In this ranking, we examine the best value colleges for online criminal justice programs.
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects slow growth for police officers and law enforcement agents in the coming years, other careers in law enforcement such as those for forensic science technicians are growing faster than average. A bachelor’s in criminal justice can open doors to many different types of careers and job opportunities.
You might think that a criminal justice degree is a very specific college major. Most students believe this type of degree grants 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! We focused on net price and graduation rate in this online criminal justice program ranking. Still, 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
Fayetteville State University’s online criminal justice degree program is accredited by the Academy of Criminal Justice Science. It offers an affordable and convenient way for students to complete 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 is available online for college credit. This includes electives such as:
- Policy and Society
- White Collar Crime
- Legal Studies
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Criminal Justice Statistics
This makes the online criminal justice program particularly beneficial for international students, transfer students, or continuing learners who have met the prerequisites elsewhere. Eligible students are encouraged to apply for federal student aid.
29. Tarleton State University
Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice Administration Online
The criminal justice system is an enormous field of great importance to social wellbeing. At Tarleton State University, students may pursue the Online Bachelor’s of Applied Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice Administration program. The bachelor’s in criminal justice program provides students with a hands-on, comprehensive introduction to the field. It relies on law enforcement training approved by criminal justice agencies such as the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), the US Military, and the Federal Government. In addition to academy training, Tarleton’s criminal justice program also allows students to customize their education. They can do so by accepting up to 33 hours of external college credit for outside training from approved institutions. Internships with local and state police departments and the district attorney’s office may also be available. All of this makes Tarleton one of the best criminal justice schools available online. Qualified students are encouraged to apply for financial aid.
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. 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. These are law enforcement officers and criminal justice professionals in the criminal justice system who serve to protect our country from indiscriminate violence. The curriculum for the online criminal justice program is designed to accommodate working professionals as well as veterans and parents. Distance learning 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, legal studies, emergency management, and intelligence analysis with moral, ethical leaders.
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 or the correctional system. The bachelor’s in criminal justice features 100% online coursework (facilitated by an OCU-provided iPad Mini) and 5-week long, single-subject classes . This makes it easy to balance a full workload and family with your studies. OCU even accepts previous professional experience and prior coursework towards the completion of credit hours. Thus, students can graduate with a criminal justice degree online in just 18 months and go on to pursue various criminal justice jobs such as police officers, probation officers, parole officers, or forensic science technicians.
26. University of Louisiana at Monroe
Online BA in Criminal Justice
Chartered in 1970, the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s online criminal justice degree program is one of the oldest in the state. It also boasts a proven record of success. Specifically, the online bachelor’s in criminal justice program has a nearly 90% graduate placement rate in the field after six months, according to the school’s labor statistics. Finding a career in police work, crime scene investigation, legal studies, or fraud investigation is not uncommon for ULM graduates with a BA in Criminal Justice. Plus, 40% of the school’s criminal justice graduates go on to pursue master’s degrees in advanced criminology to continue their higher education and professional growth.
Net Price: $9,058
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 education classes and prerequisite courses for the online program. McNeese provides the remaining upper level curriculum requirements. What’s more, the online criminal justice degree is structured such that you can take just two courses at a time (in 7-week sessions, twice per semester). This format lets online students speed up their studies without feeling overwhelmed by mountains of homework. A high school diploma and ACT score may be required for admission.
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 online criminal justice degree. Offering a bachelor’s in criminal justice with 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’s degree in Criminal Science. From criminal justice internships at the U.S. Marshall’s Service, the Douglas Country Sheriff’s Department, and allied organizations to expert faculty and coursework in criminal procedure and research, this criminal justice program provides students with everything they need to start a career in criminal justice without ever “going” to class to attend on-campus programs.
Net Price: $8,136
23. University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice/Master in Criminal Justice Online
The University of Massachusetts-Lowell offers a practical, marketable criminal justice program completed online. This allows criminal justice majors to study remotely without sacrificing a comprehensive college education. The curriculum for the criminal justice program combines 36-48 credits of professional coursework with a robust liberal arts core. Thus, criminal justice students at UMass get a broad knowledge base that they can deploy in numerous different careers as civilian professionals within the criminal justice field, not just as police officers or private investigators. UMass also boosts criminal justice students’ career eligibility by calling for them to complete a “professional skills” component. These additional courses cover everything from foreign language to statistics and data analysis. These can enhance your knowledge and your resume in a valuable way. Students with transfer credits are welcome to apply to the online program.
22. Mercer University
Bachelor’s Degree in Public Safety Leadership Online
What’s the difference between getting a bachelor’s degree in Public Safety Leadership from Mercer University and any other cheap criminal justice degree completed online? First of all, where many other criminal justice majors focus on the crime itself, Mercer prioritizes emergency response and safety. These components of the criminal justice program are particularly important for addressing terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Secondly, Mercer leverages the power of service learning to help students interested in the field gain actual hands-on experience. Experiential learning in fire protection, corrections, and emergency medical services can transition seamlessly into a meaningful career with various criminal justice agencies. And thanks to its focus on leadership and administrative skills, Mercer’s bachelor’s in criminal justice also qualifies students for work in the growing field of emergency management. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent.
21. Drury University
Online Associate Degree/Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice
Drury University’s cheap online criminal justice degree program combines the fields of psychology, sociology, and government. The curriculum for this bachelor’s in criminal justice helps students develop an understanding of criminal behavior on an individual, societal, and institutional level. This broad perspective on the issue of crime prepares students for many vital careers in public service. Career opportunities include law enforcement, crime analysis, criminal investigation, legal assistance, juvenile justice, substance abuse and mental health counseling, and even social services and humanitarian work. Drury’s criminal justice program also incorporates required technology coursework for PCs, Macs, and general software studies. This prepares adult learners for the conditions of the modern workplace. Prospective students are encouraged to apply for financial aid, and transfer credits may be accepted.
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’s bachelor’s in criminal justice gives students real world experience resulting in a balanced perspective on criminal justice. The curriculum includes a rigorous liberal arts core and an extensive overview of law enforcement, crime analysis, forensic psychology, sociology, constitutional law, and the legal system. This criminal justice program prepares students for professional work in every capacity of the criminal justice system. It also poises them for graduate education and research in the field. Students with an AA or AS from a Florida public community college can also complete their Bachelor of Science by taking higher-lever courses online at FGCU.
19. Aurora University
Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice (BA)
A bachelor’s degree 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 bachelor’s in criminal justice degree at an accelerated rate completely online. This is 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’s online programs makes it easy to take the first steps towards your new career without foregoing the one you already have.
18. Central Washington University
Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Justice (BA)
Whether you are looking to pursue careers in law enforcement or for a practical pathway to law school (or if you haven’t decided yet), the bachelor’s degree 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 behavior and criminal justice. Plus, the humanistic, liberal arts and social sciences emphasis will provide a well-rounded education and prepare students for further legal studies. Sample online courses for this criminal justice program includes:
- Crime in America
- Criminal Procedure
- Legal Research
- Introduction to Civil Practice
CWU’s bachelor’s in criminal justice offers students the best of both worlds and the freedom of choice once they graduate. Financial aid is available for eligible students attending online programs such as this one. Standardized test scores may be required for admission.
17. University of Maine at Fort Kent
Bachelor’s Degree in Public Safety Administration Online
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’s degree 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 significant part of the curriculum to liberal arts and management coursework. This prepares students for leadership in a variety of public capacities. The commitment to creating responsible leaders who foster positive community relationships makes UMFK’s public safety administration program at least as valuable as even the best criminal justice degree online.
16. University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Bachelor and Master of Science in Criminal Justice Online
Criminal justice comprises disciplines as diverse and challenging as law, psychology, community relations, investigation, and research. The University of Wisconsin Platteville’s affordable online criminal justice degree program offers interdisciplinary coursework and real-world experience to explore the way these disciplines actually interact in the field. Core courses for this bachelor’s in criminal justice program include:
- Correctional Philosophy
- The Police Function
- Criminal Investigation
Criminal justice students at UWP develop pragmatic and unintuitive insights into the psychology of crime. They also come to understand the functions and effect of the legal apparatus as well as their own role in this system before they even graduate from their online programs.
15. The University of Texas at El Paso
Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice (BA)
The demand for accountability and visibility in law enforcement and the justice system has grown. As a result, there is a greater need 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 BA 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. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the University of Texas at El Paso among the best national universities in the country.
14. University of Central Missouri
Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Online
Many prospective students fail to consider the age of a school’s program when deciding where to go to college. Still, there are certain benefits – such as faculty experience, alumni and professional networks, and institutional resources – that only develop through long-term growth. The University of Central Missouri is home to one of the oldest criminal justice departments in the country. So, students can now access all these advantages online via the Office of Extended Studies and Distance Learning and its bachelor’s in criminal justice program. This is true 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.
13. North Carolina Central University
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Online Completion Program
North Carolina Central University’s Bachelor of Science 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:
- Law Enforcement
- Corrections Officers
- Homeland Security
- Juvenile Justice
These bachelor’s in criminal justice concentrations build on the core criminal justice curriculum. Yet, they keep enough flexibility that you can combine courses from many specializations or branch out to other subjects. North Carolina Central University is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
12. University of Nebraska at Kearney
Online Criminal Justice Bachelor of Science Degree Completion Program
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 more course offerings and student resources. This makes this affordable online criminal justice degree uniquely versatile and accessible. It features the same faculty and courses available on-campus. Plus, internship opportunities are available for distance learners pursuing a bachelor’s in criminal justice. There’s no doubt this program is one of the best resources for working students looking to start a career in public service. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the University of Nebraska at Kearney among the top 5 best value schools nationwide.
11. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Online Criminal Justice Major
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, research methods, data analysis, and critical thinking. Major-specific topics include:
- Legal Ethics
- Human Trafficking
- Court Administration
- Policy Formations
- Crime Theory
- Forensic Psychology
Students may also choose from an array of elective courses. The full curriculum provides students with a complete picture of all aspects of the local, state, and federal justice systems. This is strictly a bachelor’s in criminal justice degree completion program, though. Students must have a relevant associate degree or equivalent work experience to enroll. Test scores may also be required for admission.
10. Sam Houston State University
Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Online
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 it has all the resources to show for it! Students can select from two online criminal justice degrees: an online Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice/Criminology. The former requires more hours of social science (psychology, sociology, political science, etc.). The latter includes more foreign language classes (Spanish, French, ASL, etc.). Sam Houston is also highly regarded for its prestigious internships for seniors graduating with a bachelor’s in criminal justice. Participating law enforcement agencies providing academy training include INTERPOL, the FBI, and local police departments. Sam Houston State holds institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
9. Florida International University
Online Bachelor of 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. Coursework for the bachelor’s in criminal justice program is diverse and extensive, including titles such as:
- Terrorism and Homeland Security
- Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
- Criminological Theory
- Criminal Justice and Public Policy
FIU prepares students for a range of careers and law enforcement positions 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. These students are able to forego general education prerequisites and begin their higher-level professional coursework immediately. FIU is among the top 40 most innovative schools in the nation, according to US News & World Report.
8. Westfield State University
Criminal Justice (B.S.), Online Completion
Designed for graduates of Massachusetts Community Colleges, the online completion Bachelor of Science 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. Meanwhile, non-graduates have the option to take online criminal justice classes at WSU while simultaneously completing their remaining coursework at another institution. Besides traditional 15-week fall and summer semesters, students may also take advantage of two accelerated 6-week summer semesters and a 2-week winter semester. This actually makes it possible for a full-time student to complete the required courses in fewer than two years!
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. This program combines coursework in the public justice system with complementary research in the social sciences: sociology, anthropology, and psychology. Thus, SUNY Oswego prepares students for a career in anything from law and courts to counseling and corrections and even security management. The program is particularly helpful for veterans. They 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.
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. Students of this reputable higher education program also enjoy access to distinguished faculty, many of them highly respected in their field. The school also boasts an impressive alumni network. Graduates can feel proud to count themselves among criminal justice professionals, including diverse populations of sworn and civilian professionals, who are national leaders in law enforcement as well as successful judges and attorneys working in the court system.
5. University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus
Online Bachelor of 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 professionals must play in their careers: community-builder, analytical thinker, public relations expert, and – above all – problem solver. Accelerated, eight-week terms will allow you to complete the entire bachelor’s degree program in as few as 18 months. Thankfully, the program’s flexibility also enables students to take four, five, or more years to earn their degree. Plus, experienced academic advisors can assist in creating a customized academic plan that suits your specific needs.
4. Western Carolina University
Criminal Justice Online Program
Western Carolina University is a leader in providing affordable higher 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. They may even acquire internship opportunities for various career paths. WCU will grant up to 12 hours of course credit for these internships. As a student, this makes it possible for you to earn new skills, boost your resume, and gain ground on your career outlook in the criminal justice system all at the same time.
3. United Tribes Technical College
Online Criminal Justice Degree (Associate Degree)
In the field of criminal justice and legal studies, it takes more than a handshake to get your foot in the door. From law enforcement and justice studies to private security management, most career paths 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 college credit and 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. This allows students and professors to interact in real-time for class discussions and lectures. It’s an important level of engagement that is missing in many criminal justice programs.
2. Humphreys University
Online BS in Criminal Justice/Associate Degree in Criminal Justice
Humphreys College regularly tops our lists for the best online bachelor’s degree programs. The school’s 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 are available, including:
- Justice Studies
- Human Resources
- The Court System
The school also provides online students with coveted internships at the local, state, and federal levels of law enforcement. Taken together, all these elements make Humphreys a top choice for distance learners looking for entry-level jobs in law enforcement, correctional facilities, or the private security sector. Federal student aid may be available to offset the cost of the degree.
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. Required coursework for this criminal justice bachelor’s degree incudes:
- Data Analysis for Criminal Justice
- Crime in America
- Police and Society
- Corrections and Penology
This comprehensive online criminal justice degree 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 career opportunities in any number of criminal justice occupations and institutions, including human services, forensic science, child welfare, legal studies, and the federal court system. A high school diploma or equivalent is required for admission.
See our methodology page for more information about how we calculated this ranking.
By CVO Staff
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This concludes our ranking of the best value colleges for online criminal justice programs.