30 Best Online Criminal Justice Degrees for 2020

The criminal justice system is more than just good vs. bad. Find out for yourself through one of the Best Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice.

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

By earning an online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, you are promising to be a force of good in the world. This degree can take you places, from patrolling the streets to defending a client in court to helping a first-time offender get back on the right path.

What is an Online Criminal Justice Degree?

At the most general level, a degree in Criminal Justice will cover 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 in a police department. Here’s a look at some of your options:

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

A career in the criminal justice system brings together a wide variety of disciplines: psychology, law & ethics, forensics, statistics, and more. Even more, many programs now have opportunities to specialize in areas such as: Crime Scene Investigation, Homeland Security, Juvenile Justice, Criminal Behavior, and more.

How much can you earn with an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice?

Beyond the gratification of pursing a career that protects and serves, folks who work in the criminal justice system also enjoy a comfortable paycheck. The average salary for police officers and detectives is around $63k per year. Those who work in forensics and crime scene investigation make on average $58k annually.

There is no shortage of work in the criminal justice system. Between now and 2026 jobs in this field are expected to increase by 7-17 percent across the country. Depending on where you work, added perks to this field include a government pension, good benefits, and steady pay.

What is required for an Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice?

The requirements for an online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice vary, depending on which program you are considering. Some, for example, are degree completion programs. That means you’ll need to have a minimum number of credits to transfer. Others, however, use the standard first-year undergraduate admissions requirements, such as:

  • High school diploma, GED, or equivalent
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • Minimum GPA of 2.0

Each program requires around 120-180 credit hours to graduate. Some culminate in a Senior Capstone project. Others require an onsite internship at a local law enforcement organization. Regardless, you’ll take online coursework that will establish a solid foundation in criminal justice theory and application.

What are the best Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice degrees?

OSR uses six data points: three school-wide and three program specific. For school-wide, OSR uses Student Satisfaction, Admission Rates, and the number of programs the school offers online. For program specific, OSR checks the Median Debt of graduates from that program, how many degrees are offered within that program’s umbrella department, and what percentage of students at that school graduated from that department.

The six statistics are displayed by each school. The sliding bar under each statistic represents how that school compares to other US institutions. “Not reported” means a school did not release that information to the US Department of Education. A more detailed description of the OSR process can be found on the methodology page.

  1. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $13,484(in state) / $13,484(out of state)
    • Easy to earn a complementary online minor 
    • Flat-rate tuition applied if you’re taking over 12 credits
    • Military Grant-in-Aid available for military students

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate67%
    Programs offered online42

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department4
    Popularity at School10.38%
    100%
    OSR Score

    Penn State World Campus is a leader in online education. The same goes for its online BS in Criminal Justice program, a 120-credit degree that provides a solid foundation in the field. It also leaves room for an additional minor like Homeland Security or Political Science.

  2. Fayetteville State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $2,982(in state) / $14,590(out of state)
    • FSU accepts up to 90 transfer credits
    • Generous military benefits offered in tuition discounts
    • Curriculum includes tangential skills like statistics

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75%
    Admission Rate68%
    Programs offered online10

    Program Level

    Median Debt$23,339
    Programs in Department2
    Popularity at School17.71%
    94%
    OSR Score

    Fayetteville State University makes sure you spend the majority of your online BS in Criminal Justice program taking field-related courses. So out of the 120 required credits, 82 of them will be devoted to criminal justice.

  3. Sam Houston State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,472(in state) / $15,432(out of state)
    • Access to over 40 unique scholarship options
    • Faculty regularly publish in Journal of Criminal Justice Education
    • Guaranteed Price Plan option for Texas residents

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76%
    Admission Rate74%
    Programs offered online7

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,108
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School21.04%
    92%
    OSR Score

    The online BA/BS in Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University features a final internship opportunity for senior students. This is a perfect way to segue into the working world. Highlight courses from the core curriculum include Cyber Crime, White Collar Crime, Victimology, and more.

  4. Florida International University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $4,721(in state) / $16,529(out of state)
    • Extra guidance offered by success coaches
    • LEAP available for hands-on experience
    • Online students have the opportunity to join the Honors College

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76%
    Admission Rate54%
    Programs offered online26

    Program Level

    Median Debt$20,492
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School5.82%
    84%
    OSR Score

    Florida International University rolls out a unique online BS in Crime Science. This merges together computer science with criminal justice and forensics. This program also includes the Law Enforcement Apprenticeship Program, which combines work experience with online learning.

  5. University of Nebraska at Omaha

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,954(in state) / $18,644(out of state)
    • Law enforcement officers receive 30% tuition waiver
    • Heavy emphasis on criminal justice research
    • Shared credit program with Nebraska State College system

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75%
    Admission Rate87%
    Programs offered online14

    Program Level

    Median Debt$19,416
    Programs in Department2
    Popularity at School9.71%
    84%
    OSR Score

    Designed specifically for working adults, the BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice at UNO is delivered via online courses. Students must meet the 120-credit-hour requirement through general education courses, major courses, and electives. Highlights include Policy & Society, Survey of Corrections, and more.

  6. University of the Cumberlands

    20-Year ROI
    $693,847

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $22,640(in state) / $22,640(out of state)
    • Up to 90 transfer credits accepted
    • Relevant career-based concentration areas offered
    • Highly affordable tuition rate ($199/credit)

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76%
    Admission Rate74%
    Programs offered online15

    Program Level

    Median Debt$18,920
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School10.76%
    83%
    OSR Score

    The University of the Cumberlands features four core areas of concentration in the BS in Criminal Justice degree: Law Enforcement Management, Criminal Profiling, Forensics, and Prison Ministries. All require a total of 128 credits. The degree is topped off by engaging electives.

  7. Liberty University

    20-Year ROI
    $718,609

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $15,734(in state) / $15,734(out of state)
    • Up to 75% of transfer credits accepted
    • Generous military tuition discounts ($250/credit)
    • Numerous career-specific tracks offered

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73%
    Admission Rate30%
    Programs offered online23

    Program Level

    Median Debt$28,592
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School6.21%
    83%
    OSR Score

    The online BS in Criminal Justice program at Liberty University stands out for its numerous specialization tracks. Options include: Crime Scene Investigation, Homeland Security, Juvenile Justice, and more. The program is fully online and takes most students 3.5 years to complete.

  8. California State University-San Bernardino

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,742(in state) / $17,622(out of state)
    • Students have access to numerous financial aid options
    • Courses are delivered in short, 5-week segments
    • Three different possible start dates (fall, spring, summer)

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction78%
    Admission Rate57%
    Programs offered online1

    Program Level

    Median Debt$16,909
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School8.4%
    81%
    OSR Score

    One key distinction to make with the BA in Criminal Justice program at CSUSB is that it is a degree completion program. It is intended for students who have already finished an associates degree or those who are working full-time. The degree covers 180 credit hours of career-specific classes.

  9. University of Massachusetts-Lowell

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $14,350(in state) / $31,415(out of state)
    • BS to MS in Criminal Justice joint program available 
    • Computer-based criminal justice skills emphasized
    • Same in- and out-of-state tuition rates

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74%
    Admission Rate69%
    Programs offered online12

    Program Level

    Median Debt$22,351
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School10.36%
    81%
    OSR Score

    The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at UMass-Lowell gives you the option to attend online, in person, or through a hybrid model. The 120-credit-hour curriculum makes room for core courses, electives, and even a minor. It also emphasizes computer courses like Crime Mapping, Criminal Justice Data Analysis, and more.

  10. Western Carolina University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $3,971(in state) / $14,364(out of state)
    • Students can transfer up to 24 criminal justice credits
    • Hugely affordable per credit costs ($53-$189/credit)
    • Curriculum is highly customizable with electives

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73%
    Admission Rate39%
    Programs offered online7

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,183
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School6.68%
    80%
    OSR Score

    Western Carolina University runs a competitive online BS in Criminal Justice program that requires a few more qualifications than some. It is designed for students who already hold an associate’s degree and have at least one year of experience in law enforcement. You’ll complete 49 credits of criminal justice courses.

  11. University of Central Florida

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $4,478(in state) / $19,810(out of state)
    • Additional Criminal Justice certificates available
    • Senior Scholar Program allows for graduate-level coursework
    • Some finish this degree in just 2 years

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75%
    Admission Rate50%
    Programs offered online19

    Program Level

    Median Debt$18,809
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School3.54%
    80%
    OSR Score

    You’ll have the choice between an online BS or BA in Criminal Justice degree at UCF Online. The only difference between the two is a language requirement. The 120-credit curriculum covers 30 hours of core classes, 30 hours of upper-level electives, and more.

  12. Brandman University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $12,000(in state) / $12,000(out of state)
    • Extended Education program for minimum transfer requirement
    • Option to do a competency-based, self-paced degree
    • Generous benchmark GPA of 2.0 for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction72%
    Admission Rate68%
    Programs offered online14

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School9.3%
    79%
    OSR Score

    Brandman University allows students to either earn a fully online BA in Criminal Justice or an online minor in Criminal Justice. Whichever route you choose, you’ll find a robust curriculum with classes such as Corrections, Forensics, National Security, and more. The BA covers 120 credits.

  13. Troy University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,584(in state) / $15,168(out of state)
    • Multiple ways to specialize (minor or MS pathway)
    • Generous military tuition benefits 
    • Troy Online Scholarships available to help with costs

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76%
    Admission Rate88%
    Programs offered online18

    Program Level

    Median Debt$30,949
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School11.61%
    77%
    OSR Score

    Troy University makes it easy to chart your own path in the criminal justice field. In addition to its core online BA in Criminal Justice, you can minor in Digital Forensics or do a BS/MS accelerated program in Criminal Justice. The core major itself includes 36 credit hours.

  14. California Baptist University

    20-Year ROI
    $839,708

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $30,446(in state) / $30,446(out of state)
    • Some POST experience can count for college credit
    • Accelerated pace lets you finish up to 36 credits/year
    • CBU has a generous transfer policy

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction78%
    Admission Rate77%
    Programs offered online23

    Program Level

    Median Debt$26,207
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School4.04%
    74%
    OSR Score

    California Baptist University brings a Christian focus to its online BS in Criminal Justice program. Because it is an accelerated program, with courses starting every eight weeks, some students can finish this degree in just 16 months. There are 48 credits that are targeted to criminal justice.

  15. Concordia University-Saint Paul

    20-Year ROI
    $979,788

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $21,750(in state) / $21,750(out of state)
    • Courses offered 100% online and in 7-week terms
    • $2,000 scholarship for eligible transfer students
    • Online application fee is waived

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate55%
    Programs offered online17

    Program Level

    Median Debt$23,381
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School3.31%
    73%
    OSR Score

    One huge bonus of the program at Concordia University-Saint Paul is that it includes a Minnesota POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) licensure and non-POST licensure track. The program is intended for working adults and covers 44 major-based credits.

  16. University of Louisville

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $11,068(in state) / $26,090(out of state)
    • Tuition discount for active-duty service members
    • CJ Department connected to professional networks
    • Same online in- and out-of-state tuition rates

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75%
    Admission Rate75%
    Programs offered online4

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,231
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School5.91%
    73%
    OSR Score

    The online BS in Criminal Justice covers the judicial system from top to bottom. The curriculum features core competencies in specific areas such as juvenile detention and adult corrections. Out of the 121 total credit hours, 54 are devoted to criminal justice.

  17. Colorado State University-Global Campus

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,400(in state) / $8,400(out of state)
    • Graduate with two skills endorsement awards
    • Option to customize degree with over 20 specializations
    • No additional student fees applied

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction65%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online15

    Program Level

    Median Debt$24,882
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School2.78%
    72%
    OSR Score

    The curriculum at CSU-Global Campus emphasizes the importance of combining theory with application. In your online BS in Criminal Justice, you will take 120 credits in total, with 30 of those credits specific to the field. Some include Laws of Evidence, Law Enforcement and American Policing, and more.

  18. University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,322(in state) / $24,656(out of state)
    • Classes are delivered in asynchronous format (not live)
    • Numerous career-based elective course options
    • Generous baseline GPA requirement of 2.0

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74%
    Admission Rate76%
    Programs offered online9

    Program Level

    Median Debt$22,732
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School5.53%
    72%
    OSR Score

    Delivered fully online, students at the University of Cincinnati will jump into a curriculum that prepares them for everything from criminal policy to law enforcement. Students can attend part-time or full-time. The classes are held in either 7-week or 14-week formats.

  19. University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,776(in state) / $23,928(out of state)
    • 12 graduate credits available at BS level
    • Internship experience encouraged in curriculum
    • Over 72% of undergraduates receive financial aid

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73%
    Admission Rate65%
    Programs offered online10

    Program Level

    Median Debt$19,707
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School2.03%
    72%
    OSR Score

    CU Denver offers a BA in Criminal Justice that lays out career-focused coursework for a job in the field. The degree covers 120 credits and culminates in an internship experience. The minimum requirement for the internship is 135 hours, though many choose to complete more.

  20. Washington State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,530(in state) / $23,956(out of state)
    • Numerous learning enrichment opportunities
    • Access to free online writing lab and tutoring help
    • Reduced tuition if you’re taking over 18 credits

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73%
    Admission Rate73%
    Programs offered online13

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,847
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School3.15%
    72%
    OSR Score

    Washington State University brings history and expertise to its online Criminal Justice degree. It’s the second oldest criminal justice program in the nation! The curriculum brings together core classes, three criminal justice electives, and three political science electives.

  21. Rutgers University-New Brunswick

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $11,619(in state) / $27,560(out of state)
    • Numerous undergraduate scholarships available
    • Huge number of electives to choose from
    • Accelerated bachelor’s to master’s track available

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate58%
    Programs offered online12

    Program Level

    Median Debt$22,664
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School3.31%
    71%
    OSR Score

    Rutgers University-New Brunswick offers a BA in Criminal Justice. While a number of the courses have the option to be delivered online, this is not a fully online degree. The curriculum follows three core “themes”: Human Behavior, Deviance, and Crime; Social Control Institutions; and Law & Ethics.

  22. University of Nebraska at Kearney

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,753(in state) / $12,533(out of state)
    • Customizable options between the two tracks
    • Huge list of criminal justice-specific electives
    • Hands-on internship experience available

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction71%
    Admission Rate82%
    Programs offered online7

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,276
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School5.63%
    71%
    OSR Score

    Depending on your needs, you can take one of two tracks at UNK: the online BS in Criminal Justice or the online Comprehensive BS in Criminal Justice. The first requires an additional minor, while the second includes way more elective options. Either way you choose, you’ll fulfill 120 credits.

  23. Fort Hays State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $3,900(in state) / $13,723(out of state)
    • Targeted elective options within criminal justice
    • Additional criminal justice certificates offered
    • No additional fees beyond tuition rates

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction71%
    Admission Rate89%
    Programs offered online22

    Program Level

    Median Debt$22,461
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School2.67%
    70%
    OSR Score

    The BS and BA in Criminal Justice programs at Fort Hays State University are both offered online. The BA requires 10 credits of a language, while the BS does not. The major electives are divided into three focused categories: Policing, Offenders & Victims, and Criminology.

  24. Lamar University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,832(in state) / $15,792(out of state)
    • Tuition exemption program for law enforcement
    • Low per-credit tuition rate that includes distance learning fee
    • Classes offered in 8-week and 15-week segments

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75%
    Admission Rate82%
    Programs offered online11

    Program Level

    Median Debt$28,221
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School6.42%
    70%
    OSR Score

    Based in Texas, Lamar University has created an online BS in Criminal Justice program that is intended for existing law enforcement officers. It provides a generous work transfer program to allow students to graduate in as little as two years. The major requirement encompasses 49 credits.

  25. Loyola University Chicago

    20-Year ROI
    $1,064,520

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $41,470(in state) / $41,470(out of state)
    • Specific scholarships and grants for military students
    • Designed for existing criminal justice professionals
    • Flexible course formats (online, weekend, hybrid)

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76%
    Admission Rate71%
    Programs offered online7

    Program Level

    Median Debt$24,655
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School3.05%
    70%
    OSR Score

    Loyola University Chicago takes a new approach with its online BA in Applied Criminal Justice Leadership. It selects only existing criminal justice professionals and works to make them leaders in their settings. This program can be finished fully online or through a hybrid model.

  26. Old Dominion University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $6,630(in state) / $23,955(out of state)
    • In- and out-of-state tuition rates are similar
    • Military students receive tuition discount and waived fees
    • Seamless transfer system from VA community colleges

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75%
    Admission Rate86%
    Programs offered online19

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at SchoolNot Reported
    67%
    OSR Score

    Whether you’re looking for a BA or BS in Criminal Justice, a full program or a degree completion program, Old Dominion University has got you covered. The curriculum blends together administrative skills with social science courses. In total you’ll graduate with 120 credit hours completed.

  27. Indiana State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,716(in state) / $19,252(out of state)
    • 80% of undergraduates receive financial aid
    • Non-resident reduced rate for states surrounding Indiana
    • Frequent symposiums delivered on core topics

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73%
    Admission Rate85%
    Programs offered online19

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at SchoolNot Reported
    66%
    OSR Score

    The BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Indiana State University prepares students for a wide range of careers. Students can focus on areas such as homicide investigation, women in the criminal justice system, and more. All students complete an internship at the end of the degree.

  28. Portland State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,403(in state) / $24,750(out of state)
    • Ability to graduate in 1 year with transfer credits
    • 3 unique specializations (e.g., Criminal Behavior)
    • Numerous financial aid avenues available

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74%
    Admission Rate92%
    Programs offered online3

    Program Level

    Median Debt$22,937
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School4.13%
    66%
    OSR Score

    You’ll have the choice between a BA or a BS in Criminal Justice at Portland State. But here’s the catch: The BS can be completed fully online while the BA can only be completed 75 percent online. Regardless of your choice, the degree will cover 180 credits with a culminating Senior Capstone.

  29. University of Missouri-St Louis

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $10,275(in state) / $27,327(out of state)
    • Opportunities to earn a minor or certificate in Criminal Justice
    • High-ranking Missouri residents may qualify for automatic admission
    • Curriculum catered toward law, research, and policy

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate76%
    Programs offered online7

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at SchoolNot Reported
    63%
    OSR Score

    UM-St Louis offers an online BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice that prepares students for a number of careers, namely law and the court system. In addition to general education requirements, students will take 37 core credits in the major, including a specialty course in Policing, Courts, or Corrections.

  30. Arizona State University-Tempe

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $10,104(in state) / $26,684(out of state)
    • Fast-Track options available (2.5-3 years)
    • Over 80% of students receive financial aid
    • Earned Admission track if you don’t meet initial requirements

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74%
    Admission Rate84%
    Programs offered online1

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,551
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at SchoolNot Reported
    62%
    OSR Score

    ASU stands out as offering the best online Bachelor of Science in Criminology & Criminal Justice program in the nation. Affordable and accelerated, you’ll take 40 classes in total through short, 7.5-week course segments. It’s possible to finish this degree in just 2.5 years.