Working people in the criminal justice and criminology field often start with just a high school diploma or associate’s degree, but today, they can earn their bachelor’s on their own time with an online program. The top reason most people pick an online program in criminal justice is that they can quickly get through the program and start making the most of their careers. Some jobs in criminal justice can also start even while the student is still completing their training and other online coursework. These opportunities offer the active, exciting, and hands-on experiences that may first begin during training but continue will also as part of a long-term career.
There are a number of variables to consider when selecting the best criminal justice schools you can trust. The best criminal justice schools should be accredited, with a good reputation. The best colleges should also offer job market networking, with statistical details about the hire rate after completing the program. The most trusted programs include faculty who have real-world experience in criminal justice fields. Students are exposed to theory as well as emerging global and national trends.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs
People who are interested in an online criminal justice program -primarily adults already working in the field – have very real-world concerns about choosing a college. That’s why Bachelor’s Degree Center editors focus just on accredited, trusted institutions. Programs are ranked according to five factors: Alumni Salary, Graduation Rate, Job Placement, Student Satisfaction, and Tuition Costs.
1. Penn State World Campus
Penn State World Campus offers a BS in Criminal Justice that is available entirely online. Students vying for this online Criminal Justice degree must complete 120 credit units to graduate. This online Criminal Justice bachelor degree prepares degree graduates in the areas of policing, ethics, criminology, corrections, pathology, and sociology, to name a few. Criminal Justice students who are military members receive lowered tuition and expenses.
Penn State World Campus was chartered in 1998 and is the official online learning platform offered by Penn State University. Penn State World Campus provides the same quality education as the degree programs offered on-campus. This strictly online school offers both graduate and undergraduate programs and is recognized by US News among the top five online baccalaureate programs.
What We Like: Penn State Online is the latest iteration of Penn State’s commitment to distance learning.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice
2. Indiana Institute of Technology
The Indiana Institute of Technology offers three online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree programs – a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (BSCJ), the BSCJ in Administration, and the BSCJ Rehabilitation Services. Each of Indiana Tech’s These online criminal justice degree programs prepares students for careers in the fields of corrections, probation, law enforcement, and profiling, to name a few. Indiana Institute of Technology’s criminal justice programs offer internship opportunities with the state police and the local county’s criminal justice system.
The Indiana Institute of Technology was established in 1930 as a for-profit business school but has since been reorganized as a nonprofit institution of higher learning. The school’s main campus is in Fort Wayne; however, the school operates another thirteen locations throughout Indiana and Kentucky.
What We Like: Indiana Institute of Technology is a specialty school that focuses on career-oriented programs in education, criminal justice, engineering, and criminal justice.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice, BSCJ Administration, BSCJ Rehabilitation Services
3. Florida State University
Florida State University’s College of Criminology & Criminal Justice offers an online bachelor’s degree in criminology. The program requires completion of 36 credit hours in criminology and criminal justice. Students must also fulfill all university requirements for the bachelor of science degree. The distance learning program offers flexibility and convenience for working learners or full-time parents. In addition, all classes are taught by nationally known professors who are leaders in the field.
Florida State University was established in 1851. Florida State holds the distinction of being a sea-grant and space-grant institution of higher education, and the senior member school of the State University System in Florida. FSU’s Tallahassee campus covers nearly 1,500 acres and serves more than 41,000 students.
What We Like: US News recognizes Florida State University among the top twenty national public universities in the nation.
Degree: BS in Criminology
4. University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma’s Extended Campus offers a BS in Criminal Justice that is available 100% online. OU’s online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree program requires degree candidates to complete 120 credit units to graduate, and 30 of which must be earned at the University of Oklahoma. The Princeton Review and US News recognize OU’s online criminal justice degree program among the best in the country. Students can opt for a concentration in Administrative Leadership, Homeland Security, Intelligence, or Restorative Justice, among a few others.
The University of Oklahoma was established in 1890, nearly two decades before Oklahoma became a state. The University of Oklahoma’s 3000+ acre campus is home to almost 29,000 students studying for over 400 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral degrees, and professional certificates.
What We Like: The University of Oklahoma operates international campuses in Brazil, Turkey, and Mexico.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice
5. Washington State University Global Campus
Washington State University offers a BS in Criminal Justice that is recognized among the top national programs by US News & World Report. The school’s online criminal justice degree program requires students to complete coursework in Criminal Law & Procedure, Criminology Theory, Criminal Law, and Crime Policies, to name a few. WSU – Global Campus’ online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree program is the high-tech delivery of a criminal justice degree that is the 2nd oldest program in the country.
Washington State University Global Campus was established in 2012. Washington State University Global Campus is the online extension of Washington State University. The parent institution WSU was established in 1890 under the Morrill Land Grant Act.
What We Like: Washington State University Global Campus is headquartered in Pullman, WA and serves more than 3,000 students.
Degree: BA in Criminal Justice
6. Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers a BS in Criminology & Justice that can be completed 100% online. The online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree offered by ASU Online requires a total of 120 credit hours, of which 45 credit units must be upper-division courses. The online criminal justice degree is eligible for those students who wish to fast-track their education. Career opportunities for this criminal justice degree include Forensic Specialist, Corrections Sergeant, Fraud Investigator, and Intelligence Officer, to name just a few.
Arizona State University was established in 1885 before Arizona became a state. ASU operates several campuses in Arizona, with an additional 30,000+ students studying on the school’s distance learning platform. The university is organized into eleven colleges/schools.
What We Like: Arizona State University is one of the few universities to have a student enrollment that exceeds 100,000.
Degree: BS in Criminology and Justice
7. CSU Global
Colorado State University Global offers a Bachelor of Criminal Justice (BCJ) that is available entirely online. CSU Global’s online criminal justice degree program prepares students to enter the criminal justice field as Probation Officers, Private Detectives, Police Officers, and Emergency Management Directors. Coursework for this online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree includes Leadership Principles, Critical Reasoning, Criminology, Laws of Evidence, and Criminal Justice Ethics, among others. Degree candidates require the completion of 120 credit units and a culminating capstone demonstrating the student’s Criminal Justice Knowledge & Skills.
Colorado State University was established in 1870, and CSU Global – the distance learning extension sister school in the CSU System – was established in 2007. CSU Global serves over 19,000 students. CSU Global operates its distance learning program using Canvas.
What We Like: CSU Global provides programs and degrees for non-traditional students and working learners.
Degree: Bachelor’s of Criminal Justice
8. University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida’s College of Community Innovation & Education offers a BA or BS in Criminal Justice that is available to complete entirely online. UCF’s online criminal justice degree program is recognized as a ‘best-value’ institution of higher learning by Forbes, Kiplinger, and The Princeton Review. Students who are new students to the University of Central Florida that choose to enroll in the school’s online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree receive reduced expenses and tuition fees.
The University of Central Florida is a public institution of higher education that was established in 1963. The school’s urban main campus covers nearly 1,500 acres and serves more than 68,000 students. UCF is organized into thirteen schools/colleges and an additional ten satellite facilities in the central portion of Florida.
What We Like: The University of Central Florida holds the distinction of having more on-campus enrolled students than any other school in the nation.
Degree: BA or BS in Criminal Justice
9. University of Wisconsin Platteville
The University of Wisconsin Platteville offers a BS in Criminal Justice degree program that is available entirely through the school’s distance learning program. The online criminal justice degree program offered by UW Platteville provides transfer students the opportunity to apply for transfer credits through articulation agreements and professional work experience. Additionally, UW Platteville’s online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree programs offer scholarship opportunities to eligible distance-learning students and working learners. Criminal Justice graduates find rewarding careers in the US legal system, the corrections system, or law enforcement, among others.
The University of Wisconsin Platteville was established in 1866. UW Platteville is a member school of the University of Wisconsin system. UW Platteville’s campus has no commercial roads that run through it. The 800+-acre campus serves more than 8,600 students on-campus and another several thousand of students studying online.
What We Like: The University of Wisconsin Platteville began offering printed distance-learning coursework in the late 1990s.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice
10. Ball State University
Ball State University offers a BS in Criminal Justice & Criminology that is available 100% online. Ball State University’s online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree programs are customizable to meet a student’s exact career objectives. Graduates of BSU’s online criminal justice degree program are readily prepared for careers in Law Enforcement, Parole Officers, Institutional Counselors, and Victim Advocates, to name a few. Ball State University’s baccalaureate criminal justice degree candidates are required to complete 120 credit units and a culminating capstone experience.
Ball State University was established in 1918 by the philanthropic industrialists known as the Ball Brothers. The current Muncie, IN campus, covers more than 1,000 acres and serves more than 22,000 students. Ball State University is home to the David Owsley Museum of Art since the mid-1930s.
What We Like: Ball State University began as a normal teacher’s college with one-year tuition of $10.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice and Criminology
11. Drexel University Online
Drexel University offers an online BS in Criminal Justice degree program. The Criminology online criminal justice degree program is delivered using semester quarters rather than semi-annual semesters. Transfer students enrolling in Drexel Online’s BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice program are eligible to transfer up to 90 credits. Coursework includes Cultural Diversity, Political Science, Race Crime & Justice, Sentencing, and Crime Prevention Planning, among others. It is noted that degree graduates must also complete an independent study to graduate.
Drexel University was established in 1891 as a nonprofit institution of higher learning. Drexel University Online was first established in 1996 as a private for-profit school but has since become a direct internal division of Drexel University.
What We Like: In 2007, Drexel University Online took the initiative and founded the National Distance Learning Week.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice
12. UMass Lowell
The University of Massachusetts, Lowell’s Graduate, Online & Professionals Studies division, offers a BS in Criminal Justice that is available entirely online or as a hybrid delivery option. UMass Lowell’s online criminal justice degree program provides transfer students the opportunity to transfer up to 90 credit units. The online criminal justice degree program offered by UMass Lowell includes coursework that includes terrorism, criminal profiling, victimology, homeland security, and emergency management, among others.
The University of Massachusetts, Lowell, was established in 1894 as a normal school in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. UMass Lowell is the largest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts’ Merrimack Valley Region and the 2nd largest in the commonwealth. The school’s 100+ acre urban campus is home to more than 18,000 students.
What We Like: The University of Massachusetts, Lowell, is one of only a few public schools with a degree program in the technology of sound recording, meteorology, and the engineering of plastics.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice
13. Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University offers a BS in Criminal Justice that is available completely online. IWU’s online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree program requires degree candidates to complete 42 credit hours of required classes in criminal justice. It is possible to complete this online criminal justice degree program in about one and one-half years.
Indiana Wesleyan University was established as a private institution of higher education in 1920. IWU is affiliated with the Wesleyan Church. The school’s main Marion suburban campus serves more than 3,000 students studying in a traditional classroom.
What We Like: Indiana Wesleyan University serves students on-campus, through distance learning options and the fifteen educations located in Ohio, Indians, and Kentucky.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice
14. University of Nebraska at Kearney
The University of Nebraska at Kearney offers a completely online BS in Criminal Justice. Online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree graduates are prepared for careers as a Border Patrol Agent, Police Officers, or Private Investigators, to name a few. Students studying for the online criminal justice degree program requires the completion of 120 credit units, which includes a five-credit internship.
The University of Nebraska at Kearney was established in 1904 as a Nebraska State Normal school. The University of Nebraska at Kearney is a member school of the University of Nebraska system. UNK’s rural campus is home to more than 6,200 students.
What We Like: The University of Nebraska at Kearney’s first residential hall was for women. The men’s residence was finished the following year.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice
15. University of Nebraska at Omaha
The University of Nebraska at Omaha offers a BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice that is delivered 100% online. Degree graduates of the online criminal justice degree program must complete 120 credit units to graduate – with a minimum GPA of 2.0. Online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree students have the opportunity to study abroad and learn how the United Kingdom’s justice system operates.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha was established as a public institution of higher education in 1908 that was initially a Christian-based curriculum. The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s urban campus is home to more than 15,000 students.
What We Like: The University of Nebraska at Omaha is home to the $70 million Computer and Engineering facility known as UNO.
Degree: BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Should I Choose a Local Criminal Justice School or Online?
There can be a variety of benefits to taking online classes from the top criminal justice colleges compared to a local criminal justice school. Searching for “criminal justice schools near me” it becomes evident that local schools can be restrictive. A local program may not offer the level of flexibility or range of specialized content available via online programs. An online degree from top criminal justice colleges prepares students for a career in corrections, law enforcement, cybercrime, juvenile justice, and homeland security, as well as training that’s useful in social services.
With the top criminal justice colleges, associated online classes may offer lower costs, as well as the flexibility of at-home study and access to world-class experts in the field of criminal justice. It’s often easier and more cost-effective to find top criminal justice colleges online that help professionals to develop competency in criminal justice. They also successfully offer virtual networking opportunities that are more effective than local collaboration ever could be. There are lots of reasons to choose a career in criminal justice or criminology.
A criminal justice career with a bachelor of arts can include a specialization like
- crime scene investigation
- juvenile delinquency
- forensic science
- criminal investigation
- criminal behavior
- public safety
- private security
Law enforcement officers may find a degree completion program helps improve their pay. Other careers within the court system include paralegal (with a legal studies or justice studies degree). A bachelor’s is also required for criminal justice professionals who want to go to law school.
How Do I Know I Can Trust a Criminal Justice Program?
The best criminology colleges combine law, sociology, and psychology. Students need the skills and knowledge to understand the justice system and learn how to deal with criminals. The goal of criminal justice and criminology programs you can trust is to prevent crime. Criminal justice accreditation is the best and easiest way to find programs at the best criminology colleges that prepare students for a career in criminal justice and criminology. These programs are built on trust, with the prospect of a long and fruitful career that’s ready and waiting at the completion of the course of study.
Beyond the job security, there’s also the realization that the coursework, training, and even the eventual job opportunities are all predicated upon values and standards that are ethical and high-minded. The goal is to offer assistance and justice to the victims. At the same time, the criminal justice training, coursework, and career opportunities revolve around the pursuit of justice and the protection of the innocent. The very premise means a chosen career path that will be challenging and demanding as it offers a wide range of rewards and benefits.
Also look for financial aid offerings, tuition rates, and college credit for work experience. Criminal justice majors getting an online bachelor of science may get a lot of general education out of the way at community college. Online students may be focused on their career goals and not need an in-person program.
Can I Get a Job with an Online Criminal Justice Degree?
A Criminal Justice degree prepares students for entry-level criminal justice jobs like investigators, police officers, legal assistants and secretaries, crime analysts, correctional officers, and FBI agents. The bachelor’s degree prepares students for criminal justice for careers that involve criminal law and justice. When searching for “criminal justice jobs near me,” it’s clear that these jobs are in demand, although some on-the-job training may be required.
More than three million people are employed in the criminal justice field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With so many job options to select from, and salary ranges that start at $10.63 for entry-level criminal justice jobs, there’s a great deal of flexibility in this career option. The highest level of employment with a Criminal Justice degree are in government, investigation, or education. When searching for “criminal justice jobs near me,” the top-paying jobs also turn out to be in postal services, natural gas distribution, and advertising.
Entry-level jobs in criminal justice offer job stability in a range of careers that are specifically related to helping people and engaging the individual in a demanding field. Many of the jobs involve some aspect of uncovering the truth and bringing the guilty to justice. These jobs also offer health and retirement benefits that make it appealing to job seekers. With a degree in criminal justice, these positions support and facilitate unique and meaningful experiences. Students who are looking forward to a career in criminal justice and criminology often look forward to the opportunity of making a difference in the lives of others and giving back to the community.