15 Best Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice 2021

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A bachelor’s in criminal justice can lead to careers in law enforcement, social work, or legal studies. This degree exceeds the minimum education requirement for some protective services positions and qualifies graduates for advanced positions in federal law enforcement and corrections. Many students build experience to become private detectives or criminal investigators.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 5% growth rate from 2019-2029 for police and detectives. The field is competitive, but candidates can increase job prospects with education and field experience. The top criminal justice degree programs prepare enrollees for job training programs through policy and ethics coursework.

This guide explores some of the nation’s best online criminal justice programs.

Top 10 Criminal Justice Degree Programs Online 2021

Rank School Location
1 Florida International University Miami, FL
2 Crown College Saint Bonifacius, MN
3 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
4 Roger Williams University Bristol, RI
5 New Mexico State University Las Cruces, NM
6 University of Mary Bismarck, ND
7 Trine University Fort Wayne, IN
8 Southeastern University Lakeland, FL
9 University of North Alabama Florence, AL
10 Minot State University Minot, ND

Advertisement CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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What Is Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice uses a multifaceted approach of processing criminals and delivering justice. American criminal justice comprises multiple agencies and institutions under the federal government, including local and state levels. Responsibilities of the U.S. criminal justice system include crime prevention, effective incarceration, and offender rehabilitation.

Critical elements of the criminal justice system include law enforcement, lawyers, courts, and incarceration facilities. These institutions require qualified criminal justice professionals with field-specific communication skills, empathy, and sound judgment.

The best online bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice explore the correctional system, criminology, and victimology.

Students can tailor the bachelor’s in criminal justice to their career goals. Many schools offer generalist criminal justice degrees or concentrations geared specifically toward aspiring law enforcement officers, criminal investigators, or correctional specialists. Aspiring paralegals and social workers can also pursue bachelor’s in criminal justice degrees toward niche professions of their choice.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice online enables enrollees to complete internships or continue working while satisfying core requirements. Especially in fields like federal law enforcement and private investigation, which value extensive experience, distance programs can provide an affordable, accelerated path to graduation.

Why Get an Online Criminal Justice Bachelor’s?

The best bachelor’s in criminal justice programs provide a pathway to careers in law enforcement, social work, or legal studies. A bachelor’s in criminal justice can provide substantial benefits, including:

Variety
A bachelor’s in criminal justice meets the minimum education requirement for jobs in areas of law enforcement, including probation officer, private detective, or federal agent. Other options span the fields of law and social work, including occupations like paralegal or arbitrator, respectively.
Healthcare and Retirement
Criminal justice jobs offer annual salaries exceeding $40,000 and generous health insurance and retirement benefits. Many law enforcement positions guarantee a pension after just 20 years of full-time service in the field.
Steady Growth
BLS projections indicate a 3% increase in protective service occupations from 2019-2029. Within this sector, some jobs exceed this projected growth rate. For example, police and detectives receive a 5% projected employment growth rate, while the BLS projects employment for private detectives and investigators to increase by 8% from 2019-2029.

The Top 15 Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Programs 2021

To identify the best online bachelor’s in criminal justice programs for 2021, we considered affordability, accessibility, graduation and retention rates, and several other factors. Visit the link below to learn more about our ranking methodology.

  • What the Best Online Criminal Justice Programs Have in Common

    Every college is different regarding curricula, resources, culture, and on-campus and online offerings. Keeping all of these variations in mind, the top college institutions feature several notable similarities:

    • They are accredited. Accredited institutions have been recognized by a third-party agency for achieving a certain standard of education. All schools on our list are regionally accredited institutions. The relevant accrediting agencies include:
      • The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
      • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
      • The New England Commission for Higher Education (NECHE)
      • The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
    • They offer strong academic programs. Strong programs correlate with quality education. High retention and graduation rates are staples of an excellent academic program. Accomplished, experienced faculty tend to teach at top schools such as Roger Williams University, where all criminal justice faculty actively work in fields related to criminal justice.
    • They are reputable. Reputable institutions select candidates who are likely to succeed in their programs and gain positive post-graduation outcomes. Lower acceptance rates determine how selective an institution is in building its student body. Successful schools admit students who will achieve positive post-graduation outcomes; for example, at Louisiana State University at Monroe, 88% of criminal justice graduates gain employment within six months of completing their degrees.
    • They are affordable. Students may qualify for federal, state, or institutional financial aid. Minot State University, for example, is one of the most affordable universities in the Upper Midwest, offering in-state tuition for all.

  1. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    With a student population of about 54,000, Florida International University is one of the top ten largest universities in the United States. As a public research university, FIU is known for its innovation and research opportunities. Located in Miami, Florida, and only a short drive to the beach, FIU operates the only underwater ocean laboratory in the world.

    Criminal Justice, BS

    The criminal justice program falls under the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). SIPA requires students to study a foreign language while seeking their undergraduate degree. Notable faculty from the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice within SIPA include Rosa Chang, whose research focuses on immigration policies impacting the criminal justice system and the criminalization of immigrants.

    At FIU, online undergraduate students may pair with success coaches to help manage their time and stay on track to graduate.

    Applying to FIU

    FIU offers spring, summer, and fall terms. For first-year students, FIU requires applicants to submit an online application with a $30 application fee, plus SAT/ACT scores and official high school transcripts. Transfer applicants must submit an application with a $30 fee, plus all college transcripts.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
    • Tuition: $229/credit (in state); $346/credit (out of state)
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online
  2. Crown College
    Location

    Saint Bonifacius, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    One of four Christian and Missionary Alliance colleges in the United States, Crown College offers a biblically based approach to education. Founded in Bonificious, Minnesota, Crown decided to pay homage to its chilly home with the unveiling of a new mascot in 2020: Storm the polar bear.

    Criminal Justice, BS

    Crown students explore criminal justice through a Christian lense. Example courses for criminal justice students include juvenile justice, criminal justice ethics, victimology, and sociology.

    Students are encouraged to pursue a minor in addition to their criminal justice major. Learners are welcome to choose any minor offered at Crown, but criminal justice majors typically pair their degrees with minors in alcohol and drug counseling, international relations, pre-law, or social sciences.

    Applying to Crown

    Crown College uses a fairly straightforward application process. Prospective students must fill out an online application and provide official high school or college transcripts.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC
    • Tuition: $395/credit
    • Required Credits:120 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
  3. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Drexel University, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is known for its innovation and research. Drexel offers a co-op educational program, which allows students to explore their careers through three- and six-month stints of full-time employment in a position related to their course of study. With 24,205 students, 4,687 of whom are fully online, Drexel offers a multitude of professional development and educational opportunities.

    Criminology and Justice Studies, BS

    Criminal and justice studies learners may choose from three concentrations: criminology and justice policy, justice informatics, and criminal justice. Addressing topics including the war on drugs, national incarceration rates, and terrorism impacts on crime policy, Drexel's criminal and justice studies program provides an array of thought-provoking analysis and assessment of relevant ideas in the field.

    Drexel requires criminology and justice studies students to take at least one class in international justice systems. The program uses a large community-based curriculum, aiming to acknowledge the community impact of criminal justice.

    Applying to Drexel

    First-year students must have earned their high school diploma or GED credential within the last two years and have corresponding transcripts. First-year students must also submit SAT/ACT scores from within the last five years. The complete Drexel application process is available online.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: MSCHE
    • Tuition: $530/credit
    • Required Credits: 183-185 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or on campus
  4. Roger Williams University
    Location

    Bristol, RI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Bristol, Rhode Island, Roger Williams University was built on 80 acres of waterfront land. Roger Williams University boasts a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Approximately 98% of RWU students receive RWU scholarships or need-based federal aid.

    Criminal Justice, BS

    Incoming students' prior training and/or experience in public safety may count as credits toward their degree. Learners can also earn certificates through their coursework, such as in community policing, public safety, corrections agency administration, homeland security, and police agency administration.

    All RWU faculty in the criminal justice department actively work in the field. This provides students with insight into the lives, experiences, and moral dilemmas of law enforcement and legal system professionals.

    Applying to RWU

    With no application fee, no admissions essay, no entrance exams, no GPA requirements, and SAT or ACT score required, applying to RWU is simple. The school only requires official high school transcripts and a passion for criminal justice.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: NECHE
    • Tuition: $1,299/3-credit online course
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online or hybrid
  5. New Mexico State University
    Location

    Las Cruces, NM

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1888, NMSU is the oldest public institution of higher education in New Mexico. Its main campus is located in La Cruces, New Mexico; the school also maintains online programs and several satellite and community college campuses.

    Criminal Justice, BA

    Take classes addressing ethics, policy, and social justice The criminal justice department at NMSU is one of the oldest in the nation, founded in 1962. A staple of the NMSU criminal justice department is faculty-led research and experiential learning opportunities. Learners conduct their research in tandem with local, state, and federal criminal justice departments and agencies.

    Recent graduates from NMSU's criminal justice department join a community of NMSU alumni holding various levels of positions in the criminal justice field. This creates plenty of networking opportunities for graduates just starting their careers.

    Applying to NMSU

    Prospective online students must hold one of the following qualifications to gain admission to NMSU: a 2.75 cumulative high school GPA, an ACT composite score of 21, an SAT score of 1060, or a top-20% ranking in their graduating class.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: HLC
    • Tuition: $380/credit; $250/credit (active military)
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 4-6 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or hybrid
  6. University of Mary
    Location

    Bismarck, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    University of Mary is a Benedictine University in Bismarck, North Dakota. It maintains two study-abroad locations in Rome, Italy, and Arequipa, Peru, plus several satellite campuses across the midwest. With a student population of approximately 3,779 students as of 2019, the institution's student-to-faculty ratio is 14-to-1.

    Criminal Justice, BS

    Mary's BS in criminal justice prepares students for careers across multiple facets of law enforcement, the legal system, and community engagement. Curriculum topics include drugs and addiction, juvenile justice, criminology, serial killers, and forensic psychology, allowing learners to explore a variety of topics regarding criminal justice policy, history, and practices.

    Criminal justice students at Mary gain humanitarian, ethical, practical, and professional skills to apply toward their criminal justice careers. Graduates may pursue careers as victim advocates, law enforcement officers, crime prevention specialists, crime investigators, federal officials, or forensics investigators.

    Applying to Mary

    Mary offers rolling admissions. All applicants must pay a $30 application fee. Transfer students need to submit transcripts from all previous colleges attended demonstrating a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA; first-time students may submit high school transcripts. Prospective learners under 21 must take the ACT or SAT.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC
    • Tuition: $450/semester credit
    • Required Credits: 124 semester credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online
  7. Trine University
    Location

    Fort Wayne, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Trine University, a liberal arts university located in Angola, Indiana, is a Christ-centered institution that embraces innovation in creating and exploring Christian higher education. Approximately 95% of Trine's students receive some form of financial aid, with awards averaging $35,000. Trine's student-to-faculty ratio is 17-to-1, with an average class size of 20 students.

    Criminal Justice, BS

    Trine offers three concentrations in the criminal justice program: criminal justice professional, psychology, and Indiana law enforcement. All faculty in the criminal justice program are current professionals in the field.

    Trine's online curriculum runs on an eight-week cycle, allowing students to focus on one or two classes at a time to get the most out of each class. Criminal justice majors can also earn credit toward an MS in criminal science; learners in the combined degree program can earn both degrees in four years total.

    Applying to Trine

    Prospective Trine students must submit a completed online application, official high school transcripts, and a valid government ID.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: HLC
    • Tuition: $399/credit hour
    • Required Credits: 120 credit hours
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
  8. Southeastern University
    Location

    Lakeland, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Originally founded in 1935 in New Brockton, Alabama, Southeastern University is now in sunny Lakeland, Florida. SEU's mascot is a ball of fire that goes by the name Scorch. SEU's Fire Athletics joined the NAIA Sun Conference in 2009.

    Criminal Justice, BS

    SEU's criminal justice program focuses on three major branches of the criminal justice system: law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. This well-rounded program prepares students to enter the criminal justice field with a wealth of knowledge to apply toward their careers.

    Online course requirements include spiritual formation, Christian responsibility, intellectual and practical skills, engaging human culture and the world, and general electives. Distance learners must also complete the criminal justice major core and electives. The program totals 36 credits of major core, 55 credits of general education, and 33 credits of electives.

    Applying to SEU

    Required materials for the online undergraduate application for SEU include: high school transcripts or GED scores, a Christian character reference form, and an application essay. SEU waives ACT/SAT score requirements for online applicants.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
    • Tuition: $1,140/credit hour (fewer than 12 credit hours); $13,660/semester (12-17 credit hours); $14,800/semester (18 or more credit hours)
    • Required Credits: 124 credit hours
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or on campus
  9. University of North Alabama
    Location

    Florence, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of North Alabama, located in Florence, Alabama, has had nine names since its founding in 1830. UNA is also the only college campus in the country to have two live lion mascots residing on campus. The mascots' names are Leo III and Una.

    Criminal Justice

    Taught by UNA's Department of Politics, Justice, Law, and Philosophy, UNA's online bachelor's in criminal justice prepares learners for careers in law enforcement, social services, or corrections. Criminal justice majors must pursue an additional minor, second major, or second degree.

    With faculty including experienced law enforcement officials, judges, and district attorneys, students make real-life connections with industry professionals. The same faculty teach both online and in-person courses, so students do not miss out on the quality of education by earning their degree online.

    Applying to UNA

    UNA is test-optional for 2021. All the school requires from prospective students is the UNA application and corresponding $35 application fee, plus official high school transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.0 GPA.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
    • Tuition: $300/credit hour (1-11 credit hours); $4,500/term (12-18 credit hours); $4,500/term plus $300/credit hour (19 or more credit hours)
    • Required Credits: 45 credit hours (plus additional minor, second major, or second degree)
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online, on campus, or hybrid
  10. Minot State University
    Location

    Minot, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Minot State University educates approximately 3,350 students, making it a smaller school. MSU offers in-state tuition for all students, making it one of the most affordable universities in the upper midwest. The "Automatic 4-Year Award" for first-year students gives freshmen a renewable financial aid opportunity.

    Criminal Justice, BS

    Criminal justice majors address local, national, and international justice bodies. Students often pair this major with minors in police management and investigations; law and legal studies; offenders, risk management, and corrections; and/or a concentration in criminal justice research and policy evaluation.

    MSU also provides a North Dakota peace officer training program for all criminal justice students. The program runs for 16 weeks during the spring semester and provides an opportunity to graduate with a peace operations specialized training certification.

    Applying to MSU

    Prospective MSU students should fill out the online undergraduate application and pay the $35 application fee. Official high school transcripts and SAT/ACT scores are required to complete the application process.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: HLC
    • Tuition: $3,345/term (12-18 credits)
    • Required Credits: 120 credits
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online or on campus

What To Expect From a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Program

The requirements of a bachelor’s in criminal justice vary by school and type. Schools most commonly offer a bachelor of science (BS), or more specifically, a BS in criminal justice (BSCJ). Though rare, some institutions feature bachelor of arts (BA), bachelor of applied arts (BAA), and bachelor of applied sciences (BAS) options.

Most online bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice require 120 semester credits. Many programs include optional practicums or internships. Common concentrations include:

  • Police management
  • Criminology
  • Corrections
  • Family violence
  • Juvenile justice
  • Law
  • Investigations
  • Security management

While most bachelor’s-level programs take four years to complete, many online bachelor’s in criminal justice degrees offer accelerated paths to graduation. Applicants commonly possess work or military experience, which may satisfy transfer requirements.

Distance degrees may deliver courses synchronously, with appointed class times, or asynchronously, through pre-recorded material. Some programs combine online and in-person learning through hybrid coursework.

Read More About Criminal Justice Programs

Admission Requirements

While admission requirements vary, most bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice share some common criteria. For example, most bachelor’s in criminal justice require applicants to submit official academic transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Schools may require applicants with some college experience from associate degrees or undergraduate certificates.

Schools also routinely include a FAFSA requirement for undergraduate admission. Some programs require personal statements, resumes, and letters of recommendation. Most criminal justice programs do not require a criminal background check for admission, though aspiring law enforcement officers should expect to undergo this process to begin their careers.

Most schools now prefer online applications to traditional mail. Students increasingly use Common App to apply online. This service allows schools to manage large volumes of student applications, while candidates can conveniently enter application information for multiple schools at once.

Comparing Degree Types

Schools most commonly offer BSCJ degrees, though some feature BA, BAA, and BAS formats. The BSCJ outlines a broad core and elective curriculum, while the BA, BAA, and BAS emphasize practical career skills for entry-level employment. The bachelor’s in criminal justice meets the preferred education requirement for many advanced law enforcement positions, especially through the federal government.

The top criminal justice degree programs offer diverse concentrations. Popular options include police management, criminology, and corrections. Learners can choose from broad specializations, like law, or more acute areas, such as juvenile justice or domestic violence. Regardless of concentration, core coursework explores victimology, criminology, and the courts and correctional systems in the United States.

Employers place a premium on job experience, especially within federal agencies like the FBI. Aspiring police officers typically must complete police academy training programs in addition to their degrees. All bachelor’s in criminal justice prepare students for specialized job training after graduation.

Popular Criminal Justice Courses

A bachelor’s in criminal justice typically requires core, concentration, and elective coursework. Many offer optional practicums or internship experiences. At the bachelor’s level, the curriculum explores criminal justice theory, practice, and policy. Students also develop field-specific communication, critical thinking, and cultural awareness skills. Common courses include:

This comprehensive course introduces degree-seekers to the multifaceted field of criminal justice. Topics emphasize the overlapping of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and correctional systems. Enrollees also explore the differences between sworn and civilian occupations.
This course examines the broad and acute functions of the national correctional system in the U.S., including incarceration, punishment, and sentencing protocols. Many programs emphasize public policy and allied professions. Learners often take this class concurrently with a course in the U.S. judicial system.
Commonly included among the core courses in a bachelor’s in criminal justice, this class explores the criminal justice system from a victim’s perspective to develop stronger empathy skills. Topics include risk factors, victim statistics, and crime prevention techniques.
This course approaches the criminal justice system from the criminal mind. Topics include psychology, sociology, and criminal behavior. Many programs require core coursework in criminology, while others offer criminology as an in-depth concentration of criminal justice.
Many bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice offer optional internships as elective courses. Learners can pursue internship placement within local police departments, law firms, or social services providers. At the bachelor’s level, internships involve more technical, less practical experience than in a master’s degree.

How Much Will a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Cost?

The overall cost of a bachelor’s in criminal justice depends on several key components. For example, many schools set their tuition rates based on whether in-state or out-of-state residency. Additionally, a school’s location and public vs. private status may affect its rates. Distance education programs often charge in-state rates, regardless of location.

Even with set or in-state tuition rates, most college students need financial aid to earn their degrees. Most schools require undergraduate applicants to complete FAFSA forms to determine their financial aid eligibility. Candidates may qualify for federal or institutional scholarships and grants, employer reimbursement programs, and loans to supplement the cost of bachelor’s in criminal justice degrees.

Applicants should pursue scholarship and grant awards first, which do not require repayment. After exhausting these options, they can apply for loans, which they must repay.

Jobs for Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Graduates

The BLS projects a 3% increase in employment for protective service occupations from 2019-2029. Beyond protective service occupations like police and detectives, the criminal justice field includes jobs like probation officer, correctional treatment specialist, and paralegal.

While many criminal justice positions require on-the-job training instead of a college degree, a bachelor’s in criminal justice may give candidates an edge over their competition.

Common roles that require or prefer candidates to possess bachelor’s degrees include:

  • Police or Detective

    Police officers and detectives protect people and property from illegal and criminal activity. Types of police and detectives include criminal investigators, fish and game wardens, and sheriff patrol officers. Generally, a police officer must be at least 21 years of age with a clean criminal record and complete a police academy training program. A detective may need to possess a bachelor’s degree, especially for federal positions.

    • Required Education: High school diploma or bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +5%
    • Median Annual Salary: $65,170

  • Probation Officer

    Probation, parole, and pretrial services officers help law offenders transition from custody to supervised probate or parole programs. Probation officers must be at least 21 and typically must possess bachelor’s degrees in fields like criminal justice. Each candidate must also pass a criminal background check and a drug test. Federal and state agencies require students to complete training programs and pass a competency exam.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +4%
    • Median Annual Salary: $54,290

  • Correctional Treatment Specialist

    Correctional treatment specialists may work alongside probation or parole officers to develop release plans for law offenders. Also commonly referred to as case managers or correctional counselors, these professionals use psychological testing and questionnaires to evaluate offenders for potential release. They typically must possess bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, social work, or behavioral science.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +4%
    • Median Annual Salary: $54,290

  • Private Detective or Investigator

    Most private detectives and investigators build experience in law enforcement, federal intelligence, or the military before entering this specialized field. Candidates with extensive experience may only need to possess high school diplomas, though most employers prefer that they hold associate or bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice. Most positions require candidates to complete extensive on-the-job training.

    • Required Education: High school diploma or criminal justice degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +8%
    • Median Annual Salary: $50,510

  • Paralegal or Legal Assistant

    Paralegals and legal assistants support lawyers by organizing client files, performing legal research, and drafting legal documents. Some paralegals hold an associate degree in legal studies, though candidates commonly hold bachelor’s degrees in other majors, like criminal justice, along with a paralegal certificate. Legal assistants and paralegals may specialize in corporate- or litigation-based legal assistance.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +10%
    • Median Annual Salary: $51,740

Explore Criminal Justice Careers

Choosing the Right Criminal Justice Program

Our rankings offer a sensible starting point in the search for the best bachelor of science in criminal justice. However, other criteria can affect the quality of a bachelor’s in criminal justice, especially accreditation. Schools may achieve national or regional accreditation through an agency approved by the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Since even the top criminal justice degree programs do not include separate programmatic accreditation, students may prefer schools with regional institutional accreditation, which requires a more rigorous process.

Aspiring criminal justice majors should consider:

Location
Aspiring criminal justice professionals often consider the location of a school and its potential to support local job opportunities after graduation.
Program Culture/Composition
Learners may prefer traditional BS programs in criminal justice or seek career-oriented BAA or BAS criminal justice degrees.
Cost/Financial Aid
Some candidates choose online bachelor’s in criminal justice degrees for their set or in-state tuition rates for online learning.
Transfer Admissions
Many applicants possess academic or military experience and can transfer the maximum credits allowed toward a bachelor’s in criminal justice.
Concentrations/Specializations
Candidates should explore each prospective program’s concentration options to ensure that they align with their career goals.
Job Opportunities
The best online criminal justice programs prepare students for on-the-job training, including police academy programs and federal special agencies.

Why You Should Get Your Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Online

Bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice translate well to the online education experience. While many schools still offer in-person programs, distance degrees continue to grow in popularity. The best online criminal justice programs offer optional internships and benefits, including accelerated schedules, flexible enrollment, and in-state tuition rates. Online enrollees can continue to maintain employment while pursuing their degrees, also avoiding additional housing, commuting, and campus facilities costs.

Online bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice develop soft skills in communication, perceptiveness, time management, and sound judgment. Additionally, online programs familiarize students with the latest criminal justice technology, especially in law enforcement and private investigation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is a BA or BS better for criminal justice?

    Schools commonly offer both BAs and BS degrees in criminal justice. While the degrees share many of the same core course requirements, the BA includes more liberal arts electives than the technically oriented BS degree.

  • How many years is a bachelor's degree in criminal justice?

    Most bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice take four years to complete. However, many dual programs and online criminal justice degrees offer accelerated paths to graduation. Conversely, part-time students may take longer to complete the degree.

  • What jobs can you get with a bachelor of science in criminal justice?

    A bachelor’s in criminal justice can lead to occupations in law enforcement, social work, and law. Graduates commonly pursue employment as police officers, private investigators, probation officers, or paralegals.

  • What is the highest-paying job with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice?

    Police and detectives earn a median annual salary of more than $65,000 as of 2019. Within this professional group, detectives and criminal investigators earned more than $83,000 in 2019.

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