The Best Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice 2020

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Online bachelor's in criminal justice programs explore the different policies, practices, and components of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, security, corrections, and the courts.

Some programs offer concentrations in areas like homeland security, juvenile justice, and victim advocacy.

Graduates who earn an online criminal justice bachelor's degree can work as police officers and detectives, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, and private detectives and investigators. Several criminal justice jobs offer salaries that exceed the national average. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that police officers and detectives earn a median annual salary of $63,380.

Top 10 Online Bachelor's Programs in Criminal Justice 2020

#1 University of Massachusetts-Amherst Amherst, MA
#2 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
#3 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus Norman, OK
#4 Washington State University Pullman, WA
#5 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
#6 University of South Florida-Main Campus Tampa, FL
#7 Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL
#8 University of North Texas Denton, TX
#9 University of Louisville Louisville, KY
#10 Florida International University Miami, FL

The Advantages of a Criminal Justice Education

Criminal justice majors study law enforcement techniques, emergency management strategies, and master the skills needed to work in courts and correctional facilities. An online criminal justice degree also prepares candidates for law school or graduate programs in other criminal justice fields. While some employers, including police departments, hire associate degree-holders, others require further education. For example, most federal law enforcement agencies expect prospective FBI agents, U.S. marshals, and Secret Service agents to hold a bachelor's degree.

A bachelor's degree also leads to greater salary potential. On average, professionals with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice earn $8,000 more each year than those with an associate degree in criminal justice. Certain high-level positions, such as emergency management director or lawyer, may require candidates to earn a master's degree in criminal justice. The following section examines some career paths and salary opportunities for professionals with a bachelor's in criminal justice.

Average Salary by Degree Level

Criminal Justice Degree Salary Information

Graduates with an online criminal justice degree work in many different settings, such as police departments, law offices, and correctional facilities. Popular criminal justice degree jobs include police officers, probation officers, and corrections officers. A bachelor's degree also fulfills qualifications for certain emergency management specialist positions, and many federal agencies prefer to hire candidates who hold a degree in criminal justice. The list below includes a few popular career paths for individuals with a criminal justice degree.

Police Officer

Police officers respond to emergency calls, patrol neighborhoods, and investigate crimes. They also collect case-related evidence, make arrests, and testify in court.

Entry Level

$45,000

Mid-Career

$52,000

Experienced

$61,000

Late Career

$72,000

Emergency Management Specialist

Emergency management specialists create plans in response to natural disasters and crisis situations. They coordinate with officials during emergencies, lead response teams, and maintain public safety.

Entry Level

$50,000

Mid-Career

$63,000

Experienced

$75,000

Late Career

$75,000

Probation Officer

Also known as community supervision officers, these professionals monitor people on probation. They write reports on probationers' treatment plans, monitor their rehabilitation progress, and maintain communication between clients and corrections personnel.

Entry Level

$38,000

Mid-Career

$44,000

Experienced

$49,000

Late Career

$60,000

Correctional Officer

Correctional officers work in jails and prisons, overseeing individuals awaiting trial or serving time. They supervise inmates, enforce jail rules, and inspect the facilities.

Entry Level

$45,000

Mid-Career

$43,000

Experienced

$45,000

Late Career

$65,000

Source: PayScale

Choosing an Online Criminal Justice Degree Program

Concentrations, tuition rates, and graduation requirements all differ from program to program. Prospective students should consider key factors like program costs, transfer policies, and degree length before making a final decision. For example, in-state schools often provide the most affordable option for residents, although some public universities offer reduced tuition rates for out-of-state distance learners. Take your time and be picky as you explore schools, selecting an online criminal justice program that fits your goals, schedule, and budget.

  • Transfer Policies: Students with completed college-level coursework can save thousands by finding a program that accepts their transfer credits. However, each college or university maintains different transfer policies. Some exclusively accept credits from accredited institutions or only offer credit for general education coursework. Your prospective school's admissions advisor can help you explore your transfer options.
  • School Size and Type: While large public institutions often boast expansive alumni networks and more concentration options, many smaller private schools feature low faculty-to-student ratios that foster collaboration.
  • Program Length: Earning a bachelor's degree can take four or more years, depending on school policies, the student's enrollment status, program format, and transfer policies. Some full-time transfer students can complete a bachelor's degree in as little as one year. Many institutions offer part-time, self-paced, and accelerated program options.
  • On-Campus Requirements: Some web-based programs incorporate on-campus experiences like residencies or orientation sessions, while others are presented entirely online. Prospective students should research any on-campus requirements when considering a program.

Accreditation for Online Criminal Justice Degrees

You should earn your online bachelor's in criminal justice from an accredited institution. Accredited colleges and universities follow the best practices in education, and accredited degrees hold more value on the job market. Independent accrediting agencies evaluate colleges and universities according to their academic quality, student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and degree requirements. Accredited institutions must undergo regular reviews to keep their status. The Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognize valid accrediting agencies.

Accredited colleges and universities follow the best practices in education, and accredited degrees hold more value on the job market.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. Accredited institutions can disburse federal financial aid to students. Credits earned at an accredited institution transfer more easily to other schools. In addition, some professional licenses and certifications require an accredited degree. Accreditation comes in several forms: regional, national, and programmatic.

Regional and national accrediting agencies review entire colleges and universities. Of the two, regional accreditation remains the highest standard. Programmatic accreditation evaluates specialized degree-granting programs, such as business schools, teacher preparation programs, or social work curricula. Criminal justice programs do not typically receive programmatic accreditation, so prospective students should look for a regionally accredited institution. The ED website and the CHEA website maintain extensive databases of accredited schools and programs.

Criminal Justice Concentrations

Criminal justice majors explore fundamental law enforcement principles, legal concepts, and detection methods. Students can also develop a specialty within the field by pursuing a concentration. Concentrations focus on academic tracks that allow candidates to explore areas like forensic science, homeland security, or criminal justice administration in greater depth.

Homeland Security

The homeland security concentration trains students to respond to national security threats like terrorism, natural disasters, and global security issues. Majors explore emergency response management, international policy, and best practices in security. Students on this track often pursue careers in federal agencies or private security agencies.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Emergency management specialist; customs and border patrol agent; security specialist

Forensic Science

A forensic science specialization trains students to investigate crime scenes and collect evidence. Majors learn to conduct forensic laboratory work, analyze forensic data, and help police officers solve crimes. Candidates in this concentration may need to take additional biology, chemistry, and biochemistry courses.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Crime scene investigator; police officer; detective

Criminology

Candidates pursuing a criminology concentration study scientific methodologies to better understand criminal behavior. Students learn to solve crimes and understand criminal elements in society. Coursework may also introduce crime prevention strategies and concepts in forensic psychology.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Police officer; detective; FBI agent

Criminal Justice Administration

This track helps students who want to manage criminal justice institutions. Learners may narrow their criminal justice administration focus further by choosing an emphasis in either law enforcement or corrections. Coursework strengthens leadership and analytical skills.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Probations administrator; program director; criminal justice coordinator

Cybersecurity

Blending criminal justice with information technology, this concentration introduces computer systems and network protection strategies. Students learn to prevent security breaches, identify hackers and other cybersecurity threats, and build cases against cybercriminals.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Cybercrime analyst; crime analyst; fraud investigator

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

Earning an online criminal justice degree typically requires four years of full-time study. Like other bachelor's degree candidates, criminal justice majors usually complete 120 credit hours, including general education classes, major field requirements, and electives. Most bachelor's degrees include 50-60 general education credits in English, history, communications, math, and science. Major coursework includes introductory courses and advanced concentration classes.

Earning an online criminal justice degree typically requires four years of full-time study.

Incoming criminal justice majors with an associate degree or prior college credit can often earn their bachelor's degree in as little as one year. Many online programs accept up to 90 transfer credits toward the degree. Some students prefer to study part time and balance school with work or family obligations. Others select accelerated programs to earn their degree in the shortest possible time. Transfer students can request a credit audit from their prospective school to determine how many credits they need for their bachelor's degree.

Courses in an Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Program

Introduction to Criminal Justice

Introductory courses cover topics in law enforcement, criminal justice institutions, the judicial system, and corrections. Students explore the history of the criminal justice system, policing and justice theories, and common practices in different criminal justice fields. Coursework may also cover topics like community policing, law enforcement agencies, and criminal justice systems at the local, state, and federal levels.

Criminology

Criminology classes explore crime's origin and impact in society. Students examine causation theories, different criminal categories, and society's response to criminal actions. Other course topics include victim responses to crimes, the victims' rights movement, and crime in a legal context.

Criminal Law

Students in criminal law courses survey criminal liability, common law, and criminal codes. The course introduces students to classifications for criminal acts, the legal process, and defenses to criminal charges. Students may also study the roles of police, prosecutors, defendants, and criminal courts in trying criminal offenses.

Police Administration

Ideal for students interested in police leadership roles, this advance course introduces major law enforcement management principles. Students study the relationships among units and organizations, law enforcement structures, and management functions. They also learn to evaluate staff performance, methods to increase effectiveness, and communications.

Correctional Case Management

Correctional case management classes explore broad themes related to probation, parole, and community corrections. Prospective probation officers and correctional case managers study supervision methods, ethical issues in correctional case management, and correctional counseling.

Criminal Justice Membership Associations

Professional organizations help criminal justice students and professionals stay current in the field and strengthen networks through conferences and events. Many professional organizations sponsor scholarship and award opportunities, provide career development resources, and maintain job banks. In addition, these organizations often publish criminal justice research, host local chapters across the country, and offer professional development resources.

American Correctional Association

Founded in 1870, ACA is the oldest association for corrections professionals. ACA sets professional standards, holds an annual conference, and offers professional development resources like training, eLearning courses, and certification programs. Certification opportunities recognize adult, juvenile, and healthcare corrections specialists.

American Jail Association

AJA supports correctional facility employees. Along with educational seminars, webinars, and publications, the association hosts annual conferences and grants certification to experienced corrections officers. AJA's career center highlights employment opportunities and publishes information about recruitment initiatives.

National Criminal Justice Association

NCJA supports criminal justice agencies and promotes effective criminal justice policy in law enforcement, corrections, the legal system, and victim services. NCJA hosts an annual conference, provides webinars and online trainings, and offers regional trainings.

American Academy of Forensic Science

Founded in 1948, AAFS represents forensic scientists, attorneys, and educators. The academy publishes scholarly articles, hosts meetings and educational conferences, and provides professional development resources. Student members benefit from the academy's student career resources.

Best Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Programs

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4

Washington State University 

Pullman, WA

About this school

A public research university that was founded in 1890, Washington State University offers 98 undergraduate majors. Distance learners can choose from more than 15 online undergraduate programs, including a completely online criminal justice bachelor's degree. Established in 1943, WSU's criminal justice program is the second oldest in the United States. 

The BA in criminal justice and criminology features an interdisciplinary, policy-based curriculum that examines criminal behavior and how to prevent it. The degree incorporates aspects of sociology, history, psychology, and political science. The asynchronous program gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. 

The 120-credit curriculum includes general university, liberal arts and sciences, and criminal justice requirements. Courses include realizing justice in a multicultural society, ethical issues in criminal justice, and introduction to policing in America. Students also complete criminal justice electives, political science electives, and a course on research methods and quantitative analysis. 

Criminal justice majors gain access to library resources, career counseling, academic advising, e-tutoring, technical support, and virtual mentorship. Applicants must submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Applicants who are at least 25 years old do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores but must submit a resume and an essay. Transfer students must submit official transcripts from all prior college coursework. 

Graduation Rate
67%
Online Enrollment
22%
5

Drexel University 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

Drexel University offers more than 150 asynchronous online undergraduate and graduate programs, including a BS in criminology and justice studies. The interdisciplinary curriculum explores criminal behavior, crime control, and law enforcement. Graduates can pursue further study or careers in criminal justice, computer science, and forensic science. Learners can complete the online bachelor's in criminal justice program at their own pace.

The 182-184-quarter-credit program includes general requirements, criminology and justice studies core requirements, a methods and analytics sequence, a criminal justice thematic concentration, program electives, and free electives. Classes include crime and public policy, criminal justice ethics, and crime and the city. Students take classes in four 10-week quarters each year.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate. Transfer students with at least 24 credits need a minimum 2.0 GPA. First-year applicants must submit official high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores from the last five years. Students can transfer in up to 135 quarter credits (or 90 semester credits) with a "C" or better from an accredited college toward their degree. 

Graduation Rate
59%
Online Enrollment
18%
6

University of South Florida-Main Campus 

Tampa, FL

About this school

A research institution established in 1956, the University of South Florida offers more than 180 majors and concentrations. One of the fastest-growing universities in the country, USF serves more than 37,000 undergraduates each year. The school's Innovative Education division offers seven online bachelor's degree completion programs, including a fully online criminal justice bachelor's degree

To qualify for admission, prospective students must hold an associate degree from a public Florida community or state college. Learners must complete at least 30 of the last 60 credits of the program in residence at USF. Most students graduate in about two years. 

This bachelor of applied science in criminal justice includes major core, concentration core, and concentration elective credits. Students take courses like theories of criminal behavior, survey of the criminal justice system, and a senior capstone. To graduate, criminal justice majors must meet all USF exit requirements and a foreign language requirement. Students also need a "C-" or better in all major courses. 

Applicants must submit official transcripts and official TOEFL or IELTS scores, if applicable. 

Graduation Rate
74%
Online Enrollment
10%
7

Loyola University Chicago 

Chicago, IL

About this school

A Catholic research university founded in 1870, Loyola University of Chicago enrolls about 17,000 students annually. The school offers over 80 undergraduate majors and more than 180 graduate programs. Current criminal justice professionals can advance their careers by earning the school's fully online BA in applied criminal justice leadership.

The 120-credit degree includes 30 major credits in addition to elective, core, and mission-specific credits. The program explores the theory and practice of criminal justice, examining topics like investigation management, how to develop effective police and community relations, and ethical dilemmas in the criminal justice system. The curriculum also covers research methods in criminal justice, strategies for resolving conflicts, and the application of constitutional law principles. 

The program fosters communication, problem-solving, ethical reasoning, and critical thinking skills. Students take classes like ethics, justice, and leadership; professional identity and development; and accounting principles and application. The program also requires a capstone experience that consists of a service learning project and an analysis of values-driven leadership. 

Applicants must submit official transcripts from all previously attended postsecondary institutions. Loyola accepts applications on a rolling basis, and most prospective students hear back within two weeks of submitting their application. 

Graduation Rate
73%
Online Enrollment
21%
8

University of North Texas 

Denton, TX

About this school

Classified as a tier-one school by the Carnegie Classification, the University of North Texas offers 106 bachelor's, 88 master's, and 36 doctoral degrees. UNT's College of Health and Public Service offers one of the best online criminal justice bachelor's programs. This program emphasizes the practical, theoretical, and empirical facets of criminal justice, preparing learners for careers in policing, law, juvenile justice, and counseling. 

This 120-credit BS in criminal justice requires at least 42 upper-division credits. The program also includes university core and elective requirements. Learners explore topics like criminal law and procedure, ethical and diversity issues in criminal justice, and the history of crime and justice in the United States. Classes include criminal justice research methods, U.S. crime and justice, and correctional systems. Students can choose to complete a minor or certificate with their elective credits. 

Applicants must submit official transcripts with a minimum 2.5 GPA, SAT or ACT scores, a personal statement outlining their educational and career goals, and letters of recommendation. 

Graduation Rate
74%
Online Enrollment
17%
9

University of Louisville 

Louisville, KY

About this school

A public research university founded in 1798, the University of Louisville offers 40 completely online undergraduate and graduate programs, including an online criminal justice bachelor's degree. Students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue graduate study or careers like criminal investigator, criminal records manager, and crime prevention officer. 

The 121-credit BS in criminal justice includes general education, arts and sciences, criminal justice core, and elective credits. Students take classes like criminal law and evidence, law enforcement in the United States, and a seminar in criminal justice. The program features instruction from the same experienced faculty members who teach on campus. Students must complete at least 54 credits in residence at UofL. 

The program admits new learners in the fall, spring, and summer. Admission requirements include a high school diploma for enrollment in lower-division coursework and an associate degree (or equivalent credits) from a regionally accredited college for enrollment in upper-division courses. Applicants must submit official transcripts. 

Graduation Rate
53%
Online Enrollment
33%
10

Florida International University 

Miami, FL

About this school

A public research university that was established in 1972, Florida International University offers a variety of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. FIU's School of International and Public Affairs offers an online bachelor's in criminal justice.

This 120-credit, fully online BS in crime science offers start dates in the fall, spring, and summer. Students complete university core, university, department, elective, and major core requirements. The technology-focused curriculum explores topics like DNA testing, computer-related crime, and body-worn cameras in policing. Students gain knowledge of traditional criminal science and criminology theory and skills in computer science and forensics. 

Students must complete five prerequisite courses -- including statistics and general biology -- prior to enrolling in core courses. Core classes include research methods in criminal justice, survey of forensic science, and terrorism and homeland security. The program strongly encourages students to complete an internship to gain hands-on experience in the field. 

Applicants must submit SAT or ACT scores and official high school and/or college transcripts. Transfer students with 60 or more credits do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores or high school transcripts. International applicants must also submit official English language proficiency scores and course evaluations and translations of any college transcripts. 

Graduation Rate
57%
Online Enrollment
16%
11

Portland State University 

Portland, OR

About this school

Founded in 1946, Portland State University is one of the most affordable public research universities in Oregon. The school hosts more than 27,000 students through over 200 undergraduate and graduate programs each year. PSU's online bachelor's in criminology and criminal justice -- offered through its College of Urban and Public Affairs -- is one of the school's most popular degrees. 

This fully online program explores the prevention, causes, and control of crime and promotes equity and effectiveness in the criminal justice system. Students gain an advanced understanding of criminological theory in addition to communication and problem-solving skills. The curriculum includes classes like punishment and corrections, criminal law and legal reasoning, and crime analysis. The 180-quarter-credit degree includes 68 criminology and criminal justice credits. 

Most criminal justice courses feature an accelerated, five-week format. The same faculty members who teach the on-campus program also teach online classes. Admission requirements include at least 45 quarter credits (30 semester credits), a minimum 2.25 GPA, and completion of a college-level writing course with a "C-" or better. 

Graduation Rate
58%
Online Enrollment
27%
12

Mercer University 

Macon, GA

About this school

The oldest private university in Georgia, Mercer University boasts more than 130 academic programs from 12 degree-granting colleges and schools. Mercer's College of Professional Advancement offers an online criminal justice bachelor's degree that teaches students the critical thinking and ethical decision-making skills needed to succeed in criminal justice careers. Students can begin the program on one of five start dates per year. 

The 120-credit BS in criminal justice leadership includes 42 major, 39 general education, and 39 elective credits. The program incorporates fieldwork that gives students hands-on experience in the justice system. Required courses include current trends in criminal law and procedure, applied research methods, and theoretical forensic criminalistics. 

Students can apply for membership to Alpha Phi Sigma -- a criminal justice honor society that promotes academic excellence. Candidates for membership need a minimum 3.2 overall GPA, the completion of at least one-third of the degree's required credits, and a ranking in the top 35% of their class. 

Mercer's Enterprise Learning Partnership offers educational opportunities to employees of partner organizations, such as the Georgia Department of Corrections, City of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, and Bibb County Sheriff's Office. Applicants must hold a minimum cumulative 2.25 GPA and submit transcripts. 

Graduation Rate
49%
Online Enrollment
11%
13

University of Alabama at Birmingham 

Birmingham, AL

About this school

A public research institution, the University of Alabama at Birmingham offers undergraduate and graduate programs in areas like business, education, nursing, and arts and sciences. Bama By Distance -- UAB's distance education program -- offers an online bachelor's in criminal justice program.

This online BA in criminology and criminal justice program includes instruction from the same faculty members who teach the on-campus program. Learners study the legal system, prevention of criminal behavior, and criminal justice research strategies. Graduates can pursue careers in corrections, law enforcement, and legal and investigative services. 

Students take classes like law and society; social inequality and crime; and drugs, crime, and policy. The 120-credit degree includes 36 criminal justice major credits. Students must also complete general education and core requirements in areas like composition, computer or foreign language, and the humanities and fine arts. Participants also complete a minor in computing technology and application or communication studies. 

All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Applicants must submit transcripts from all previously attended schools and hold a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants without at least 24 transferable college credits who graduated from high school less than four years prior to applying must also submit ACT or SAT scores. 

Graduation Rate
66%
Online Enrollment
11%
14

Wichita State University 

Wichita, KS

About this school

Wichita State University offers 10 online bachelor's degrees and 12 online graduate programs. Designed for new and established criminal justice professionals, the school's online criminal justice bachelor's degree covers the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in criminal justice careers or pursue graduate study. 

The 120-credit BS in criminal justice includes general education, major core, major elective, Spanish, English, and ethnic studies requirements. Students complete 30 criminal justice credits, including classes like crime causation and criminal justice policy, multiculturalism in criminal justice, and contemporary issues in criminal justice. WSU awards academic credit to some students for detention deputy training and law enforcement academy training. 

The program assigns a dedicated academic advisor to all criminal justice distance learners. Students also gain access to library resources, career development services, an online writing center, and testing services. New distance learners can complete an online student orientation to familiarize themselves with the online learning environment at WSU. 

Applicants must submit official transcripts. One of the most affordable postsecondary institutions in Kansas, WSU offers distance learners a variety of financial aid opportunities, including scholarships. The university accepts applications year round. 

Graduation Rate
58%
Online Enrollment
39%
15

University of Memphis 

Memphis, TN

About this school

Founded in 1912, the University of Memphis serves more than 22,000 students each year. The school emphasizes research, scholarship, community outreach, and service. UofM Global -- the university's distance education division -- offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in fields like business, the humanities, and the social sciences. Students can earn a bachelor's in criminal justice online through the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

The 120-credit BA in criminology and criminal justice includes university general education, major, and elective requirements. The program explores topics like policing strategies, capital punishment, international crime, and gangs. Participants also learn about the causes of crime, program evaluation techniques, and intervention strategies. 

Students with a minimum 3.25 GPA who complete at least 55 credits (at least nine in criminology and criminal justice) can apply to the department's honors program. After acceptance into the program, students must complete 15 credits of honors coursework in criminology and criminal justice with a minimum 3.25 GPA. 

Applicants must submit official transcripts. Recent high school graduates must also submit SAT or ACT scores. 

Graduation Rate
73%
Online Enrollment
21%
16

University of South Dakota 

Vermillion, SD

About this school

The state's flagship postsecondary institution, the University of South Dakota offers a variety of flexible and affordable online and on-campus programs. Students can earn an interdisciplinary online BA or BS in criminal justice that focuses on law enforcement training and advancement. Full-time learners can complete the degree in four years. Criminal justice majors can pursue a double major in another discipline, such as political science. 

The 120-credit online criminal justice bachelor's degree includes 33 major, 18 departmental, and 15 elective credits. Classes include criminal procedure, information literacy in criminal justice, and a criminal justice capstone. No more than three internship credits can count toward the major. Students work with an assigned academic advisor to develop a degree plan that aligns with their goals and interests. All distance learners pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.

Applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria: hold an ACT score of at least 21 (SAT 1070), hold a minimum 2.6 GPA, rank in the top 50% of their graduating high school class, or achieve a 3 or higher on the mathematics and English language arts Smarter Balanced Assessments. Applicants must also submit official transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. 

Graduation Rate
48%
Online Enrollment
28%
17

Norwich University 

Northfield, VT

About this school

The birthplace of ROTC and the oldest private military college in the United States, Norwich University offers one of the best online criminal justice bachelor's degrees in the country. The school's BS in criminal justice degree completion program investigates how the police, courts, and corrections systems work together. The program offers several start dates per year. Most students graduate within 18-24 months.

The fully online program includes general education, major, foundational, elective, and field studies requirements. Courses include procedural due process, methods of social science research, and history of the U.S. Constitution. Criminal justice majors also complete a capstone project that investigates a legal or ethical issue in criminal justice. Students must complete all criminal justice coursework before enrolling in the capstone. Graduates can pursue careers like correctional officer, patrol officer, and police captain. 

Applicants need an associate degree or at least 30 previously earned credits. Students can transfer up to 90 credits toward this degree. Admission requirements include a letter of intent, resume, official military training transcripts, and official transcripts from all previously attended colleges. Prospective students whose first language is not English must also submit proof of English language proficiency. 

Graduation Rate
58%
Online Enrollment
41%
18

Ball State University 

Muncie, IN

About this school

Founded in 1918, Ball State University offers undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 22,000 students each year. Ball State Online offers an online BS or BA in criminal justice and criminology. Many criminal justice majors already work in criminal justice-related positions, using the degree to advance their careers.

The 120-credit degree features 48 major credits, including classes like introduction to the American criminal justice system, evaluation research in criminal justice, and decision-making and ethics in criminal justice. The program also requires a three-credit criminal justice capstone that evaluates criminal justice practices from an evidence-based perspective. 

Through electives, students can specialize in areas like victimology, policing, corrections, courts, and special populations. Students interested in working with individuals with cognitive disabilities or behavioral disorders can add a minor in autism or applied behavior analysis. Graduates can work in law enforcement agencies, community treatment settings, and correctional institutions for adults and juveniles. The degree also serves as an excellent pre-law program, especially for students interested in public law. 

Applicants who are at least 23 years old need a high school diploma with a minimum 2.5 GPA or a GED certificate. First-year applicants younger than 23 need the Indiana Core 40 diploma or its out-of-state equivalent. Ball State does not require SAT or ACT scores.

Graduation Rate
62%
Online Enrollment
99%
19

Citadel Military College of South Carolina 

Charleston, SC

About this school

Established in 1842, The Citadel enrolls about 2,300 undergraduate students who comprise the South Carolina Corps of Cadets. The college emphasizes the importance of character and leadership development in a classical military education system. The school's Department of Criminal Justice offers an online bachelor's degree completion program in criminal justice.

This cooperative 2+2 program allows students to earn an associate degree at a partner community college before completing their bachelor's degree at The Citadel. The BA in criminal justice explores the causes of crime, the effectiveness of agencies in the criminal justice system, and the social context in which crime occurs. Classes include critical issues in law enforcement, comparative criminal justice systems, and computer crime. Students gain communication, research, and leadership skills. 

Criminal justice majors who complete three semesters and hold a minimum overall 3.2 GPA in all criminal justice coursework can apply to join Alpha Phi Sigma -- the national criminal justice honor society. Graduates can pursue careers like customs agent, fingerprint examiner, police officer, and warden. 

Graduation Rate
63%
Online Enrollment
74%
20

University of Central Florida 

Orlando, FL

About this school

A top-ranked public research institution that confers about 17,000 degrees each year, the University of Central Florida offers more than 20 online undergraduate programs. The flexible online BS and BA in criminal justice programs rank among the most popular distance education pathways at UCF. 

The degree examines strategies for solving crimes and keeping communities safe. Courses include crime in America, data analysis for criminal justice, and prosecution and adjudication. Criminal justice majors can also complete fully online certificates in criminal profiling, crime mapping and analysis, victim advocacy, and security management. 

UCF offers many support services for distance learners, including access to library resources, a writing center, career services, student accessibility services, and tutoring. Graduates can pursue jobs like crime scene investigator, law enforcement officer, and immigration and customs enforcement agent. 

Students who transfer in with an associate degree can graduate in two years. Applicants must submit official transcripts. Students applying without at least 60 transferable credits must also submit ACT or SAT scores. 

Graduation Rate
72%
Online Enrollment
34%
21

Old Dominion University 

Norfolk, VA

About this school

An entrepreneurial-minded public research university, Old Dominion University boasts more than 120 undergraduate programs and over 130 graduate programs. The school's Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice offers one of the best online criminal justice bachelor's degree completion programs. 

Students explore the psychological and social causes of criminal behavior through criminal justice administration coursework. The department encourages criminal justice majors to pursue a minor in a discipline like computer science, psychology, sociology, management, or information systems. 

The program includes courses like law and the criminal justice systems, introduction to social research, and criminological theory. Students also complete a capstone research project. Students need a minimum overall 2.0 GPA to graduate. Graduates can work in law enforcement, legal, and retail security environments. 

Students transferring with at least 15 credits and a minimum 2.5 GPA from the Virginia Community College System receive guaranteed admission. Students must complete at least 30 credits in residence at ODU. The program offers start dates in the fall, spring, and summer. 

Graduation Rate
73%
Online Enrollment
32%
22

Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale 

Fort Lauderdale, FL

About this school

An institution focused on hands-on career education, Keiser University offers more than 100 degrees in fields like healthcare, legal studies, and information technology. Keiser's online bachelor's in criminal justice program emphasizes research and analysis into the American criminal justice system. Graduates receive the knowledge and skills they need to qualify for entry-level employment or advancement in criminal justice careers.

The 120-credit BA in criminal justice requires 24 lower-division credits and 36 upper-division credits within the major. The program explores topics like victimology, deviant behavior, the Supreme Court, and law enforcement investigation. Core criminal justice classes include comparative criminal justice systems, criminal evidence and procedures, and ethics in criminal justice. Students gain hands-on experience through two three-credit criminal justice internships.

Students must complete all lower-division and general education courses before enrolling in upper-division classes. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate. Online students gain access to an online career center, student organizations, and library resources. 

Graduation Rate
52%
Online Enrollment
47%
23

Rowan University 

Glassboro, NJ

About this school

Founded in 1923 as a teacher training college, Rowan University now offers 74 bachelor's and 51 master's degrees to about 18,000 students each year. Rowan's Global Learning and Partnerships offers an interdisciplinary online bachelor's in criminal justice program.

This online BA in law and justice program prepares graduates for careers in court services, law enforcement, and human services. Learners study criminal justice policies and procedures; causes of crime; and the unintended consequences that criminal justice policies create for victims, offenders, and society. The program enhances participants' writing, critical thinking, logic, and reasoning skills. 

The 120-credit degree includes general education and major requirements. Students must complete at least 30 credits at Rowan. The curriculum includes classes like law and human rights, introduction to corrections, and theories of crime and criminality. Criminal justice majors also complete a three-credit internship, gaining hands-on experience in the field.

Prospective students need at least 24 transferable credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all prior colleges. Students can begin classes in the spring or fall. 

Graduation Rate
65%
Online Enrollment
80%
24

University of Toledo 

Toledo, OH

About this school

Established in 1872, the University of Toledo offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs. UT's College of Social Justice and Human Services offers an online bachelor's in criminal justice program that examines crime, criminal investigation, corrections, foundational law, and victims and offenders. The online curriculum blends teaching, service, and research experiences, exploring crime from a holistic perspective. 

This 124-credit BS in criminal justice includes general education, general elective, major core, and major elective coursework. UT requires at least 64 credits at the 2000 level and at least 32 at the 3000-4000 levels. Students can use general elective requirements to complete a minor. 

Classes include applied psychology for criminal justice personnel, administration of criminal justice, and research methods in criminal justice. Major electives explore topics like sex crimes, narcotic policy, hate crimes, and crime mapping. Students have the option to pursue a criminal justice internship, independent study, or a senior honor thesis. 

A transfer-friendly institution, UT provides an official transfer credit evaluation as part of the application process. The school also offers a variety of transfer scholarships and adult learner scholarships to online students. Graduates can pursue careers in corrections, law enforcement, and community service.

Graduation Rate
72%
Online Enrollment
30%
25

Middle Tennessee State University 

Murfreesboro, TN

About this school

Middle Tennessee State University offers more than 300 academic programs and awards $20 million in scholarships annually. Distance learners can pursue an online BS in criminal justice administration that features four tracks: 

Courts Disaster and Emergency Management Penology Security Management

The program also offers two concentrations: 

Homeland Security Law Enforcement

The 120-credit program includes general education, major core, track, minor, and elective coursework. Students take classes like prevention and control of crime, constitutional issues and criminal justice, and research methods with computer technology. Exceptional students who plan to pursue a master's in criminal justice can apply to MTSU's accelerated bachelor's/master's program, which allows learners to earn both degrees in an accelerated manner. 

First-year applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores and official transcripts. Transfer students must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA and submit official transcripts from all previously attended colleges. 

Graduation Rate
47%
Online Enrollment
10%
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Ranking Methodology

Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Programs Ranking Guidelines

Best Online Programs - Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

We selected these online criminal justice programs based on curriculum quality, faculty excellence, rankings, awards, and each school's reputation for providing quality online degrees.

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