The Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

The Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

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Earning an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice prepares students for meaningful work helping communities. This versatile degree can propel graduates into rewarding careers in law enforcement and public safety, social services, and private industries. Graduates often work as police officers, detectives, correctional specialists, special guards, and federal agents. Graduates may also work as forensic analysts, fraud investigators, and mediators.

Many employers in protective services prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor's in criminal justice or a related field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an undergraduate degree is the minimum educational requirement for employment at a growing number of federal agencies. Additionally, many local and state police departments list a bachelor's degree as a requirement for promotion.

The BLS projects employment for police officers and detectives to increase by 7% through 2026, matching the national average for all occupations. The best-paying industries for these positions offer salaries between $60,000-$90,000, depending on employer and location.

The Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Affordable Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected these online criminal justice programs based on their quality, criminal justice coursework, faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school's reputation for providing quality online degree programs.

The Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

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California State University-Sacramento 

Sacramento, CA Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1947, California State University, Sacramento — dubbed "Tree Campus USA" by the Arbor Day Foundation — features a scenic 300-acre campus that houses more than 3,500 trees. Sacramento State offers an expansive catalog of approximately 60 undergraduate programs, 40 graduate programs, and two doctoral degrees.

Students can also take online courses through Sacramento State. The school's bachelor's degree in criminal justice suits working professionals who have already completed criminal justice prerequisites and general education requirements at a two-year program. Applicants typically enter the program with at least 45 transferable credits and a minimum 2.6 GPA.

Classes follow set start and end dates, but otherwise students can complete assignments and log in at their convenience. Every class lasts eight weeks. To graduate, students must complete 60 criminal justice credits. Required classes include law of crimes, the community and the justice system, and crime and punishment.

Most students bring transfer credits with them and graduate within two years. Graduates pursue careers in corrections, law enforcement, and parole and probation systems. The degree also prepares students to enroll in master's programs. The university's career center can help students with career counseling and job/internship placement.


University of Houston-Downtown 

Houston, TX Apply Now

About this school

University of Houston - Downtown, established in 1974, operates a main campus in downtown Houston and three satellite locations throughout Texas. Students can choose between 44 bachelor's degrees and eight master's degrees at UHD. One of four colleges in the University of Houston System, UHD also offers 15 online undergraduate degrees and three online master's degrees.

The online criminal justice bachelor's degree at UHD teaches students how to critically analyze the criminal justice system. The program focuses on preventative crime measures and the root causes of crime. Students must complete 120 credits, including 24 upper-level criminal justice classes. To graduate, students must take at least 25% of their classes at UHD and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.

During their junior year, students can carry out internships at criminal justice agencies. After graduation, many individuals go on to work in law enforcement, corrections, computer forensics, and human resources.

The criminal justice department offers scholarships specifically for criminal justice students, including the 100 Club Scholarship Fund, the Clarence Kendall Endowment Scholarship Fund, the International Comparative Criminal Justice Scholarship, and multiple graduate assistantships. First-time applicants must submit their transcripts, pay the application fee, and submit SAT or ACT scores. UHD also offers a fully online master's degree in criminal justice to students interested in an advanced degree.


Texas Woman's University 

Denton, TX Apply Now

About this school

Texas Woman's University — a public institution founded in 1957 — has grown from a small, all-women's college to a coeducational institution with 15,000 students and three campuses. Students can attend classes at the main campus in Denton or at additional locations in Dallas and Houston. Despite the university's expansion over the years, TWU's classes maintain a personalized atmosphere with a student-to-faculty ratio of 18-to-1.

In addition to face-to-face classes, TWU offers online programming. Its online criminal justice bachelor's degree incorporates a social sciences curriculum. Classes in the program include racial and ethics groups in the United States, social inequality, law and society, and correctional systems and practices. TWU's political science and sociology departments combine to oversee the criminal justice program. Students must complete 120 credits to graduate, including 57 criminal justice major credits. The degree takes four years to earn.

The admissions process includes submitting a complete online application through ApplyTexas with an application fee, official transcripts, and — in some cases — SAT or ACT scores. Applicants should submit all materials at least six weeks before the start of a term.


University of South Florida 

Tampa, FL Apply Now

About this school

Established in 1956, the University of South Florida features a main campus in Tampa and operates additional locations in St. Petersburg and Sarasota. Students can also enroll in 180 entirely online undergraduate, master's, and doctoral programs offered through 14 academic colleges.

USF's online bachelor's degree in criminal justice provides a degree completion pathway to students who hold an associate of science degree. Eligible students enter the program with 60 community college credits. Once admitted, students work with an academic advisor to plan their customized degree.

Students in the program must complete 18 general education credits, 24 criminal justice credits, three writing credits, and 15 elective credits. To graduate, students need to complete a total of 120 credits. The required curriculum includes a senior capstone course, which gives students an opportunity to apply their practical skills in a workplace setting. Undergraduates can also complete a mentored research experience through USF.

The program caters to students who hold an associate of science degree earned at a two-year college in Florida. Graduates with an associate of arts degree cannot apply. Eligible applicants must have a minimum 2.0 GPA.


University of Nebraska at Omaha 

Omaha, NE Apply Now

About this school

Since opening in 1908, the University of Nebraska Omaha — a metropolitan university and a Carnegie Doctoral Research institution — has remained committed to fostering community engagement. Today, the university maintains over 500 partnerships with nonprofits, businesses, and agencies. Additionally, more than 700 classes feature internship or service-learning opportunities.

The University of Nebraska System offers more than 200 undergraduate programs and 70 graduate degrees and certificates. Students can earn an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice at UNO. The program trains students to work as drug agents, police officers, and correctional counselors.

Maintaining the university's commitment to service learning, 120 of the program's students complete internships at the U.S. Marshals Service, the Douglas County Sheriff's Department, and the Nebraska State Patrol every year. Students in the program have the option to complete up to six credits through internships.

The program breaks down into two sections: pre-criminology/criminal justice courses and upper-level criminology courses. Criminology major requirements include classes such as research methods, the criminal court system, police and society, and a survey of criminal justice. Before their junior year, students must declare a minor or concentration. To graduate with an online criminal justice bachelor's degree, students must complete a total of 120 credits.

UNO's admissions department reviews applications in the spring, summer, and fall. Students can apply up to 64 transfer credits toward an undergraduate degree at UNO.


Bellevue University 

Bellevue, NE Apply Now

About this school

Established in 1966, Bellevue University enrolls over 9,000 students. Centered around a 46-acre campus in Bellevue, Nebraska, the university also operates eight satellite locations throughout Nebraska, Washington, Idaho, and Iowa.

Students can choose from over 80 on-campus degrees and certificates at BU. The university also offers more than 70 online bachelor's and master's degrees, including a fully online bachelor's degree in criminal justice. This program is delivered through an accelerated cohort format. The curriculum consists of 127 credits, including 40 major credits, 51 elective credits, and 36 general education credits. The program prepares students for careers as social workers, detectives, legal secretaries, and police officers.

While studying online, distance learners can access college resources such as free tutoring, online interactive writing assistance, and internship opportunities. All students also take three classes in the Kirkpatrick Signature Series: American vision and values, tradition and change, and freedom and responsibility.

Applicants must have an associate degree or 60 credits from an accredited college to qualify for admission.


Indiana University-East 

Richmond, IN Apply Now

About this school

When it opened in 1971, Indiana University East primarily served students in eastern Indiana and western Ohio. Today, the university welcomes students from 44 different states. The average classroom at IU East consists of 17 students, providing an intimate learning experience. However, students can also reap the benefits available through the larger Indiana University System.

IU East provides more than 60 certificate, bachelor's, and master's programs. Students can also pick from 14 online undergraduate and graduate degrees and three graduate certificates. The online criminal justice bachelor's degree covers topics such as crime scene investigation, criminology, and management. Students in this degree completion program learn the practical and analytical skills necessary to become bailiffs, probation officers, lawyers, and correctional officers.

The program caters to students who have already earned either an associate degree or 60 transferable credits. Qualified applicants must have earned a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 during their associate program. Students must complete at least 30 credits at IU East, including 15 credits in the major.


Central Methodist University 

Fayette, MO Apply Now

About this school

Since 1854, Central Methodist University — a private, four-year college — has offered classes from its campus in Fayette, Missouri. Students can also take classes at satellite locations in Clinton, Columbia-Parkade, Lake of the Ozarks, and Sedalia. Approximately 1,000 students attend classes on the main campus, while over 4,000 CMU students take off-site and online courses.

CMU offers 24 online bachelor's tracks and three online master's programs. Classes may be delivered through eight-week or 16-week terms. Students can complete entire degrees through distance learning — such as the school's online criminal justice bachelor's degree — or combine on-campus and online classes. CMU offers a bachelor of arts in criminal justice, which requires more social science credits, as well as a bachelor of science in criminal justice.

These online criminal justice bachelor's degrees require students to complete 120 credits. They take 21-24 general education credits, 39 criminal justice credits, and nine elective credits. In addition to teaching students about theoretical processes in criminal justice, the program gives participants practical hands-on experience in prisons, crime scenes, and the courts through field trips. The program also integrates guest speakers who work in criminal justice or law enforcement.

CMU accepts both first-year and transfer students. Transfer students must submit transcripts with a minimum 2.0 GPA and at least 60 approved credits. First-time students must submit SAT or ACT scores and high school transcripts.


The University of Texas at El Paso 

El Paso, TX Apply Now

About this school

Located near the United States-Mexico border, the University of Texas at El Paso is committed to educating a diverse student population. UTEP, which opened its doors in 1914, maintains a student body composed of 80% Hispanic students. UTEP's 25,000 enrolled students also come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, with half self-reporting as the first in their families to attend college.

UTEP offers 75 bachelor's degrees, 74 master's degrees, and 22 doctoral programs through nine colleges and schools. Students can also earn degrees entirely online. For example, the school's online criminal justice bachelor's degree takes advantage of UTEP's unique location by focusing on crime along the United States-Mexico border. Students take classes such as criminal justice on the United States-Mexico border and immigration law and administration.

The program's asynchronous format lets students adjust their school schedule around their home and professional lives. Graduates can pursue jobs as border patrol agents, corrections officers, FBI agents, and immigrations and customs agents. Students in the program must earn 120 credits, including 36 criminal justice credits. Most online classes last seven weeks, although some last 14 weeks.

Applicants begin the admissions process by meeting with an enrollment counselor. Then they can submit required materials through ApplyTexas.


Dalton State College 

Dalton, GA Apply Now

About this school

Located in northwest Georgia, Dalton State College opened in 1967 with 524 students. As of the fall of 2018, Dalton State enrolled more than 5,000 students. Today, learners can choose from more than 20 bachelor's degrees, 19 associate degrees, 23 minors, and three certificates.

The school's online criminal justice bachelor's degree equips students with the research and analytical skills needed to work in law enforcement or corrections. Dalton State offers three online learning options: eLearning, eCore, or eMajor. Students who take eLearning classes study with Dalton State faculty. In eCore classes, students from any school in the University System of Georgia system can complete two years of coursework through online learning. Finally, the eMajor option allows students to earn an accelerated degree by receiving credit for prior learning.

Students pursuing an online criminal justice bachelor's degree can take advantage of the eMajor program to earn credit for life and career experiences. All distance learners enrolled in the University System of Georgia take the same general education classes. Undergraduate students must take courses that cover communication, quantitative skills, humanities, and math/science.

To transfer to Dalton State, students must submit official transcripts and an immunization certification. Students with less than 30 transferable credits must also submit SAT or ACT scores and their high school transcripts.


University of Louisiana at Monroe 

Monroe, LA Apply Now

About this school

Established in 1931 as a junior college, ULM has since expanded its presence beyond Monroe, Louisiana. The university enrolls over 8,800 undergraduate and graduate students, the majority of whom major in the arts, education, or sciences. Other top majors include psychology, business administration, construction management, and criminal justice.

ULM also offers 17 completely online degrees. Its online bachelor's degree in criminal justice qualifies graduates to work as police officers, correctional officers, probation officers, and fish and game wardens. Within six months of graduation, 88% of graduates find jobs in the criminal justice field. The program includes courses such as theories of crime and delinquency, constitutional law, and criminal justice. The curriculum also prepares students to transition into ULM master's program in criminal justice.

Online classes at ULM usually last eight weeks. Typically, students take two or three courses every session. To help online students stay organized and focused, ULM recommends that students use the My Homework Application to keep track of assignment deadlines and exams.

Distance students earning an online degree at ULM do not pay out-of-state tuition fees. Students can take advantage of prior learning assessment options, including testing out of certain courses.


Amridge University 

Montgomery, AL Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1967, Amridge University has served as a pioneer in distance learning since 1993. Located in Montgomery, Alabama, the university offers associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees through five schools.

Students can earn an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice at Amridge. The program requires students to complete 128 credits and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students in the program take 40 general education credits, 40 criminal justice credits, and 48 elective credits. Classes teach students about criminal procedures, criminal justice theories, and how to gather investigative evidence. Keeping with the university's Churches of Christ affiliation, students can take a survey of the Bible course to satisfy part of their humanities and fine arts requirements.

Out of the 128 required credits, students must complete 30 upper-level credits and 30 criminal justice credits. Transfers students can bring up to 64 credits with them, but participants must complete at least 40 credits at Amridge. The program's curriculum readies students for careers as police officers and police chaplains. Graduates also go on to pursue master's degrees in leadership, management, or ministerial leadership.


University of Houston-Victoria 

Victoria, TX Apply Now

About this school

Established in 1973, UHV operates a main campus situated between four major cities in Victoria, Texas. Students can pursue 70 bachelor's and master's degrees and specializations at the school's main campus or at satellite locations in Katy and Houston. The university offers small class sizes and personalized attention with a total enrollment of around 4,300 students.

UHV also offers a completely online bachelor's degree in criminal justice that uses an asynchronous format. Students in the program need to earn a total of 120 credits, completing at least 30 credits at UHV. Program coursework includes classes in criminology, research methods and criminal justice, and the ethics of social control.

Applications must go through ApplyTexas. Transfer students must hold at least 12 transferable credits and submit transcripts that show a minimum 2.0 GPA. First-year applicants with less than 12 transferable credits must also submit proof of a minimum 2.0 GPA. They also need to be ranked in the top 50% of their class and have an SAT score of at least 940 or an ACT score of at least 18.

UHV maintains transfer agreements with South Texas community colleges, including Blinn College, Coastal Bend College, Houston Community College, and Lone Star College.


Excelsior College 

Albany, NY Apply Now

About this school

Excelsior College began operations in 1971 with the mission of providing distance learning opportunities to working professionals. Today, the college — which serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students — caters to underrepresented communities in particular.

Students at Excelsior can choose from more than 30 programs in the fields of business, health, public service, and nursing, among others. The public service department offers a completely online criminal justice bachelor's degree. The career-related skills students gain from this 120-credit program prepare them to work in areas related to victim advocacy, law enforcement, and probation and parole. Required classes include research methods in criminal justice, criminology, and a writing-intensive capstone course.

Students in the program can also complete a 15-credit homeland security concentration. To graduate, students must complete 120 credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Classes begin every eight weeks. To help students maximize their prior learning credits, the college accepts an average of 70 transfer credits and a maximum of 117 transfer credits. Students can receive credit for military and police service. Other ways to earn prior learning credit include exams, industry certifications, and professional training.


Northern Kentucky University 

Highland Heights, KY Apply Now

About this school

Located in Highland Heights, Northern Kentucky University maintains a central campus near Cincinnati. The university — which began operations in 1946 — originally provided basic skills courses to secretaries and World War II veterans. Nowadays, NKU serves more than 14,000 students.

Students at NKU can pick from two associate degrees, 90 bachelor's degrees, 24 graduate programs, and three doctoral degrees. The university also offers 24 completely online degrees. The school's 120-credit online criminal justice bachelor's degree introduces students to three components of criminal justice: law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Classes follow a seven-week schedule.

Graduates can find jobs as customs officers, police officers, and fish and game wardens. In addition to a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, the university also offers a criminal justice minor and a criminalistics minor.

The university offers two start dates every semester. Students can pick their start date when they submit their application materials. All students — including out-of-state distance learners — pay the same tuition. Transfer students should have 24 or more transferable credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants who are 21 years or younger must submit ACT or SAT scores.


University of Colorado Denver 

Denver, CO Apply Now

About this school

Established in 1912, the University of Colorado Denver — which operated as an extension of CU Boulder until 1973 — has continued to expand its programming since its inception. Today, CU Denver offers more than 140 degrees to its approximately 20,000 students. The university operates two campuses: a main campus in Denver and the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

The CU System offered its first distance learning course in 1996. Today, online learners can choose from more than 50 certificates and bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, as well as 450 individual online classes.

CU Denver offers a 120-credit online criminal justice bachelor's degree. The program delivers all of its coursework asynchronously. Students receive assistance from college navigators who answer admissions questions and provide career advice. Students can also access 24/7 librarian support and schedule consultations through the writing center.

CU Denver also offers an entirely online 36-credit master's degree in criminal justice. In five years, students can earn both a bachelor's and master's degree in criminal justice by enrolling in a joint program.

Admission requirements vary depending on a student's standing. Transfer students need a minimum 2.0 GPA, and accepted first-year applicants generally have a GPA between 3.2 and 3.9. Students must complete at least 30 credits at CU Denver to graduate.


Arizona State University-Skysong 

Scottsdale, AZ Apply Now

About this school

Tracing its roots back to 1885, Arizona State University operates a central campus out of Tempe in addition to four satellite locations. As of the fall of 2016, all campuses reported a total enrollment of nearly 100,000 students.

ASU offers more than 200 online certificates, undergraduate degrees, and graduate degrees. The online criminal justice bachelor's degree requires students to take 40 classes and complete 120 credits. The curriculum focuses on three aspects of the criminal justice system: corrections, courts, and law enforcement. Students take classes such as criminology; research methods; and gender, crime, and criminal justice. In their fourth semester, students can complete an optional internship. The program also offers study abroad opportunities.

Classes last seven and a half weeks. Graduation timelines differ depending on a student's transferable credits. Academic advisors can help students create a schedule that allows them to earn their degree on an accelerated timeline. Students taking an accelerated path to graduation can earn their degrees in 2.5-3 years. All students must earn at least 30 credits at ASU and maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA.


Polk State College 

Winter Haven, FL Apply Now

About this school

Since its inception in 1964, Polk State College has steadily expanded its catalog of degrees and programs. Today, Polk State enrolls approximately 20,000 students. The college operates a central campus in Winter Haven, Florida, in addition to satellite locations in Lakeland, Lake Wales, and Bartow.

Polk State offers 25 associate degrees, six bachelor's degrees, and 30 certificates, including some online offerings. To earn the online criminal justice bachelor's degree at Polk State, students must complete 120 credits. This multidisciplinary degree incorporates elements of sociology, law, public policy, and criminology. Requirements for the program include 36 general education credits, 30 upper-division criminal justice credits, and 12 elective credits.

In their final term, students complete a capstone research project in which they analyze criminal justice policies. Students must take the capstone course and at least 30 credits at Polk State. Many students who work full time attend classes on a part-time basis.

To enroll in this program, students must have an associate degree and a minimum 2.0 GPA. The college uses an open enrollment policy. Prospective students should apply eights week prior to their chosen start date. Each applicant works with a personal counselor.


University of Alaska Fairbanks 

Fairbanks, AK Apply Now

About this school

The University of Alaska Fairbanks opened its doors in 1922 as the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. UAF has grown considerably over the years and now features 10 colleges and schools that offer nearly 150 degrees and 32 certificates.

UAF operates several locations, including five rural campuses and six community centers throughout Alaska. The university enrolls more than 8,000 students. Learners from anywhere in the country can also complete online certificates and degrees at UAF.

Students who enroll in UAF's 120-credit bachelor's degree in criminal justice graduate with a strong understanding of the theoretical and structural concepts of the criminal justice system.

As part of their required coursework, students complete studies in criminology, rural justice in Alaska, introduction to addictive processes, and ethics and justice. As a capstone experience, students complete an internship, take a seminar in critical issues, or conduct a research project.

The degree's curriculum teaches students the knowledge and skills needed to become police officers, parole officers, correctional officers, and court personnel. This four-year degree best suits working professionals in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

UAF accepts applications for the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Students must submit an online application with their high school or college transcripts. Applicants with less than 30 college credits must also submit their ACT or SAT scores.


Peirce College 

Philadelphia, PA Apply Now

About this school

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, Peirce College opened its doors in 1865 as the Union Business College, which educated soldiers returning from the Civil War. Today, the college enrolls about 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Peirce College offers career-focused degrees for working adults, including both face-to-face and online courses. The college's online programs consist of six associate degrees, nine bachelor's degrees, two master's degrees, and two certificates.

Students can earn a 121-credit bachelor's degree in criminal justice degree at an accelerated pace at Peirce. Classes in this hybrid program last for seven or eight weeks. The curriculum teaches students both applied and theoretical criminal justice skills, which prepare them for careers in law enforcement or forensic psychology. Program requirements include classes in criminal law, the correctional system, the criminal court system, and victims and victimization. Students must complete a criminal justice capstone course during their final semester at Peirce.

The program's hybrid format requires distance learners to take some on-campus classes at Peirce's City Center location. New students can receive college credit for military and career experience. The program allows students to apply up to 90 transfer credits toward their degree. They can also earn up to 57 credits based on Philadelphia Police Academy training or up to 27 credits based on Philadelphia Division of Prisons work experience.


University of North Texas 

Denton, TX Apply Now

About this school

The University of North Texas — a public research school with a 125-year history — enrolls more than 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Located in Denton, UNT offers 105 bachelor's degrees, 88 master's degrees, and 37 doctoral degrees.

In addition to on-campus classes, UNT offers a slate of online programs that includes four bachelor's degrees, 20 graduate degrees, 16 graduate certificates, and two undergraduate certificates. The school's 120-credit online criminal justice bachelor's degree is delivered through an asynchronous format that lets students create their own class schedule.

Many students in the criminal justice program graduate within four years thanks to UNT's flexible transfer policy. UNT allows students to transfer technical and academic credits from an accredited two-year college. Students in the program set their own learning pace, taking 1-3 classes at a time. Online learners can receive studying tips and take learning workshops through UNT's learning center.

Distance learners in the program must complete 27 core criminal justice credits; 15 advanced elective credits; and 12 credits in psychology, sociology, and technical writing and communication. Courses provide students with on-the-job training in courtrooms, police stations, and jails. Students can also participate in an internship to gain work experience.

To enroll in online classes at UNT, prospective students must submit all required materials through ApplyTexas. UNT also provides specific scholarships for criminal justice majors.


Louisiana State University-Alexandria 

Alexandria, LA Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1959 as a two-year commuter college, LSU of Alexandria now operates a 2,000-acre campus in central Louisiana and enrolls over 3,000 students. The university serves only undergraduates, offering 50 programs and concentrations. Classes provide a personalized education with a student-to-faculty ratio of 19-to-1 and an average class size of 23.

LSUA's online criminal justice bachelor's degree requires students to complete 120 credits. The program provides students with a strong foundation in criminal justice processes and practical skills. The curriculum includes classes such as professional writing in criminal justice, police process, judicial process, and corrections process.

LSUA offers multiple start dates throughout the year. First-year students must complete the TOPS University Diploma and have a minimum 2.0 GPA. In some circumstances, applicants may also need to submit ACT scores. Transfer students must hold a GPA of at least 2.0 and have at least 18 college-level credits, including English and math courses.

Prospective students who have completed the basic skills course at the Louisiana Council on Peace Officers Standards and Training may receive up to 15 credits toward their degree. Applicants who have completed the introduction to correctional techniques course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center can receive up to nine college credits.


End of list, bravo!

The Advantages of an Criminal Justice Education

While an associate degree qualifies graduates for many entry-level jobs in law enforcement, corrections, and security, these positions tend to offer compensation at the lower end of the industry payscale and limited opportunities for advancement. Individuals who earn a criminal justice bachelor's degree online position themselves to advance their careers.

A bachelor's degree is the preferred or required credential for positions like probation officers, forensic technicians, emergency management directors, and federal agents. Bachelor's degree-holders can further boost their career potential by pursuing a master's, which can lead to leadership positions and higher salaries.

Average Salary by Degree Level

Degree Level Average Salary
Associate Degree in Criminal Justice $46,000
Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice $51,000

Source: PayScale

Criminal Justice Degree Salary Information

Careers in law enforcement, corrections, and security require assertiveness and physical strength to handle difficult working conditions. Salaries in most criminal justice fields start fairly high compared to other public service careers, and pay rates increase with higher levels of education and work experience. It is also common for law enforcement professionals to receive overtime pay.

Federal Agent
These law enforcement specialists enforce laws and investigate violations on a national level. They work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of State, and other government agencies, gathering evidence, conducting surveillance, and sometimes operating undercover. Applicants must meet rigorous entrance qualifications, including holding a bachelor's degree from an accredited school.
Security Manager
Most organizations prefer to employ security managers with a bachelor's degree and experience in security, management, law enforcement, or a related field. These managers safeguard a company's physical and financial assets, employees, and visitors. They supervise and train security staff, create security policies and procedures, and conduct audits to ensure compliance.
Private Detective/Investigator
Working independently or for private companies, these professionals gather research; conduct interviews; and analyze legal, financial, and personal information for clients. The may conduct surveillance on individuals suspected of criminal actions, investigate fraud for banks or insurance companies, or perform background checks for employers.
Police Officer
Most police departments hire high school graduates or associate degree-holders for entry-level positions, but some require a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field. Depending on individual assignmets, police officers may collect evidence for criminal investigations, participate in arrests and raids, and testify in court cases.
Probation Officer/Correctional Treatment Specialist
These professionals are charged with faciliting the rehabilitation of individuals released from prison on probation or parole. They must understand a client's history, maintain case files, and work with clients to enforce the court-imposed conditions of their release. Duties may include connecting clients with services like drug counseling and job training.

Salary by Experience Level for Criminal Justice Careers

Careers Entry Level
(0-12 Months)
Early Career
(1-4 Years)
(5-9 Years)
(10-19 Years)
Federal Agent N/A $65,000 $76,000 $71,000
Security Manager $53,000 $54,000 $62,000 $71,000
Private Detective/Investigator $46,000 $48,000 $50,000 $61,000
Police Officer $44,000 $47,000 $52,000 $60,000
Probation Officer/Correctional Treatment Specialist N/A $40,000 $52,000 N/A

Source: PayScale

Choosing an Online Criminal Justice Degree Program

Selecting an online criminal justice degree program requires careful research. Each program may feature its own curriculum, distance learning format, and tuition policies. In-state schools generally offer more affordable tuition than out-of-state schools, although some programs charge all online students the same rate. Some programs allow students to complete all coursework online, while others require hybrid classes or on-campus residencies. Consider some of the following factors before enrolling in any program.

  • Program Cost: Several factors can impact the cost of an online criminal justice bachelor's degree. Schools with seemingly low tuition rates may charge hefty technology fees for online credits. Some schools offer discounts for law enforcement or military personnel. Additionally, some online programs provide free readings and other instructional materials, reducing the cost of textbooks.
  • Transfer Policies: Many colleges and universities participate in transfer agreements, enabling the seamless transfer of credits from other schools. Students with prior college experience should research the transfer policies of schools to ensure their credits will transfer to their prospective program.
  • School Size and Type: A small school may offer more personalized attention than a larger school, while a large school may provide more diverse course offerings and concentrations. Earning a degree from a national university with a well-known reputation may appeal to some students, while a smaller school may offer more opportunities for mentoring and personal interactions.
  • Program Length: A typical bachelor's program takes four years to complete, requiring approximately 120 credits. Many online programs offer flexible formats to accommodate the needs of adult learners. Part-time options allow students to take one or two courses each term, increasing flexibility but lengthening the time to completion. Some schools offer an accelerated curriculum, enabling students to complete their degrees in significantly less time.
  • On-campus Requirements: Some online programs feature on-campus requirements. While self-paced learners may prefer the flexibility of an entirely online program, other students benefit from the direct supervision and support provided by a program with a residency component or a hybrid format that includes some face-to-face interaction.

Accreditation for Online Criminal Justice Degrees

Accreditation signifies that a school meets certain academic quality and financial integrity standards, as determined by one of several independent regulatory agencies. Accreditation affects eligibility for federal financial aid, acceptance of transfer credits, and how prospective employers and graduate schools view a degree.

At the institutional level, technical, vocational, and for-profit schools typically apply for national accreditation. Alternatively, nonprofit, degree-granting colleges and universities generally seek the more prestigious regional accreditation designation.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee the accreditation process. The ED administers federal financial assistance programs and determines national educational policy. CHEA establishes standards of academic quality, improvement, and accountability to coordinate postsecondary accreditation. Students can find directories of all accredited schools on the websites of the ED and CHEA.

In addition to institutional accreditation, some schools seek programmatic accreditation for their criminal justice programs. For example, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences awards programmatic accreditation to bachelor's and master's programs in criminal justice.

Criminal Justice Concentrations

Many online bachelor's degrees in criminal justice allow students to tailor the program to their interests and goals by offering concentrations. Concentrations vary by program but usually reflect current trends in the field or areas of faculty expertise. The following table outlines common criminal justice concentrations.

  • Investigative Criminology :
    Courses in this concentration explore the methods used to gather and analyze data in law enforcement. Coursework includes laboratory components that provide hands-on training in procedures for conducting investigations; evaluating different types of evidence; and applying new technologies in the areas of surveillance, interviewing and interrogation, and analytics. Students also learn about the use of profiling and the ethical challenges it poses to the criminal justice system.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Police officers, criminal investigators and detectives, crime scene analysts
  • Cybersecurity and Cybercrime:
    This concentration deals with the prevention of computer- and internet-related crimes, detection of system vulnerabilities, and protection of data. Designed for students with some proficiency in computer and technological applications, course topics include digital forensics, information security, and network and mobile systems. Learners study cybercrime technology, including firewalls, data encryption, and other preventive tools.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Cybersecurity specialist, information security analyst, computer forensic examiner
  • Corrections:
    Students learn about the various methods of punishment, treatment, supervision, and rehabilitation of persons convicted of a criminal activity. Learners analyze the underlying rationale for these methods and evaluate best practices for offender interventions that reduce recidivism. Courses typically cover correctional and organizational theories, correctional administration and procedures, penology, and crisis management.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Correctional officers and supervisors, correctional treatment specialists, probation officers, juvenile corrections counselors, prison wardens
  • Criminal Justice Administration :
    This concentration covers administrative policies and practices in criminal justice, providing students with an understanding of management systems in law enforcement agencies and criminal justice organizations. The course also introduces students to contemporary challenges faced by criminal justice administrators. Coursework focuses on business finance, human resource management, ethics and accountability, and public policy and planning.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Police department managers, prison wardens, public policy analysts, social service administrators
  • Homeland Security:
    This concentration covers the major elements of national safety, disaster preparedness, and emergency management. Students gain an understanding of the international security environment as well as traditional and emerging transnational threats. They also examine the roles and functions of government agencies that affect homeland security policies and practices. Courses address domestic and international terrorism, risk assessment and management, and preparedness and response to threats.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Security and intelligence analysts, special agents, Secret Service officers, Immigration and Border Protection officers, Transportation Security Administration officer

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Criminal Justice?

Earning a criminal justice bachelor's degree online typically requires around 120 credits, with full-time students often graduating in four years. However, several factors can impact the length of a degree.

Many online programs allow students with an associate degree or prior college coursework to transfer a large number of credits into a bachelor's program. This could enable transfer students to complete their undergraduate degrees in 18-24 months of full-time enrollment. Some schools also award credit for work and life experiences, further expediting graduation and reducing the overall cost of a degree.

Accelerated formats may appeal to highly motivated students who can handle the quick pace of five- or eight-week terms, instead of more traditional 16-week sessions. These programs usually offer courses continuously throughout the year, allowing students to graduate in less than four years. Online students who choose to attend part time or take a semester or two off because of work or family commitments will take more time to complete their degree; this may lead to higher tuition costs for additional terms of study.

Courses in an Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Program

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
    This course introduces students to the philosophy, history, and classical and contemporary theories of criminal justice. Learners study criminal law; constitutional law; and the contemporary criminal justice system, including the structure and functions of law enforcement agencies, courts, and the correctional system.
  • Cybercrime
    This course explores criminal activity committed through computer technology and the internet, emphasizing methods for prevention, detection, and protection. Topics include computer hacking, electronic surveillance, encryption, and network and mobile security. Students learn about the technological tools used to enhance computer security, such as data encryption and firewalls.
  • Policing in Society
    This course examines police work and challenges affecting policing in the current social and political environment. Students explore reactive, proactive, and community policing, as well as the difference between law enforcement and policing within a critical framework. Readings and lectures address contemporary issues such as profiling, policing in a multicultural society, and community-based policing.
  • Research Methodology in Criminal Justice
    This course introduces the main research methods and statistical techniques used to conduct criminal justice research. Coursework covers research design, hypothesis testing, data collection and analysis, and report writing. Students apply this knowledge to design and conduct research projects and evaluate and assess current policies and research.
  • Race in the Criminal Justice System
    This course connects theoretical perspectives and contemporary research to the analysis of racial disparities in crime rates, arrests, sentencing, and incarceration. Students examine the ways that structural inequality and biases create and reinforce law enforcement practices and public policies that unfairly target people of color.

Paying for Your Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Degree Program

The cost of earning an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice varies depending on the college or university. Some institutions offer discounted rates for those earning a criminal justice bachelor's degree online, while others charge similar rates for distance and on-campus learners. Degree-seekers can explore a variety of ways to help pay for their education, typically starting with the completion of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA helps learners determine what types of federal aid and how much of it they are able to receive, including both loan and grant opportunities. Many students also explore scholarship opportunities, finding awards based on both financial need and merit.

Scholarships for Accounting Students

Brian Terry Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Open to bachelor's students planning to pursue careers in law enforcement, the Brian Terry Scholarships program operates in honor of patrol officers killed in the line of duty. Applicants must be studying criminal justice at the undergraduate level to qualify.

Amount: Varies

My Alarm Center Student Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Available to students studying criminal justice, law enforcement, or a related field, My Alarm Center Scholarships serve graduating high school seniors and freshman or sophomore undergraduate students. Applicants must submit an essay with their scholarship applications.

Amount: $1,000

Sheryl A. Horak Law Enforcement Explorer Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Law enforcement explorers who are at least high school seniors may apply for the Sheryl A. Horak Law Enforcement Explorer Memorial Scholarship. This merit-based award requires candidates to demonstrate a strong academic record, varied extracurricular activities, and solid leadership abilities, as reflected in a personal statement.

Amount: $1,000

The Melissa Linville Criminal Justice Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Undergraduate students enrolled in an accredited criminal justice program and high school seniors planning to pursue degrees in criminal justice may apply for the Melissa Linville Criminal Justice Scholarship offered by Requirements include demonstrated leadership abilities and a 3.0 minimum GPA.

Amount: $500

Irlet Anderson Scholarship Award

Who Can Apply: Open to African American high school seniors planning on pursuing a career in criminal justice or law enforcement, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives administers the Irlet Anderson Scholarship award. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and meet a 3.8 minimum GPA requirement.

Amount: $3,500