The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Programs
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An online bachelor's degree in criminal justice explores law enforcement, legal studies, and social services. Finding an affordable online criminal justice degree can set you up for success in the field.
Earning an online degree in criminal justice from the top criminology colleges in the country can provide the knowledge and skills to thrive in entry-level law enforcement, corrections, social services, and public safety positions.
As essential workers, criminal justice professionals remain in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects strong employment growth from 2020-2030 for police officers, detectives, and crime investigators. Criminal justice positions, like probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, received similar job projections.
Criminal justice professionals provide overall safety to individuals and communities. In criminology colleges, students may explore law and investigation fundamentals, along with core psychology and sociology concepts.
To find out more about the most affordable online bachelor's in criminal justice degrees, common coursework, and available career pathways, check out the rankings below.
The Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Programs
Affordable Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Programs Ranking Guidelines
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Featured Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Programs
Choosing an Online Criminal Justice Program
Finding the right online criminal justice program requires students to research many factors, including cost, resident tuition eligibility, and potential degree length.
Program length and structure, course delivery format, specializations, and accreditation status all weigh heavily into the choice of the criminal justice program that meets your personal and professional goals. You can find out more about each of these considerations at the links below.
How Much Does Online College Cost?
The cost of earning a degree online varies by institution, discipline, and program type. When exploring the best fit for an online bachelor's degree, students should research whether a school charges non-resident tuition for online learners. Many institutions offer the same tuition rates to all online students, regardless of location.
Students researching online degree costs should consider the savings that accompany online learning. Distance learning allows degree-seekers to avoid room and board costs, commuting expenses, and additional fees charged to on-campus learners.
Funding a Degree in Criminal Justice
Students have numerous options to fund their online criminal justice. Each online or on-campus learner can start their financial aid journey by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Submitting the FAFSA form provides applicants with student loan information and can lead to additional funding opportunities through scholarships and work-study options.
Members of specific communities may have additional financial aid options. Military service personnel and veterans can apply for additional aid, along with members of specific communities. Women, individuals in minority groups, and learners in certain disciplines can pursue private scholarships to help pay for college degrees.
What to Expect From a Criminal Justice Major
Criminal justice programs vary among institutions and departments, but core coursework across the discipline includes fundamentals of law enforcement, public safety, and criminal investigations. Learners study law, psychology, and sociology while fostering critical thinking, analytical, and research skills. Additionally, some online criminal justice bachelor's degrees provide opportunities to take specialized coursework in subsets of the field.
Criminal Justice Concentrations
- Criminal Forensics: A concentration in criminal forensics emphasizes crime, criminal behavior, and forensics investigations. Forensics concentrations often incorporate coursework in chemistry, information technology, and biology. It is ideal for students who want to pursue careers as laboratory technicians, digital forensics investigators, and crime scene specialists.
- Juvenile Justice: Juvenile justice coursework focuses on prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation for youth and adolescent offenders. Enrollees explore laws and policies that apply to juveniles, along with the psychology and sociology of juvenile behavior. This concentration benefits individuals who want to work as social workers, juvenile corrections officers, or mentors.
- Homeland Security Concentration: A homeland security concentration emphasizes theories and practices of preventing, detecting, and managing possible threats to national security. Coursework includes border and transportation security, infrastructure protection, and emergency preparedness and response. Graduates can pursue career opportunities in federal and state law enforcement, along with the private security sector.
- Administration: Criminal justice administration coursework emphasizes function and leadership in the criminal justice field. Degree-seekers study interagency communication, court systems and processes, and politics and government to gain a holistic understanding of the criminal justice system.
Criminal Justice Careers
The versatility of a criminal justice degree opens many career opportunities. Individuals can pursue entry-level roles as police officers, corrections specialists, and criminal investigators. Some positions for criminal justice students may require additional certification, training, or licensure. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can also lead to continued study at the master's and doctoral levels.
How Much Can You Earn in Criminal Justice?
Salaries for individuals working in criminal justice vary by position, location, and experience. Common roles for criminal justice students include probation and police officers — which both received strong employment projections for 2020-2030. Emergency management directors, who must possess advanced degrees, rank among the top-paying positions for criminal justice professionals.
|Career||Median Annual Wage (2020)||Projected Job Growth (2020-2030)|
|Emergency Management Directors||$76,250||6%|
|Fish and Game Wardens||$58,040||0%|
|Detectives and Criminal Investigators||$86,940||2%|
|Police or Sheriff's Patrol Officers||$65,540||7%|
|Private Detectives and Investigators||$53,320||13%|
Frequently Asked Questions About Criminology Colleges
Is an Online Criminal Justice Degree More Affordable?
An online criminal justice degree compares in cost to many other college degrees. This includes online and on-campus options.
Is a Criminal Justice Degree Worth It?
An online criminal justice degree is worth it for individuals who want to help others, serve the public, and explore the criminal justice system. It also opens up many employment opportunities.
What's the Highest-Paying Job in Criminal Justice?
Detectives and criminal investigators earn one of the highest median salaries in criminal justice at $86,940 as of May 2020.
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