An online criminal justice degree is the perfect choice for students who want a degree that is versatile when it comes to the number of different careers that they can pursue after graduation. With a criminal justice degree, the opportunities for employment encompass a variety of careers and workplaces, ranging from courtrooms and law firms to local law enforcement to the federal government to private corporations.
Because of the wide variety of career paths available to graduates of a criminal justice program, the statistics for average salary and job growth will certainly vary. However, it can definitely be said that, in general, wages and job growth are above average.
For example, one of the best known criminal justice professions is that of a police officer. In terms of job growth rate, the expected rate of growth between 2008 and 2018 was estimated to be 10%, which is higher than the overall average growth rate of 7%. The average annual salary for a police officer was $51,140 in 2008, with detectives receiving an even higher annual salary of $60,910 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A career as a police officer is just one example of potential career paths available to graduates of an online criminal justice program. Other career options in this field offer similar growth and average salary numbers.
With strong job prospects and a variety of exciting career paths to choose from, an online criminal justice degree is a great choice to help to secure your future and maintain employment throughout the length of your career.
In this feature, we’ll review the top 20 programs for students looking to get their criminal justice bachelor’s degree online.
1 – Walden University
Cost of program: $66,222 for the entire program without transfer credits Program length: 4 years
Walden University’s Criminal Justice program prepares students for a career in law enforcement with a program offers a blend of theoretical and practical knowledge. In the online program, students use the most up-to-date interactive media, which includes real-to-life, computer generated scenarios from crime scenes.
Walden’s bachelor program has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. This designation offers students the following benefits:
Ability to apply for federal scholarships and grants
Attending a school that is nationally recognized for academic excellence in cyber security education
Being prepared for opportunities in government, education, and private sectors nationwide
2 – University of Phoenix
Cost of program: Between $410-$610 per credit Program length: 120 credits
The bachelor in criminal justice administration program at the University of Phoenix gives its students a thorough overview of the justice system, with an overview of policing practices, juvenile justice, and the court systems. By the time they’ve completed the program, graduates will have a solid understanding of criminal justice principles, concepts, and theories.
Each of the over 2,200 faculty members at the College of Security and Criminal Justice has an average of 20 years of experience in the fields they teach, having held positions such as chief of police, sheriff, security executive, and warden.
Some of the core courses in UoP’s program include:
Ethics in Criminal Justice
3 – Capella University
Cost of program: Between $330-$382 per credit Program length: 180 credits
Capella University offers a 100% online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with 24/7 access, which gives students ultimate flexibility when completing the program. The 180-credit program is a great fit whether you’re just starting out or you’re an experienced criminal justice professional.
This school is recognized by the FBI National Academy, United States Secret Service, and National Sheriffs’ Association as a learning institution that effectively prepares students for a career in public and private sector opportunities. Some of the common jobs that a graduate of this bachelor program can obtain include:
Internal affairs investigator
Crime scene investigator
Cyber crimes investigator
4 – Anderson University Online
Cost of program: $438 per credit hour Program length: 123 credit hours
At Anderson University Online, students can be confident in knowing that their online criminal justice bachelor’s degree program will closely mimic the on-campus atmosphere. This is done by exposing students to an environment where they can interact and collaborate with their professors and peers.
Over the course of the program, which consists of 123 credit hours, students gain a number of skills that are invaluable to acquiring work in the criminal justice field, including skills and knowledge about arrest, search, and seizure; crime prevention and services; moral, ethical, and religious issues pertaining to criminal justice; and policies, patterns, psychology, physiology, and legal aspects of drugs.
5 – Ohio University
Cost of program: $240 per credit hour Program length: 30 credit hours (requires a previously completed associate degree in the criminal justice field)
Ohio University’s criminal justice degree program differs from the previous four programs in that it is a degree completion program, meaning that is designed exclusively for students who have previously completed an associate’s degree program in a technical area related to criminal justice. With this prerequisite in place, students are only required to complete 30 credit hours in OU’s program in order to receive their bachelor’s degree.
The multidisciplinary curriculum offered by the school covers a wide range of topics, from the social and behavioral sciences, to humanities, to natural sciences. Students may also further individualize their program of study through elective courses.
Ohio University also assigns an advisor to all of its students. This arrangement allows students to receive help planning a program that is consistent with their goals, gives them advisement on course selection, and provides them with information on the school’s policies and procedures.
6 – Purdue University Global
Cost of program: $371 per credit (tuition is capped at $45,000 for first-time students) Program length: 180 credits
Purdue University Global is unique among most of the school’s listed here because of its tuition cap pricing. This arrangement means that first-time enrollees of any program at Purdue Global, including the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, are able to take advantage of a maximum cost of attendance. For the criminal justice program, this cap is placed at $45,000, whereas the program would typically cost as much as $66,780.
As for the program itself, graduates will complete a wide variety of major credits, electives, and concentrations including crime scene investigation, forensic psychology, homeland security, and juvenile justice. Some of the highlighted opportunities available to students at Purdue Global include:
Exploring different research techniques and methods that are currently used in the field
Gaining a broad understanding of the philosophy behind and development of the U.S. criminal justice system
Completing a final project that allows students to demonstrate the critical thinking skills and concepts they acquired throughout the program to real-world criminal justice scenarios
At the end of their studies, they will be prepared for a number of different careers in criminal justice, law enforcement, and private security.
7 – Delhi State University of New York
Cost of program: $270 per credit hour Program length: 61 credit hours (requires a previously completed associate degree in the criminal justice field)
Delhi State University of New York was named as having one of the best online bachelor’s programs in 2016 by U.S. News and World Report. The criminal justice program at the school is another completion program that requires students to have previously completed an associate’s degree in the criminal justice field.
In terms of specific coursework, the curriculum covers the six areas identified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, which is a key professional and certifying organization in the criminal justice studies field. More specifically, some of the featured course titles include History of Law Enforcement, New York State Criminal Code, Constitutional Law, and Substance Abuse and Criminal Justice System.
8 – Baker Online
Cost of program: $240 per credit hour Program length: 186 credit hours
Baker Online’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program prepares its students for a career in a field that is known for being broad, multi-disciplinary, and full of complex and dynamic situations. A fundamental tenet of Baker’s program is its focus on ethical behavior and a commitment to service.
The curriculum in this program is shaped by continual input from professionals and employers that work directly in the criminal justice field, and it is aligned with the standards of the Michigan Corrections Officer Training Council. Despite being an online program, students are able to take advantage of an internship program in order to further develop their skills, tools, and methods in a more practical, hands-on atmosphere.
Some of the concepts covered throughout the program include:
The interrelatedness of police, corrections, and the courts
Concepts of justice, duty, and societal issues
The philosophical underpinnings of crime and justice
9 – Old Dominion University
Cost of program: $325 per credit hour Program length: 120 credit hours
Why would a student choose Old Dominion University for their criminal justice degree program? One reason is that the school provides students with a diverse group of teachers who specialize in criminology and criminal justice. Another reason is the fact the school’s curriculum explores different facets of criminal justice – in addition to the administration of criminal justice, it also offers courses that discuss the social and psychological causes of criminal behavior.
One great feature of the 100% online program offered by ODU is the fact that many of the classes don’t have a scheduled meeting time. This lets students fit classes into their personal schedules.
Some of the careers that graduates of the program may find work in include:
Casework and counseling
Probation and parole
10 – Arizona State University
Cost of program: $325 per credit hour Program length: 120 credit hours
If you want to explore the impact of crime on society and discover effective approaches to reduce it at the local, state, and federal levels, then Arizona State University’s Criminology and Criminal Justice (BS) program might be right for you.
Students in the program learn about the different facets of the criminal justice system, starting at the law enforcement level and progressing to corrections and the courts. The professors teaching the program are recognized as leaders in the field, with many having expertise in policing, gangs, fraud, corrections, and courts. Not only are graduates prepared for work in the traditional criminal justice field in positions such as police officer or correctional officer, they will also be able to pursue work in the rapidly growing corporate security space.
Some of the topics covered in the 120-credit hour program include introduction to criminal justice, domestic violence, gangs, and white collar crime.
11 – Park University
Cost of program: $369 per credit hour Program length: 120 credit hours
Park University is consistently ranked as one of the most affordable online colleges from organizations and publications including affordablecollegesonline.org and The New York Times.
In its BS in Criminal Justice Administration program, Park provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the complete criminal justice system existing in the United States today. A unique feature of the program is that students can choose from one of three areas of concentration in which they want to build their curriculum around: Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Security.
Within the 42 hours of core curriculum in this major program, courses featured include Agency Administration, Research in Criminal Justice, Criminology, and Criminal Law.
12 – Grantham University
Cost of program: $265 per credit hour Program length: 121 credit hours
Grantham University is currently celebrating its 65th year of service, having been founded in 1951 by WWII Veteran Donald Grantham. Mr. Grantham’s desire was to build a school that helped veterans improve their lives through education.
Because the program is offered in a 100% online format, it’s an ideal choice for full-time, active military personnel, military spouses, and anyone else for whom attending an on-campus program may not be a realistic option.
In the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice program, students gain a thorough understanding of criminal justice theories as they relate to current, relevant, modern-day practice.
The program also offers two options for specialization: Homeland Security and Computer Science. These electives prepare students for specialized careers in homeland security or computer forensics.
13 – Sam Houston State University
Cost of program: $395-$419 per credit hour Program length: 129 credit hours
Having been founded over 130 years ago, Sam Houston State University’s criminal justice program is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country. The curriculum in this program features popular courses such as:
Child abuse and neglect
White collar crime
What’s more, the school offers an exciting internship opportunity for its students, with participating organizations including INTERPOL, the FBI, local police departments, and many more.
14 – Indiana State University
Cost of program: $334 per credit hour Program length: 120 credit hours (42 in the Criminology and Criminal Justice major program)
For students looking to receive their education in criminology and criminal justice in a program that covers both the theoretical and applied aspects of the discipline, Indiana State University is a great choice.
The school clearly believes in preparing its students not only for their chosen profession, but also for a well-rounded life in general. The program provides students with a liberal arts education in addition to the criminology and criminal justice curriculum. This equips students with the communication skills and critical thinking abilities needed to not only be a successful criminal justice professional, but also a valuable contributing member of society.
With regards to accreditation, ISU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
15 – University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Cost of program: $132.94 (in-state) to $502.67 (out-of-state) per credit hour Program length: Unspecified
The Criminal Justice program at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke features an academic concentration in sociology. This focus is designed to stimulate students to think critically about the social environment that they’ll be operating within as members of the criminal justice field.
Some of the courses specifically related to the sociology focus of this program include Substance Abuse, Medical Sociology, and Community Development. Majoring in sociology also opens up career paths that might not otherwise be available to criminal justice program graduates, such as social services agencies, rehabilitation agencies, employment services, and rural and economic development.
The faculty at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke have many years of experience in academia and in the field.
16 – University of Maryland University College
Cost of program: $284 (in-state) to $499 (out-of-state) per credit Program length: 120 credits
In the Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree program at the University of Maryland University College, students learn the specifics of criminal behavior, law enforcement, courts, corrections, security, and investigation. With the school’s main campus located a stone’s throw from the FBI, CIA, and NSA, the curriculum is extremely relevant for the modern field of criminal justice because it’s designed with input from employers, scholars, and industry experts.
The projects that students complete throughout the course of their education are designed to be very practical. Some examples of past projects completed by students include designing a security plan for a public service in the community, composing a search and seizure warrant, and critiquing an analytic report of criminal intelligence.
17 – Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Cost of program: $325 per credit hour up to 12 hours, then $100 per credit hour thereafter Program length: 120 credits
The Criminal Justice program at Northwestern State University of Louisiana was ranked #1 nationally by Great Value Colleges. In addition to a full course load of criminal justice courses, the program at NSU also features additional coursework in sociology, psychology, and political science.
Some of the specific topics covered within the program include:
Criminal justice ethics
Criminal evidence and procedure
One great feature of NSU is their participation in the Louisiana Transfer Degree Program, which allows students to transfer credits from their associate degree to the online bachelor’s in criminal justice program.
Northwestern State University is accredited by the commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
18 – University of Nebraska Kearney
Cost of program: $257.25 (in-state) to $379 (out-of-state) per credit Program length: 58 credit hours (requires a previously completed associate degree)
The final degree completion program featured in this list of schools, University of Nebraska Kearney allows students who have already earned an associate’s degree or completed the majority of their general education courses to receive their Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.
In addition to the extensive online curriculum, which features courses like Theories of Crime and Criminal Law; Criminal Evidence, Procedure, and the Courts; and Community Based Corrections, the criminal justice program also offers an intensive internship. Past placements in this internship have included the Nebraska State Patrol and National Security Agency.
Students who have graduated from UNK have gone on to work:
In law enforcement,
And with juvenile and special offender populations
19 – Granite State College
Cost of program: $300 (in-state) to $335 (out-of-state) per credit Program length: 120 credit hours
Granite State College is one of four educational institutions that are part of the University System of New Hampshire. Some of the advantages of Granite State College include affordable tuition, 100% online degree programs, flexible class schedules, and credit for prior learning.
The Criminal Justice (B.S.) program at Granite prepares students for initial entry or advancement in law enforcement, corrections, and related fields. After completing the 120 credit program, graduates will be prepared to apply ethical thinking and behavior in their work environment; demonstrate a working knowledge of criminology, criminal law, and corrections; and understand the psychosocial, ethnic, cultural, and political dimensions of their work in law enforcement and criminal justice.
Granite provides its students with a variety of options for earning credit from past experience, including transfer credit, academic testing, and evaluation of training programs offered by other organizations such as the military.
Some of the specific careers that graduates can go on to pursue include:
Asset protection associate
20 – Penn State World Campus
Cost of program: Between $535-$579 per credit Program length: 120 credits
Penn State World Campus holds the distinction of being the first online program to be awarded certification through the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. This certification emphasizes the high-quality education that students at Penn receive and the confidence they should have knowing that the program is renowned throughout the industry.
Some of the course topics that students will complete during their 120-credit education program at Penn State include criminology, ethics in criminal justice, alternatives to incarceration, and security and police administration. Students also have the option to enroll in an 18-credit Homeland Security Minor, which is a good choice for those wanting to work in security positions in the public or private sector.
One nice feature of Penn State World Campus is its Military Grant-in-Aid, which makes the school an attractive option for military students and spouses looking to get a quality education, as it brings the school’s tuition rate closer to the Department of Defense cap. More details on this program can be found on the school’s website.