship program worth $500. The scholarship benefits freshmen who plan to major in a criminal justice field or students currently enrolled in a criminal justice program. Applicants must submit an essay describing their reasons for choosing a career in criminal justice, their professional objectives after graduation, and how the scholarship award can help them meet their goals.
NOBLE administers three scholarship programs: Irlet Anderson Scholarship (worth $2,500), Charles Fonseca Scholarship (worth $2,000), and Bernard and Sylvia Davis Thompson Scholarship (worth $1,500). Each scholarship is a one-time award reserved for graduating high school seniors with at least a 3.8 GPA and proof of financial need. Applicants must plan to pursue a career in law enforcement or criminal justice after graduation. Applicants should submit a one-page essay stating their criminal justice career goals and the reasons why they want the scholarship.
This scholarship has $1,000; $2,500; $5,000; and $10,000 award amounts. Applicants must be enrolled in an accounting, business administration, criminal justice, or finance program in an accredited U.S. college or university. Students must plan to pursue a career in anti-fraud after graduation and demonstrate their current interest in this arena. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, and a completed application form.
Applicants must have completed at least one year of study in a criminal justice program at an accredited two- or four-year institution. They should submit at least one letter of recommendation from a police official or community leader. Applicants must also write a 500-word essay that describes the role they played in a community project and the impact the project had on the city. The scholarship amount is $1,500.