Criminal justice programs explore major themes in law enforcement, court procedures, and corrections. Professionals with criminal justice degrees work as police officers, FBI agents, probation officers, emergency management specialists, and forensic science technicians. Many of these fields offer above-average compensation. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that law enforcement professionals draw mean annual salaries of nearly $60,000.
However, many federal law enforcement agencies prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor's degree. Along with greater job responsibilities and more career opportunities, a bachelor's degree in criminal justice often leads to increased earning potential.
Students pursuing an online criminal justice degree examine topics related to homeland security, forensic science, and criminology, acquiring fundamental knowledge along with specialized skills. Online criminal justice programs feature flexible schedules, making them ideal for working professionals seeking career advancement. Other candidates earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice before enrolling in law school. This article helps prospective criminal justice students find an online program that fits their interests, career goals, and budgets. Read on to learn more about employment and salary opportunities for graduates, common course offerings, and the country's best online bachelor's programs in criminal justice.
For more degree and career info, jump to:
- The Advantages of a Criminal Justice Education
- Criminal Justice Degree Salary Information
- Choosing an Online Criminal Justice Degree
- Criminal Justice Membership Associations
Best Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Programs
Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Degree Online Ranking Guidelines: We selected the following 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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The Best Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Degrees
1. Florida State University, Office of Distance Learning
Serving over 41,000 students, Florida State University offers 300 programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. FSU's college of criminology and criminal justice offers an online bachelor's degree in criminology for nontraditional students who need to balance other responsibilities with their studies. This online criminal justice degree prepares students for a variety of employment opportunities in law enforcement, security, and social work. It also provides a strong foundation for graduate work and law school.
Applicants must have completed FSU's liberal studies requirements or have already earned an associate degree from an accredited Florida college or university. This flexible, part-time program allows students to take courses asynchronously through the Blackboard learning management system. The program takes 3-4 years to complete and offers start dates every fall, spring, and summer semester. Distance learners must complete 36 credits of criminology-related courses. The degree also requires students to complete an internship, minor, or second major.
Criminology and criminal justice programs at FSU focus on research and policy. In addition, the college maintains a strong commitment to training law enforcement professionals through its association with the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy. This partnership enables students to earn their college degrees and state officer certifications simultaneously. Students also gain access to an academic adviser, technological support, and tutoring help.
Some online courses require students to purchase a course packet, which includes study guides, instructional media, and textbooks and other reading materials. Learners planning to enroll in this online program may not use independent living waivers, employee tuition waivers, or funds from the Florida Prepaid College Plan to cover tuition.
Florida State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
2. University of South Florida
The University of South Florida -- with a main campus in the Tampa Bay area -- serves over 50,000 students across 14 colleges. The school offers 80 undergraduate majors and 130 master's and doctoral programs. A 2019 U.S. News & World Report ranked USF among the nation's top public institutions.
USF established its bachelor of science in applied science (BSAS) with a concentration in criminal justice as a degree completion program for students who have finished an associate of science degree at a Florida community college or state school. This program, designed to maximize the number of transferrable credits for associate degree holders, allows students to bring in up to 60 credits. Participants must complete 60 additional credits to graduate with a four-year degree, including 24 in the criminal justice major.
The BSAS degree prepares graduates to enter positions in the court system, law enforcement, corrections, and probation and parole. Students must complete two required courses -- theories of criminal behavior and survey of the criminal justice system -- plus a senior capstone and 15 upper-division elective credits in areas such as critical issues in policing, domestic violence, and forensic psychology.
USF accepts applications on a rolling basis, allowing students to begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. Program applicants must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA and college-level courses must be completed with a "C-" or higher to qualify for transfer. Faculty use the Canvas learning management system to deliver fully online, asynchronous courses. Distance learners gain access an array of technological and tutoring support services.
The University of South Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
3. University of Central Florida
Established in 1968, the University of Central Florida now boasts a total enrollment of over 63,000 students across more than 200 undergraduate and graduate programs. Over 80% of the student body enrolls in at least one online or blended-learning course. UCF ranked 14th in a recent list published by U.S. News & World Report ranking the best online bachelor's programming.
Students interested in criminal justice may choose from two online options: a BA or a BS. Online learners enrolled in either option must complete 120 credits, including 30 credits of criminal justice foundational courses and a senior capstone course in ethics. Students must also complete 30 credits of restricted electives that cover many aspects of the contemporary criminal justice system, including:
- Cultural diversity in criminal justice
- Drugs and crime
- Human trafficking and criminal justice
- Criminal profiling
- Crime mapping and pattern analysis
Students may substitute an internship or independent directed study for up to six credits of upper-division electives.
The program offers both fully online asynchronous courses and courses with synchronous formats. UCF uses the Canvas learning management system, with most courses designed and taught by full-time faculty. Online learners gain full access to the same support services as campus-based students, including tutoring and writing assistance, library resources, career planning, and peer-assisted learning.
Program applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores, and transfer students must demonstrate a GPA of 2.0 or higher at previous institutions. Students may enroll full or part time and can start in the fall, spring, or summer term.
The University of Central Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
4. Florida International University
With an enrollment of over 54,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 11 schools and colleges, Florida International University ranks among the largest universities in the U.S. and boasts over 20 years of experience in online learning. About half of its current student body take at least one online course each year.
FIU's online bachelor of science in criminal justice prepares students for a variety careers in local law enforcement and government services, including homeland security, immigration and customs, the FBI, and the CIA. Graduates of this program also gain a strong foundation, suitable for attending law school or graduate programs in criminal justice.
The 120-credit BS in criminal justice requires foundational courses in the following areas:
- Comparative criminal justice systems
- Criminal justice and public policy
- Criminal justice and the constitution
- Criminological theory
- Measurement and analysis in criminal justice
The program features a synchronous format delivered through the Blackboard learning management system. Students log in for real-time instruction with faculty and students at specific times but can usually access course materials and assignments at their convenience. Each online learner partners with a personal success coach for academic support. Distance students can also access library resources, tutoring, and career guidance. Additionally, FIU provides 24/7 technological assistance, software resources, reading and learning support, and financial aid assistance.
Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
5. Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Established in 1766, Rutgers University is the eighth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Rutgers operates as a top-tier comprehensive public research university, serving over 49,000 undergraduates and 20,000 graduate and professional students through 29 schools and colleges. Nationally recognized for academic excellence and its commitment to supporting diversity in higher education, Rutgers ranks as the top university in the United States for campus and ethnic diversity among its student body, according to a recent ranking from U.S. News & World Report.
Rutgers Online -- established in 2015 -- currently offers 11 full-time online programs, including a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in criminal justice. Applicants to these online criminal justice programs must possess an associate degree from an accredited community college and meet specific course prerequisites. Students may enroll on a full-time or part-time basis. Rutgers Online offers fully online and hybrid course delivery through the Canvas learning management system. Distance learners also benefit from technological support and can access the same academic services as their campus-based peers.
These 120-credit degrees blend an academic foundation in the liberal arts with pre-professional training. In addition to foundational courses covering the criminal justice system, criminal procedure, and criminal law, students can take electives that address emerging challenges in fields, including human rights and legal remedies, victimology and domestic violence, and crimes against humanity. Program graduates can enter careers in law enforcement and the legal and justice systems or continue their education at the graduate level.
Rutgers University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
6. Central Methodist University - College of Graduate and Extended Studies
Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Central Methodist University welcomes students of all faiths. This four-year private university ranked 24th in a 2019 U.S. News & World Report list of best regional Midwest schools. CMU values liberal arts education as the foundation for professional training. Its college of graduate and extended studies (CGES) reflects this mission by offering both distance learning and off-campus programs to over 4,000 students, including an online bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in criminal justice.
Prior college credit is not required to apply to CGES's criminal justice programs, although most students transfer in some previously earned credits. The university maintains extensive transfer articulation agreements with community colleges in Missouri and surrounding states to help students further their education.
The BA and BS degrees both require 120 credits. Students in the BA program must complete 6-8 foreign language credits, while the BS degree requires 6-8 credits related to analytical skills, chosen from courses in computer applications, logic, research methodology, and math. Faculty deliver courses through a synchronous online format, and each course typically runs for eight weeks.
Students pursuing an online criminal justice degree also take a research-based capstone course, as well as foundational courses in criminal behavior and criminal law and procedures. Students may choose from several electives to help prepare for careers in fraud examination, police organization and management, and serial crime and profiling. The program encourages participants to complete internships to gain practical professional experience. Distance learners gain access to many student support resources, including academic advising, technological help, and career coaching.
Central Methodist University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
7. Ball State University
Located in Muncie, Indiana, Ball State University operates as a public research school, enrolling roughly 20,000 students across 190 undergraduate majors and 140 graduate and professional programs. One of the first universities in the U.S. to develop distance learning courses, Ball State introduced its first fully online degree in 1999. The university now offers over 70 online degrees, including a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in criminal justice.
Online criminal justice degrees require 120 credits. Students may qualify to apply transfer credits based on previous military service, law enforcement training, or work experience in other criminal justice settings, thereby reducing the time needed to graduate. Students in the major complete a set of core courses, including:
- Criminal procedures
- Law and ethics
- Research methods
- Race, gender, and crime
- Data analysis and evaluation
All seniors take a required capstone course that applies their academic knowledge to a practical area of criminal justice. Popular electives include juvenile justice and community corrections.
Ball State uses a fully asynchronous course delivery format, providing ample flexibility and convenience to learners with family or work obligations. Distance learners can access a variety of resources, including a dedicated online librarian, interlibrary loan services, and technological help. Ball State offers students Microsoft Office software and antivirus protection at no additional cost, as well as discounts on Adobe software. Students may also purchase PC and Mac computers through the university at a reduced rate.
Ball State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Its criminal justice department holds accreditation from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS).
8. LeTourneau University
LeTourneau University offers two-year and four-year degrees in over 140 programs. This nondenominational Christian university serves a student body of more than 3,000 at its main campus in Longview, Texas. LETU also provides classes online and through its satellite campuses to another 1,100 students.
LETU offers a fully online bachelor of science in criminal justice with concentrations in criminal justice management, human trafficking, and homeland security. This online criminal justice degree follows an accelerated, five-week format. Classes typically begin on Mondays with assignments due on Fridays.
The undergraduate curriculum reflects the school's strong Christian mission. All students must complete 12 credits of theology and vocation courses as part of the 129 credits required to earn a degree. Students also take 36 credits in the following subjects:
- Justice and human rights
- Constitutional criminal procedure
- Police and the community
- Corrections and restorative justice
- Personal and professional ethics
All seniors complete a final capstone course emphasizing personal and professional ethics. Coursework prepares students to enter careers in law enforcement, investigation, and social services. The major also provides the skills required to attend law school or pursue other advanced graduate study.
Veterans, active duty military, and law enforcement personnel may satisfy some degree requirements based on prior learning credits earned through military experience or police training. LETU offers the same tuition rate to out-of-state and in-state distance learners. Program applicants must hold a GPA of at least 2.0 and have earned a "C" or higher to earn transfer credit.
LeTourneau University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
9. Colorado State University - Global Campus
Greenwood Village, Colorado
Established in 2007 as the first online state university, Colorado State University's Global Campus serves nontraditional students and working professionals. Its fully online bachelor's in criminal justice requires 120 credits, including the following core courses:
- Law enforcement and American policing
- Introduction to crime and deviance
- Research methods for the criminal justice professional
- Ethics for the criminal justice professional
- Capstone application of criminal justice knowledge and skills
Students already employed in criminal justice fields may earn credits through a practicum course, which helps learners apply their newly acquired academic knowledge in professional settings. This online degree also permits students to pursue specializations in 20 areas, including criminal forensics, emergency management, and data analysis.
This online criminal justice degree uses an asynchronous course delivery format based on eight-week terms. Online learners enjoy 24/7 access to courses and instructional material. The university also provides extensive student services, including technological support, tutoring, and career planning. Its support team even assists students with health and wellness issues and provides strategies for better work-life balance.
All students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of their state of residency. The university also guarantees that tuition rates will not increase as long as a learner maintains enrollment. Faculty deliver all distance courses entirely online with no campus attendance requirements. Learners may transfer up to 90 credits from other accredited institutions toward their bachelor's degree if they hold a minimum GPA of 2.3.
Colorado State University-Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10. Arizona State University - Tempe
Arizona State University offers 350 degree options for undergraduate students and more than 400 graduate degree and certificate programs. The school's bachelor of science in criminology and criminal justice ranked among the top five criminology programs in the nation, according to a 2018 ranking by U.S. News & World Report.
This 120-credit degree comprises 40 classes, offered in 7.5-week terms. Fast-track options allow qualified students to complete all requirements in 30 months (three academic years). The program emphasizes research and analytical skills, preparing students for careers in criminal justice systems, law enforcement, corrections, and corporate security. Many program graduates also opt to pursue law degrees or graduate work in criminal justice or a related social science. Course offerings cover many aspects of contemporary criminal justice, including community justice, domestic violence, gangs, and white-collar crime.
Undergraduate degree requirements include a solutions-based learning course, which integrates academic knowledge with practical applications. The program also encourages participants to complete internships.
This online criminal justice degree uses both asynchronous and synchronous course delivery formats through the Blackboard learning management system. ASU provides a 24/7 technology help desk, which students can contact by telephone or online chat. Current students also receive access to Microsoft 365 at no extra cost.
ASU offers the same tuition rate to all online students, no matter where they reside. Program applicants may transfer up to 64 credits from community college, and ASU guarantees admission to students who have earned an associate degree with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students can select between six available start dates throughout the year.
Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
11. Brandman University
Established in 1958 and re-branded as Brandman University in 2009, this California-based institution focuses on providing educational opportunities to nontraditional adult learners. Its five schools feature over 80 academic programs, including a bachelor of arts in criminal justice.
Students pursuing Brandman's BA in criminal justice choose between two formats: a fully online program, which uses self-paced and synchronous course delivery through Blackboard, and a hybrid option, which combines distance learning with required on-campus evening courses. Students take classes throughout the year through six eight-week terms.
The 120-credit BA requires 48 credits in core criminal justice courses, including:
- Foundations of law
- Ethics in criminal justice
- Gangs and gang behavior
- Homeland security
- White-collar crime
The degree prepares graduates for potential careers in law enforcement, corrections, social services, and emergency management. Brandman provides extensive support services to help ensure the academic success of nontraditional students. At the time of application, students receive guidance from enrollment coaches about major programs, admissions requirements, and financial aid. Once enrolled, learners work with academic advisers and can participate in live online workshops to improve their skills in technology, writing, and math.
Applicants interested in pursuing a hybrid or online criminal justice degree must hold 12 or more transferable credits from a regionally accredited institution, earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA. In-state and out-of-state residents pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Long recognized as a military-friendly school, Brandman offers up to 46 transfer credits for military experience. Additionally, veterans and active duty military members and their spouses may apply for reduced tuition.
Brandman University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
12. University of Oklahoma - Norman
Established in 1890, the University of Oklahoma enrolls over 31,000 graduate and undergraduate students. Its extended campus primarily serves working adults, veterans and military personnel, and other learners seeking specialized professional studies. The university's bachelor of science in criminal justice offers a rigorous, fast-paced degree for nontraditional learners.
Students pursuing this accelerated BS degree take courses through five eight-week sessions each year. Students who transfer previously earned credits may finish in 18 months, though most participants graduate in 2-3 years. Learners can choose between five start dates each year.
This 120-credit, fully online criminal justice degree requires 30 credits of core courses, including:
- Theories of criminal behavior
- American judicial processes
- Police and policing
- The American correctional system
- Juvenile delinquency
Students choose between four concentration options in administrative leadership, homeland security, restorative justice, or criminal investigation and intelligence analysis.
OU's extended campus accepts up to 60 transfer credits from accredited four-year schools. In-state residents pay significantly lower tuition than students from outside Oklahoma. However, the school offers military and homeland security tuition waivers for nonresidents who can document their affiliation with the armed forces or previous work experience with law enforcement, corrections, or homeland security.
The University of Oklahoma is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
13. Texas A&M University - Central Texas
Established in 2009, Texas A&M University - Central Texas offers online and on-campus programs that administer 38 bachelor's degrees, 17 master's degrees, and several professional certifications. As an upper-level institution emphasizing access and affordability, the university maintains articulation agreements with many regional community colleges to facilitate the transfer of credits.
Texas A&M University - Central Texas primarily serves nontraditional students, many of whom enroll part time. Additionally, because of its proximity to Fort Hood in Killeen, the university attracts many active-duty military members, veterans, and military dependents.
Students interested in earning online criminal justice undergraduate degrees prepare for careers in expanding fields, such as law enforcement and corrections, the court system, and parks and wildlife management. Applicants must transfer in at least 30 college-level credits earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
This BS in criminal justice offers specializations in homeland security, forensic investigations, supervision and management, and crime theory. Students must complete 120 credits, including general education courses and major courses in criminal evidence, police systems and practices, and criminal justice supervision and management.
Additionally, the school recently introduced a fully online bachelor of applied arts and science in criminal justice. This degree serves as a transfer pathway for students who have earned an associate degree in applied science and want to advance their career opportunities in law enforcement, corrections, and related fields. Students entering this 120-credit program may transfer in up to 33 credits based on certifications and professional training.
Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
14. Dallas Baptist University
Established in 1898 as Decatur Baptist College, Dallas Baptist University has evolved into a comprehensive private institution offering 78 undergraduate programs and 33 master's and doctoral degrees. Through its affiliation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, DBU attempts to integrate academic training with faith-based service.
DBU developed its first distance learning options in 1998 and now offers 71 fully online programs to over 1,800 students. DBU describes its distance learning programs as Christ-centered eLearning, incorporating technologies into a flexible academic environment. Online courses use mobile platforms, web conferencing, and media on demand. All distance learners enrolled in these online programs pay the same tuition rate, regardless of their state of residency.
DBU's online bachelor of arts and sciences in criminal justice requires a total of 120 credits, including the following core criminal justice courses:
- Crime in America
- Fundamentals of criminal law
- The courts and criminal procedure
- Ethics in law enforcement
- Research methods
Students may choose electives in popular areas, such as juvenile delinquency, economic crime, human trafficking, and homeland and organizational security. In addition to coursework, students complete internships to gain practical experience in law enforcement, corrections, and the court and legal systems.
Dallas Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
15. Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, North Carolina
Established in 1889 as a teaching college, Western Carolina University has grown into a major institution within the University of North Carolina System, currently serving over 11,000 students. WCU offers 15 undergraduate and 40 graduate programs, including a bachelor of science in criminal justice. Applicants to WCU's criminal justice online program must meet a fairly rigorous set of entrance requirements; the program only accepts students with one or more year's experience working in a criminal justice field, and all applicants must have earned an associate degree from an accredited community college.
This BS in criminal justice prepares students for a variety of professional careers in fields such as law enforcement, corrections, and emergency services. The degree also provides an academic foundation for law school or graduate work in criminal justice or a related field. This online criminal justice degree requires at least 120 credits, including 42 in liberal studies, 29 in general electives, and 49 in the criminal justice major. Popular electives include:
- Geographic information systems and criminal justice
- Minorities, crime, and social policy
- Homeland security
Students synchronous and asynchronous courses through the Blackboard learning management system. WCU demonstrates a commitment to student success by providing many resources and support services. Distance learners receive access to the Microsoft Office Suite at no additional cost. Online students can also request academic assistance from the Brainfuse HelpNow tutoring service, a writing and learning commons, and a math tutoring center.
Western Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
16. Regis University
One of 28 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Regis University serves 7,900 students in 132 undergraduate and graduate programs. This Colorado-based institution ranked 26th in a 2019 U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best regional universities in the Western states.
Regis currently supports 80 online programs, including a bachelor of science in criminology. This online degree track, which serves nontraditional students with some undergraduate credit and related work experience, offers a flexible and convenient pathway to a bachelor's degree. Students take courses in accelerated five- and eight-week terms. While not a self-paced program, the synchronous schedule provides some flexibility and does not usually require on-campus meetings.
The BS degree requires 120 credits of general core and foundational courses, upper-division major requirements, and electives. Coursework addresses major issues in contemporary criminal justice, including:
- Computer forensics and cybercrime
- Sexual homicide
- Homeland security
- Perspectives on terrorism
Catering to working professionals and nontraditional adult learners seeking to expand their career options, the program requires applicants to hold a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and some work experience in criminology or criminal justice fields. Regis uses rolling admission with six start dates throughout the year. In-state and out-of-state online students pay the same tuition rate.
Distance learners gain full access to advising, tutoring, and technological support. All online students register for the WorldClass Orientation as soon as they enroll; this orientation teaches new learners how to navigate the course management system and use discussion boards, email, and other web-based learning features.
Regis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
17. University of Massachusetts - Amherst
The University of Massachusetts Amherst -- the flagship school of the University of Massachusetts System -- enrolls over 30,000 students each year in a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. U.S. News & World Report ranked UMass Amherst the 26th-best institution in its 2019 list of the best public colleges.
UMass Amherst, through its University Without Walls (UWW) department, offers degree completion pathways for nontraditional students. Its bachelor of arts with criminal justice concentrations gives students the flexibility to design a personalized study program in an accelerated and online format. Adult learners, including working professionals seeking opportunities for career advancement and students just entering the field, acquire the knowledge and skills needed to pursue careers in law enforcement, corrections, homeland security, and social services.
In their first semester, students work with a degree-planning instructor to develop areas of concentration and create a course map to successfully navigate graduation requirements. UWW offers this program completely online using the Blackboard Learn platform. Students may take the four required core courses in a blended format, and most learners take two courses per semester.
Applicants interested in pursuing this online criminal justice degree must transfer in at least 12 credits earned with a minimum GPA of 2.0. Additionally, they may not have previously earned a bachelor's degree from any U.S. institution. Admitted students may receive up to 105 credits based on prior coursework (transferred from accredited colleges), previous learning or training, and/or qualifying work-related and life experiences. UMass Amherst charges all UWW distance learners the same tuition and fees, regardless of their state of residency.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
18. Liberty University Online
Liberty University -- located in Lynchburg, Virginia -- enrolls over 100,000 students in its on-campus and online programs. This Christian institution, grounded in evangelical teachings and values, began offering distance learning in 1985. Now, tens of thousands of students take courses in over 250 online programs.
The fully online bachelor of science in criminal justice, offered by Liberty's school of government, uses asynchronous course delivery and eight-week sessions. Faculty deliver classes through the Blackboard learning management system. Liberty admits students on a rolling basis, offering eight start dates throughout the year. Its flexible online format may appeal to working professionals from all areas of law enforcement and criminal justice, as well as other adult learners who need to manage personal responsibilities while finishing their degree.
The program emphasizes constitutional, procedural, and organizational aspects of the criminal justice system, featuring coursework in key areas like ethics, juvenile justice, and terrorism. Distance learners can choose from several specializations, including homeland security, strategic intelligence, and crime scene investigation.
Liberty allows students to transfer up to 75% of the 120 credits required for graduation. Most students complete the degree in about 3.5 years, although program length varies depending on an individual's transferrable credits. Service members and veterans may receive credit based on military training and experience. Liberty provides distance learners with electronic textbooks at no additional cost and offers discounts for law enforcement professionals; first responders; and military personnel, veterans, and their spouses.
Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
19. University of South Dakota
Vermillion, South Dakota
The University of South Dakota offers fully online bachelor of arts and bachelor of science programs in criminal justice. These highly flexible degrees prepare students for career paths in public safety, including law enforcement, child welfare, corrections, and private investigation. After completing foundational coursework in areas such as criminology and criminal procedure, you may choose to personalize your learning through electives such as:
- Social Deviance
- National Security Policy
- Justice and Compassion
- White Collar Crime
- Community Corrections
Each student must also complete a capstone project during their senior year. This project can involve conducting and summarizing original research or completing field experience with a criminal justice organization in your community.
The university's Farber Fund makes more than $100,000 available each year to criminal justice majors. Students can use this funding to attend conferences, participate in experiential learning trips or internships, or collect research for their capstone projects. In addition, the university offers several different scholarships to prospective criminal justice students, including the Fraternal Order of Police Scholarship for the children of law enforcement officials and the Jeff Scott Memorial Scholarship for sophomores who excel academically, during the first year of their undergraduate studies.
Online students at the University of South Dakota learn from the same faculty members who teach on-campus classes, but they can watch lectures and complete assignments entirely on their own schedules. Distance learners also benefit from web-based services, such as online tutoring and academic advising.
The University of South Dakota is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
20. Washington State University
At WSU, students can earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice entirely online. Drawing on faculty expertise from both criminal justice scholarship and practice, the program equips you with the skills and knowledge needed to enter a career in law enforcement or to continue your education at the graduate level.
Criminal justice students at WSU begin their undergraduate studies by completing the UCORE, a prescribed slate of general education courses covering topics including the roots of contemporary social issues, quantitative reasoning, and written communication. Within their major, first-year and sophomore students also take foundational classes in areas such as crime control policy and criminological theory. During their third and fourth years, students can explore specialized topics through electives like:
- Violence Toward Women
- Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
- Realizing Justice in a Multicultural Society
- Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice Administration
- Juvenile Delinquency
Students preparing for law school or a master's in criminal justice may also select coursework in research methods, while those looking to develop practical experience might work with program coordinators to find a relevant internship.
Online learners at WSU pay the same as those who study on campus, though Washington residents receive an in-state tuition discount. Military veterans, and the spouses and dependents of disabled or deceased public safety personnel, may also qualify for substantial tuition waivers and stipends to help offset the cost of books and other course materials.
Washington State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
21. Crown College
St. Bonifacius, Minnesota
Crown College, a Christian institution in Minnesota, offers one of the nation's best online criminal justice degrees. In addition to the program's flexible asynchronous format, criminal justice students at Crown can double major in a related field to give themselves even greater adaptability in a quickly evolving job market. Students can seek a second major in the following areas:
- Drug and Alcohol Counseling
- Disaster and Emergency Management
- Christian Ministry
Each student in this program may also pursue a minor in law enforcement. Through coursework aligned with common Peace Officer Standards and Training requirements, this minor prepares you to quickly embark on a career as a police officer, sheriff's deputy, or corrections official.
Distance learners at Crown can access the same support services as on-campus students, like tutoring, career counseling, and a dedicated academic adviser. Crown also makes financial aid opportunities available to online students, including a scholarship for military personnel and a grant to students who receive a referral from Crown alums.
Crown College also accepts transfer credits from all regionally and nationally accredited institutions, as well as several partner Bible colleges and ministerial programs. You may transfer up to 50% of the credits required for a bachelor's degree, so long as you maintain a 2.0 GPA in these classes. Students pursuing an online criminal justice degree may also receive undergraduate credit for prior military or law enforcement experience.
Crown College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
22. University of Mary
Bismark, North Dakota
The University of Mary's wholly online bachelor's program in criminal justice makes it easy to balance your studies with a full-time job or family responsibilities. Classes begin every five weeks, so you can begin the program at whatever time of year proves most convenient for you. Asynchronous courses also allow students to watch lectures and complete assignments on their own schedules and from the comfort of their homes. The program's accelerated option enables students to earn their degrees in as few as 30 months.
After completing general education and foundational criminal justice classes, students prepare for careers through a diverse slate of electives, including:
- Dynamics of Addiction
- Abnormal Psychology
- Deviant Behavior
- Constitutional Law
- State and Local Government Administration
The University of Mary also offers several scholarships and tuition discounts to help students finance their education. For example, the Sister Thomas Welder Leadership Scholarship provides funding to students based on academic achievement in their previous year of undergraduate study, and the Catholic Scholars Program supports first-year students with financial need. The university also participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, making additional funds available to military personnel, veterans, and their families.
To apply to the program, students must hold high school diplomas or GEDs. Applicants must also submit results from either the SAT or ACT, though the university does not set a minimum score for these entrance exams. Transfer students may also receive a free evaluation of their previously earned college credits.
The University of Mary is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
23. North Greenville University
Tigerville, South Carolina
Students at NGU may pursue on-campus, blended, or fully online bachelor's degrees in criminal justice. Online students can also choose to complete coursework asynchronously or engage with their instructors and classmates directly through a live virtual classroom.
NGU faculty members present the theories of criminal justice from a Christian worldview, preparing their students to become values-driven leaders in fields such as law enforcement, corrections, homeland security, and emergency management. In addition to core classes in biblical studies and literature, the program lays a foundation in criminal justice ethics, the principles of investigations, and terrorism.
You can also choose from a list of seminars that pertain to your professional goals. For example, students interested in attending law school may participate in a seminar on research design and analysis within criminal justice; those looking for a job immediately after graduation can take a seminar on networking strategies in the public safety sector. NGU also encourages students to complete internships at partner organizations in South Carolina or criminal justice agencies in their communities.
To apply to NGU, each student must submit their high school transcripts and an application fee. NGU does not require prospective students to submit standardized test scores, though transfer students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA in their previous undergraduate courses to receive credit.
North Greenville University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
24. University of North Texas
At UNT, students can earn online bachelor's degrees in criminal justice on their own terms. For example, UNT offers all classes in this program asynchronously, allowing learners to watch lectures and complete assignments at any time and from any place. Students may also set the pace of their learning, giving them the freedom to earn their degree as quickly as they want.
Along with foundational coursework in criminal justice and human psychology, UNT offers a rich set of elective classes to prepare students for careers in specialized fields. Electives include:
- Computer Crime
- Organized Crime
- World Criminal Justice Systems
- Serial Homicide
- International Terrorism
In addition to learning from the same faculty as on-campus students, online learners can access the same academic and career services. UNT matches each distance student with an academic adviser to create a personalized course of study. The school's learning center offers in-person and online workshops on subjects such as speed reading, time management, and study skills. Their career center also matches students with internship and mentorship opportunities throughout Texas.
Transfer students seeking an online criminal justice bachelor degree may also receive credit from prior coursework at an accredited institution or relevant professional experience. Transfer students can also apply for the J. Edgar Hoover Scholarship, which provides funding to finish a criminal justice undergraduate degree at UNT.
The University of North Texas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
25. University of Massachusetts - Lowell
UMass Lowell offers a fully accredited online criminal justice degree that combines high-quality liberal arts instruction with advanced training in areas like victimology, criminal justice technology, and security management. Students also learn from criminal justice scholars and practitioners in specialized fields such as:
- Criminal Profiling
- Hate Crime
- Criminal Mind and Behavior
- Child Maltreatment
- Intimate Partner Crime
The 120-credit program also features a joint bachelor's and master's accelerated track, allowing you to begin earning graduate credit while still enrolled as an undergraduate student. To earn a degree, students must maintain an overall GPA of at least 2.2 and a GPA of at least 2.5 in their criminal justice coursework.
Featuring full-time faculty with ongoing experience in law enforcement, corrections, and public safety, UMass Lowell's criminal justice program has received top national rankings from U.S. News & World Report.
Online students at UMass Lowell pay the same per-credit tuition rate whether they live in Massachusetts or not. They may also apply for many of the same financial aid opportunities as on-campus students, including the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship for students whose parents died while serving as public safety officers, the Hoff Scholarship for students who excel academically and demonstrate financial need, and the Transfer Scholarship for students who seek to complete their bachelor's degrees at UMass Lowell.
The University of Massachusetts-Lowell is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).
26. Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Regent University, a private Christian school in Virginia, boasts one of the nation's top online criminal justice degree programs. Eight-week courses, multiple start dates, and asynchronous access to lectures and assignments make this program ideal for working professionals, single parents, and other students who need the ability to study on their own schedule.
After completing coursework in areas like biblical studies, microeconomics, and world history, you can choose from one of the four following criminal justice specializations:
- Law Enforcement
- Homeland Security
- Individualized Study (recommended for students seeking entry into law or graduate school)
Each concentration begins with foundational classes in ethics, theories, and procedures. As you advance through your program, you can begin to select topics to explore more deeply, including a comparison of world criminal justice systems, constitutional law, or the management of disaster response teams. Every student, whether preparing for graduate school or a professional role, must complete a seminar on academic writing and a field experience.
In addition to flexibility, Regent's criminal justice programs offer exceptional quality. In 2017, Roughly 90% of Regent's faculty members hold a terminal degree in their field.
While Regent does not provide academic or financial need scholarships to undergraduate criminal justice students, active duty military personnel, reservists, and veterans can receive significant tuition discounts and vouchers for books and course materials.
Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
27. Drury University
Drury University's online criminal justice degree program teaches students how to analyze, investigate, and prevent criminal behavior. Equipped with an understanding of the prevailing theories and best practices in the field of public safety, graduates of this program embark on careers as scholars, government officials, and law enforcement agents.
To earn their bachelor's degrees, students must complete a total of 120 credits. The program requires a minimum of 45 credits of general education classes through which students explore topics such as business communication, the natural sciences, and mathematics. Students then earn at least another 42 credits in their criminal justice core, learning about subjects like law and society and the principles of forensic science. For the remainder of their credits, students choose from elective classes in white collar crime, the death penalty, and the judicial process.
All students must also complete a senior seminar. This capstone course involves researching an issue in contemporary criminal justice, allowing you to hone your analytical and critical thinking skills -- whether you plan to apply to graduate school or enter the job market immediately after earning your degree.
Drury provides several financial aid opportunities for its students. For example, online learners who maintain at least a 3.0 GPA during their undergraduate studies can apply for a variety of scholarships, including the Archie and Marion Russell Scholarship. Drury also offers significant aid to transfer students. An applicant with at least 30 hours of prior college coursework and a transfer GPA of 3.6 or higher may qualify to receive up to $13,000 per year in scholarship funding.
Drury University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
28. Georgia Southern University
At Georgia Southern, students can pursue a fully online and asynchronous bachelor of interdisciplinary studies. In consultation with an academic adviser, students select three areas of concentration to personalize their learning and prepare for specific careers. A student interested in becoming a police officer or border security agent, for example, might choose criminal justice, sociology, and public administration as their three areas of study.
Within the criminal justice area of study, students can further customize their curricula by choosing elective classes in subjects like:
- Corporate Crime
- Community-Based Supervision and Treatment
- Popular Culture and Justice
- Hackers, Malware, and Online Economic Crime
Online students may also select full semester classes, seven-week "minimesters," or four- and eight-week summer sessions to offer even more flexibility to working professionals and students who need to arrange their learning around family responsibilities. If you instead want to combine the convenience of online education with the support of a more traditional classroom experience, Georgia Southern also offers a blended option for the bachelor's in interdisciplinary studies.
Georgia Southern proudly welcomes members of the military looking to transition into careers in civilian law enforcement. Active duty personnel, for example, receive the equivalent of in-state tuition and a waiver for all fees associated with distance learning. Veterans and military family members receive similar discounts and personalized support to help make the best use of their GI Bill® benefits.
Georgia Southern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
29. SUNY College at Oswego
Oswego, New York
SUNY Oswego gives you the chance to complete a bachelor's degree in criminal justice entirely online, making it an ideal choice for students who put their undergraduate studies on hold for professional or personal reasons. To apply to the program, you must already hold an associate degree or at least 40 transferable credits from an accredited college or university.
Criminal justice majors develop foundational knowledge and skills through core coursework in police administration, theories of crime, and criminal justice research methods. After this introduction to the field, students enjoy the freedom to choose from a long list of electives, including:
- Criminalistic Chemistry
- The Study of Homicide and Lethal Violence
- Latinos and the Criminal Justice System
- Victimization Across the Life Span
- Gangs in American Society
Online students also receive access to a rich network of support services and programs. For example, distance learners at SUNY Oswego receive web-based tutoring and academic writing guidance, participate in remote consultations with research librarians and career advisers, and can even make online appointments with mental health counselors to deal with issues like stress, anxiety, or depression.
Prospective students living in the state of New York may also apply for the Excelsior Scholarship, a program that covers the full cost of tuition and fees for students who meet certain academic requirements and demonstrate financial need.
SUNY Oswego is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
30. Missouri State University
Whether you hope to become a federal law enforcement agent, parole officer, or child welfare investigator, Missouri State University-Springfield's online bachelor's in criminal justice equips you with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in your career. The program also features elective courses in research methods and academic writing, proving essential for those students who plan to seek a master's degree.
Missouri State encourages all of its criminal justice students, even those studying at a distance, to complete internships. These experiential learning opportunities allow students to learn more about the realities of their chosen field, grow their professional network, and gain invaluable work experience for their resumes. Students must complete roughly 50 hours at their internships to receive one credit, and the program's internship coordinator helps online students identify placements at nonprofit and government agencies in their own communities.
To apply to Missouri State, you must hold a high school diploma or GED and submit results from either the SAT or the ACT. The university admits students based on a combination of these two factors. For example, if you maintained a 3.5 GPA in high school, you need to only score a 17 on the ACT. A student who maintained only a 3.25 GPA, however, would need an ACT score of 19 to earn admission. After you complete 75 credits of general education coursework, you can apply to join the criminal justice program.
Missouri State University-Springfield is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
31. Rowan University
Glassboro, New Jersey
Rowan University offers a fully online bachelor's degree completion program in law and justice. To apply, you must already hold an associate degree or at least 24 hours of transferable credits from an accredited college or university. Prospective students must also maintain minimum GPAs of 2.0 in their prior undergraduate courses.
Once admitted, students take foundational coursework preparing them for careers in law enforcement, court and security services, corrections, and human services. They may then further specialize through elective classes in areas like:
- Theories of Crime and Criminality
- Sentencing and the Rights of the Convicted
- International Terrorism
Those students who hope to apply to graduate school after earning their bachelor's also benefit from taking courses in criminal justice research and writing-intensive seminars on contemporary issues in law and justice. In lieu of an internship at a criminal justice organization, an online student may choose to write a research paper or participate in an independent study with a faculty member in the criminal justice department.
Rowan offers all of its online programs in accelerated and asynchronous formats, meaning you can advance through your studies as soon as you demonstrate mastery of the material. Distance learners may instead choose to join a cohort of students, using online discussion boards and chat rooms to engage with and learn alongside their classmates. In addition, all students receive access to online tutoring, academic advising, and career support services.
Rowan University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
32. Sam Houston State University
U.S. News & World Report ranked the online criminal justice degree program at SHSU as one of the best in the nation. In addition, the Journal of Criminal Justice Education recognized SHSU faculty as the country's most productive researchers in their field. Whether seeking their degree online or on campus, students at SHSU receive exceptional preparation for careers as criminal justice professionals and scholars.
After completing their general education core, criminal justice majors shape their course of study through electives in:
- Global Terrorism
- Fire Investigation
- Child Abuse and Neglect
- Violent Offenders
The program also boasts a leading internship program, giving students the chance to develop practical experience and professional connections at organizations like Interpol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and local police departments throughout the country. Online students can find local internship sites or complete research projects to meet this requirement.
Students attending the SHSU College of Criminal Justice may also apply for more than 40 scholarships to help pay for their undergraduate degree. For example, the Brandon Ashley Memorial Scholarship provides funding to seniors planning to begin a career in law enforcement, and the George J. Beto Memorial Scholarship supports international students, students of color, first-generation applicants, and women with demonstrated financial need. Reservists and active duty military personnel may also qualify for aid totaling the full amount of in-state tuition and fees.
Sam Houston State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
33. California State University - San Bernardino
San Bernardino, California
California State University-San Bernardino's online degree completion program in criminal justice gives you the training and knowledge you need to find a job or advance in your career. To enter the program, you must first earn at least 60 transferable credits from a community college or accredited university, including the equivalent of two introductory courses in criminal law and criminal justice systems. You must also maintain at least a 2.7 GPA during your prior college coursework.
Admitted students can begin taking classes in the fall, spring, or summer. Each course lasts just five weeks, meaning you can arrange your studies around busy seasons at work or your child's academic calendar. In addition, asynchronous courses allow you to watch lectures and complete assignments at any time from any location with an internet connection.
After completing your general education coursework and foundational classes in criminal justice theory and statistics, you can choose from an expansive catalog of electives, including:
- Occupational and Corporate Crime
- Forensic Profiling
- Domestic Violence and the Criminal Justice System
- Justice and the Media
- Environmental Crime Prevention
Each student must also take a capstone seminar on race and racism, an interdisciplinary course that equips them with the tools to understand the concepts of prejudice and privilege and better communicate across racial boundaries.
California State University-San Bernardino is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
34. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
SAGU offers a highly flexible and affordable online criminal justice degree. In addition to the ability to complete all classes in this program 100% online and asynchronously, SAGU offers a 15% tuition reduction to online students. For a full-time student pursuing a bachelor's, this translates to substantial savings.
The program introduces students to core criminal justice theories and concepts from a Christian perspective. Alongside general education and biblical studies classes, criminal justice majors learn about subjects such as the analysis of police operations, security management, and criminal justice ethics. They also prepare for specific career paths through electives like:
- Advanced Penology
- Forensic Social Work
- Delinquent Behavior and Rehabilitation
- Addictive Behavior and Recovery
Each criminal justice student must also earn American Red Cross certification in CPR and first aid and complete a field practicum. This field experience may involve an internship at a local law enforcement agency or an action research project on a criminal justice issue in your community.
On top of tuition discounts, SAGU also administers scholarship programs to help ensure students graduate with as little debt as possible. For example, online undergraduate students may apply for a Presidential Scholarship to receive thousands in financial aid. Transfer students also qualify for scholarships, though they must maintain GPAs of at least a 3.0 in their prior college coursework.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
35. York College
Founded in 1890 by the United Brethren Church, York College in Nebraska offers students a Christian-based education. Since 1956, YC has been affiliated with the Churches of Christ. It transitioned from a junior college to a four-year institution in 1988.
YC offers an interdisciplinary criminal justice bachelor's degree through the its division of professional programs. York's criminal justice program prepares students to pursue careers immediately after graduation or for further studies at the graduate level in areas such as law or social science. True to its Christian roots, the college's teachings combine criminal justice theories and practices with Christian ethics.
This bachelor's degree in criminal justice comprises 120 credits, and criminal justice transfer students must complete a minimum of 32 credits at YC. Students must earn a "C" or above in all criminal justice courses. Coursework includes topics such as criminal investigation; ethics and the criminal justice system; courts and courtroom procedures; and probation, pardon, and parole.
This bachelor's degree in criminal justice remains a primarily on-campus program. However, the department offers a rotation of online courses every semester. Faculty deliver many of these online courses asynchronously.
York College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS).
36. University of Missouri - St. Louis
Saint Louis, Missouri
A diverse university occupying 470 acres in the suburbs of St. Louis county, the University of Missouri St. Louis enrolls 17,000 students from 44 states and more than 100 countries. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the school 29th in its list of best online bachelor's programs.
USML offers several online degrees, including an online criminal justice degree through its NOW Program. Online students can access tutoring, career counseling, and writing assistance through an online mentor program. Faculty deliver many online courses asynchronously. Students can follow an accelerated pace with eight-week courses or a traditional 16-week course structure. The NOW Program offers a generous transfer credit policy, allowing students to expedite graduation. The school offers its bachelor's in criminology and criminal justice program fully online or in a blended format.
In addition to general education requirements, USML's online criminal justice degree features 37 credits of core criminology coursework. Students enroll in classes that cover topics such as criminal law, criminal justice policy, theories of crime, policing, and corrections. The curriculum draws from other disciplines with a strong connection to criminal justice, such as social science, law, and public administration. Students must also complete an internship prior to graduation and maintain a 2.0 GPA in all major courses to earn their degree.
The University of Missouri St. Louis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
37. Midway University
Midway University began as the Kentucky Female Orphan School in 1847 and was the first school in the country to serve disadvantaged and orphaned women. Through the years, the school evolved to become a high school, junior college, four-year college, and, finally, an accredited university in 2015. The university retains its affiliation with the Disciples of Christ -- a connection that goes back to its founding days. About 90% of students at the school receive some type of financial assistance.
Midway University offers an online criminal justice bachelor's degree without any campus requirements. The program comprises 120 credits and includes 41-47 credits in the major. Courses include topics such as criminological theory, police ethics, interrogation principles and practice, and forensic psychology. The degree requires a capstone project, which allows students to apply classroom theories to actual criminal justice problems.
Just like on-campus students, online enrollees enjoy access to Midway University's student services, including online tutoring and career assistance from the school's career readiness service center. The university also organizes several digital and onsite workshops throughout the year to enhance student learning. Midway University maintains a generous transfer policy, and students can earn up to 21 credits based on prior work or learning experiences.
Midway University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
38. Middle Tennessee State University
Middle Tennessee State University began as a teacher-training institution in 1911 with 19 faculty members and 125 students. It acquired full university status in 1965. MTSU currently comprises six schools, enrolls about 22,000 students, and boasts over 900 faculty members.
The university offers an online bachelor of science degree in criminal justice administration through its college of behavioral and health sciences. Students can choose between two concentration areas: law enforcement and homeland security. Learners who do not select an official concentration can focus on courts, disaster and emergency management, penology, or security management.
The university's online criminal justice degree includes 120 credits and takes four years of full-time study to complete. The program requires students to earn 48 credits in the major. Participants enroll in classes that cover traditional criminal justice topics, such as criminal law, ethics in criminal justice, intelligence analysis, and probation and parole. The program also offers coursework on emerging criminal justice issues, such as cybercrime and digital security.
The school maintains an extensive internship program for criminal justice students who receive on-the-job training in different criminal justice sectors, including at probation and parole offices, juvenile and drug courts, and various state and federal agencies. The school participates in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway program, which helps students maximize their transfer credits. Learners can also take advantage of MTSU's prior learning assessment program to earn college credits for relevant experience and knowledge.
Middle Tennessee State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
39. Tarleton State University
Established in 1899, Tarleton State University joined the Texas A&M University System in 1917. Tarleton currently oversees 67 undergraduate degrees, 26 master's degrees, 41 certification programs, two associate degrees, and a doctoral degree in education leadership.
Tarleton offers an online criminal justice bachelor's degree through its global campus. The program follows a curriculum that bridges classroom instruction and academic knowledge with practical applied experiences. Comprising 120 credits, the program typically takes four years of full-time enrollment to complete. The curriculum includes courses on criminal investigation; correctional systems and practices; juvenile delinquency; advanced interviewing techniques; and crime, justice, and social diversity. Students can also take advantage of study abroad options, which provide first-hand knowledge of criminal justice systems in other countries.
Just like onsite learners, students enrolled in Tarleton's online undergraduate criminal justice program must complete an internship to graduate. Internship opportunities can be arranged with local police departments, juvenile probation service providers, and state and federal agencies. The university assists online students in locating internship opportunities within a reasonable driving distance from where they live. Online learners gain access to the same student services as their on-campus counterparts, including career counseling, mock interviews, and resume assistance.
Tarleton State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
In July 2017, Philadelphia University (founded in 1884 as the Philadelphia Textile School) merged with Thomas Jefferson University (founded in 1824 as Jefferson Medical College). The resulting institution, referred to as Jefferson, offers students more than 300 years of combined history defined by academic innovation and professional excellence. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Jefferson 15th in its list of the best regional universities in the North.
Jefferson offers an online bachelor's degree in law enforcement leadership. This 120-credit program features courses that follow an eight-week delivery format. Students can complete the program in 2-3 years, depending on their course load and number of transfer credits.
Students complete general requirements and general education core courses (18 credits of each) in addition to 21 credits of professional education core classes, such as principles of management and leadership theory and ethical practices. Major-related courses cover topics such as contemporary law enforcement strategy, police administration and management, and advanced law enforcement theory and management. The program also requires students to complete a capstone project prior to graduation.
Online students at Jefferson may qualify for financial assistance as long as they take at least six credits during each enrollment period; an enrollment period consists of one 16-week semester or two consecutive eight-week modules in the same semester. Jefferson's online programs use a rolling admission policy.
Jefferson is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
41. Bryan College - Dayton
In 1930, Bryan College set out to provide higher education for men and women based on Christian values. Today, the college retains its identity as a Christian liberal arts institution, although it imposes no sectarian beliefs on students.
Bryan College first offered its bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 2012, and in 2018 it began offering the program online. Students can earn their bachelor of science in criminal justice degree without ever setting foot on campus. The program operates primarily as a degree completion program designed for adult learners. Classes start every six weeks, giving students considerable flexibility.
Students with at least 48 transfer credits complete a combination of general education, core criminal justice, and elective courses. Students with fewer than 48 transfer credits must complete all general education requirements and elective courses before taking core criminal justice courses. The criminal justice curriculum includes coursework on topics such as introduction to forensic science; public administration of criminal justice; and homeland security, intelligence, and counterterrorism.
Students can earn up to 24 credits for relevant experiences by submitting a credit for prior learning portfolio.
Bryan College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
42. Eastern University
St. Davids, Pennsylvania
Located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, Eastern University was founded in 1925 as a Baptist theological seminary. Through the years, the university expanded its educational reach to include nontraditional students by offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in several professional arenas. Eastern University retains its identity as a Christian university, incorporating core values of faith and reason into its academic offerings.
The university offers on-campus and online criminal justice bachelor's degrees through its department of social transformation. This online program targets adult learners, preparing participants to pursue careers in several criminal justice fields, such as law enforcement, corrections, and public service. The program also provides an excellent foundation for graduate-level studies in law or social science.
An accelerated program, this online bachelor of arts in criminal justice track allows students to graduate in as few as two years, although the length of the program depends on a student's transfer credits and course load. Classes follow a seven-week delivery schedule. The degree comprises 121 credits, with 51 credits in the criminal justice core and related electives. The curriculum includes courses on comparative criminal justice systems, contemporary social problems, correctional systems, and restorative justice.
Eastern University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
43. University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati received its charter in 1870. Today, the university is recognized as a premier research institution and enrolls more than 44,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
The university began offering online degrees in 1998. U.S. News & World Report included it among the best online bachelor's programs in a recent ranking. The university participates in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, giving Ohio residents greater flexibility and more options for earning an online degree.
UC offers an online criminal justice degree through its college of education, criminal justice, and human services. Students can pursue the degree fully online without needing to make any campus visits. Learners can enroll in courses during the fall, spring, and summer terms. Most students earn their criminal justice degree after four years of full-time enrollment.
The curriculum includes classes on criminal law, legal issues in corrections, criminal investigations, the juvenile justice system in America, and the politics of criminal justice. The program provides graduates with leadership skills crucial to criminal justice fields, especially law enforcement and policy reform. The university's criminal justice degree also prepares students for professional licensure in Ohio.
The University of Cincinnati is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
44. University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh
Established in 1871 as a basic teacher-training school, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh now offers more than 200 undergraduate majors and fields of emphasis, as well as several graduate programs. The university became part of the state university system in 1971 and currently enrolls around 14,000 students annually.
The school offers three online criminal justice options through its division of online and continuing education. The bachelor of arts and bachelor of science programs accept students with at least two years of experience in criminal justice or a closely related field. Alternatively, students with an associate of applied science degree typically enroll in the bachelor of applied science program. Bachelor of science students take more science and math courses, while bachelor of arts students must take foreign language classes.
Criminal justice core courses cover topics such as public administration, criminal law, theories of crime, and emerging issues in criminal justice. The school also has a generous transfer credit policy and awards college credit for previous work experience. Faculty deliver most online courses asynchronously.
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
45. Saint Joseph’s College
Brooklyn, New York
A small liberal arts college in the heart of Brooklyn, St. Joseph's College New York caters to a diverse student body of 1,200 learners. Founded in 1916 by the Sisters of St. Joseph, the college offers a top-tier education that remains grounded in the spiritual and intellectual values of its religious founders. U.S. News & World Report includes SJCNY in its 2019 list of the best regional universities in the North. The college is near Manhattan, where students enjoy access to world-class museums and internship opportunities with global companies.
SJCNY offers a fully online bachelor of science degree in criminal practice and policy. In addition to core criminal justice courses, students can enroll in classes from other departments as part of the college's emphasis on imparting a strong liberal arts education. For example, the school encourages criminal justice students to take classes related to sociology, political science, philosophy, forensic science, and psychology -- disciplines that can enhance criminal justice careers.
Comprising 120 credits, the online criminal justice program includes classes on court and civil liberties, criminal justice administration, crime analysis and policy, criminal procedures, and corrections. Students must also complete a capstone project before graduating. Learners can transfer in a maximum of 90 credits of upper-division coursework from an accredited institution and earn credits for relevant professional experience.
St Joseph's College New York is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
46. Azusa Pacific University
Azusa Pacific University began as a modest training school for Christian workers with an initial enrollment of 12 students. Now, more than 10,000 students attend classes at its main campus, six regional locations, and online. APU oversees 61 bachelor's, 45 master's, and eight doctoral programs.
APU offers a traditional on-campus bachelor of arts in criminal justice program through its school of behavioral and applied sciences. It also offers an online criminal justice bachelor's degree that is structured as a degree completion program. This online program is designed for students with at least 15 college-level credits. APU's criminal justice curriculum includes courses on juvenile justice, the American court system, criminological theories, constitutional law, and forensic psychology for criminal justice professionals. Students must also complete a capstone project in order to graduate.
The school of behavioral and applied sciences offers a 15% tuition discount to law enforcement employees and veterans who wish to pursue a criminal justice degree. This discount also applies to their spouses and dependent children up to the age of 26.
Azusa Pacific University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
47. McNeese State University
Lake Charles, Louisiana
McNeese State University occupies 121 acres in Lake Charles, Louisiana and includes a 65-acre athletic complex and the Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center. Established in 1939 as a junior college, it achieved full university status in 1970.
McNeese offers a fully online criminal justice bachelor's degree through its adult learning program. Students enroll in two seven-week sessions each semester. Faculty deliver online criminal justice classes asynchronously. The curriculum includes courses on correctional justice administration, ethics in criminal justice, crime and punishment, criminological theories, and contemporary issues and trends in terrorism.
Students can bring in transfer credits from other accredited institutions and submit a prior learning assessment portfolio to receive credit for relevant work experience. McNeese also accepts results from the College Board Advanced Placement Program and the College Level Examination Program. Students must earn at least 25% of their total credits as a McNeese student and complete the last 30 credits of their degree at the university in order to graduate.
Although tuition for online courses at McNeese costs the same as tuition for on-campus classes, online students pay an additional electronic learning fee of $20 per credit. McNeese encourages online students to apply for its Nontraditional Student Academic Scholarship to help offset costs related to education.
McNeese State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
48. Old Dominion University
Established in 1930 as a division of the College of William and Mary and an extension of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Old Dominion University began as a two-year institution educating teachers and engineers. It attained independent status in 1962 and university status in 1969. The university currently hosts a student population of almost 25,000 learners and offers more than 150 programs -- more than 100 of these programs can be completed online.
The school offers an online criminal justice degree through the sociology and criminal justice department of its college of arts and letters. Students can choose to pursue either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science in criminal justice. Students can earn a BS through a full, online program or as part of a degree completion program. Alternatively, the BA is only available as a degree completion program. Although online courses follow the university's regular academic calendar, students can access them at any time and from anywhere.
The criminal justice curriculum includes courses on the criminal justice system, criminological theories, criminal justice administration, and the social and psychological causes of criminal human behavior. Students also complete a capstone project prior to graduation. Learners must earn at least 30 major-related credits as an ODU student.
Old Dominion University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
49. Columbus State University
Columbus State University began as a junior college in 1958 with 15 faculty members and about 300 students. Classes were held at a renovated hosiery mill. Today, CSU enrolls almost 8,500 students in 46 undergraduate and 42 graduate programs. U.S. News & World Report included the university in its 2019 ranking of the best regional universities in the South.
CSU offers an online criminal justice degree through its department of criminal justice and sociology. The program follows a blended delivery system with courses available online and onsite. All online courses at the university follow the school's regular academic calendar. The criminal justice curriculum includes courses on criminal law, the juvenile justice system, criminal justice ethics, and criminal investigative techniques.
The university requires students to complete at least 39 credits of criminal justice courses as a student at the school, although participants can transfer up to 12 credits based on recognized professional training to help meet bachelor's degree requirements. Students can also gain credit based on relevant professional experience. CSU boasts transfer articulation agreements with several colleges to help students transition from a junior college to the university.
Columbus State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
50. Hampton University
Hampton University began as a school for former Black slaves in 1861. A freed slave -- Mary Peake -- taught 12 students under an oak tree. That oak tree, dubbed the Emancipation Oak, still stands in HU as a symbol of the school's commitment to providing quality education for all. U.S. News & World Report included HU in a recent ranking of the best regional universities in the South, and the school also rated as the third-best institution on the historically Black colleges and universities list.
HU offers several certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs online, including an online criminal justice degree. An accelerated program, students can earn this online bachelor of science degree in less time than a traditional pathway, depending on their transfer credits and course load. The online criminal justice degree comprises 120 credits. This program prepares students for a variety of careers in the criminal justice field, especially in law enforcement administration and corrections.
HU's undergraduate criminal justice curriculum includes courses on forensic crime scene investigation, terrorism and national security, criminal law, cybercrime, and the criminal justice system. Students must also complete a research-based thesis.
Hampton University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
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.
|Degree Level||Average Salary|
|Associate Degree in Criminal Justice||$47,000|
|Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice||$53,000|
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 officer, forensic science technician, 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 protect communities by responding to emergency calls, patrolling neighborhoods, and investigating crimes. They collect case-related evidence, arrest suspects, and testify in court.
- Forensic Science Technician: Forensic science technicians collect and analyze physical evidence from crime scenes. They work on site and in laboratories, and they may also testify and present evidence in court.
- Emergency Management Director: Emergency management directors create plans in response to natural disasters and crisis situations. They coordinate with officials during emergencies, lead response teams, and maintain public safety.
- 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.
- 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.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
|Job Title||Entry Level
|Crime Scene Investigator||$40,000||$51,000||$55,000||$53,000|
|Emergency Management Specialist||$48,000||$57,000||$62,000||$73,000|
Choosing an Online Criminal Justice Degree
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.
- Program Cost: The cost of a bachelor's degree ultimately depends on factors like student residency status, institution type, and cost per credit versus flat fees. Determining each online criminal justice degree's exact cost can help prospective students identify programs that fit their budget. Students can also research the most affordable online bachelor's degrees in criminal justice.
- 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 adviser 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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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 Criminal Justice Association: ACJA represents professionals from all criminal justice fields. The association offers scholarships and awards for students, publishes research and news, and provides a list of job openings. Members can join local chapters to participate in networking opportunities.
- 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.