Best Online Criminal Justice Programs

The criminal justice system is more than just good vs. bad – it often involves justice and injustice, right and wrong, and life and death. Learn all about our complicated criminal justice system in one of the best online criminal justice programs listed below.

When you wear a law enforcement badge, it represents more than just a degree. It shows your understanding of the complex social, racial, economic, and historical dynamics in the criminal justice system.

By earning an online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, you promise to be a force of good in the world. This degree can take you places, from patrolling the streets against crime to defending a client in court to helping a first-time offender get back on the right path.

Working in this field requires hard work, dedication, and patience. It also requires a sophisticated set of academic, social, and personal skills and a deep knowledge of legal studies and law enforcement systems.

If it sounds like a lot to learn, it is! Criminal justice degrees are no walk in the park. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in this field will take time, but by choosing to study online in one of the programs in our rankings, you will have a more flexible schedule to help balance the needs of your degree, your job, and your life commitments.

What is an Online Criminal Justice Degree?

At the most general level, the best online degree for criminal justice programs covers three core areas: law enforcement, corrections, and the courts. These areas are the foundation of our criminal justice system.

From there, your degree can take you in a wide variety of directions. Not everyone pursues this field to work as a law enforcement officer. Here’s a look at some of your options:

  • Corrections Officer
  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • Forensics Specialist
  • Lawyer
  • Victim Advocate

So, how do you get to the point that you can pursue one of these careers? 

First, you have to complete your online criminal justice degree. Typically, these degrees take about four years to complete and consist of about 120 semester credits. Part of your time in the program is spent meeting general education requirements – classes like math, science, and the arts.

The rest of your studies focus on areas related to your major. Your major-area courses usually occur during your third and fourth years of study, though lower-level introductory courses in criminal justice might occur in your first or second year.

For example, your first year in college might include an Introduction to Criminal Justice course that gives you a broad overview of this field. Then, as you progress in your studies, you’ll take more detailed and complex courses in criminal justice, like Criminology or Forensic Psychology.

Most online criminal justice degree programs vary regarding the courses you must take to graduate. However, no matter which program you choose, it’s likely you’ll take classes in:

  • Criminal Law
  • Laws of Evidence
  • Ethics
  • Constitutional Law
  • Law Enforcement and Policing

Additionally, some online criminal justice programs culminate in a senior capstone project. Capstone projects are summative assessments that allow you to put your classroom learning into practice. Typically, these projects require you to conduct independent research and address a specific problem or topic in the criminal justice system.

Other programs require an onsite internship with an organization. The internship might take place in a law enforcement, legal, or correctional setting, to name a few possibilities.

Regardless, you’ll take online coursework that establishes a solid foundation in criminal justice theory and application before you participate in a capstone project or internship.

A career in the criminal justice system brings together a wide variety of disciplines, like: 

  • Psychology
  • Law and Ethics
  • Forensics
  • Statistics

Additionally, many workers in this field specialize in areas such as Crime Scene Investigation, Juvenile Justice, Criminal Behavior, and more. You can gain these specialized skills in your chosen degree program.

What are the Admissions Requirements for an Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice?

The requirements for the best criminal justice degree online programs vary from one school to the next.

However, as a first-year college applicant, you can likely expect admissions requirements to include the following at a minimum:

  • A high school diploma, GED, or equivalent
  • Minimum cumulative high school GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Satisfactory ACT or SAT scores

Some schools have additional requirements, like a personal essay, letters of recommendation, or a resume, that help admissions committees get a better picture of who you are as a person and as a student.

Again, these requirements can vary significantly from one school to the next, so as you narrow down your list of top schools for criminal justice, be sure to check each school’s admissions requirements.

How Much Can You Earn With an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice?

Beyond the gratification of pursuing a career in which you can protect and serve your community, you can also enjoy a decent paycheck. The median salary for police officers and detectives is around $66,000 annually. Patrol officers earn even more – an average of $70,750 per year. Those who work in forensics and crime scene investigation make a median salary of about $62,000 annually.

If you continue your education and go to law school, you will have a much higher payday awaiting you. The median annual salary for attorneys is nearly $128,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

There is no shortage of work in the criminal justice system, either. Between now and 2031, the BLS predicts a 3 percent job growth for police and detective jobs. However, jobs are expected to grow much faster in the legal field, with a predicted growth rate of 10 percent through 2031.

Depending on where you work, added perks to this field include a government pension, good benefits, and steady pay. Early retirement might also be on the table, so you can work for a much shorter period of time and enjoy a much longer period of retirement.

What are the Best Online Schools for Criminal Justice?

We use seven data points to rank the best online criminal justice schools. Two data points are program-specific: the number of degree options available and the median annual wages two years after graduation.

Five data points rank school-wide information as well:

  • The school’s admissions rate
  • The school’s graduation rate
  • The median student debt upon graduation
  • Student satisfaction
  • The type of accreditation (regional or national)

The data for each of these criteria are clearly listed for each school. This allows you to quickly compare the features of each of the best criminal justice colleges online to develop your own rankings of which ones best fit your needs.

This system is far more beneficial than just Googling “best online colleges criminal justice.” Let us do the hard work so you can easily compare top schools.

A detailed explanation of the methodology we use to develop these rankings is available here

Let’s get to the list of the best criminal justice schools online!

1. University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $179.19 per credit hour (in-state); $715.80 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • Available as a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 4

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $51,912

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 36%

Graduation Rate: 72%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $18,635

Student Satisfaction: 4 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 85

The University of Central Florida’s online bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice score high in our rankings for several reasons. Not only are there multiple degree options, but the median debt upon graduation is among the lowest of the schools on this list. Additionally, students at UCF rate their experience highly – four out of five stars.

With a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science option available, you can tailor your learning experience to your specific goals. For example, since the Bachelor of Arts program has a foreign language requirement, it would be a good option if you are bilingual or want to serve bilingual communities.

In addition to two bachelor’s degrees, UCF also offers two master’s programs in criminal justice, should you want to continue your education. You can enroll in a Master of Science program in criminal justice or pursue a dual master’s degree in criminal justice and public administration. Either way, these master’s degrees are entirely online, just like the bachelor’s degree programs.

The flexibility offered by UCF Online makes this one of the best online criminal justice degree options currently available in higher education.

2. Washington State University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $554.05 per credit hour (in-state, up to 10 credits); $617.65 per credit hour (out-of-state, up to 10 credits); $4,440.50 per semester (in-state, 10+credits); $6,176.50 per semester (out-of-state, 10+ credits)
  • Courses begin three times a year, in spring, summer, and fall.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 1

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $61,080

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 86%

Graduation Rate: 65%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $20,000

Student Satisfaction: 4.1 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 80

A unique feature of the Washington State criminal justice program is that it was established in 1943. That makes it the second-oldest continuously-running criminal justice program in the nation. With all that experience, it’s no surprise that WSU’s program ranks so highly.

This is a 120-credit program that requires you to take 30 credits of criminal justice courses – 18 required credits and 12 elective credits. You have the flexibility to tailor your studies to your interests by taking electives like:

  • Juvenile Justice and Corrections
  • Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Realizing Justice in a Multicultural Society
  • Policing and Society

WSU also offers a senior seminar elective that explores ethical issues in criminal justice. You can elect to participate in an internship, too. These experiences help prepare you for employment in many fields, from policing to advocacy to criminal justice administration. Many enrollees also use this degree as a springboard for attending law school.

3. Florida International University

Florida International University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $228.21 per credit hour (in-state); $345.87 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • This program includes computer science, forensics, and criminology components.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 3

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $54,501

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 64%

Graduation Rate: 65%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $17,418

Student Satisfaction: 3.9 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 80

At Florida International University, you can enroll in an online Bachelor of Science degree in Crime Science. Unlike traditional criminal justice programs, this one combines many related disciplines, including criminal justice, computer science, criminology, and forensics.

This program also includes the Law Enforcement Apprenticeship Program (LEAP), which merges your online learning with specialized police training and work experience. This program gives you a headstart on your law enforcement career while also enabling you to earn credits toward your degree.

You must complete 120 credits to graduate with this degree. This includes the university’s core curriculum, major requirements in Crime Science, and electives. Some of the classes you might take include:

  • Criminal Investigation
  • Criminal Evidence
  • Fundamentals of Cybersecurity
  • GIS and Crime Mapping
  • Survey of Forensic Science and Lab

You’ll take these courses from highly trained and experienced faculty members. The department’s faculty includes affiliated members employed in criminal justice and crime science positions in the greater Miami area. Their expertise in this field will be highly beneficial to you as you train to join them in the ranks of criminal justice practitioners.

4. University of Cincinnati

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $479.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state (though some out-of-state fees apply)
  • Your diploma will not say “online,” but simply University of Cincinnati

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 2

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $49,481

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 85%

Graduation Rate: 66%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $21,537

Student Satisfaction: 4 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 78.33

One of the distinct advantages of getting your undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati is that its School of Criminal Justice is consistently recognized as one of the best in the nation. That means you’ll learn from expert professors and participate in a well-developed curriculum that sets you up for success after you graduate.

The curriculum includes various courses that satisfy general education and major requirements. For example, you might take criminal justice courses in:

  • Introduction to Courts
  • Criminal Punishment
  • Politics of Criminal Justice
  • Women and Crime
  • Police and the Community

Another interesting feature of this program is that you have to take a senior seminar, which is a capstone experience. This experience is done with faculty guidance and allows you to analyze pressing issues in criminal justice fields.

This capstone project is highly detailed and requires independent research. It helps you hone your skills and knowledge of criminal justice concepts and prepares you for continued studies in a graduate program or improved performance in a career.

5. Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $244.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state (based on 12 credits per semester)
  • Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state learners.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 6

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $50,125

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 97%

Graduation Rate: 60%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $22,020

Student Satisfaction: 3.9 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 76.67

Sam Houston State University features a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science program in Criminal Justice – a unique feature among the programs in this ranking. The primary difference between these two programs is that additional social science courses are required for the BS degree. The BA degree requires an additional world language component.

Both of these degrees offer an interesting mix of criminal justice courses. You’re likely to take some of the following as part of your course of study:

  • Cyber Crime
  • Criminal Justice and Social Diversity
  • Victimology
  • Police Systems and Practices
  • Professionalism and Ethics in Criminal Justice

Additionally, Sam Houston’s College of Criminal Justice offers internships during your senior year. You can earn credit towards your degree while getting real-world experience working alongside criminal justice professionals.

Many different organizations participate as partners in Sam Houston’s internships, including local police departments, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and INTERPOL. Combined with your learning experiences with criminal justice faculty, who are recognized as the most productive criminal justice researchers in the nation, this program will prepare you well for your future career.

6. University of the Cumberlands

University of the Cumberlands

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $199.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • The University of the Cumberlands is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 4

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $41,506

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 85%

Graduation Rate: 60%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $15,540

Student Satisfaction: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 76.67

The 120-credit online criminal justice program from the University of the Cumberlands prepares you for many different careers. You can pursue jobs in policing, corrections, the law, and more.

The curriculum is segmented into four parts:

  • General Education Requirements
  • Bachelor Core Requirements
  • Special Area of Concentration
  • Elective Courses 

What makes this program unique is its concentration areas. You can focus your learning on one of the following to prepare yourself for specialized employment upon graduation:

  • Law Enforcement Management
  • Criminal Profiling
  • Forensics
  • Chaplain / Prison Ministries

Another interesting component of this program is that you can take highly specific courses on criminal justice topics. You can explore white-collar crime, juvenile justice, or policing. You can also take classes in probation and parole issues, death investigations, or criminology.

7. University of Massachusetts-Lowell

umass lowell logo

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 3 years (if attending full-time, year-round)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $380.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • You can transfer up to 90 credits to satisfy graduation requirements

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 14

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $65,584

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 85%

Graduation Rate: 59%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $24,266

Student Satisfaction: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 75

The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at UMass-Lowell gives you the option to attend entirely online, in person, or a combination of both. Having these options to complete your studies makes it all the easier to finish your degree with minimal impact on your work and home life.

The 120-credit-hour curriculum makes room for core courses, electives, and even a minor. The university identifies the following minors as being the most pertinent to criminal justice majors:

  • Business
  • Economics
  • English
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Psychology

In addition to offering you the ability to pursue a minor, this program also gives you a multidisciplinary curriculum that exposes you to areas like crime mapping, policing innovations, and criminalistics, to name but three.

To graduate, you must maintain a 2.2 cumulative GPA and a 2.5 GPA in criminal justice. And to complete this degree program, you must also take at least 36 credits of criminal justice coursework.

8. California Baptist University

California Baptist University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 124 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $613.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • You can transfer up to 100 units to apply toward a bachelor’s degree.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 1

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $52,941

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 64%

Graduation Rate: 61%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $27,000

Student Satisfaction: 4 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 75

You can complete an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at California Baptist University while gaining a better understanding of the Christian worldview. You’ll take typical criminal justice courses like Constitutional Law and Homeland Security. But you’ll also take Christian-focused courses like Overview of the Bible and Foundations of Christian Thought.

These Christian course requirements are intended to help you develop a better sense of justice and ethics, as well as other critical components of crime and punishment. The fact that your professors are active or retired law enforcement members will also help you gain a deep understanding of criminal justice concepts.

California Baptist University requires that you complete 48 major units to graduate. These courses take as little as 16 months to finish. With a generous transfer policy that allows you to transfer up to 100 units of study toward your degree, you can complete this program very quickly.

9. Penn State World Campus

penn state world logo

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $7,527 per semester (flat rate for 12 credits or more per semester); $8,125 per semester (if you’ve already earned at least 60 credits and you take 12 or more credits per semester)
  • Military Grant-in-Aid available for military students

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 4

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: Not Reported

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 92%

Graduation Rate: 71%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: Not Reported

Student Satisfaction: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 73.33

Penn State World Campus is a leader in online education, which is why it makes an appearance on our best online school for criminal justice ranking.

With flat-rate tuition – one of the only programs in this ranking to offer this feature – you can take as many as 18 credits per semester yet pay the same rate as you would if you took just 12 credits.

You’ll have an opportunity to explore many different criminal justice-related topics in this program. This includes:

  • law, policing, and corrections in America
  • aspects of the juvenile justice system
  • alternatives to incarceration
  • security and police administration
  • criminology

A unique feature offered by Penn State World Campus is the Military Grant-in-Aid program. If you’re a military student or the spouse of a service member, you’ll pay a reduced tuition rate closer to the Department of Defense cap. This program makes getting your degree much more affordable as thanks for your service and your family’s service to our nation.

10. University of Colorado-Denver

CU Denver

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $465.00 per credit hour (in-state); $558.00 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • This program has three specialization tracks to prepare you for specific careers.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 2

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $57,987

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 72%

Graduation Rate: 50%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $21,341

Student Satisfaction: 3.2 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 71.67

This Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice might benefit from being offered online, but it’s the same curriculum offered to on-campus students. That means you get the same level of education, but you can do so on your time and schedule.

This program is one of two online criminal justice degrees offered by the University of Colorado-Denver, the other being a Master of Criminal Justice. Once you’re done with your undergraduate studies, you can enhance your skills further with enrollment in CU-Denver’s master’s program.

You have to complete your bachelor’s degree first, though. That entails taking courses like:

  • Crime Theory and Causes
  • Statistics for Criminal Justice
  • Justice: An Overview

Furthermore, you’re required to complete three credits of internship experience. Your internship can be paid or unpaid and can take place in a location where you live for convenience. CU-Denver must approve internship sites.

11. Concordia University-Saint Paul

concordia university of st paul

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $420.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • This program is approved by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 4

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $53,164

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 68%

Graduation Rate: 62%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $18,194

Student Satisfaction: 2.9 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 71.66

As is typical of undergraduate programs, this Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia University-Saint Paul requires you to complete 120 units of study to graduate. Of those, 45 units are within the major. These courses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Foundations of the Criminal Justice System
  • Constitutional and Criminal Law and Justice
  • Exploring the Criminal Mind and Identifying Suspect Behavior
  • Delinquent and Criminal Behaviors Across the Lifespan
  • Cultural Considerations in Criminal Justice Systems

What is not common to all online programs is that this one is asynchronous. That means there are no set class times and that you can study when it’s convenient for you. This flexibility makes this program a good option if you have career, family, and other obligations.

If you’ve already completed college coursework, you can transfer up to 90 credits to apply to this degree. This can help you avoid high tuition payments, as can the wide range of financial aid options offered by Concordia University-Saint Paul.

12. California State University – San Bernardino

california state university san bernardino

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $420.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • This is an accelerated degree completion program

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 1

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $50,960

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 91%

Graduation Rate: 69%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $15,000

Student Satisfaction: 3.7 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 70

If you’ve already completed 60 or more semester credits of college coursework, this degree completion option from California State University-San Berardino is a good choice for finishing your criminal justice degree.

This program culminates in a Bachelor of Arts, which you can use to explore many jobs in the criminal justice field. With coursework in criminal justice, policing, criminology, and more, you can seek employment in law enforcement, the court system, community non-profit organizations, and more.

As part of your studies, you’re likely to take classes in the following:

  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Correctional Theory and Institutions
  • Women and Crime
  • Integrative Studies in Criminal Justice

CSU-San Bernardino offers many other specialized courses as well. For example, you can take a class in Transnational Organized Crime that examines how crime and corruption impact the economic, political, and social development of countries in every corner of the globe. 

13. Western Carolina University

western carolina logo

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $65.81 per credit hour (in-state); $232.47 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • At least one year of criminal justice field experience is required for admission

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 1

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $43,366

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 79%

Graduation Rate: 64%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $22,492

Student Satisfaction: 3.8 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 70

Unlike most of the other programs in this ranking, the online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Western Carolina requires you to have prior experience in criminal justice before applying. You can satisfy this requirement by having an associate’s degree plus at least one year of criminal justice experience.

Once admitted, you’ll complete a curriculum that includes a broad range of courses in criminal justice, liberal studies, and general electives. Some of the criminal justice courses you’re likely to take include:

  • Research Methods for Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Statistical Analysis for Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Theories of Crime
  • Legal Liability in Criminal Justice Personnel
  • Issues in Correctional Treatment

All online coursework takes place in Canvas, where you can find assignments and projects, access lectures, and interact with your professors and classmates.

But perhaps the best feature of this program is its low cost. North Carolina residents pay $65.81 per credit. That’s $7,897.20 in tuition for the entire degree, which is far lower than the national average of $10,423 in tuition and fees for just one year of studies.

14. University of Nebraska at Kearney

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $259.00 per credit hour (in-state); $396.00 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • This program includes a 6-9 credit internship experience.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 3

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $46,054

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 90%

Graduation Rate: 59%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $19,250

Student Satisfaction: 3.7 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 70

The University of Nebraska at Kearney offers three different ways to complete a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. You can complete a comprehensive curriculum that focuses solely on criminal justice. You can also enroll in a major program requiring a minor or double major to meet the 120-credit threshold to graduate.

Alternatively, you can begin your studies at Central Community College and transfer to Nebraska-Kearney as part of its 2+2 pathway. This allows you to finish your first two years of the program at a smaller community college, then have a seamless transition to Kearney.

No matter how you complete this degree, you’ll have the chance to learn the ins and outs of working in criminal justice. You’ll do so by taking classes like:

  • Criminal Evidence, Procedure, and the Courts
  • Correctional Services and Systems
  • Theories of Crime and Criminal Law
  • Professional Ethics and Career Development
  • The Police Service

You must also complete an internship component to graduate from this program.

15. Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $374.00 per credit hour (in-state); $407.00 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • A full program and a degree completion program are available.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 3

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $49,678

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 96%

Graduation Rate: 58%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $24,697

Student Satisfaction: 3.6 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 70

Old Dominion University gives you options for completing your criminal justice studies. On the one hand, you can enroll in its undergraduate program to complete your degree, in which case you need just 30 credits to finish your studies. If you choose this option, you can choose between a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science curriculum.

On the other hand, you can enter ODU as a first-year student and complete the 120 credits needed to graduate. In this case, you will complete a Bachelor of Science curriculum in about four years.

Many classes you’re required to take are asynchronous, meaning there aren’t set class meeting times. Instead, you can study when, where, and how you like! Coursework for this degree focuses on various topics, including:

  • Law and the Criminal Justice System
  • Introduction to Social Research
  • Criminological Theory
  • Introduction to Psychology

This program also requires that you complete a capstone research topic on a critical justice issue of your choice. 

16. Arizona State University

Arizona State University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $6,276.00 per year (in-state, full-time); $7,411.00 per year (out-of-state, full-time)
  • Classes are in accelerated 7.5-week terms.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 25

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $55,749

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 70%

Graduation Rate: 52%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $20,000

Student Satisfaction: 3.9 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 70

With more than two dozen criminal justice-related programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, Arizona State University has the largest selection of programs for you to choose from of any school on this list. The featured program, the Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice, is a fully online 120-credit program that takes about four years to complete.

Your coursework focuses on three primary areas: the causes of crime, the consequences of crime, and how to manage crime. You’ll explore these topics in classes like:

  • Criminology
  • Criminal Justice Crime Control Policies and Practices
  • Introduction to Corrections
  • Introduction to Policing
  • Courts and Sentencing

In total, you must complete 40 courses to graduate. Each class is just 7.5 weeks long, so you finish courses faster but take fewer courses at a time. With multiple start dates throughout the year, Arizona State makes it easy to begin your studies when ready.

17. University of Nebraska at Omaha

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $259.00 per credit hour (in-state); $534.00 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • A fast track allows you to earn up to nine graduate credits as an undergraduate student

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 7

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $50,131

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 87%

Graduation Rate: 51%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $19,500

Student Satisfaction: 3.7 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 70

This 120-credit undergraduate program is offered entirely online. Not only that, but the credits you earn at the University of Nebraska at Omaha easily transfer to other schools in the system, like the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Of the 120 credits required to graduate, 43 are in criminal justice, not including 18 credits required for an area of concentration or a minor. Some of the courses you might take include:

  • Women, Crime, and Justice
  • Law and the Black Community
  • Terrorism
  • Community-Based Corrections
  • Comparative Criminal Justice Systems

If you intend to get your master’s degree, you can pursue the fast-track program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. This program combines your undergraduate and graduate studies in criminal justice, enabling you to complete up to nine graduate credits as an undergraduate student. 

In addition to the fast-track option, there are many other programs of study in this field at Nebraska-Omaha. This includes a dual-degree option that culminates in a Master of Science in Criminal Justice and a Master of Social Work. 

18. Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $320.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • You can participate in online criminal justice clubs and events.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 3

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $52,024

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 92%

Graduation Rate: 40%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $20,867

Student Satisfaction: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 70

Southern New Hampshire University is a leader in online education, with more than 170,000 learners taking courses from the comfort of their homes. You can join the ranks of SNHU’s students by working towards its online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

As part of your studies, you’ll explore many areas of criminal justice. This includes current criminology theories and emerging criminology trends. You’ll also enhance the personal and professional skills necessary for this work, such as improved decision-making and communication skills.

SNHU gives you further opportunities to learn specialized skills by offering several degree concentration areas. You can choose from the following:

  • Corrections
  • Criminology & Crime Analysis
  • Cybercrime
  • Homeland Security & Counterterrorism
  • Human Services & Advocacy
  • Police Administration & Operations
  • Security Management
  • Substance Abuse

Moreover, if you’ve had law enforcement training, you can earn up to 12 credits toward this degree. Combined with easy 24/7 access to course materials, this could help you earn your degree faster and pursue better employment sooner.

19. Lamar University

Lamar University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $296.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • Earn credit more quickly with accelerated courses and credit for courses taken at the Police Training Academy.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 4

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $44,159

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 88%

Graduation Rate: 37%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $21,119

Student Satisfaction: 3.3 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 70

A highlight of Lamar University’s online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice is that you can transfer up to 90 previously-earned credits to the program. Doing so enables you to finish your degree quickly by earning just 30 additional credits from Lamar.

As a student at Lamar, you’ll take a range of criminal justice courses that will help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills to seek employment immediately upon graduation. These classes might include:

  • Responses to Crime
  • Organized Crime
  • The Court System and Practices
  • Police Systems and Practices
  • Correctional Administration

In addition to your classwork, you can participate in numerous internships. These internships give you real-world, on-the-job experience under the close watch of a supervisor. These field experiences help bring your classroom studies together with your newfound skills to gain relevant experience in criminal justice.

20. Liberty University

Liberty University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 3.5 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $390.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • Tuition rates are frozen and have not increased since 2015

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 4

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $42,394

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 99%

Graduation Rate: 34%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $25,000

Student Satisfaction: 4.2 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 70

Liberty University has one of the largest online learning platforms in the nation, with more than 115,000 students enrolled around the world. Flexible programs with many different specialization options make Liberty an attractive option for criminal justice students like you.

This 120-credit program takes an average of 3.5 years to complete, which is one semester shorter than most programs on this list. Likewise, this program offers an array of specialties that many other criminal justice programs lack. For example, you can focus your studies on the following:

  • Business Administration and Management
  • Corrections and Human Services
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Homeland Security
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Public Administration
  • Strategic Intelligence Studies

There’s also a General specialization that gives you a broad-based education that applies to many occupational pursuits.

Courses are eight weeks long, so you complete each course in an accelerated format. However, you take fewer classes at a time to focus more thoroughly on the content of each class.

21. Louisiana State University at Alexandria

lsu alexandria logo

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $291.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • You might earn credit for prior law enforcement or military training.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 4

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $36,241

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 58%

Graduation Rate: 31%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $20,500

Student Satisfaction: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 68.34

LSU-Alexandria’s online criminal justice degree benefits from instructors with real-world experience in the field. Their knowledge and expertise add to the depth and breadth of your learning while providing real-world examples of how your education can be applied in real-life situations.

This program balances practical aspects of criminal justice with theoretical components. Likewise, you’ll learn about juvenile justice and adult justice and how the two are similar and different. You’ll do so by taking a broad range of classes. These classes might include:

  • Constitutional Law and Criminal Justice
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Criminology
  • The Corrections Process
  • The Judicial Process

As a graduate of this program, you can pursue employment in many different areas. Future law enforcement officers, probation officers, and correctional officers would all benefit from this degree. Other options include private sector security, juvenile justice, and working for a federal agency like the FBI.

22. University of Missouri at St. Louis

University of Missouri-St Louis

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $396.10 per credit hour (in-state); $1,070.00 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • You might earn college credit for training as a Missouri or Illinois law enforcement officer or as a federal officer.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 1

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $48,360

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 57%

Graduation Rate: 57%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $20,500

Student Satisfaction: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 66.67

The Criminology and Criminal Justice bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri at St. Louis is a four-year online program that culminates in a Bachelor of Science degree. It’s an interdisciplinary program that explores social science, corrections, public administration, and much more.

The core coursework includes 37 credits of criminology and criminal justice-related classes. You’ll take courses focusing on the courts, corrections, and policing. You’ll also take classes in criminal law, theories of crime, and research methods.

Upon graduating, you’ll have the qualifications to pursue a number of career goals. This includes working as a police officer, a private investigator, or a criminal profiler. There are also career opportunities in forensic science, court reporting, and career counseling.

If you want to continue your education beyond a bachelor’s degree, the University of Missouri at St. Louis offers a unique opportunity. Its 2+3 BS/MA program allows you to complete your undergraduate and graduate studies in just five years, saving you time and money.

23. Fort Hays State University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $181.46 per credit hour (in-state); $529.68 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • In-state tuition applies to students in 13 states in the central U.S.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 2

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $42,518

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 90%

Graduation Rate: 57%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $20,600

Student Satisfaction: 3.8 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 66.67

At Fort Hays State University, you can choose between completing a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science program in Criminal Justice. The primary difference between the two is that you need ten world language credits to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts. The Bachelor of Science program does not have this requirement.

Either way, you’ll earn a degree that requires you to complete 120 credits to graduate. Throughout your studies, you’ll learn about important topics in criminal justice, like:

  • Administration of justice
  • Criminal justice ethics
  • Criminal investigations
  • Terrorism
  • Victim advocacy

An interesting component of this program is that you must take courses in three primary areas: policing, criminology, and offenders and victims. Doing so gives you a breadth and depth of understanding of criminal justice topics from multiple points of view.

This program is also among the least expensive in our rankings, with in-state tuition costing just over $180 per credit. That rate is available to all four states bordering Kansas, as well as nine other states in the central part of the country.

24. University of Louisville

louisville logo

Quick Facts

  • Length: 121 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $514.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • Active-duty military members pay a reduced $250.00 per credit hour tuition rate.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 2

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $49,875

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 75%

Graduation Rate: 54%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $20,281

Student Satisfaction: 3.6 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 66.67

This online program from the University of Louisville explores both juvenile and adult criminal justice issues. Over the course of four years and 121 credits, you’ll learn about crime and punishment, victimology, and court systems, to name but a few topics.

The science focus of this degree helps prepare you for many different criminal justice career options. For example, graduates of this program have gone on to careers in law enforcement, probation and parole, and addictions counseling.

If you want to further your education, the University of Louisville offers an online Master of Science program, too. If you take a full load of courses year-round, you could conceivably complete both degrees in five years. However, you can transfer up to 60 credits from an associate’s degree to this program, which can cut down your remaining time to graduate.

25. Colorado State University Global

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $350.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • Colorado State University Global is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 2

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $46,735.55

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 96%

Graduation Rate: 46%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $25,000

Student Satisfaction: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 66.67

As a student in Colorado State University Global’s online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, you’ll explore traditional criminal justice methods, contemporary methods of maintaining public safety, and public policy considerations, too.

This program also focuses on protecting civil liberties, like the rights of the accused, to ensure a fair and balanced criminal justice system.

In addition to 31 credits of general education classes, you must take 30 credits of criminal justice courses. You’ll explore topics like laws of evidence, law enforcement and policing, and constitutional law. Moreover, you can add an optional specialization – something not all programs on this list offer.

In fact, CSU Global offers nearly two dozen specializations that range from public relations to emergency management to criminal forensics. These specializations require you to complete five courses (15 credits) of specific coursework. The rest of your credits are electives you can tailor to your specific needs and wants as a criminal justice student.

26. Indiana State University

Indiana State University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120-123 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $9,452.00 per year (in-state, 12-18 credits); $20,880.00 per year (out-of-state)
  • Multiple internship opportunities are available.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 2

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $42,877

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 94%

Graduation Rate: 44%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $23,457

Student Satisfaction: 3.4 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 66.67

At Indiana State University, you can get your Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The wider breadth of this program means you will be prepared for many career paths after graduation. This includes working in corrections, law enforcement, and private security, to name a few.

In addition to traditional criminal justice coursework, you can take specialized courses that hone into niches of criminal justice. For example, Indiana State often has courses available on:

  • Terrorism
  • Homicide Investigation
  • Minorities in the Criminal Justice System
  • Women in the Criminal Justice System

Another highlight of this program is that faculty members hold terminal degrees in their fields, including jurisprudence, criminal justice, psychology, and sociology. Many of your professors also have real-world experience working in the courts, law enforcement, corrections, and more.

Indiana State offers an annual career fair to help you transition from college to career. You can use the fair to build connections, network, and apply to criminal justice-related jobs in Indiana.

27. Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville State University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $227.96 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • An online degree completion option is available

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 4

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $36,409

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 82%

Graduation Rate: 45%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $22,890

Student Satisfaction: 3 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 65

Another best online criminal justice program that ranks highly is from Fayetteville State University. FSU makes sure you spend the majority of your online BS in Criminal Justice program taking field-related courses. So out of the 120 credits required to graduate, 82 of them are in criminal justice. This includes courses like:

  • Criminological Theory
  • White Collar Crime
  • Victimology
  • Media and Crime
  • Restorative Justice

FSU offers a fast track to completing this degree as well. The Online Degree Completion (ODC) program allows you to finish all your upper-division courses online. This program is open to FSU students and students at partner community colleges.

There are several degree options in criminal justice at FSU. This includes a Master of Science in Criminal Justice that you can pursue after completing this undergraduate program.

This program was the first of its kind in North Carolina. Additionally, it is the first program in the state to gain certification from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

28. University of Massachusetts Global

university of massachusetts global

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $500.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • Learning is supplemented by studies of real-world cases.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 4

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $35,275

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 93%

Graduation Rate: 57%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $23,451

Student Satisfaction: 3 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 65

Formerly known as Brandman University, UMass Global is a private, non-profit university that’s regionally accredited by the WSCUC Senior College and University Commission. The school’s Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice is just one of dozens of programs you can take entirely online.

This is a 120-credit program that takes about four years to complete. During your studies, you’ll learn from expert professors with real-world criminal justice experience. Likewise, you’ll examine real cases and explore their implications in criminal justice.

In addition to completing general education requirements, you must take 48 credits of criminal justice coursework. This includes classes like:

  • Domestic Violence
  • Gangs and Gang Activity
  • Ethics in Criminal Justice
  • Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Homeland Security

You must also complete a capstone course during your senior year of study. The capstone enables you to apply what you’ve learned in solving a problem or issue in the criminal justice field.

29. Troy University

Troy University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $388.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • Courses are in accelerated nine-week terms.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 4

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $39,339

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 95%

Graduation Rate: 37%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $25,000

Student Satisfaction: 3.8 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 65

At Troy University, you can choose from two bachelor’s programs in criminal justice and two master’s degrees. The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice is a 120-credit program you can complete entirely online.

To graduate, you must take 36 credits of required criminal justice courses. You must also complete 18 credits of criminal justice electives. Doing so gives you a wide breadth of knowledge and skills you can use in your future career.

Some of the courses you might take include:

  • Criminological Theory
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Criminology Constitutional Law
  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice

This program also offers two minors – one in homeland security and the other in digital forensics. Either minor would be a solid addition to your major coursework in preparation for criminal justice jobs.

Additionally, a unique feature of this school is that you can enroll in Troy’s B.S. in Criminal Justice Program with an Accelerated Law Option. The program combines your undergraduate and law school studies, enabling you to graduate with both degrees in just six years.

30. Portland State University

Quick Facts

  • Length: 120 credits
  • Time to complete: 4 years (if attending full-time)
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $279.00 per credit hour for in-state and out-of-state
  • PSU offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in this field as well.

Visit the Program Website

Online Program Information:

Number of Degree Options: 1

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $51,902

School-Wide Information:

Admission Rate: 98%

Graduation Rate: 51%

Median Debt Upon Graduation: $21,000

Student Satisfaction: 3.3 out of 5 stars

Type of Accreditation: Regional (2 out of 2 points)

OSR Score: 63.33

This program from Portland State University focuses on many aspects of criminology and criminal justice. For instance, you’ll study crime, crime prevention, and justice and explore how these and other factors lead to criminal behavior. You can choose a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science program.

You’ll take courses that adhere to a five-week schedule. The accelerated format means you work through the material more quickly, but because you take fewer classes at a time, you won’t be overwhelmed with your studies.

This is a fully online program with no residential requirements. Furthermore, you don’t have to log in to your courses at any specific time, so your classes truly adhere to your schedule. PSU provides you with one-on-one support from an academic advisor who can help make distance education a more fruitful process. You also get expert technical support from staff familiar with the criminology and criminal justice program.