An online bachelor’s in criminal justice studies prepares you for a career where you can investigate crimes, ensure the safety of communities, respond to disasters, or share case findings in court. Professionals in this field include police officers, federal agents, detectives, criminologists, and forensic specialists. A PayScale poll finds criminal justice professionals report relatively high job satisfaction and fulfillment in their careers.
A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can help you start a career as a probation officer, correctional treatment specialist, police officer, or detective. Professionals with a bachelor’s in criminal justice earn a median annual salary of $53,000. Like brick-and-mortar programs, online criminal justice programs are widely available.
Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
What Are the Best Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Programs?
1. Fayetteville State University
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Part of the University of North Carolina system, FSU celebrates 150 years of serving underserved students and offers 60 degree paths, some of which students can pursue online. FSU’s 120-credit BS in criminal justice provides a degree completion option catered toward nontraditional learners with a significant number of prior credits.
Students complete 82 credits of criminal justice courses and 38 credits of general education. In addition to an introduction to the criminal justice field, the BS in criminal justice gives learners significant insight into issues such as criminological theory, criminal law, criminal justice ethics, and victimology. Learners use elective credits to acquire knowledge about topics issues such as drugs and crime, police and society, and white collar crime.
The training acquired in this online criminal justice degree prepares graduates ready to take their place within law enforcement in roles such as police officer, FBI agent, DEA agent, and crime analyst. The program, certified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, allows learners to transfer up to 90 credits to accelerate degree completion. FSU boasts affordability and offers a fixed tuition rate, guaranteeing that students pay the same amount as long as they remain continuously enrolled in the BS in criminal justice. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA for transferable credit.
Fayetteville State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
2. Dalton State College
Dalton State enrolls 5,000 students and offers online degrees that accommodate the needs of traditional and nontraditional learners, such as military personnel, working professionals, and transfer students. The BS in criminal justice immerses students in knowledge of theories, principles, and practices common in the U.S. criminal justice system.
The degree comprises 121–122 credits and requires general education in subjects such as American literature, biology, and chemistry. The major provides students with an introduction to criminal justice and law enforcement, while the upper-level curriculum delves into key areas such as criminology, criminal procedure, and juvenile delinquency and justice. Faculty give students great freedom to supplement the required courses with electives examining critical issues such as drugs in America, criminal justice administration, profiling offenders, and terrorism and criminal justice system.
Students receive hands-on experience during a capstone course that requires completion of a major research paper on a theme in criminal justice. An internship experience takes learners out of the classroom and into a criminal justice agency where they acquire practical experience, totalling nine credits. Students leave the program with strong communication, analytical, and research skills that employers seek in competitive job applicants.
Dalton State notes that with affordable in-state tuition, financial aid, and scholarships, students can earn a high-quality degree without the burden of debt. Admission to the online criminal justice degree requires SAT or ACT scores for freshmen.
Dalton State College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. California State University - Stanislaus
Stan State serves 10,000 students on two campuses in the Central Valley. Students can pursue degrees on the Turlock and Stockton campuses as well as online. Among Stan State’s offerings is a BA in criminal justice online. For 23 years, U.S. News & World Report has included Stan State on a well-respected ranking of the top colleges in the western part of the United States.
Students interested in a quality and affordable criminal justice program can enroll in the hybrid BA in criminal justice. Stan State offers this degree as an accelerated program that police officers and other criminal justice professional can complete in 18 months. To do so, students must transfer all or most of an associate degree in administration of justice into the online criminal justice bachelor’s degree.
The curriculum of the BA in criminal justice examines topics such as the causes of crime, methods of criminal justice inquiry, criminal procedures, gender and society, and juvenile justice. Students receive hands-on experience during an internship, co-operative education, or individual study and complete the program with a blend of online coursework and on-campus classes that meet once a week at either the Stockton or Turlock main campus. Admission requires a minimum of 60 transferable credits and prerequisite criminal justice courses with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
California State University, Stanislaus is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
4. The University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, Texas
UTEP hosts a diverse student demographic with high-quality academic programs. The second-oldest college in the University of Texas System, UTEP enrolls 25,000 students and offers a fully online BA in criminal justice degree through UTEP Connect. The unique program focuses on crime along the United States-Mexico border.
The 120-credit curriculum requires a full complement of general education in subjects such as English, mathematics, social science, and the arts. Students learn about the latest criminal justice theory and research in one of the nation’s best online criminal justice degrees. Faculty devote 36 credits to the major, examining topics such as criminology, criminal justice procedures, police systems and practices, and court systems and practices.
Students use electives to pursue particular areas of interest such as family violence, cybercrime, and immigration law and administration. UTEP’s border location and partnerships with local law enforcement agencies give students unique insight and firsthand experience of some of the nation’s immigration and border protection issues.
Graduates leave the program equipped for a diverse number of careers, including border patrol agent, CIA agent, state trooper, and gaming investigators. UTEP’s career services can provide job seekers with the resources necessary to land their dream jobs in the field. Admission requires SAT or ACT test scores for freshmen; transfer and military students submit transcripts from all previous colleges for review.
The University of Texas at El Paso is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
5. Amridge University
Amridge was one of the first colleges in the U.S. to develop distance learning programs and continues to offer degrees primarily online. Five colleges administer a diverse portfolio of degrees, such as the 128-credit BS in criminal justice. This degree empowers learners with the skills necessary to advance their careers with public safety agencies or nonprofit organizations within the community.
Students learn about the justice system and how to effectively apply communication, human relations, and organizational and leadership principles within these organizations. The BS in criminal justice provides learners with a well-rounded education that includes 40 semester hours of general education in subjects such as English, math, and biology. In keeping with the school’s Christian heritage, students also complete a course that examines the Bible or a course on ethics.
The major provides training in areas such as criminal investigation, criminal procedures, constitutional law, and interview and interrogation. Students can choose from a generous number of electives to delve into issues as diverse as management principles, terrorism, white collar crime, and systematic theology.
More than 90% of students at Amridge qualify for financial aid, making this an affordable online criminal justice degree. Furthermore, the school offers scholarships and/or tuition discounts, such as those for military personnel and first-time freshmen, to help pay for tuition. Admission requires the ACT or SAT for freshmen, and transfer students must submit all school transcripts for review.
Amridge University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
6. Southern University at New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
SUNO enrolls about 2,300 students in programs delivered on two campuses in New Orleans. Among the university’s offerings are a select number of online programs, including a criminal justice major designed to educate students about legal and legislative processes and their impact on the criminal justice system. The 120-credit BS in criminal justice requires general education in subjects such as English composition, math, and a foreign language.
The major examines subjects such as juvenile justice, criminology, law enforcement, law adjudication, and corrections. Elective credits give learners the freedom to acquire knowledge in areas such as women and crime, environmental crime, sentencing, and/or criminal justice and addictions. Under the supervision of a faculty member, students in this criminal justice degree online may use elective credit for independent study to investigate a criminal justice issue at an advanced level.
Students also develop essential skills in areas including critical thinking, communication, and statistical and data analysis that employers seek. Faculty emphasize the ethical application of students’ knowledge and skills to address real-world challenges and situations.
SUNO offers all students competitive tuition rates regardless of residency. Applicants seeking admission as freshmen must complete the Regents Core requirements mandated by the state and the SAT or ACT. Transfer students need a minimum of 18 credits and a 2.0 GPA or higher.
Southern University at New Orleans is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
7. West Virginia State University
Institute, West Virginia
Located close to Charleston, WVSU is a historically black college that enrolls a richly diverse student body. The school’s 3,500 students study in classrooms with a 17-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, which fosters a more personalized education. Students can earn a BS in criminal justice fully online in just two years. WVSU offers a unique program that provides learners with a comprehensive understanding of the criminal justice system in the U.S. and the option to specialize with one of several certificates.
The program requires general education covering subjects such as math, English, and history; the criminal justice core introduces learners to the field and covers topics such as police and society, juvenile justice, criminology, and court systems in the U.S. Students choose a four-course certification that specializes their degree in law enforcement, corrections, or investigation, and they may also elect to complete a generalist certificate that examines sex crimes, homicide, crimes in the family, and law and social control.
WVSU boasts one of the most affordable tuition rates in the state and makes degrees affordable for out-of-state residents by charging them the same rates as those in state. Students can transfer up to 72 credits into this online criminal justice degree to further save costs and accelerate degree completion. Among the careers available to graduates are jobs as park rangers, police officers, victim advocates, and crime scene investigators. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA on transferable credits, and freshmen must submit SAT and ACT scores.
West Virginia State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8. Potomac State College of West Virginia University
Keyser, West Virginia
Founded in 1901 as a preparatory college, PSC is a fully integrated institution within the West Virginia University system. A small college with only 1,300 students, PSC offers a limited number of bachelor’s degrees, including the 120-credit bachelor of applied science in criminal justice. Students may complete this accelerated online degree in as few as 18 months when they transfer in an associate of applied science.
The BAS comprises limited liberal arts and science requirements. Students build on the AAS to acquire knowledge and training that prepares them to enter the criminal justice field and/or graduate school. At the intermediate level, students complete criminal justice courses [PDF] such as victimology, criminal evidence, and ethics and the criminal justice system. At the upper level, students examine forensics techniques; white collar crime; drugs, crime, and society; and hate crime: a system’s approach.
Faculty use accelerated eight-week courses to deliver the BAS, one of the nation’s best online criminal justice degree programs. Through the school’s academic success center, learners can receive tutoring in most subject areas. PSC offers affordable tuition and scholarships that recognize student achievements and skills, even if they live in other states. PSC also offers scholarships just for transfer students. Admission to the online criminal justice degree requires a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Potomac State College of West Virginia University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
9. Indiana University East
IUE provides learners anywhere in the country and overseas with the opportunity to receive a prestigious education. The university offers more than 60 programs of study, and students study in classrooms with a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Online options include the BS in criminal justice, a distinctive degree completion program for students with a large number of credits. Students study various facets of the criminal justice system while developing management skills not always offered in similar programs. The two-year plan examines topics such as police in contemporary society, criminal law, crime and deviance, and courts and criminal justice.
A notable course covers techniques in data analysis by introducing students to statistical inference, single variables, and the measurement of the association between pairs of variables. In another course, students examine modern administrative theory as it pertains to management within criminal justice agencies.
During a senior seminar, students learn about control theories and crime prevention programs. During an internship component of the BS in criminal justice, students participate in a research project and related activities under faculty supervision. When students graduate from the online criminal justice degree, they join more than 580,000 IUE graduates scattered across the globe. Admission requires at least 60 credits or an associate degree with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Indiana University East is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10. Polk State College
Winter Haven, Florida
Established in 1964, Polk State serves 20,000 students over a multi-campus system and emphasizes hands-on learning, small class sizes, and affordable tuition. Among the degree offerings is a 120-credit BS in criminal justice that allows learners to transfer their general education requirements to accelerate degree completion. Faculty use an interdisciplinary approach that draws on the fields of law, criminology, psychology, sociology, and public policy to give students a broad view of the criminal justice system.
The major provides a survey of criminal and delinquent behavior, law enforcement and corrections administration, and corrections and penology. Students learn about how law enforcement officials conduct criminal investigations with a course that delves into the various investigative theories, as well as how officials prepare cases and interview witnesses and suspects.
During the last term of the online criminal justice degree, students complete a capstone that involves thorough research of the criminal justice system, including trial procedure, corrections, and the rehabilitation process. Students must fulfill any general education deficiencies before they can earn this degree.
The program accommodates working professionals with a flexible schedule that allows part-time enrollment, equating to 9–12 credits per term. Admission requires an associate of science, associate of arts, or the equivalent with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Polk State College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
11. Cameron University
CU was established as an agricultural high school in 1908 and today stands as a degree-granting institution with a catalog of 50 degrees. CU and 13 other colleges participate in Oklahoma’s Reach Higher: Flex Finish program, which serves nontraditional learners with degree completion programs such as the 124-credit BS in organizational leadership with a concentration in criminal justice.
Faculty designed the BS in organizational leadership to meet the state’s workforce development needs. The major provides learners with training in organizational leadership by covering issues such as persuasion, conflict management, team leadership, and corporate and organizational communications. Students augment the curriculum with 12–15 credits focused on the theories of crime, criminal justice administration, and related topics.
Few schools offer a guarantee of free additional education if baccalaureate graduates enter the workforce and employers find their employment skills lacking in the major. The Cameron University Guarantee, the first of its kind in Oklahoma, does just that, making this BS in organizational leadership a worthy investment and an affordable option for an online criminal justice degree. Admission requires at least 72 credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA, and the program offers five start terms each year.
Cameron University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
12. California State University - San Bernardino
San Bernardino, California
At the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains sits CSUSB, a school recognized by U.S. News & World Report for innovative programs. CSUSB enrolls about 20,000 students, about 90% of whom pursue undergraduate degrees. The College of Extended Learning offers a bachelor’s degree completion program to meet the growing need for criminal justice professionals and allow nontraditional learners the chance to acquire the credentials necessary for career advancement.
Students complete the 180-unit BA in criminal justice entirely online and must enter the program equipped with all of the general education and lower-division course requirements for the degree. Students must complete 21, four-unit courses at CSUSB, beginning with two prerequisite courses that provide an introduction to criminal law and the criminal justice system. Once students complete these courses, they advance onto topics such as theories of crime and delinquency, police and police systems, and correctional theory and institutions.
CSUSB requires 36 units of electives that students fulfill from a suite of options, including courses in victimology, community corrections, and forensic profiling. Admission requires 60 semester (90 quarter hours) units of transferable credits with a minimum 2.7 GPA completed at a community college or accredited four-year institution. The program admits students in the fall, spring, and summer.
California State University-San Bernardino is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
13. University of Houston - Downtown
Forty years ago, UHD began to serve learners in the nation’s fourth-largest city. One in a four-school system, UHD offers high-quality and affordable education through online degree completion options that require no visits to Houston. The BS in criminal justice emphasizes strong communication and analytical skills as well as comprehensive knowledge of the criminal justice system.
Students must complete general education requirements at UHD or transfer credits from another institution. These credits cover topics such as math, American history, and government and political science. The 21-credit criminal justice core gives students a theoretical understanding of criminology; crime, law, and society; the criminal court system; the corrections system; and research methods in criminal justice.
Students learn how to apply this knowledge in real-world contexts during at least 120 hours of field experience completed at a criminal justice agency. Alpha Phi Sigma, a national criminal justice honor society, also gives learners hands-on experience through community service and extracurricular activities. Alpha Phi Sigma members also attend annual conventions, qualify for scholarships, and network with peers and experts in the field.
UHD allows students to transfer an AA or AS in criminal justice into this program. The College of Public Services, which administers this online criminal justice bachelor degree, offers scholarships to help pay for tuition. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA for transfer students and all college transcripts.
The University of Houston-Downtown is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
14. Louisiana State University - Alexandria
LSUA focuses exclusively on providing learners with an undergraduate education and began offering fully online degrees in 2015. Among the university’s offerings is the transfer-friendly BS in criminal justice, which provides learners with a well-rounded liberal arts education and includes general education coursework in the arts and sciences.
The 120-credit BS in criminal justice gives learners a solid foundation in criminal justice studies and begins with an introduction to the field, branching out to examine the police, judicial, and corrections processes. Students in this online criminal justice degree acquire knowledge in other areas, such as juvenile delinquency, criminology, constitutional law, and criminal justice. Faculty introduce students to basic research methodologies when they explore the work of criminologists and researchers in the field.
Those who complete 320 hours of basic training in the Louisiana police academy may earn 18 hours of credit in lieu of coursework. Military students may also receive credit, enabling them to complete the online criminal justice degree faster. Students pay one affordable tuition rate regardless of residency, and admission for Louisiana freshmen requires the LA Core four curriculum at the time of high school graduation along with the SAT or ACT. Transfer students need a minimum 2.0 GPA for admission.
Louisiana State University-Alexandria is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
15. Peirce College
Since the school’s founding in 1865, Peirce has provided nontraditional learners with the education and training necessary to advance their careers and lives. The Philadelphia school offers career-focused degrees with practical application in today’s competitive workplace. The school’s rich heritage includes leadership in distance learning from the days of dial-up technology.
The online 121-credit BS in criminal justice studies includes institutional requirements to develop students’ proficiency in reasoning, ethics, speech communication, and rhetoric and research. The major examines topics such as criminology, criminal law, the criminal court system, and the correctional system. Students may choose to acquire hands-on experience with three credits’ worth of cooperative work at a relevant organization.
The school’s chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, a criminal justice honor society, provides qualified students with specialized extracurricular activities and learning. Peirce Fit allows learners to seamlessly switch from on-campus classes to fully online learning as their schedules necessitate.
All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency and enjoy access to a full suite of financial aid options along with a tuition freeze. Peirce’s standing as one of the best value private institutions in the state makes the BS one of the most affordable online criminal justice bachelor degrees. Admission requires the Peirce college placement exams to assess math and English skills. Transfer students need a minimum C grade on transferable credits.
Peirce College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
16. Central Christian College of Kansas
Founded in 1884 as a seminary, Central Christian College of Kansas provides undergraduate programs rooted in evangelical values. Formerly the oldest junior college in Kansas, CCC began granting bachelor’s degrees in 1991. CCC offers degrees in fine arts, exercise science, business, and education from its main campus in McPherson, Kansas, and online.
CCC’s 120-credit online bachelor’s in criminal justice includes both foundational and liberal arts classes, as well as numerous electives. The 48-credit core criminal justice coursework introduces learners to theories and practices of criminal justice, corrections, law enforcement, and forensic science.
Students also explore topics such as terrorism and counterterrorism, victimology, and juvenile justice to gain insights into the discipline. The terrorism and counterterrorism class examines the prioritization of terrorism in the context of other criminal justice and social concerns on a domestic and international level. Victimology coursework trains students to assess factors that shape crime with an emphasis on the race, gender, class, and ethnicity of victims. Additionally, juvenile justice courses explore theories of delinquency causation in the context of juvenile courts and jurisdictions.
A criminal justice capstone provides learners opportunities to synthesize degree content in anticipation of careers in the field or continued study. The online criminal justice bachelor’s degree at CCC prepares graduates for jobs as police officers, crime scene investigators, fish and game wardens, and immigration and customs enforcement agents.
Central Christian College of Kansas is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
17. Colorado State University Global
Greenwood Village, Colorado
A member of the Colorado State University System, CSU-Global began in 2007 with 200 students. Currently more than 18,000 learners participate in classes and programs offered through the first statute-defined, independent, online state university in the United States. The school offers more than 20 undergraduate and graduate programs from its campus in Greenwood, Colorado, including an online bachelor’s in criminal justice and law enforcement.
Students in the online criminal justice and law enforcement bachelor of science degree complete 120 credits. The school accepts up to 90 transfer credits into the program — 64 of which may come from community college classes.
Within the criminal justice curriculum, students complete 30 credits of criminal justice core classes such as criminology, law enforcement and criminal policing, and ethics for criminal justice professionals. Learners focus on leadership principles, research methods, and legal processes applicable to careers in the field. Students may complete a criminal justice practicum to work in a criminal justice setting.
CSU’s online criminal justice program allows learners to specialize in five areas through 15 credits. Students can also customize their program in areas such as criminal forensics, emergency management, or intelligence and homeland security. Learners may earn additional certifications that focus on cybersecurity, data management and analysis, and human resource management.
Colorado State University - Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
18. University of Alaska Fairbanks
UAF serves more than 8,500 students from its main campus in Fairbanks, Alaska, as well as locations in Dillingham, Kotzebue, Bethel, Nome, and online. UAF began as an agricultural college and school of mines in 1917, and it is a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution. UAF offers more than 190 undergraduate and graduate programs through nine academic colleges and schools, including an online bachelor of arts in justice degree.
UAF’s 120-credit online justice bachelor’s degree emphasizes theoretical and practical aspects of the criminal justice system, law enforcement, and procedural law. Students explore criminology, policing, courts, and corrections with classes that focus on aspects of law enforcement including addictive processes and correctional programs. UAF’s program also pays close attention to the needs of rural residents in Alaska through a class that assesses the application of western justice systems in northern Native villages.
Students in the criminal justice program also complete an internship with an approved agency or organization. Placements with police departments, community restorative justice program, law firms, and district attorney’s offices provide learners practical experience applicable to their careers in the field.
Prospective students must submit high school or GED transcripts and hold a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students should also provide ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students with more than 30 credits only need to submit transcripts from previous college coursework to apply.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
19. Missouri Southern State University
Established as an extension of the University of Missouri in 1937, MSSU transitioned from Jasper Junior College to an independent institution in 1964. Located in Joplin, Missouri, MSSU currently offers undergraduate and graduate programs through four academic schools with more 14 bachelor’s degrees available online.
The 124-credit online bachelor of science in criminal justice administration requires 46–47 general education credits and 39 credits of criminal justice requirements. Criminal justice courses in criminal procedures, criminal law, and probation and parole introduce learners to theories and practices of the field.
Additional classes in asset protection, international terrorism, and ethics in criminal justice provide broader insights into global and civil aspects of the discipline. Students also complete coursework in the juvenile justice system, juvenile procedures, and juvenile corrections to understand and assess current practices and procedures that relate directly to youth populations.
Through 12 credits electives, students can tailor the degree to meet their individual needs and goals. For example, students can explore basic law enforcement academy procedures and practices in anticipation of becoming a licensed law enforcement officer in Missouri. Additional elective classes in crime scene investigation, criminal evidence, and crime analysis prepare graduates for careers in forensics. Classes in organized crime, interview and interrogation, and homicide investigations train students in fundamental practices used by local, state, and federal criminal justice professionals.
MSSU’s online criminal justice administration bachelor’s degree also allows learners to participate in an optional internship. Learners with a minimum 3.2 GPA in criminal justice classes can gain practical experience working in an approved criminal justice setting.
Missouri Southern State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
20. Texas Woman’s University
Now a coeducational institution, TWU began as an instructional college for women in 1901. With only one student in its first graduating class, TWU remains a predominantly female institution that meets the educational needs of women and is a member of the Women’s College Coalition. TWU occupies a main campus in Denton, Texas, with additional locations in Dallas, Houston, and online. Currently, TWU offers undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 60 disciplines.
TWU’s online bachelor of science in criminal justice includes interdisciplinary coursework in sociology, social work, history, and political science. The 120-credit curriculum includes 57 credits of major requirements such as criminal law, current social problems, crime in America, and social research and statistics. Learners study race, class, and gender equality alongside criminal justice institutions, community corrections, and police policy and procedures.
TWU’s criminal justice curriculum also includes criminal justice elective classes in ethics, cultural anthropology, and law and society — each designed to provide broad perspectives on the discipline. Additional elective options in legal environments, juvenile delinquency, deviant behavior, and criminal investigation prepare learners for future careers in criminal justice settings. Students can also complete a practicum that requires 13 contact hours a week of practical experience and supervised training.
Degree-seekers can complete coursework in as little as two years. TWU participates in numerous articulation and cooperative academic arrangements with all community colleges in Texas to provide ease of transfer into bachelor’s programs.
Texas Women’s University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
21. University of Missouri - St. Louis
Saint Louis, Missouri
As one of four universities within the University of Missouri System, UMSL sits on the grounds of a former country club in St. Louis County, Missouri. UMSL began as a community college in 1957 and currently spans more than 470 acres in the St. Louis metropolitan area. With almost 17,000 learners, UMSL provides undergraduate and graduate programs through ten academic colleges and schools.
UMSL offers 15 online and hybrid undergraduate degrees, including an online bachelor of science in criminology and criminal justice. UMSL’s criminology and criminal justice degree includes 37 credits of major coursework. Before declaring a major in criminology and criminal justice, learners must complete an introductory course in the field, a class in theories of crime, and research methods and statistical methods coursework.
These classes comprise a portion of core curriculum requirements, while additional core courses in criminal justice policy and criminal law accompany elective criminal justice classes in policing, courts, corrections, and crime and justice.
Students also complete a seminar in criminology and criminal justice that functions as a capstone course. Learners synthesize degree content in an independent research project produced during their final semester.
UMSL’s criminal justice curriculum prepares graduates for careers as law enforcement officers, juvenile corrections workers, and probation professionals. The program introduces a broad understanding of criminal justice theory, methods, and research, developing learners’ critical-thinking and analytical skills to prepare for possible graduate study. Many students continue onto law school after completing the program.
University of Missouri-St. Louis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
22. Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, Kentucky
Located in Highland Heights, Kentucky, Northern Kentucky University began as an extension campus of the University of Kentucky in 1948. After becoming an independent institution in 1968, NKU moved to its current campus where it now hosts more than 14,000 students. NKU offers more than 115 undergraduate and graduate programs including an online bachelor of arts in criminal justice.
NKU’s 120-credit online BA in criminal justice includes 37 credits of general education classes, 23 free elective credits, and 48 credits in the criminal justice major and a declared minor. Core criminal justice courses offer introductory information on theories and practices of criminal justice, law enforcement, corrections, and criminal justice research methods.
Students examine the correctional system in the United States to gain insights into the political and economic contexts within which the courts function. Coursework on perspectives of crime offer learners an interdisciplinary assessment of biological, sociological, and psychological aspects of crime and criminal behavior.
Criminal justice electives give learners the opportunity to complete classes that meet their personal and professional goals. Learners can also explore in-depth aspects of institutional corrections, rights of the corrections, and alternatives to corrections. Additional classes in flawed criminal justice policy, crime across the lifespan, and criminal justice in film build students’ understanding of how the criminal justice system, law enforcement, and crime itself function in society. Learners must choose a 12- to 28-credit minor that does not fall within the criminal justice discipline.
Transfer applicants to NKU’s online criminal justice program need a minimum 2.0 GPA from 24 credits of previous college coursework. Freshmen applicants and learners with fewer than 24 college credits must submit ACT scores for consideration.
Northern Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
23. Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico
As one of three schools within the Eastern New Mexico University System, ENMU traces its origins to 1927. Located in Portales, New Mexico, ENMU also serves learners at locations in Roswell, Ruidoso, Hobbs, and at Cannon Air Force Base. With more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs, ENMU is the largest regional comprehensive university in the state and is a Hispanic serving institution.
ENMU offers both bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in criminal justice. Learners complete the general education requirements for a bachelor of science or arts, then 60 credits of criminal justice and sociology requirements. Core criminal justice classes include an introduction to criminal justice, criminal law and the courts, and criminology; core sociology classes emphasize social research methods and theories of the field. Students also complete classes in deviant behavior, sociology of law, and report writing before a criminal justice internship.
Learners can complete the bachelor’s degree in criminal justice online as a hybrid program or on campus. All students participate in an internship to gain valuable practical experience working alongside a law enforcement, corrections, or comparable criminal justice professional.
ENMU’s online criminal justice degree prepares graduates for careers in local, state, federal, or international law enforcement, such as corrections, victim advocates, youth programs, or in interventional services. The curriculum supplements additional law enforcement academy training and serves as a preparatory program for graduate and law school study.
Eastern New Mexico University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
24. California State University - Sacramento
After opening its doors as Sacramento State College in 1947, Sac State moved to its current location in 1953 and took on university status in 1972. Sac State currently sits on 300 acres in Sacramento, California, an urban forest that features 3,500 trees. As a member of the California State University System, the school serves more than 31,000 students annually.
Learners can complete the online bachelor of science in criminal justice at Sac State in two years. Offered as a partnership between the College of Continuing Education and the College of Health and Human Services, the 60-credit online criminal justice program includes 12 credits of introductory coursework in criminal justice and society, law of crimes, general investigative techniques, and the community and the criminal justice system.
Core classes in criminal justice research methods, crime and punishment, and fundamentals of corrections accompany coursework in police and society, structure and function of the American courts, and contemporary issues in criminal justice.
Students choose 24 credits of elective coursework from among seven concentrations. Areas of emphasis include criminal justice administration, investigations, and corrections. Learners can also specialize in offenses and offenders and law, or they can complete additional and supporting classes in areas appropriate to their interests and goals.
Admission requirements to Sac State’s criminal justice degree online include a minimum of 45 transferable credits with at least a 2.6 cumulative GPA. Applicants to Sac State’s online criminal justice program may complete remaining general education requirements concurrently at a community college, but most enter the program having completed all prerequisite and general education classes.
Sacramento State College is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
25. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Initially an institution that offered only upper-division and graduate-level programs, UTPB became a four-year university in 1991. UTPB, located in Odessa, Texas, serves more than 7,000 students from its main campus and online, offering over 50 undergraduate and graduate programs. UTPB cooperates with other institutions within the University of Texas to offer online programs through the UT Online Consortium.
UTPB’s online bachelor of science in criminal justice includes 66 credits of major coursework provided by the UT Online Consortium. Learners complete 42 credits of general education classes while completing required criminal justice classes in criminal justice administration, legal aspects of evidence and corrections, and comparative criminal justice systems.
Students also study American judicial institutions, principles of law enforcement supervision, and ethics in criminal justice. Coursework in drugs and behavior, ethnic and gender issues in criminal justice, and police and the community provide insights into specific subsets of the criminal justice discipline.
Students can choose elective classes in genetics, forensic data analysis, gangs, and toxicology to build competencies in areas of particular interest. Research methods coursework supplements theoretical and practical content as students work toward completing their senior seminar in criminal justice. During the seminar, which serves as a capstone, students explore current criminal justice policies and phenomenon to assess their roles in the criminal justice system and society as a whole.
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
26. Excelsior College
Albany, New York
Founded by the New York State Board of Regents in 1971, Excelsior offers undergraduate and graduate degrees through three academic schools. Based in Albany, New York, Excelsior received an absolute charter as a private, nonprofit institution in 1998. The institution provides educational opportunities for nontraditional learners, including online programs, to more than 28,000 learners each year.
Excelsior’s online criminal justice bachelor’s degree includes a general curriculum and a specialization in homeland security. All students complete 120 credit hours of general education, core, and elective coursework with homeland security students focusing on courses in domestic terrorism, emergency management, international terrorism, and infrastructure security and policy.
Core classes introduce students to fundamentals of criminal justice, law enforcement, criminology, and research methods. Electives explore subsets of the discipline such as forensics, judicial processes, deviant behavior, and gangs in America — allowing students to complete coursework relevant to their personal and professional interests and goals. Students also complete a criminal justice capstone during their final semester, where learners produce a paper analyzing an aspect of criminal justice such as administration of justice, corrections, criminal profiling, or law enforcement and public policy.
Excelsior allows students to transfer up to 117 credits into the online criminal justice bachelor’s program. Students with an associate degree in criminal justice may transfer all 60 credits into the degree. Excelsior awards transfer credits for military and police academy training as well.
Excelsior College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS).
27. Montana State University - Northern
MSUN opened its doors in Havre, Montana in 1929 with only 80 students. Now home to more than almost 1,300 learners, MSUN is a member of the Montana State University System. MSUN provides undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 40 fields of study from its main campus, at educational centers in Great Falls and Lewistown, and online.
MSUN’s criminal justice program prepares students for careers in police services, adult and juvenile corrections, and homeland security. MSUN’s 120-credit online criminal justice degree includes 33 credits of general education requirements. Major courses provide learners a comprehensive knowledge of the criminal justice landscape, and they include classes in corrections; police organizations and behavior; and political science coursework in local, state, and federal government.
Students also examine topics like victimology, juvenile justice, and criminology while exploring communication and conflict, abnormal psychology, and addiction studies. The communication and conflict class explores theories and practices of conflict resolution and interventions through an assessment of conflict properties and perspectives.
Abnormal psychology coursework provides a survey of different diseases and disorders that influence human behavior, while an addiction studies course builds fundamental understanding of the physical and psychological aspects of substance abuse and addictions.
The online criminal justice bachelor’s degree at MSUN includes a criminal justice cooperative education exercise where learners can receive practical experience. Students also complete a 21- to 31-credit minor alongside electives chosen in conjunction with program advisors.
Montana State University - Northern is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
28. Missouri Western State University
St. Joseph, Missouri
Founded in 1915 as St. Joseph Junior College, MWSU became a four-year institution in 1969. Home to more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students, MWSU offers online bachelor’s degrees in education, technology, nursing, and criminal justice.
MWSU’s online bachelor’s in criminal justice degree includes five concentrations: administration, corrections, juvenile justice, law enforcement, and legal studies. Core coursework for all criminal justice majors at MWSU includes introductory classes in law, education, juvenile justice, and theories of crime.
Courses in criminal investigation and criminal law accompany a research in criminal justice class that introduces qualitative and quantitative research theories and techniques. Students also complete a practicum, internship, or advanced qualitative analysis coursework.
The administration concentration emphasizes criminalistics, criminal justice communications, and administration and planning in criminal justice. Learners specializing in corrections focus on probation and parole, civil rights law, and criminology. Meanwhile, juvenile justice students explore law and procedures as they pertain to youth populations. The law enforcement specialization includes classes in traffic control and accident investigation and police photography, and the legal studies concentration explores litigation, legal drafting and research, and legal computer applications.
Each of the concentrations prepares students for careers in specific criminal justice settings. The administration curriculum offers holistic information about criminal justice practices with an emphasis in decision-making and leadership. The concentration in corrections prepares graduates for positions as probations officers or correctional treatment specialists, and the juvenile justice program prepares learners to work with youths in the criminal justice system.
The law enforcement track trains graduates for positions as local, state, or federal law enforcement officers, and many students in the legal studies curriculum go on to study in law school study.
Missouri Western State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
29. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
From its foundations as a normal school in 1884 to a current enrollment that tops 11,000, NSU offers educational programs from its main campus in Natchitoches, Louisiana. NSU, now part of the University of Louisiana System, also serves learners at locations in Shreveport, Leesville, and Alexandria; at partner sights in Bossier City and Marksville; and online.
The 120-credit online criminal justice bachelor of arts degree at NSU includes interdisciplinary classes in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, and political science. Core criminal justice courses provide a foundation in criminal justice policies and practices, and they include topics in adjudication and police processes, criminology, criminal justice ethics, and forensics.
Students also complete coursework in homeland security, forensics and criminalistics, and criminal justice research in anticipation of a senior seminar in criminal justice during their final year. The seminar allows students to integrate content from all coursework through a culminating exercise.
Students in NSU’s criminal justice bachelor’s program can specialize in pre-law and paralegal studies. Classes in criminal and civil law introduce learners to legal traditions and procedures in the United States, train students to prepare and amend legal documents, conduct legal interviews, and work alongside practicing attorneys. Students focus on legal research, litigation, and law office administration to prepare for careers in a legal setting or for postgraduate legal study.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
30. McNeese State University
Lake Charles, Louisiana
One of nine schools in the University of Louisiana System, McNeese offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs. McNeese began as Lake Charles Junior College in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1939 and adopted its current moniker in 1970. With more than 7,500 students, McNeese also works with local business leaders through the Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center to strengthen the economy in the region.
McNeese offers an online criminal justice bachelor’s degree as part of 2+2 partnerships with Louisiana State University-Eunice and SOWELA Technical Community College. Students complete the first two years of the program at one of the two community college institutions, with the remaining criminal justice coursework offered online through McNeese.
McNeese’s bachelor of science in criminal justice introduces the theories and practices of criminal justice and sociology, focusing on the study of criminology, the United States correctional system, and ethics in the discipline. Students examine police and policing and criminal justice administration and management; they also complete criminal justice electives in topics such as terrorism, security systems, serial murders, and disaster preparedness. During a senior research seminar capstone experience, learners gather data for analysis and apply research methods to a topic within criminal justice.
Transfer applicants to McNeese over the age of 25 must submit transcripts from 18 or more credits of previous college coursework with a minimum 2.0 GPA; they must also complete ACCUPLACER exams in English and mathematics.
McNeese State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
31. Youngstown State University
From its main campus in Youngstown, Ohio, YSU offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 12,800 students. Founded by the YMCA in 1908, YSU boasts a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and is a member of the Ohio System of Higher Education.
YSU’s online bachelor of science in applied science in criminal justice functions as a degree completion program. The 120-credit degree includes 57 credits of required and elective criminal justice classes; 36 credits of major coursework are available online.
Required classes not offered online include policing, corrections, criminal law, and crime and delinquency. Online required criminal justice classes include criminal courts, social statistics, criminal justice research, and criminal justice management concepts. Online electives include violence in America, criminal justice information systems, and terrorism and counterintelligence. The school may only offer classes once a year, depending on course rotation and enrollment.
The online criminal justice bachelor’s degree also includes a senior seminar, which serves as a capstone course where learners prepare portfolios and resumes, review constitutional issues, discuss contemporary issues, and complete a comprehensive assessment examination.
Learners transfer general education and other applicable courses into the online criminal justice program. Students with an associate degree in criminal justice may transfer their entire degree into YSU’s program. Those enrolled at Lakeland and Lorain County Community Colleges need not register for the program and should register for the criminal justice partnerships instead.
Youngstown State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
32. University of Louisiana at Monroe
Located in Monroe, ULM serves almost 9,000 learners as one of nine institutions in the University of Louisiana System. Founded as a junior college in 1931, ULM became a four-year institution in 1949 and currently offers 35 undergraduate and graduate degrees online in conjunction with the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus.
ULM offers an online bachelor of arts in criminal justice that prepares students for careers as probation and police officers, private detectives, fraud and forensic investigators, and homeland security professionals. The 120-credit program includes 45 credits of criminal justice coursework.
Criminal justice classes introduce students to the discipline while providing comprehensive information about the police, courts, and corrections. Students study criminal law, criminal justice procedures and evidence, and theories of crime and delinquency alongside classes in constitutional law and juvenile justice. A course in management of criminal justice agencies builds supervisory and administrative skills applicable to careers in corrections, law enforcement, and similar settings.
During the final semester of the program, students participate in a senior seminar. The capstone course integrates theoretical knowledge and practical skills throughout the curriculum.
Freshmen applicants submit ACT scores and high school transcripts reflecting a minimum 2.35 GPA for consideration. Transfer students must complete college-level English and mathematics coursework with a minimum 2.0 GPA for admission.
University of Louisiana at Monroe is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
33. Central Methodist University
Founded in 1853 and chartered by Missouri in 1855, CMU grew from one building and one acre of land to 55 acres in Fayette. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, CMU holds articulation agreements with every public community college in Missouri. CMU provides educational programs at 14 regional locations and offers 26 online degrees.
CMU offers an online criminal justice degree as a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. Both programs include 120 credit hours, including 39 credits of criminal justice coursework. Classes in criminal law and procedure, social deviance, criminology, and constitutional aspects of criminal justice prepare students for a senior capstone seminar. Students also complete research design and data analysis classes in anticipation of their senior thesis.
Criminal justice electives on topics such as fraud examination, global crime, and serial crime allow learners to study aspects of criminal justice applicable to their interests and goals. Additional elective options include the history of corrections, principles of public administration, and police organization and management. Learners may participate in an optional internship.
Graduates work in law enforcement, criminal justice administration, corrections management, and forensic science. The degree also prepares learners for law or graduate school. Admission to CMU’s online criminal justice program is selective and evaluated on an individual basis.
Central Methodist University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
34. University of Houston - Victoria
From a main campus in Victoria, Texas, a teaching site in Katy, and online, UHV offers 70 undergraduate and graduate programs. Founded in 1973, UHV became the fourth institution within the University of Houston System 10 years later. UHV offers its more than 4,000 students a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and participates in transfer agreements with community colleges and universities around the state.
UHV’s online bachelor of science in criminal justice includes 120 credit hours. Students build a comprehensive understanding of criminal justice institutions and practices while exploring theories of crime, punishment, and law. Learners also develop the research and analytical skills needed to work as victim advocates, probation and parole officers, and crime analysts.
The criminal justice program includes 24 credit hours of required criminal justice courses. Learners explore topics like the foundations of criminal justice, criminal justice administration, and criminology. Criminal justice electives such as policing democratic societies, American court systems, and juvenile justice systems build specialized knowledge. At the end of the program, students synthesize learning with a senior seminar.
To apply to UHV’s online criminal justice bachelor’s degree, learners submit transcripts from high school or previous college coursework reflecting a minimum 2.0 GPA. Freshmen need at least a 940 on the SAT or 18 on the ACT. Students may transfer up to 90 credit hours into the program.
University of Houston - Victoria is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
35. Columbus State University
With two campuses in Columbus, Georgia, Columbus State traces its origins to 1958. Initially a junior college, Columbus State became a four-year institution in 1965. As one of 26 institutions within the University System of Georgia, Columbus State provides undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 90 disciplines.
Columbus State offers a hybrid criminal justice bachelor of science degree that includes 39 credit hours of criminal justice coursework. Learners complete criminal justice classes in residence at Columbus State while earning the remaining hours of the 123-credit curriculum online or through transfer credits.
Core classes include introduction to criminal justice, criminology, survey of corrections, and social problems. Students also take classes in statistics and technical writing in criminal justice to build research and communication skills.
Learners can choose criminal justice electives that align with their interests and goals. For example, students pursuing law enforcement careers can study police organization and operation, police-community relations, and deviant behavior. Students may participate in a criminal justice internship to gain practical, supervised experience at an approved agency or company. The criminal justice capstone allows students to assess degree content and demonstrate comprehension prior to graduation.
Columbus State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
36. Bellevue University
Based in Bellevue, Nebraska, BU offers undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 10,000 learners. BU offers more than 75 online degrees, including a bachelor of science in criminal justice. The online criminal justice bachelor’s degree follows a cohort model. The traditional curriculum includes 127 credit hours, while BU’s accelerated program emphasizes criminal justice fundamentals through 40 credit hours of coursework.
Major-specific classes include theory and practice of criminal justice, criminal behavior and victimology, and justice and contemporary social issues. Students also study crime in America, professional responsibility and ethics in criminal justice, and criminal justice organizations and strategic management.
All undergraduate students complete nine credit hours of coursework as part of the institution’s Kirkpatrick Signature Series. Classes in American vision and values, tradition and change, and freedom and responsibility emphasize intellectual discussion and experiential learning while exploring values and responsibilities within Western institutions and traditions.
BU’s criminal justice curriculum prepares students for careers in law enforcement, corrections, and the court system. Students learn how to assess criminal justice operations, analyze trends and problems within the criminal justice system, and examine theories and strategies of criminal behavior.
Students interested in completing the accelerated program must hold an associate degree or 60 credit hours of undergraduate coursework for admission.
Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
37. Indiana State University
Terre Haute, Indiana
ISU currently offers more than 70 online degrees and certificates and is a member of the College Consortium of Western Indiana, which allows full-time students to take classes through participating institutions.
ISU’s online criminology and criminal justice program includes 36 credit hours of required coursework and six directed elective credits. The 42-credit curriculum includes introductory classes in corrections, law enforcement, and court systems. Students also study criminal justice report writing, research methods in criminal justice, and ethics. A course in dynamics of criminal and delinquent behavior explores crime causation, manifestation, and prevention within the context of the criminal justice system.
The online criminal justice bachelor’s degree also includes one or two internships in criminology. Students gain practical experience working in law enforcement, court, or corrections settings under the supervision of criminal justice professionals and faculty members.
Applicants to ISU’s online bachelor’s degree in criminology submit high school or previous college transcripts for consideration. High school students need a minimum 2.5 GPA, while transfer students need a minimum 2.0 GPA. Transfer students may apply up to 90 credits of previous college coursework to the program. Applicants may earn transfer credit for military training and experience.
Indiana State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
38. Lamar University
Located in Beaumont, Texas, LU opened its doors to 125 students in 1925. Once the flagship institution of the Lamar University System, LU became a member of the Texas State University System in 1995. LU takes its name from the second president of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, the
Father of Education in the state. The school offers an online bachelor of science degreein criminal justice that learners can complete in four years.
The 120-credit degree includes 48 core credits alongside 72 credits of advanced and elective coursework. Criminal justice classes emphasize criminal behavior, ethical and contemporary issues in criminal justice, and correctional administration. Students also study crime and criminals, police problems, and responses to crime. The curriculum emphasizes sociological, political, and communication coursework to prepare for careers in law enforcement administration, national security, forensics, and law.
To apply to LU’s online criminal justice degree, learners submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Certified peace offers may transfer up to nine hours of academic credit into the degree, and Texas municipal, county, and state officers may receive a peace officer tuition exemption.
Lamar University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
39. University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Pembroke, North Carolina
As a member of the University of North Carolina System, UNCP provides almost 60 undergraduate and graduate programs to over 7,000 learners each year. Established in 1887, UNCP remains the only four-year public institution in the United States founded by American Indians for American Indians.
The online criminal justice bachelor of arts degree at UNCP includes 120 credit hours. Students gain knowledge and skills applicable to careers in law enforcement, criminal investigations, corrections, and delinquency prevention. The program includes internship options which build practical knowledge of state and federal probation and parole processes, courtroom procedures, policing practices, and related criminal justice activities.
Learners complete 21 credit hours of criminal justice core classes. Required courses in criminology, criminal law, and criminal justice writing and rhetoric accompany classes in criminal procedure, social statistics, and social research. Students choose an additional 15 credit hours of criminal justice elective coursework to explore aspects of the field that meet their interests and goals. Criminal justice electives include counterterrorism strategies, conflict management, intelligence studies, and family violence.
The criminal justice program at UNCP meets the educational and program requirements of the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission. UNCP participates in articulation agreements with many North Carolina community colleges and accepts transfer credits completed within five years. Learners must complete at least 19 credit hours of criminal justice coursework at UNCP to earn a bachelor’s degree.
University of North Carolina at Pembroke is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
40. Texas A&M University - Texarkana
Texas A&M University - Texarkana became a member of the Texas A&M System in 1996. A&M-Texarkana offers nearly 30 undergraduate and graduate programs and an 18-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. It also provides the lowest cost of attendance of four-year institutions in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.
The online bachelor of science in criminal justice includes 120 credit hours. Students complete an introductory criminal justice course as part of general education requirements before taking upper-division classes. Students study constitutional issues, research techniques, and criminological theories before taking electives in topics such as the juvenile justice system, law and society, types of crime, and deviance and deviant behavior.
The criminal justice curriculum also includes an internship during which learners participate in observation and hands-on training to integrate theory and practice. During a senior seminar, students study criminal justice organization, management, and administration in the United States. Learners also take required classes in expository writing and technology and digital literacy.
A&M-Texarkana’s online criminal justice degree is a 2+2 program. The institution holds articulation agreements with regional community colleges, allowing students to transfer an associate degree into the program. Students with 60 credit hours of transferable credits can complete the criminal justice program in two years or less.
Texas A&M University - Texarkana is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
41. University of Maine at Fort Kent
Fort Kent, Maine
Located near the Canadian border, UMFK is one of seven institutions within the University of Maine System. Steeped in French-American heritage, UMFK serves more than 1,500 learners. UMFK’s online bachelor of science in public safety administration includes interdisciplinary coursework to train students for careers in public service and public safety administration.
Collaborative partnerships with the Main Criminal Justice Academy, the Maine Emergency Management Agency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency help students identify, investigate, and understand public safety practices and procedures.
Most learners enter the bachelor’s in public safety administration with an associate degree in criminal justice. Classes in public policy, ethics and community, human resource management, and finance prepare students for 30 credit hours in a concentration. Learners choose from specializations such as forensics, law enforcement, criminal justice, or corrections. Additional concentrations include homeland security and emergency management and game wardenship.
The program also includes an internship capstone course. While working in an approved public safety setting, students prepare a portfolio and complete a final project to demonstrate research, writing, and practical skills.
Applicants to UMFK’s public safety administration program need a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students may submit letters of recommendation and evidence of work and life experience for consideration.
University of Maine at Fort Kent is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
42. University of Nebraska at Omaha
Founded as a Presbyterian seminary in 1908, UNO became part of the University of Nebraska System in 1968. UNO serves as Nebraska’s metropolitan university, offering undergraduate and graduate programs to almost 11,000 students each year.
UNO offers an online bachelor of science in criminology and criminal justice that prepares students for careers as law enforcement officers, federal justice agents, and corrections professionals. Students complete 120 credit hours of online coursework divided into two segments. The first part of the degree includes 45 credit hours of pre-criminology and criminal justice classes. During the second segment, students complete 39 major courses in topics such as police and society, criminal procedure, and corrections.
All students take classes in criminal justice statistics and writing to build analytical and communication skills. Learners can also pursue a minor or concentration through 12 credit hours of upper-level coursework. During the final semester of the program, learners participate in a senior assessment activity.
The online criminal justice bachelor’s degree includes milestones to keep students on track for graduation. Learners must complete a survey of criminal justice course during their first year and declare a minor before the start of their junior year. Before starting their senior year, learners must complete classes in criminology and criminal procedure.
University of Nebraska at Omaha is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
43. Sam Houston State University
SHSU offers more than 80 undergraduate and 50 graduate programs to more than 21,000 students. Located in Huntsville, SHSU is a member of the Texas State University System. SHSU provides more than 30 online degrees, including a bachelor’s in criminal justice.
Students can complete the online bachelor’s in criminal justice as a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science degree. The bachelor of science degree emphasizes psychology, sociology, and political science, while the bachelor of arts curriculum requires foreign language coursework. Both programs include 120 credit hours.
All criminal justice students complete classes in criminology, criminal investigations, corrections, and police systems. The program also features courses in cybercrime, global terrorism, forensic science, and victimology. Learners interested in working with youth and families can take classes in child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency and justice, and law and society.
During their final year, learners participate in an internship where they gain hands-on experience at an approved criminal justice agency or company. Graduates pursue careers as police and probation officers, investigators, fire inspectors, and corrections counselors.
Transfer students may apply up to 70 credit hours of previous college coursework to the program. SHSU accepts applications three times per year.
Sam Houston State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
44. University of Maine at Augusta
Based in Augusta, UMA serves learners through 11 locations throughout the state and online. Established in 1965, UMA offers undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs through two academic colleges. UMA is a member of the University of Maine System.
The online bachelor of science in public administration features coursework in law, research methods, and communication. Through advanced elective classes, students can focus on subjects like law enforcement, criminal procedures, and government service. The curriculum also emphasizes institutional and administrative aspects of public service, leadership and managerial skills, and analytical and critical-thinking competencies.
Students prepare for careers as police officers, border patrol agents, federal safety officers, and immigration officials. The program allows students with 60 credit hours of criminal justice or justice studies coursework to transfer into the 121-credit program.
Current law enforcement and criminal justice professionals can use the degree to advance into leadership roles. Practicing paralegals and justice workers also gain the skills needed for career advancement. UMA’s public administration program is a member of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.
University of Maine at Augusta is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).
45. University of South Florida
Established in 1956, USF provides undergraduate and graduate programs to learners from its main campus in Tampa, at locations in St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, and online. As a member of the State University System of Florida, USF currently serves more than 50,000 students and serves as a space-grant institution.
The online bachelor of arts degree in criminology at USF is a 2+2 program. Learners complete criminal justice coursework in two years by transferring credits from an associate of arts degree. Students without an associate of arts degree may transfer previous college coursework or enroll in the online criminal justice program as freshmen, completing the program in roughly four years.
USF’s online criminology program includes required classes in the fundamental and theoretical aspects of criminal behavior. Students complete 24 restricted electives on topics such as drugs and crime, forensic psychology, and miscarriages of justice. Additional elective options in race and crime, criminal investigation, and victimology prepare students for careers in law enforcement, corrections, probation, and the judicial system.
Students complete a seminar in criminology to examine the relationships among culture, society, and individuals as they relate to criminal behavior. The seminar serves as a capstone that allows learners to demonstrate degree competencies.
Applicants to the 2+2 online criminal justice program need a minimum 2.0 GPA from an associate of arts degree. Learners must also complete two college-level foreign language courses for consideration.
University of South Florida - Main Campus is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
46. Arizona State University - Skysong
Founded almost three decades before Arizona became a state, ASU began offering academic programs in 1886. Based in Phoenix, ASU also provides educational programs at four regional centers and online.
The online criminology and criminal justice program includes 120 credit hours. Learners complete introductory classes in criminal justice before pursuing coursework in policing, corrections, criminal justice, and criminal law. Advanced classes cover topics such as criminological theory, gender and crime in criminal justice, and race and ethnicity in criminal justice. ASU’s program also emphasizes interdisciplinary content through courses in public service, social work, and leisure and quality of life.
Students can take elective classes in law and social control, imperatives of proof, domestic violence, or gang activity to prepare for the solution-based learning requirement. Options for solution-based learning include an internship, a guided research project, a community development project, or individualized instruction.
Students develop the analytical, communication, and practical skills needed to work as forensic investigators, police officers and detectives, and corrections specialists. The program also prepares learners for continued study in the field.
Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
47. Middle Tennessee State University
Located in Murfreesboro, MTSU offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs through nine colleges. MTSU participates in articulation agreements with numerous community colleges in Tennessee and pioneered adult degree-completion programs in the state.
The online criminal justice administration bachelor of science program features two concentrations: homeland security and law enforcement. The program builds leadership, managerial, and supervisory skills for individuals pursuing careers in law enforcement, corrections, or homeland security. Core classes cover prevention and control of crime, the judicial process, and research methods. Students can complete advanced coursework in disaster and emergency management, penology, and security management.
The online criminal justice degree in homeland security includes courses on terrorism and criminal justice, security administration, and theories of homeland security. Students also study disasters and criminal justice, intelligence analysis, and international criminal justice. The online criminal justice degree in law enforcement focuses on criminal investigations, evidence and procedures, and police organization and administration. Learners can also complete a practicum with the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy.
Both criminal justice online bachelor’s degrees include 120 credit hours. MTSU allows criminal justice students to pursue a master’s degree in the discipline through an accelerated bachelor’s/master’s program. Undergraduate learners may count up to 12 credit hours toward both degrees.
Middle Tennessee State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
48. University of North Texas
Established in 1890, UNT is located only 36 miles from Dallas-Fort Worth, putting the school close to the nation’s fourth-largest metropolitan area and a wealth of opportunities for students. UNT’s 38,000 students include online learners who benefit from the school’s experience as one of the largest providers of online programs in Texas.
Among UNT’s more than 100 bachelor’s programs is a BS in criminal justice, a degree completion option that’s fully online and affordable. Students acquire a broad understanding of the criminal justice field with courses in areas such as criminology, criminal law, police systems, and criminal justice and public policy. With 15 credits of electives, students can pursue knowledge of computer crime, terrorism, serial homicide, and other advanced topics.
Students acquire hands-on training through experiential activities at jails, prisons, courtrooms, and/or through service learning activities. The program’s internship component provides another forum for experiential education at a related agency. UNT notes that criminal justice alumni find employment in criminal justice agencies throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and Texas.
UNT hosts chapters of Alpha Phi Sigma and Lambda Alpha Epsilon, Nu Tau Chapter for criminal justice students to engage in further learning and networking with peers and experts. In addition to competitive tuition, UNT offers scholarships specifically for students in this online criminal justice degree. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA and official college transcripts for review.
University of North Texas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
49. Southeastern Louisiana University
Southeastern is the state’s third-largest publicly funded college with approximately 15,000 students enrolled in 150 programs of study. Students learn in classrooms with a 20-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio on campus in Hammond. Distance learners can earn a degree from a suite of online options that include a BA in criminal justice.
The curriculum of this online criminal justice degree gives an introduction to the field, law enforcement, and the functions of courts and corrections. Upper-level coursework in the online criminal justice degree exposes students to more advanced topics such as criminology, juvenile delinquency, and serial and mass murder.
Students may expand their knowledge base by choosing a minor in sociology, geography, anthropology, or geographic information systems. Learners earn academic credit and acquire hands-on experience during an internship at a criminal justice agency.
Several other features make this one of the nation’s best criminal justice degrees online that holds accreditation. Students can choose an honors curriculum, benefit from faculty-student mentoring relationships, engage in research opportunities not always available to undergrads, and participate in the school’s Leadership, Education, and Development (LEaD) Job Talk Series.
Students enhance classroom learning with extracurricular activities when they join Alpha Phi Sigma, a pre-law student organization, and/or the Justice4All student organization.
Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA for transfer students.
Southeastern Louisiana University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
50. Southeast Missouri State University
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
SEMO serves about 12,000 students on its main campus in Cape Girardeau and at several regional sites. The university also offers nationally ranked online programs that include a 120-credit BS in criminal justice. The fully online program offers two tracks: the academic/university track gives learners a theoretical understanding of crime and criminal justice, while the law enforcement academy track provides specialized law enforcement training.
All students complete a core that examines law enforcement, criminal courts, corrections, and criminal law. The academic/university track examines topics such as police operations, criminal procedures, victimology, and crime and criminal justice policy. Students pursuing the law enforcement academy track must submit certification that they completed at a law enforcement academy in Missouri, which contributes 24 credits toward the degree.
Students in this online criminal justice degree apply what they learn in the classroom and learn from experts during internships at prestigious agencies such as the ATF, U.S. Marshals Service, Secret Service, and FBI. SEMO’s online programs rank among U.S. News & World Report’s best in the nation, factoring in graduation rates, indebtedness, and career services.
Admission to the BS in criminal justice requires a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA for transfer students, and the SAT or ACT is optional for freshmen. All online learners pay the same tuition regardless of where they live.
Southeast Missouri State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Choosing an Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Studies Program
Criminal justice classes cover a range of subjects, including sociology, psychology, and law. Major courses cover specific topics and approaches in the criminal justice system. For example, criminology courses explore the theories and analytical processes used to study criminal behavior while corrections classes study issues related to criminal punishment and rehabilitation systems. Students enrolled in an online criminal justice degree also learn about the different types of crime, including gang activity and white-collar crime. Several courses explain daily operations for police officers and other law enforcement professionals.
With so many options, it can be difficult to choose a program. Students should review factors like tuition costs, scholarships, location, program format, and program length.
Students interested in certain aspects of criminal justice should seek an online criminal justice program with a concentration in that area. Specializations allow students to tailor their education to their personal interests and long-term career goals. Specializations for a criminal justice degree online include criminology, legal studies, and human services. Students may also earn specializations in cutting-edge fields like homeland security, which considers terrorism and national defense or cybercrime and prepares students for careers in digital forensics.
Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Careers
Professionals who complete their criminal justice degree online can pursue many different careers in law enforcement and criminal rehabilitation. The BLS projects that protective service occupations will grow 5% between 2016 and 2026, resulting in roughly 158,200 newly positions across the country. A few of these occupations are covered below.
- Correctional Officer:
- Correctional officers oversee individuals awaiting trial or serving time in jails and prisons. They must closely follow established rules and procedures to maintain order, uphold facility security, and ensure personal safety of self and others. To work in federal prisons, correctional officers must typically hold a bachelor’s degree or substantial work experience.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $30,380
- Mid-Career: $32,460
- Experienced: $36,280
- Late Career: $43,740
- Probation Officer:
- Probation officers supervise juveniles or adults sentenced to probation rather than time in jail or prison. Through frequent visits with probationers, officers ensure community safety, promote rehabilitation, and maintain detailed reports of treatment and progress. An online criminal justice bachelor degree satisfies typical education requirements for entry-level probation officer jobs.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $38,000
- Mid-Career: $39,000
- Experienced: $43,000
- Late Career: $48,000
- Crime Scene Investigator:
- Crime scene investigators work in the field, securing, examining, and collecting evidence onsite at crime scenes. These professionals must possess keen critical, analytical, and organizational skills to help prosecutors build a case. An online criminal justice degree with a forensic science specialization typically satisfies entry-level education requirements for this position.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $42,000
- Mid-Career: $45,000
- Experienced: $52,000
- Late Career: $52,000
- FBI Agent:
- The Federal Bureau of Investigations works to investigate and solve federal crimes. FBI agents serve this mission by collecting evidence, interviewing individuals, and analyzing data. Agents work at field offices around the U.S. and engage in frequent fieldwork and travel. A majority of FBI agents possess at least a bachelor’s degree.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $55,000
- Mid-Career: $60,000
- Experienced: $65,000
- Late Career: $83,000
- Police Officer:
- Police officers work to uphold the law and maintain public safety in neighborhoods, public spaces, and on the roads. In addition to regular patrols, officers frequently respond to emergency and non-emergency calls. Aspiring officers must complete police academy training. Many departments also prefer or require applicants to possess a bachelor’s degree.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $43,000
- Mid-Career: $46,000
- Experienced: $52,000
- Late Career: $60,000
What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Program?
College selection is not a decision to take lightly. Though many online criminal justice degree programs follow similar course plans and adhere to similar learning outcomes, subtle differences in school policies, program components, and overall cost can impact your experience.
For example, in-state programs generally offer more affordable tuition than out-of-state programs, but a select out-of-state program may offer a concentration you prefer or a more generous transfer policy for students with prior college credit. Before you commit your time, effort, and finances to one program over all others, consider the important points listed below.
- Program Cost:
- From tuition to textbooks, the cost of higher education quickly adds up. Some schools with seemingly lower tuition rates may charge substantial fees for online credits, making it imperative to research program cost thoroughly. Before selecting a school, calculate its projected cost to compare with your available finances and expected financial aid.
- Transfer Policies:
- If you previously attended college or graduated from an associate program, make sure your prospective institution accepts your hard-earned credits. Take time to review the school’s transfer policies to determine whether your credits will transfer, as well as the maximum number of credits you can apply to your degree plan.
- School Size and Type:
- Online programs typically strive to offer an experience as similar to their on-campus counterparts as possible. Programs with smaller class sizes allow for more personal interaction with classmates and professors. Additionally, consider your priorities in areas where public and private schools may differ, such as tuition costs, name recognition/prestige, and student/alumni resources.
- Program Length:
- Online programs are known for their flexibility, especially for working professionals and other busy adults. Some schools allow students to take as few as 1–2 courses at a time. Others offer accelerated pacing options for motivated learners. Make sure to choose a program that aligns with your part- or full-time enrollment preferences.
- On-Campus Requirements:
- Many online criminal justice degrees do not require on-campus requirements, making it possible to earn a degree entirely from home. Some students prefer this flexibility. Others appreciate the feel of in-person components and may prefer enrolling in a program with a hybrid format, which requires a combination of online and on-campus courses.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Criminal Justice?
An online criminal justice bachelor degree requires the completion of at least 120 credits of general education, major courses, and electives. On average, a full-time student earns their bachelors in four academic years, but several factors can impact degree completion time, including transfer credits and program pacing.
Many online schools allow students with prior college coursework to transfer up to 60 credits, the equivalent of an associate degree, into a bachelor’s program, fulfilling general education requirements. Full-time students who complete this 60-credit transfer typically complete their degree in 18–24 months.
Online programs also regularly offer part-time learning options for working professionals and busy students who need to take fewer credits per term. Depending on an individual’s pace, this can slow degree completion times by several semesters or academic years. Part-time learning often results in higher overall costs, as students end up paying additional semester- or year-based fees.
Courses in an Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Program
The curriculum of an online criminal justice degree will vary by institution. Most of these programs range from 120–125 credits, including general education requirements. Different programs offer different courses, concentrations, and electives; however, certain classes are common across all schools. Five common classes for criminal justice programs are listed below.
- Introduction to Criminal Justice:
- Most online criminal justice programs begin with this course, which introduces students to the philosophy and history of criminal justice. Topics typically include an examination of criminal law, law enforcement agencies and functions, the court system, and corrections. Foundational knowledge learned in this course prepares students for advanced studies.
- Criminal Justice and the Constitution:
- This course provides a foundational overview of the branches of the U.S. government and of U.S. Constitutional Law as each relates to criminal justice and criminal procedures. Topics may include the Fourth Amendment, self-incrimination, constitutional violations, and study of landmark Supreme Court decisions that impact criminal justice practice.
- Ethics for the Criminal Justice Professional:
- Students in this course examine the theory, practice, and application of ethics in criminal justice. Coursework provides a foundational understanding of the roles of ethics, morality, and personal/professional values within modern criminal justice practice and policies.
- A subset of sociology, criminology involves the study of crime, including its nature, micro and macro social contexts, and underlying causes. Undergraduate criminology courses introduce students to various theoretical perspectives and utilize these theories to explain real-world crime and criminal behavior. Other topics may include victimology, victimless crimes, and crime statistics.
- Criminal Law:
- This foundational course introduces students to all aspects of criminal law. Discussions explore large issues such as the nature and purpose of criminal responsibility and the relationship of individuals to the state. Other topics may include principles of criminal liability, elements of crime, criminal defenses, and legal limitations of criminalization.
Accreditation for Online Criminal Justice Degrees
Accreditation refers to the comprehensive evaluation of colleges and universities to ensure they meet certain criteria. Non-government organizations, known as accreditors, perform this evaluation in conjunction with federal and state agencies. Students must attend a fully accredited school in order to receive federal loans or other forms of financial aid. Accreditation also has a bearing on whether or not students may transfer credits from one institution to the other.
Two types of accreditation are used to assess postsecondary institutions in the United States. Regional accreditation is typically awarded to nonprofit colleges and universities with an academic focus while national accreditation is normally for vocational or for-profit schools. The regional accreditation process is considered more rigorous and, as a result, students may have a difficult time transferring credits from nationally accredited institutions to regionally accredited ones. Full lists of recognized accreditors are available through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, a non-government organization that helps oversee the accreditation process, as well as the U.S. Department of Education.
A third type of accreditation designation, programmatic, is reserved for specific sub-schools within larger institutions, including business, law, and nursing schools. Students pursuing online criminal justice programs may be interested in a degree approved by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). However, the ACJS only certifies a handful of schools and does not reflect the full spectrum of available criminal justice degrees.
Criminal Justice Professional Organizations
Professional organizations can be helpful for students earning an online criminal justice bachelor’s degree, as they offer certification and professional development opportunities in criminal justice, including programs that focus on officer training and the First Amendment. Other perks include access to journals and online magazines, invitations to annual conferences and networking events, and information about job openings and internship opportunities. Below, we’ve reviewed three prominent criminal justice professional organizations.
- National Criminal Justice Association:
- Established more than 40 years ago, the NCJA represents state, local, and tribal governments and advocates for various criminal and juvenile justice issues. The association offers a semester-length internship program for undergraduates across the country, and it co-sponsors the annual National Forum on Criminal Justice.
- Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences:
- The ACJS hosts two online publications, Justice Quarterly and the Journal of Criminal Justice Education. The organization also recognizes criminal justice programs that meet the academy’s certification standards. Students earning degrees in criminal justice or related fields may become members at a reduced rate of $30 per year.
- American Probation and Parole Association:
- The APPA partners with Relias Training to offer online education programs for aspiring probation and parole officers. The association also receives funding from government agencies and private donors to improve correctional systems and rehabilitation programs.
The 25 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminal Justice Studies for 2018
- The University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, Texas
- Louisiana State University - Alexandria
University of Louisiana at Monroe
- Pierce College
- University of Maine at Augusta
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, Kentucky
- Missouri Southern State University
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
- American Public University
Charles Town, West Virginia
Columbia Southern University
Orange Beach, Alabama
University of Nebraska at Omaha
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas
Florida International University
- Western New Mexico University
Silver City, New Mexico
- National American University - Ellsworth AFB Extension
Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota
- SUNY College of Technology at Canton
Canton, New York
Sam Houston State University
- Peru State College
- Southern University and A & M College
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Monroe College
Bronx, New York
University of Maryland - University College
University of Colorado Denver