In this ranking, we examine the best value colleges for online criminal justice programs.
You might think that criminal justice is a very specific college major, granting students only limited flexibility to work in careers related to law enforcement and security. But you would be mistaken! Online criminal justice degrees tend to be especially broad in scope. Relevant coursework that is also geared for virtual delivery must focus on the many theories and concepts of criminology. This often means that the curriculum includes classes in psychology, sociology, culture, community relationships, law, terrorism, homeland security, emergency management, and plenty of others! While we focused on net price and graduation rate in this online criminal justice program ranking, these schools qualify as “best value” for many more reasons as well. Read below to see how earning your B.S. or B.A. in Criminal Justice could also mean learning a new language, studying real-world cases, or even testing your skills in a high-profile internship assignment.
Criminal Justice Online Degree Offerings
30. Fayetteville State University
Online BS Completion Program in Criminal Justice
Accredited by the Academy of Criminal Justice Science, Fayetteville State University’s online criminal justice degree program is a great resource for students looking for an affordable and convenient way to earn the rest of their degree. Using the Blackboard Academic Suite online, Fayetteville grants students access to syllabi, readings, notes, course discussion and more—all from home. Only upper-level coursework—including electives such as Policy and Society, White Collar Crime, and Criminal Justice Statistics—is available online, making this program particularly advantageous for transfer students or continuing learners who have met the prerequisites elsewhere.
Net Price: $6,848/yr
29. Tarleton State University
Online Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice Administration
The criminal justice system is an enormous field of great importance to social wellbeing. At Tarleton State University, the Online Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice Administration program provides students with a hands-on, comprehensive introduction to the field through training approved by authorities such as the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), the US Military, and the Federal Government. Tarleton also allows students to customize their education by accepting up to 33 hours of external credit for outside training from approved institutions. Combined with internships with local and state police departments and the district attorney’s office, Tarleton offers one of the best criminal justice schools available online.
Net Price: $11,926/yr
28. Mississippi College
Online Homeland Security Degree
Both domestic and foreign terrorism are looming threats to the security of the United States and its allies, and this modern form of warfare calls for a new kind of “police” force. With an online Homeland Security degree from Mississippi College, you can join the ranks of anti-terrorist workers around the country who serve to protect our country from indiscriminate violence. Designed to accommodate working professionals as well as veterans and parents, Mississippi’s online criminal justice degree program makes it easy to schedule classes at your own pace and on your own time. And as a “distinctly Christian” school, Mississippi has a proud tradition of infusing the fields of law enforcement, emergency management, and intelligence analysis with moral, ethical leaders.
Net Price: $16,418/yr
27. Oakland City University
Online Criminal Justice, B.S.
At Oakland City University, working professionals and students of faith can build new skills for a meaningful career in criminal justice without taking time off. With 100% online coursework (facilitated by an OCU-provided iPad Mini) and 5-week long, single-subject classes that transition seamlessly between topics and disciplines, it’s easy to balance a full workload and family with your studies. OCU even accepts previous professional experience and related training towards the completion of credit hours, making it possible to graduate with your criminal justice degree online in just 18 months.
Net Price: $19,344/yr
26. University of Louisiana at Monroe
Online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice (BA)
Chartered in 1970, the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s online criminal justice degree program is one of the oldest in the state and boasts a proven record of success. Not only was this exceptional program given one of Affordable College Online’s top online criminal justice degree rankings in 2015, it also has a nearly 90% graduate placement rate in the field after six months. Finding a career in police work, forensics, or fraud investigation is not uncommon for ULM graduates with a BA in Criminal Justice, 40% of whom go on to pursue master’s degrees to continue their professional growth.
Net Price: $8,287/yr
25. McNeese State University
Online Baccalaureate Degree in Criminal Justice
Combining resources with Louisiana State University-Eunice and Southwest Louisiana Technical Community College, McNeese State University is able to offer all four years of its accelerated online criminal justice degree curriculum entirely through digital media. LSU-E and SOWELA provide the first two years of general requirements and prerequisite courses for the degree, while McNeese provides the remaining upper level curriculum requirements. What’s more, the degree is structured such that you can take just two courses at a time (in 7-week sessions, twice per semester) letting you accelerate your studies without feeling overwhelmed by mountains of homework.
Net Price: $8,722/yr
24. University of Nebraska at Omaha
Online Criminology and Criminal Justice Degree
If you’re looking to pick up where you left off in college after starting a career, raising a family, or even traveling the world, the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Division of Continuing Studies provides a great opportunity to complete your degree. Offering a specialization in Criminology and Criminal Justice, continuing students at Omaha can earn a Bachelor of General Studies degree that incorporates all the tenets of a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Science. From internships at the U.S. Marshall’s Service or the Douglas Country Sheriff’s Department to expert faculty and coursework in criminal procedure and research, this program provides students with everything they need to start a career in criminal justice without ever “going” to class.
Net Price: $10,979/yr
23. University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Online Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice/Master in Criminal Justice
At the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, you can earn a practical, marketable degree online without sacrificing a comprehensive college education. Combining 36-48 credits of professional coursework with a robust liberal arts core featuring compositional writing, history, and math/science, criminal justice students at UMass acquire a broad knowledge base that they can deploy in numerous different careers and professional capacities. UMass also boosts criminal justice students’ career eligibility by calling for them to complete a “professional skills” requirement. These additional courses, which are available in everything from foreign language to statistics to data analysis, can enhance your knowledge – and your resume – in a valuable way.
Net Price: $15,965/yr
22. Mercer University
Online Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Leadership
What’s the difference between getting a Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Leadership from Mercer University and any other cheap criminal justice degree online? First of all, where many other related programs focus on the crime itself, Mercer prioritizes emergency response and safety, which is particularly important for terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Secondly, Mercer leverages the power of service learning to help students gain actual hands-on experience working in fire protection, corrections, and emergency medical services that can transition seamlessly into a meaningful career. And thanks to its focus on leadership and administrative skills, Mercer also qualifies students for work in the growing field of emergency management.
Net Price: $20,054/yr
21. Drury University
Online Associate/Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
At Drury University, the cheap online criminal justice degree program combines the fields of psychology, sociology, and government to help you develop an understanding of criminal behavior on an individual, societal, and institutional level. This broad perspective on the issue of crime prepares students for a number of vital careers in public service, including law enforcement and criminal investigation; legal assistance and/or law school; and even social services and humanitarian work. Drury also incorporates required technology coursework for PCs, Macs, and general software studies to prepare adult learners for the conditions of the modern workplace.
Net Price: $20,999/yr
20. Florida Gulf Coast University
Online Criminal Justice (B.S.)
Criminal justice is much more than the sum of its parts; it encompasses not just the offender and the courts, but also the victims, the correctional system, and society at large. Florida Gulf Coast University inculcates students in a balanced perspective on criminal justice through a rigorous liberal arts core and an extensive overview of law enforcement, sociology, and the legal system. This program prepares students for professional work in every capacity of the criminal justice system, as well as graduate education and research. Students with an AA or AS from a Florida public community college can also complete their BS by taking higher-lever courses online at FGCU.
Net Price: $12,948/yr
19. Aurora University
Online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
A Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice is a great way to start a career in one of the most vital sectors of public service. At Aurora University, working students with related experience can earn their degree at an accelerated rate completely online, provided they have at least two years of professional/military experience, or comparable “adult responsibilities.” And with convenient 5- and 8-week course modules and an accommodating transfer policy (the school will accept previous coursework from most regionally accredited colleges or universities), Aurora makes it easy to take the first steps towards your new career without foregoing the one you already have.
Net Price: $17,178/yr
18. Central Washington University
Online Bachelor of Arts in Law and Justice
Whether you are looking for an entry-level career in law enforcement or a practical pathway to law school (or if you haven’t decided yet), the Bachelor of Arts in Law and Justice program at Central Washington University is a step in the right direction. In this accredited online criminal justice degree, CWU combines a pragmatic and disciplined approach to criminal justice with the humanistic, liberal arts emphasis that will prepare students for further legal studies. With coursework ranging from the likes of Crime in America and Criminal Procedure to Legal Research and Introduction to Civil Practice, CWU offers students the best of both worlds and the freedom of choice once they graduate.
Net Price: $14,199/yr
17. University of Maine at Fort Kent
Online Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Administration
With a discipline as expansive and important as public safety administration, it’s almost easier to describe it by what it isn’t than by what it is. Unlike a conventional administration degree, University of Maine at Fort Kent’s Online Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Administration has a 30 credit-hour core devoted to “identifying, investigating, and understanding public safety issues.” And unlike a typical criminal justice degree, it also devotes a substantial portion of the curriculum to liberal arts and management coursework, preparing students for leadership in a variety of public capacities. This commitment to creating responsible leaders makes UMFK’s public safety administration program at least as valuable as even the best criminal justice degree online.
Net Price: $12,965/yr
16. University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Online Bachelor and Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Criminal justice comprises disciplines as diverse and challenging as law, psychology, community relations, investigation, and research. Rather than treating them as discrete, a la carte topics of inquiry, the University of Wisconsin Platteville’s affordable online criminal justice degree program offers interdisciplinary coursework to explore the way that they actually interact in the field. Through classes ranging from Correctional Philosophy and The Police Function to Criminal Investigation, criminal justice students at UWP develop pragmatic and unintuitive insights into the psychology of crime, the functions and effect of the legal apparatus, and their own role in this system before they even graduate.
Net Price: $13,006/yr
15. The University of Texas at El Paso
Online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
As the demand for accountability and visibility in law enforcement and the justice system has grown, so has the demand for qualified and credentialed professionals with theoretical and practical knowledge in the field. The expansion of the University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of Criminal Justice is a testament to the increasing need for such individuals. With the addition of new full-time faculty and a new, fully-online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice program, UTEP is poised to meet the needs of not only the variety of agencies in their unique border location, but agencies around the state and country as well.
Net Price: $5,607/yr
14. University of Central Missouri
Online Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice
Many students fail to consider the age of a school’s program when deciding where to go to college, but there are certain benefits – such as faculty experience, alumni and professional networks, and institutional resources – that only develop through long-term growth. And at the University of Central Missouri, home to one of the oldest criminal justice departments in the country (founded in 1962), students can now obtain all of these advantages online via the Office of Extended Studies and Distance Learning. Whether you are looking to start a career in law enforcement, corrections, or even go on to pursue graduate studies, UCM offers one of the best criminal justice programs online for ensuring your long-term growth, too.
Net Price: $13,606/yr
13. North Carolina Central University
BS in Criminal Justice Online Completion Program
Perfect for professional and traditional students alike, North Carolina Central University’s BS in Criminal Justice Online Completion Program caters to students simply looking earn a baccalaureate diploma as well as those trying to advance within their field. Either way, this program is a great opportunity to gain tangible experience; criminal justice students at NCCU can choose from four professionally oriented concentrations in Law Enforcement, Corrections, Homeland Security, and Juvenile Justice. These concentrations build on the core criminal justice curriculum but retain enough flexibility that you can combine courses from multiple specializations or branch out to other subjects as a way to diversity your education.
Net Price: $9,701/yr
12. University of Nebraska at Kearney
Online Criminal Justice Bachelor of Science Degree Completion Program
Since 2012, the University of Nebraska at Kearney has partnered with the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to provide a collaborative criminal justice degree offered completely online. While UNK actually grants the degree, UNO and UNL provide additional course offerings and student resources that make this affordable online criminal justice degree uniquely versatile and accessible. Featuring the same faculty and courses available on-campus — and even internship opportunities convenient for distance learners — this program is one of the best resources for working students looking to start a career in public service.
Net Price: $14,553/yr
11. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Online Criminal Justice Major
With a top online criminal justice degree ranking from Affordable Colleges Online, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh boasts one of the most affordable and convenient programs for working and/or continuing students. This comprehensive program emphasizes writing composition, data analysis, and critical thinking right alongside topics in legal ethics, court administration, policy formations, and crime theory to provide students with a complete picture of all aspects of the local, state, and federal justice systems. However, as this is strictly a degree completion program, you’ll need a relevant associate’s degree or sufficient work experience in order to enroll.
Net Price: $12,171/yr
10. Sam Houston State University
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University is one of the oldest of its kind in the country–and has all the resources to show for it! Students can select from two online criminal justice degrees–a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice/Criminology. The former requires additional hours of social science (psychology, sociology, political science, etc.) and the latter includes more foreign language classes (Spanish, French, ASL, etc.). Sam Houston is also highly regarded for its prestigious internships for seniors. Participating organizations include INTERPOL, the FBI, and local police departments.
Net Price: $11,260/yr
9. Florida International University
Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
The online criminal justice degree program at Florida International University offers a comprehensive course of study in the discipline in a fully digital format. Featuring coursework as diverse and extensive as Terrorism and Homeland Security, Comparative Criminal Justice Systems, Criminological Theory, and Criminal Justice and Public Policy, FIU prepares students for a range of careers and challenges that await them after graduation. This program is ideal for students who have already earned an Associate of Arts degree at a Florida Community College and are able to forego general education prerequisites and begin their higher-level professional coursework immediately.
Net Price: $11,552/yr
8. Westfield State University
Criminal Justice (B.S.), Online Completion
Designed for graduates of Massachusetts Community Colleges, the online completion B.S. in Criminal Justice is a great opportunity to earn your qualifications in a high-demand field on your own time. Students who have fulfilled all the requirements for the “Mass transfer compact” can finish the junior and senior years of their bachelor’s degree entirely online, while non-graduates have the option to take online criminal justice classes at WSU while simultaneously completing their remaining coursework at another institution. In addition to traditional 15-week fall and summer semesters, two accelerated 6-week summer semesters and a 2-week winter semester actually make it possible to complete the required courses in fewer than two years!
Net Price: $15,498/yr
7. SUNY College at Oswego
Public Justice: Online Degree
Whether you’re already working in the human services industry or are aiming to begin a career in the field, an online public justice degree from SUNY College at Oswego makes it easy to accomplish your goals. Combining coursework in the public justice system with complementary research in sociology, anthropology, and psychology, SUNY Oswego prepares students for a career in anything from law and courts to counseling and corrections. The program is particularly advantageous for veterans, who benefit not only from the convenience of flexible online scheduling and coursework but also from a military-friendly credit policy that will grant up to 30 hours of course credit for past experience in the armed services.
Net Price: $15,784/yr
6. Washington State University
Online Criminal Justice Undergraduate Degree
Founded in 1943, Washington State University’s criminal justice department is the second oldest in the nation – and it is clear that the program has aged well! WSU also just earned the highest online criminal justice degree ranking in the nation from Criminal Justice Degree Online, owing to their graduation rate (9th highest), retention rate (12th highest), and comprehensive range of student services. Students of this reputable program also enjoy access to distinguished faculty – many of them highly respected in their field – and an impressive alumni network. Graduates can feel proud to count themselves among national leaders in law enforcement as well as successful judges and attorneys working across the country.
Net Price: $16,427/yr
5. University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus
Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
At the University of Oklahoma-Norman, students have the rare opportunity to complete all 120 credit hours of their criminal justice degree online. This comprehensive program prepares students for the multitude of roles that criminal justice specialists must play in their careers: community-builder, analytical thinker, public relations expert, and – above all – problem solver. Accelerated, 8-week courses will allow you to complete the entire program in as few as 18 months (if you’re the ambitious, impatient type), but most students have other obligations, like work and family, to keep them busy. Thankfully, the program’s flexibility also enables students to take four, five, or more years to earn their degree, while experienced academic advisors can assist in creating a customized academic plan that suits your specific needs.
Net Price: $16,813/yr
4. Western Carolina University
Criminal Justice Online Program
With the #1 online criminal justice programs ranking (“Best Buy”) from GetEducated.com, Western Carolina University is a leader in providing affordable education in an intuitive and convenient digital format. But the benefits of attending WCU reach far beyond the ability to save time and money; through student organizations like Alpha Phi Sigma (the National Criminal Justice Honor Society) and the Student Association of Criminal Justice Affairs (SACJA), online learners have the unique opportunity to network with classmates, alumni, and professionals and even acquire internship opportunities. WCU will grant up to 12 hours of course credit for these internships, making it possible for you to earn new skills, boost your resume, and gain ground on your graduation date all at the same time.
Net Price: $12,916/yr
3. United Tribes Technical College
Online Criminal Justice AAS
In the field of criminal justice, it takes more than a handshake to get your foot in the door. From law enforcement to private security, most positions require employment experience, background checks, and of course a college degree. At United Tribes Technical College, working and/or geographically remote students can easily earn all the qualifications they need to start a career in this challenging field. As an institutional participant in the North Dakota Interactive Video Network (IVN), UTTC provides state-of-the-art video conferencing services that allow students and professors to interact in real-time for class discussions and lectures, providing an important level of engagement that is missing in many online criminal justice programs.
Net Price: $4,507/yr
2. Humphreys College
Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice/Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
Humphreys College regularly tops our lists for the best online bachelor programs, and their affordable online criminal justice degree is no exception. What makes it so great? Along with affordable tuition and strong graduation rates, Humphreys earns accolades for its highly regarded professional faculty, many of whom are either working in the field or are recently retired; an impressive array of professional concentrations that hone in on essential industry subfields like corrections, probation, leadership, and human resources; and its commitment to providing students with coveted internships at the local, state, and federal levels of law enforcement. Taken together, all of these elements make Humphreys a top choice for distance learners looking to enter law enforcement or the private security sector.
Net Price: $14,712/yr
1. University of Central Florida
Online Criminal Justice B.A./B.S.
At the University of Central Florida, criminal justice students don’t have to choose whether they want to go into law enforcement or pursue graduate education—at least not right away. Featuring required coursework such as Data Analysis for Criminal Justice, Crime in America, Police and Society, and Corrections and Penology, this comprehensive program covers everything from the most theoretical and abstract conceptual topics to the most practical and tangible aspects of the field. UCF also provides academic advisors who can help develop personalized curriculum and graduation plans for each student. This ensures that online learners have every opportunity to find the right career in any number of criminal justice occupations and institutions – and ultimately, to find success, too!
Net Price: $14,745/yr
This concludes our ranking of the best value colleges for online criminal justice programs.
See our methodology page for more information about how we calculated this ranking.
By CVO Staff
Published April 2016