Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Online

Updated November 15, 2022

Interested in a career in criminal justice? Check out this roundup of options to get you started on your education journey. 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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The world continues to evolve and change and an unfortunate byproduct of such development is the increasing need for people with training in the field of criminal justice. An online bachelor's in criminal justice can give you the tools you need to make a successful entry into this highly necessary field of study.

Criminal justice refers to the agencies that control crime, the justice of crimes, and the management of the outcomes of those decisions. These agencies include law and law enforcement, the court system, and corrections and parole. People can work as crime scene investigators, special agents, counselors, prosecutors and defense attorneys, and criminal justice administrators.

In the modern world, the jobs in this sector have become increasingly complex, nuanced, and challenging. Therefore, the need for trained, knowledgeable experts both in theory and practice is in critical demand.

As education changes and more students pursue an education online, many universities have continued to add new programs, including degrees in criminal justice.

Options for students to pursue both the general criminal justice path or extremely specific concentrations are widely available. Students can be propelled into their chosen careers or into graduate studies in their respective fields.

In either pursuit, the core of the programs examine the impact that crime has on the world and the effective approaches graduates can take to reduce crime at a local, state, and federal level.

Featured Online Criminal Justice Schools

Questions About Top Online Criminal Justice Programs

  • Is it better to get a BS or BA in criminal justice?

    Deciding between a BS or BA depends on your goals. BA degree programs tend to be broader in scope and include subjects that aren't directly connected to criminal justice. These programs may be better if you're not sure what you want to do after graduation.

    A BS tends to hone in more closely on criminal justice and related areas. These degrees make more sense if you know what you want to do after school.

  • What is the best degree for criminal justice?

    You can pursue a variety of degrees to begin a career in criminal justice. Options include in-person and online bachelor's programs that offer BS and BA degrees.

    And some schools feature accelerated degree programs that allow you to finish coursework faster than a traditional program. There's no one "best" degree. Instead, you should look at programs that work for your goals and lifestyle.

  • Is a bachelor's degree in criminal justice hard?

    Any bachelor's degree requires consistency, discipline, and hard work to complete. A degree's difficulty is based on each student's personal experience, as well as their academic ability and previous educational experiences.

  • Is a criminal justice degree worth it?

    Yes. If you're interested in working in the criminal justice field, getting a degree is worth it. It provides the training and networking you need to begin and grow your professional career. Plus, while in school, you can learn different perspectives, join clubs, and hear about internships and job opportunities.

  • What is the difference between criminology and criminal justice?

    Criminal justice looks at crimes and the overall justice system. Criminology examines criminals and the motivation behind certain crimes. Criminologists try to understand why crimes happen and think about policies that might prevent these crimes. And criminal justice professionals deal with punishing offenders and study how the law deters crime.

  • Are there accelerated criminal justice degrees?

    Yes, you can find accelerated criminal justice degree programs. Accelerated programs offer similar coursework to traditional degree programs, but you complete the program in less time. This makes these programs require a larger time commitment. Many accelerated degrees feature online formats, which means they can provide convenience for people juggling family or work.

Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

#25 Old Dominion University

Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice


Old Dominion University’s online division has been serving the distance learner for over 30 years and is dedicated to an adaptable and relevant education designed to help all students succeed in post-graduate careers. The Department of Sociology and Criminal justice now offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice fully online, where students will learn from experienced faculty about the complexities and intricacies of the criminal justice system. Course topics include Human Creativity, Impacts of Technology, and Intro to Criminology, and are urged to pursue a minor in psychology, sociology, computer science, information systems, or management. While students can access the curriculum from anywhere anytime that fits their schedule, it is important to note that professors might schedule exams and assignments at certain times. Students can create a flexible schedule that works best for each situation, but all courses do follow ODU’s regular semester schedule. Graduates of this programs can pursue careers in corrections, casework and counseling, juvenile justice, probation, and parole, or victim advocacy.

Tuition: $27,900

#24 University of Cincinnati

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Online


While the University of Cincinnati was one of the first institutions to offer online courses, the university is still dedicated to an innovative and high-quality distance education experience. Not only will students connect with peers around the world, advisors support students every step of the way from admission to graduation. Students may enroll for fall, spring, or summer semesters, and can expect their degree to take four years to complete. UC’s online Bachelor in Criminal Justice program allows students to better understand the relationship between the community and correctional organizations, police, and courts. Even though this degree path is fully online, students can still expect a hands-on experience through classes such as Service Learning in Criminal Justice and will be prepared for professional licensure for the state of Ohio. Other course topics include Ethics and Criminal Justice and Criminal Punishment. Graduates of this program can seek employment as air marshals, fish and game wardens, law enforcement officers, or corrections and security officers.

Tuition: $27,334

#23 University of the Cumberlands

Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice


The University of the Cumberlands understands the difficulty adult learners face in trying to balance life, work, school, and family obligations, and that’s why they’ve committed to providing an education with the flexibility needed for students to complete their degrees on their own terms. By implementing an 8-week bi-term class system, students are able to complete degrees at an accelerated pace in as little as 10 months. One such program is the 128 credit Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice online. The main goals of the curriculum include providing students with a well-rounded understanding of the core principles of the criminal justice system and teaching students to appreciate the diversity of humanity and how cultural factors may impact consumers of the criminal justice system and how law enforcement could respond to deviant behavior. Graduates of this program can pursue careers in law enforcement, homeland security, or corrections, or can choose to continue their education with a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.

Tuition: $23,000

#22 The University of Memphis

Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice Online


The University of Memphis offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice online degree. Recognizing the nuances and complexities of the field, the College of Arts and Sciences' criminal justice program stresses an approach that incorporates instruction on the causes of crime, intervention strategies, program evaluation, and social justice issues. Core courses include Ethical Dilemmas, Criminology, and Introduction to Courts. Taught by nationally recognized faculty, most classes are asynchronous, allowing students maximum flexibility and the freedom to take on coursework at their own pace. Moreover, online students have access to many of the same benefits as those on campus, including the Honors College, library services, financial aid, career advising, disability resources, and veteran programs. An extensive and hands-on alumni network helps students find quick and quality employment upon graduation. This degree prepares students for careers in various law enforcement or related fields or can propel students to complete the Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice.

Tuition: $21,029

#21 California Baptist University

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Online


As one of the more accelerated online Bachelor’s degrees in Criminal Justice, California Baptist University’s online Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice equips students to address issues in crime and the justice system in a global context and then apply Christian values and ethics to those views. Perks of CBU online include online career services, financial aid option including flexible payment plans, 24/7 tutoring, online or in person faculty support, and a student service advisor. This program is designed with working individuals in mind and allows working professionals to stay on the job while completing this accelerated online program. Graduates will be prepped to begin or advance in careers in local, state, or federal law enforcement or be provided support for students looking to further their career in related public service fields. Students can expect courses to “integrate Christian principles as they apply to ethics, justice, and other key issues related to the field of criminal justice” (CBU website). CBU is dedicated to providing students with the necessary skills to critically think and effectively lead with strong, ethical values in today’s society.

Tuition: $32,256

#20 Liberty University

Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice


Liberty University has been crafting and shaping their distance learning model for over 30 years and is ranked in the top 1% of online schools and universities for affordability, accessibility, and academic quality. A fully accredited Christian college located in Virginia, Liberty University offers a 120 credit fully online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice as a general track, and then students can choose between a generous selection of 7 specializations to customize their degrees: Business Administration and Management, Criminal Psychology, Crime Scene Investigation, Homeland Security, Public Administration, Strategic Intelligence, and Juvenile Justice. Core classes include Criminal Justice Research & Writing, Administration of Justice Organizations, Juvenile Justice, Criminal Law, Criminal Investigations, and Terrorism, among others. For students seeking the administration route and who desire to continue their education, Liberty also offers an online Master of Business Administration with a focus in Criminal Justice. With an 8 week format and 8 start dates per year, students have no set login times and will be successful with the help of online technical and educational support, and online library, writing centers, and study aides. Tuition discounts are available for military service members and emergency response personnel.

Tuition: $21,310

#19 Clarion University

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration Online


Clarion University, located in the heart of Pennsylvania, is devoted to an innovative, high impact student-centered education and offers a nationally recognized and rigorous online education. One of the many degrees offered is the online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration and might be best suited for the student seeking a career in the management of resources and personnel in the criminal justice sector. After completing 48 credit hours of general education, students enrolled in this program will take 60 credits related to their major, including classes like Victimology, Special Populations in Criminal Justice, Current Controversies in Criminal Justice, and Probation and Parole. Successful graduates of this program will gain 4 learning outcomes: identify leadership best practices applicable to chosen criminal justice field, access current issues impacting various branches of the American Justice System, analyze and address career-related concerns that impact today’s criminal justice professionals, and evaluate criminal justice programs and policy from a holistic perspective. One important fact to consider is that this is a degree completion program and only students who hold an Associate’s degree or 60 hours of amassed college credit can apply.

Tuition: $15,636

#18 Washington State University

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science Online


Washington State University, a public non-profit university founded in 1890, combines new technologies with old-school values to uphold its heartfelt mission to help students no matter where they live. WSU’s Global Campus offers a fully online bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from the College of Arts and Sciences, with a few relevant minors available including Sociology and Political Science. Courses for the Criminal Justice degree include Crime Control Policies, Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice, and Criminal Procedure. Students are engaged with a lively and interactive online program designed specifically to create community among distance learners like chatting online with peers, completing group and team projects, and getting involved in WSU Global Campus’ student government called ASWSU Global. Within the student government organization, students can run for office or get involved in both virtual or face-to-face extracurricular activities (located in Washington State area).  Other benefits include virtual mentors, 24/7 tech support, free online tutoring and writing lab, and access to Global Connections.

Tuition: $25,816

#17 University of North Texas

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Online


The University of North Texas offers a 120 credit online Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and prepares students to advance their respective criminal justice careers or propel them to continue their education in graduate studies. The curriculum in the program educates students in the theoretical, practical, and experiential outlooks impacting the criminal justice system today. With classes starting every fall, spring, and summer, UNT allows students to take one, two, three, or more classes at a time to craft a flexible schedule that works best for the student’s lifestyle. Course topics cover a wide basis of subjects and information such as criminological theory, ethics and diversity in criminal justice, history of crime and justice, research methods, and criminal law and procedure. Like most online criminal justice programs, UNT offers an internships program to its students, but one feature that stands out from most programs is the availability of a study abroad program for those students interested in an international criminal justice experience.

Tuition: $20,504

#16 Florida International University

Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice


Florida International’s BS in Criminal Justice online requires 36 credits out of a total of 120 for the undergraduate degree. Of the 24 core courses, popular ones include Comparative Criminal Justice Systems, Criminal Justice, and Public Policy, Global Terrorism, Measurement and Analysis in Criminal Justice, and Research Methods in Criminal Justice. Students also select 12 credits of electives from a wide variety to customize their studies. For students’ convenience and direction, each online student is paired with a success coach to strategize about coursework and discuss career goals. Moreover, new programs begin in the Fall, Spring, and Summer, allowing students maximum schedule flexibility. Perhaps surprisingly, FIU is the 4th largest university in the US, and this allows graduates to immediately enter an extensive, well-connected alumni network ready to facilitate any employment opportunities.

Tuition: $18,954

Featured Online Criminal Justice Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

#15 University of Massachusetts Lowell

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Online


Impressively well-positioned in many national college rankings, the University of Massachusetts Lowell now offers their esteemed Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice fully online or as a blended track including on-campus classes if desired. While classes are offered during the fall, spring, and summer semesters, students can take one or more courses at a time, depending on student preference. In this 120 credit program, elective upper-level courses include Criminal Profiling, Criminal Mind and Behavior, Child Maltreatment, and Hate Crime. Students seeking a Master’s degree as well can count two courses towards their higher education degree and earn it at an accelerated pace. With 24/7 technical support and academic advisors ready to help every step of the way, UMass Lowell strives to provide a high-quality, affordable education for today’s modern distance learner.

Tuition: $31,655

#14 University of Central Florida

Online Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice


Ranked as one of the nation’s most affordable colleges by Forbes and #16 of all online colleges by the U.S. News and World Report, the University of Central Florida makes it affordable and convenient to earn a high-quality online education. While UCF online offers over 60 degrees, the College of Community Innovation and Education offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. The degree program prepares graduates for positions in the field of criminal justice in local, county, state and federal justice agencies and private security organizations. Specific career opportunities include Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, FBI Agent, Crime Scene Investigator, or Homicide Detective.  For students looking to continue their education, UCF also provides an online Master’s degree in Criminal Justice. With online tutoring and academic advisors available, UCF’s innovative approach to distance education is sure to provide the support students need to impact their communities.

Tuition: 22,467

#13 University of Nebraska Omaha

Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Studies with a Concentration in Criminology and Criminal Justice Online


At the University of Nebraska Omaha, where over 24% of students are affiliated with the military, an important part of the school’s culture is celebrating their students as individuals, which in turn creates a community indicative of what’s happening in today’s society. UNO offers a general Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Studies (BMS) degree with 45 various concentrations, one being Criminology and Criminal Justice. While the program can be taken on-campus, fully online, or as a blend, each 120 credit program will hone in on the theories and practices found in crime prevention, law, investigation, policy, and other areas of the criminal justice system. Students will also analyze how crime affects society on a local, national, and international level. Courses include Gangs and Gang Control, Sociology of Deviant Behavior, Juvenile Delinquency and Justice, and Criminal Procedure. This online Bachelor’s degree with a concentration in Criminal Justice prepares students for careers in Correction, Politics, Social Work, Legal Research, Law Enforcement, and Court Administration.

Tuition: $20,320

#12 Florida State University

Online Bachelor of Science in Criminology


Florida State University’s online BS in Criminology requires 36 major credits, in addition to the general education core. Students are also required to earn a minor in a separate field of study, though a full-time internship may be substituted to fulfill the requirement. Some example classes include White Collar Crime, Victimology, Comparative Criminology and Criminal Justice, Introduction to Research Methods in Criminology, and Criminal Justice and Public Policy, among others. As one of the highest ranked public universities in the country, FSU online graduates are given the same benefits and prestige as on-campus graduates, including a large and loyal alumni base to kickstart careers and professional networks. In particular, the SeminoleLink is an excellent resource for students looking to connect with alumni and employers from around the country. Current police officers can apply for the Relgalf Scholarship, which pays tuition and fees for recipients in exchange for 3 years of service in a police department.

Tuition: $18,786

#11 Lamar University

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Online


Lamar University, a member of the Texas State University system, is committed to a convenient, flexible, and affordable online education. At only $248 per credit hour, Lamar offers an online Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice that can be completed in 48 months. With multiple start dates per year, students can complete accelerated classes in 8 or 15-week formats to create a flexible schedule that helps balance each student’s professional and personal needs. Students can expect academic advisors, multiple internships, and real-world experiences to enhance their educational program, and can choose to continue their education with a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. One aspect of distinction to consider is that this program offers academic credit for professional experience.

Tuition: $18,274

#10 Sam Houston State University

Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice


Sam Houston State University offers an online BS in Criminal Justice that consists of 36-45 major credits out of the 120 undergraduate required. Among the most popular courses include Cyber Crime, Global Terrorism, Forensic Science, Victimology, Violent Offenders, Child Abuse and Neglect, White Collar Crime, and Criminal Investigation. Unlike the BA (which is only available on-campus), the BS track emphasizes a social sciences framework, i.e., psychology, sociology, political science, and others. SHSU’s online learning format gives students maximum schedule flexibility and offers many of the same resources on-campus students receive, including technical help, library services, writing center tutorials, and more. As one of the largest universities in one of the largest states – with more than 18,400 students across over 80 undergraduate, 54 Master’s and 6 doctoral degree programs – graduates enjoy a stable and loyal alumni network, facilitating employment opportunities.

Tuition: $18,022

#9 Arizona State University

Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice Online


Impressively ranked in the top 5 of all online Bachelor’s degree programs by the U.S. News and World Report, Arizona State University offers a BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice online which emphasizes real-world solutions to issues around child welfare, safety, city management, human trafficking and water scarcity. A broad-based and interdisciplinary curriculum offering 7.5-week classes, students must also complete 45 credits of upper-level classes in the field with the consultation and approval of their student advisor. Popular course topics include White Collar Crime, Gangs, Domestic Violence and Introduction to Corrections. For those interested, ASU also offers several related graduate certificates, including in Corrections Management and Criminal Sentencing and Advocacy. As the largest public university in the country with nearly 70,000 enrolled undergraduates, all ASU graduates – online or otherwise – benefit from an enormous alumni network that acts as an excellent bridge to employment opportunities.

Tuition: $27,372

#8 Eastern Kentucky University

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice


Eastern Kentucky University recognizes the need for trained criminal justice professionals to help navigate today’s complex and changing justice system, and therefore offers a 120 credit Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice online. ETSU online combines competency-based approaches with appropriate leadership skills to effectively prepare graduates to serve their communities in various areas like law enforcement, social service agencies and corrections, or the court system. Core classes include Living and Working in a Prison, Criminal Evidence, Surveillance and Society, Criminal Justice Research, and Applied Criminal Justice Analysis. With 27 credits of electives, students can customize their degrees to fit their needs and interests. In addition to the Bachelor’s degree, students can enhance their major by selecting from various minors, add on certificates, or continue their education with a Master’s Degree in Justice, Policy, and Leadership. Benefits of the program include 6 start times per year, 8 week class formats, generous transfer policy, a personalized education plan, and academic advisors.

Tuition: $18,320

#7 Western Carolina University

Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice


Western Carolina University offers a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice online that prepares graduates to respond appropriately and ethically in challenging situations while on the job. With an option for a minor in Emergency and Disaster Management, WCU might a great fit for students looking to enter the workforce within the emergency and disaster relief field. This program also offers several opportunities for students to get involved, a perk for the distance learner who desires to connect with like-minded individuals, including the Student Association of Criminal Justice Affairs and the National Criminal Justice Honor Society. This 120 credit, well-rounded curriculum is designed from an interdisciplinary social science perspective. Specific courses include Cyber Crime, Stress Management in Criminal Justice, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Issues in Correctional Treatment.

Tuition: $17,290

#6 University of Alabama Birmingham

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Online


While students close to Birmingham, AL can choose to create a blended program of both on-campus and online classes, non-traditional distance learners can complete this Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree fully online. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s eLearning campus is designed with the working individual in mind and makes the student’s desired educational goals a top priority. UAB utilizes Canvas, a learning management system, to engage and support students with tools like virtual classroom lecturers, multimedia, chat, and discussion boards. UAB’s online Bachelor of Science degree program prepares  students for careers in fields of private security, parole and probation, corrections, forensics, and law enforcement or propel graduates to UAB’s fully online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program. With opportunities at over 50 regional or national agencies, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is the only criminal justice program in Alabama that requires a full internship. Three relevant minors are available in Forensic Science, Forensic Psychology, or Legal Affairs.

Tuition: $19,032

Featured Online Legal Studies Programs

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#5 Ball State University

Online Bachelor in Criminal Justice and Criminology


Ball State University offers a 120 credit BS in Criminal Justice and Criminology online with five specialities: policing, courts, victimology, corrections, or special populations. After completing general education core courses, students will complete 24 credits of foundations criminal justice courses plus 24 elective credits, including courses like Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, Institutional Corrections, Current Topics in Criminology, Current Topics in Policing, and a practicum. Ball State differentiates its curriculum by emphasizing practice and data-driven decision-making, ethics, and cultural competency so graduates to enter the workforce with the most up-to-date criminology skill-set. Most students are working professionals and part-time students either currently in the field or looking to switch careers. Several accelerated options are available to accommodate students, including a generous transfer policy and competency tests which may waive the general education requirements outside of the major.

Tuition: $25,942

#4 Fort Hays State

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Online


Fort Hays State University offers a BA and BS in Criminal Justice, consisting of 42 major credits out of a required 124 undergraduate credits. With an interdisciplinary curriculum, FHSU primarily emphasizes the cause of and response to crime. Most students are working professionals currently in the field or professionals looking for a career change. With this in mind, FHSU has a generous transfer policy which may accelerate coursework. As an added benefit, the Department of Justice Studies provides job placement assistance. For interested students, a minor is also available, as well as five related certificates: Victim Advocacy, Law Enforcement, Corrections, Law and the Courts, and Justice Networking. With a total student body around 11,000 (4,000 undergrads), FHSU can operate both as a large university with unique resources and a smaller school with a hands-on learning environment.

Tuition: $14,832

#3 Southeast Missouri State University

Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice


Ranked in the top 50 of all online Bachelor’s degree programs in the nation by the U.S News and World Report, Southeast Missouri State University provides an affordable, convenient, and rigorous online education for the non-traditional student. The Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, and students can choose between two specific tracks.  The first track, the Academic/University track is best suited for the student looking for a traditional criminal justice degree that focuses on the theoretical understanding of crime and the criminal justice system. In contrast, the Law Enforcement Academy Track is for the student who desires specialized law enforcement training. A Master of Science online is also available for students seeking to continue their education after graduation. Ranked as Missouri’s number 1 online degree program, the online Criminal Justice Bachelor’s degree at SMSU seeks to “prepares students to contribute to the pressing social problems in the areas of crime prevention, protection and rehabilitation.”

Tuition: $12,720

#2 Penn State World Campus

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Online


Founded in 1998, Penn State’s World Campus is one the longest-established online programs in the country, and as such boasts a robust alumni network, in addition to its already large on-campus alumni presence. Penn State World Campus’s BS in Criminal Justice online requires 39-40 major credits out of the 120-credit undergraduate degree and is impressively accredited by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). Curriculum breaks down as follows: 24 core courses, 3-4 additional major requirements (dependent upon the student taking Statistical Analysis for the Social Sciences or Elementary Statistics), and additional upper-level courses. Core classes include Policing in America, Courts and the Prosecution Process, Corrections in America, and Ethics in Criminal Justice, among others. Related programs include minors in Homeland Security, Human Development and Human Studies, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology. Students with previous work experience may transfer some credits to accelerate degrees. Penn State World Campus offers the Military Grant-in-Aid program, making an online education more affordable to military personnel and their families.

Tuition: $13,988

#1 West Texas A & M

Online Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration


Rated #1 on this list for the impressive combination of low tuition costs and its #10 ranking for all online Bachelor’s degrees by the U.S News and World Report, West Texas A & M University offers a fully online BA or BS in Criminal Justice Administration or a hybrid model for specializations in Corrections or Policing. The Bachelor of Arts electives track focuses on English, History, and foreign language, while the Bachelor of Science electives track requires more courses in biology, math, and natural sciences. Core criminal justice courses include Crime in America, Court Systems and Practices, and Introduction to Law and culminate into a capstone internship experience. Either track prepares students for dynamic careers as state troopers, fire investigators, probation officers, police officers, court administrators, or special agents. The University of West Texas A & M combines real-world applications and a rigorous curriculum with experienced and top-notch faculty to prepare students to make a difference in the criminal justice system.

Tuition: $9,117

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What Is an Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice?

An online bachelor's in criminal justice covers the same information as in-person programs. Topics include how the court systems work and the ways in which law enforcement functions.

The goal of an online bachelor's in criminal justice is to prepare students for roles as police officers, correctional officers, detectives, investigators, and other related roles.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice?

The most common jobs for people with criminal justice degrees include police and correctional officers and detectives and investigators.

But those aren't the only options available for students who study criminal justice. These graduates may go on to law school and become attorneys,or they may forego law school and become paralegals. They can also work for the government in national security. And they can even find employment as forensic science techs.

Why Get a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice Online?

Online programs have many benefits. They're convenient for people who have competing priorities that interfere with school.

With online programs, you can access your coursework from anywhere. Tuition rates may be lower than on-campus programs, and you can typically access class material whenever you need to. This makes it easy to review complex concepts.

If you're interested in studying criminal justice because you want to get involved with the justice system, opting for an online bachelor's degree can make a lot of sense. You'll study the same coursework and receive the same training you'd receive in person. And it will come in a format that works with your schedule.

Accreditation for an Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

Accreditation is a voluntary process that schools undergo to show they meet a certain level of standards. This makes it easy to compare schools because you know they meet the same minimum requirements. It can also make it simple to transfer credits between schools and boost your chances of finding a job after graduation, as employers recognize accreditation, too.

How Much Do Criminal Justice Majors Make?

Your earning potential as a criminal justice major depends on what type of job you pursue after graduation. For example, if you wanted to become a police officer — a common choice — the median annual salary exceeds $66,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Compared to the annual mean wage of $58,260 across all occupations, as reported by the BLS, many criminal justice majors make more than the annual mean wage.

Courses in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice degree programs introduce you to the criminal justice system to prepare you for a career in the field. These programs also cover the court system, criminal law, and theories behind crimes and criminal motivations.

  • Foundations of Criminal Justice Systems

    This course provides an entry-level look into the criminal justice system. Most foundational courses examine the legal system's different aspects, including its origin and purpose. The course evaluates how laws come about and how they are enforced.

  • Theories of Crime Causation

    This class covers the theories behind why crime happens. What are the reasons that criminals do the acts that they do? How does this relate to the ways society seeks to lessen and prevent these acts? Courses in crime causation theory may also dive into criminology.

  • Introduction to Criminal Law

    An introduction to criminal law typically focuses on different cases and how they're handled. It discusses the law as it relates to different crimes, how crimes are defended in the court system, and the different areas within criminal law. For example, students learn the differences between crimes against people vs. crimes against property.

  • Introduction to Law Enforcement

    Students in these courses learn how local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies operate. Typically, the class covers the origin of these systems and how the law affects each of them. It also delves into how law enforcement agents operate and their challenges.

  • Introduction to the American Court System

    This course introduces students to local, state, and federal courts and explains how they work together and separately. Classes cover jurisdiction, which determines what court is allowed to hear certain cases. Course instructors also explain special instances, like why some courts get jurisdiction over matters they wouldn't normally be allowed to preside over.

  • Foundations of Corrections

    Foundations of corrections classes explain the goal of the corrections system and how it relates to criminal justice. Students in these courses also learn about how the corrections system developed, how sentencing works, and the obstacles that those within the correctional system face.

Career and Salary Outlook for Criminal Justice Majors

  • Paralegal

    Paralegals support lawyers and streamline workflows, whether that's by helping with research, interviewing clients, filing documents, or writing legal drafts for the lawyer to review. The BLS projects paralegal and legal assistant positions to grow by 14% from 2021-2031. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $56,230 in May 2021.

  • Intelligence Analyst

    Intelligence analysts are a pivotal part of national security. They monitor and evaluate information to detect security threats and alert relevant authorities before the threats occur. According to Payscale, intelligence analysts earn an average annual salary of $72,770 as of October 2022.

  • Youth Correctional Counselor

    Youth correctional counselors serve as advisors for juvenile offenders. The BLS projects job growth for this role to see little or no change from 2021-2031. Payscale reports that youth correctional counselors earn an average of $46,420 per year as of October 2022.

  • Private Investigator

    Private investigators (sometimes called PIs or detectives) are hired by people to search for information about individuals or companies. For example, if you wanted to uncover private financial information about someone you're in a lawsuit with, you might hire a PI. The BLS projects private detective roles to grow by 6% from 2021-2031. As of May 2021, they earned median annual salaries of $59,380.

  • Forensic Science Technician

    Forensic science technicians are sometimes called crime scene investigators. They show up at crime scenes to collect evidence that trained people will evaluate in a controlled lab environment. The BLS projects job growth for forensic science techs to grow by 11% from 2021-2031. They earned median annual salaries of $61,930 in May 2021.

  • Introduction to the American Court System

    This course introduces students to local, state, and federal courts and explains how they work together and separately. Classes cover jurisdiction, which determines what court is allowed to hear certain cases. Course instructors also explain special instances, like why some courts get jurisdiction over matters they wouldn't normally be allowed to preside over.

  • Foundations of Corrections

    Foundations of corrections classes explain the goal of the corrections system and how it relates to criminal justice. Students in these courses also learn about how the corrections system developed, how sentencing works, and the obstacles that those within the correctional system face.

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Certifications and Licensure for a Job in Criminal Justice

You can also pursue certifications and licenses if you want to work in criminal justice. These can supplement your college education or current work experience.

A few common examples include:

  • Forensic Science or Crime Scene Technician Certificate

    This certificate instructs technicians on what to do when they arrive at a crime scene. It also shows what details to look out for at the scene and how to properly document your findings.

  • Certified Paralegal

    Paralegals who want to boost their legal knowledge can earn a certificate. A paralegal certificate dives into legal studies, applicable state laws, and more.

  • Jail Certification Programs

    These certifications allow jail officers and other professionals to distinguish themselves from others within the field. It demonstrates that officers have extensive knowledge, experience, and training.

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