The Most Affordable Online Criminal Justice Programs

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Criminal justice is a dynamic field where professionals can pursue exciting positions in criminology, homeland security, and a number of other careers. While some professions require only a high school diploma, a college education enhances essential job skills and lays the foundation for career development. From leadership opportunities to learning new skills, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can help people interested in–or already working in–criminal justice earn a rewarding job in the field.

For those wary of making the investment in a four-year degree, a number of affordable online criminal justice programs are available. Increasingly, students are opting to complete their criminal justice degree online, due to the flexibility and affordability inherent in the distance format. While cost will undoubtedly motivate students as they choose their school, it is important for frugal students to look beyond the cheapest online criminal justice programs in terms of tuition, and look for programs that offer a return on the investment of time and money.

At BestColleges.com, we use our unique College Affordability Score methodology to evaluate schools. Our metric weighs a number of factors, including a college’s return on investment (ROI), the amount of financial aid given to students, the number of student loans taken out, and student loan default rates. The result is a list that looks beyond the cheapest online criminal justice programs, taking into account the overall economic value each program offers to online criminal justice students.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Receiving Loans Location Description
1

Texas A&M University – Central Texas

80.523/5N/AKilleen, TX

campus-texas-am-university-central-texas

Texas A&M offers an affordable online BS in criminal justice . The program trains students for a variety of career opportunities, from law enforcement to research. There are also two minors available, one in forensic investigation and another in homeland security.

Courses are delivered through Blackboard’s learning management platform. Students must complete general education requirements, including English, math, and science, along with lower and upper division CJ requirements and electives. Financial aid comes in several forms, including grants, loans, tuition exemption programs, and scholarships.

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2

Bellevue University

77.733/551%Bellevue, NE

campus_bellevue_university

Bellevue offers an affordable accelerated online BS in criminal justice. The program, delivered through Blackboard, provides students a thorough understanding of the criminal justice system, the courts, the corrections system, and law enforcement. The program combines this content with hands-on learning as students develop critical thinking skills through the study of legal and ethical principles, policy development, and contemporary social issues.

Bellevue emphasizes its affordability and low school fees, along with financial aid programs specifically for veterans. Additionally, the school accepts transfer credits, which both reduces the overall cost of the program, and accelerates the degree completion time. Distance learners must complete general education requirements. Students in the criminal justice program must also complete 40 credit hours for the bachelor of science degree.

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3

University of Nebraska at Omaha

77.023/549%Omaha, NE

campus_university_of_nebraska_omaha

UNO offers an accredited and affordable online BS in criminology and criminal justice. This program is designed for working professionals, traditional students, and anyone whose schedule demands the flexibility an online education provides. Distance learners can complete their degree entirely online, which includes general education requirements and other courses. These classes can be taken through UN at Omaha, UN at Lincoln, or UN at Kansas City.

Students must complete 120 credit hours of coursework. Criminology and criminal justice majors must complete the 45 hours of their pre-program curriculum with an overall GPA exceeding 2.50. Other requirements include 27 hours of criminology and criminal justice coursework, 21 of which are upper division, and a three-hour criminal justice statistics course. Students must also complete a Senior Assessment (0 credit hours) in the semester they plan to graduate.

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4

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

76.912/586%Odessa, TX

campus-university-of-texas-permian-basin

UTPB offers an online degree completion program in criminal justice, which allows students to earn 66 credits towards their BS. The remaining courses, including general education requirements, are completed either at a local community college or through UTPB’s distance education program.

Designed to train criminal justice and law enforcement professionals, the online coursework leads to a BS from UTPB, but can also lead to a bachelor’s from UT Arlington or a BS from UT Brownsville. A central degree coordinator facilitates degree planning.

The broad-based education grounds students in crime causation, juvenile justice, criminal justice issues, corrections, law, and law enforcement. Because UTPB’s online program focuses on junior- and senior-level coursework, the program is largely designed for students who have already completed their first two years of undergraduate coursework.

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5

University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

73.83/59%Oshkosh, WI

campus-university-of-wisconsin-oshkosh

UW-Oshkosh’s online BA and BS degrees in criminal justice are designed for students who have already completed their lower division criminal justice coursework, or who already have an associate degree. The programs emphasize critical thinking and a theoretical understanding of crime, policy formulation and analysis, data analysis, and more.

Graduates are prepared for a career in criminal justice, graduate study, or law school. Another degree option is the bachelor of applied studies (BAS) in public safety, which includes coursework in criminal justice.

The program’s courses are delivered through Desire2Learn (D2L). The standard course structure for both synchronous and asynchronous learning includes discussions, lectures, and assignments. The Office of Financial Aid offers a variety of scholarships and grants to online students.

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6

Washington State University

73.143/551%Pullman, WA

WSU’s Global Campus offers an accredited and affordable online bachelor’s in criminal justice . The second oldest criminal justice program in the nation “combines problem-driven research with real world expertise” to train future leaders in state, federal, and private law enforcement. The problem-driven research approach is distinguished from a methods approach and is driven by key social issues, rather than focusing on a method in advance.

Students must complete the university common requirements, which can often be satisfied with a direct transfer degree. Criminal justice majors must complete 15 credit hours of major coursework. All online students pay the same tuition as on-campus students.

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7

University of Central Florida

72.683/544%Orlando, FL

UCF’s accredited and affordable online BA and BS in criminal justice emphasizes teaching, research, and service. The program prepares students for careers in criminal justice and in private security organizations and related fields. Students can also prepare for graduate study in criminal justice or related fields.

Apart from a language requirement, both the BA and BS in criminal justice require 60 general education hours, 21 criminal justice core hours, 27 upper-division criminal justice electives, and 12 supportive coursework hours.

Students must complete a total of 120 credits to graduate. Additional departmental requirements include a minimum 2.0 GPA in the major, and no less than a C- grade in each of the core courses.

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8

Westfield State University

72.653/520%Westfield, MA

Westfield State offers an accredited and affordable online degree completion program in criminal justice. It is designed for students transferring from a Massachusetts community college. Students who have completed their “Mass transfer compact” can complete their junior and senior year coursework for their BS online. Those students who have not done so are still eligible to enter the program and complete their degree online.

During their senior year, eligible criminal justice majors can complete an internship in a criminal justice agency. The internship helps students apply theory in a practical situation. Program prerequisites include completing 84 hours or more of coursework and an overall Westfield State University GPA of 2.5. Students who complete an internship can receive criminal justice elective credits.

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9

University of Colorado – Colorado Springs

72.63/528%Colorado Springs, CO

Students at UCCS can enroll in an online degree completion program for a BA in criminal justice . Students can concentrate in one or two of the following areas: corrections, family violence, forensic studies, law enforcement, law, and public policy.

A dual degree in sociology and criminal justice is also available for students who want to double major. A total of 34 credit hours in sociology and 28 credit hours in criminal justice are required for this degree.

BA degree requirements include 120 hours of completed coursework, with a cumulative GPA of 2.0. Undergraduate Colorado residents are eligible for a statewide College Opportunity Fund (COF) stipend designed to defray the cost of school. The per-credit hour cost of tuition varies according to the school and the student’s undergraduate status.

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10

University of Oklahoma

72.243/561%Norman, OK

The OU offers an affordable online BS in criminal justice. The 120-hour program grounds students in theoretical, ethical, and current issues in criminal justice, and introduces students to topics such as criminal justice statistics, deviance and social control, and comparative justice programs. An accelerated timeline is designed for working adults. This timeline is facilitated by individualized graduation plans developed with an advisor. Each course is completed in eight weeks, for a 16-week semester.

Degree requirements include a minimum 2.0 GPA, and 40 hours of upper-division coursework. Most students graduate in four or five years. The institution’s College of Liberal Studies offers financial aid in a number of forms and combinations, including grants and scholarships.

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11

University of Louisiana at Monroe

72.132/556%Monroe, LA

ULM offers an online BA in criminal justice . Multiple scholarships are available to ease tuition costs, and the criminal justice department disperses over $7,000 in scholarships each year. More than 40% of graduates eventually earn a master’s degree. Online ULM students are supported by several unique features, including My Homework Application, which helps students organize their coursework.

The criminal justice program requires 120 semester hours for graduation, 45 of which are major requirements. ULM is also the home of the Institute of Law Enforcement, which offers approximately four training courses yearly to in-service police officers and related agencies.

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12

Fort Hays State University

71.993/572%Hays, KS

FHSU offers accredited online BS and BA degrees in criminal justice designed for both traditional and working students. Many of its students are already working in criminal justice. Core courses, required for all CJ majors, focus on criminal justice theories, after which students can choose from electives that allow them to specialize in law enforcement, corrections, the law and courts, or a combination of areas in the field. A total of 124 hours are required to complete the degree.

Fort Hays State University’s online programs provide a range of support services to their students. These include tutorials on how to take exams on Blackboard, free online tutoring, writing assistance, and a virtual library.

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13

University of Nebraska at Kearney

71.83/555%Kearney, NE

UNK offers an affordable online BS in criminal justice. Students can choose from two tracks: UNK’s criminal justice comprehensive, and UNK’s criminal justice major. The comprehensive degree requires 58 hours of coursework for completion, while the major requires 36. The criminal justice major also requires that students choose a minor in another area of study. The department offers dozens of courses in the discipline, all of which reflect national and international trends.

Most students satisfy their prerequisites and other requirements prior to transferring into UNK’s program, which combines courses from the Kearney, University of Nebraska at Omaha, and University of Nebraska at Lincoln campuses. An intensive internship provides students with hands-on experience in the field. Financial assistance is available to students in the form of loans, grants, scholarships, and work study.

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14

University of Wisconsin – Platteville

70.963/528%Platteville, WI

The accredited online BS in criminal justice at UW-Platteville prepares students for a variety of careers in the field. An advisory board consisting of members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the Department of Justice (DoJ), and currently serving police chiefs support the department’s efforts to maintain a current curriculum. Students can choose to add a minor in business administration by taking eight classes.

Tuition for online students at UWP is the same for in-state and non-resident students. The institution offers financial aid packages and other assistance, such as grants and scholarships. Professionals are also encouraged to consult their employers for tuition reimbursement programs.

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15

University of Texas – El Paso

69.842/535%El Paso, TX

UTEP offers an accredited online BA in criminal justice. Although the program is available entirely online, the university takes advantage of its location to focus its program on crime along the U.S.-Mexico border. A total 36 of the 120 required credit hours are devoted to criminal justice theory and research methods. Requirements in core subject areas strengthen students’ critical thinking and writing skills.

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16

University of Colorado – Denver

69.843/548%Denver, CO

UC Denver offers a BA in criminal justice , which focuses on research and career preparation. The program includes an internship where students gain hands-on experience in the field and apply critical thinking and problem solving skills learned in the virtual classroom. Students choose a focus of study, including victim services, courts and pre-law, and juvenile justice. Online students are also welcome to take courses on campus to create a flexible learning environment.

Criminal justice students at UCD have the opportunity to earn graduate credits while completing the bachelor’s program. The combined BA in criminal justice (BACJ) and MA in criminal justice (MACJ) allows students to complete their MA degree with one additional year of study. The BACJ requirements include 120 hours of coursework, completion of sociology courses, core university requirements, and demonstrated competency in math and writing.

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17

Wilmington University

69.453/520%New Castle, DE

Wilmington University offers an online BS in criminal justice designed for both professionals seeking career advancement and students who want to prepare for a career in the field.

The program encourages students to tailor the program to suit their specific interests. Distance learners must maintain a C- average or better in core courses.

One unique feature of the degree is the Community and Academic Partnerships/Co-op Program. This program allows students to complete specific courses through employer partnerships. Active duty military are qualified for reduced tuition rates, while financial aid packages, including loans, scholarships, and grants, are available to all students.

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18

University of Texas at Brownsville

67.92/5N/ATX

UT Brownsville offers an online BS in criminal justice with three tracks of study: law enforcement, corrections, and forensics. Additionally, the school offers a pre-law program of study leading to a BA in law and justice studies, and a BS in criminology and criminal justice. Students may choose to take campus-based classes in addition to online courses.

This degree completion program is offered through a consortium of UT Brownsville, UT Permian Basin, and UT Arlington. It is aimed at law enforcement and criminal justice professionals. The 66-credit program allows students to complete their degree online. Austin Community College students, for example, can transfer into this program to complete their undergraduate degree. Financial aid options include loans, grants, and scholarships.

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19

Western Carolina University

67.683/567%Cullowhee, NC

Western Carolina University’s accredited online criminal justice program offers a BS and a minor in criminal justice, with a concentration in administration of justice. The degree completion program is designed for traditional students and professionals working in the field. The competitive program requires prospective students to complete an associate degree and maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0. Students must complete 120 hours of coursework, including 49 hours of criminal justice courses, 42 hours of liberal studies courses, and 29 of electives.

The institution provides a variety of services to online students, including academic support, library and tutoring services, and career advising.

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20

Wichita State University

67.492/565%Wichita, KS

WSU offers an affordable online BA in criminal justice, which allows students to build their own program of study with an emphasis in criminal justice. The 124-credit program offers flexibility for pre-professionals or nontraditional career students. The institution also offers a bachelor of general studies with an emphasis in criminal justice. This degree also requires 124 credit hours, but distributes them differently from the BA degree, and also does not require a foreign language.

The undergraduate cost of tuition includes campus infrastructure and support, technology, transportation, and an “area fee.” Financial aid resources include loans, scholarships, and grants. All courses are delivered through Blackboard.

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21

Colorado State University – Global Campus

67.33/5N/AGreenwood Village, CO

CSU’s Global Campus offers an online bachelor’s in criminal justice and law enforcement management. Designed for working adults, scheduled for eight-week terms, and with fixed tuition rates, CSU’s Global Campus CJ program is aimed at career preparation. Programs are customized for students to specialize in areas that enhance their professional development. The school also awards benchmark achievements that allow students to demonstrate learned skills to others.

Students can specialize in a range of disciplines, including business administration, computer programming, public and non-profit management, organizational leadership, and strategic communications. There are no out-of-state tuition increases, and the school promises a fixed tuition rate for continuously enrolled students. CSUGC offers reduced military rates.

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22

McNeese State University

67.052/536%Lake Charles, LA

McNeese State offers a cheap, multidisciplinary curriculum leading to a bachelor’s in criminal justice . The program is designed for adult learners who require a flexible schedule. Flexible scheduling allows students to access course materials and assignments during each of the two seven-week semester sessions. Students typically take one or two classes per session.

Through a partnership with Louisiana State University-Eunice and SOWELA Technical Community College, students complete their first two years of coursework at either SOWELA or LSU-Eunice, and the last two at McNeese. All coursework is completed in an accelerated online format using the Moodle learning management platform.

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23

University of Alaska Fairbanks

66.912/543%Fairbanks, AK

UAF offers a cheap online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice . Through three initiatives, military, high school, and small campus, UAF’s criminal justice program brings together a diverse student body. The military initiative offers enlisted personnel the opportunity to complete their degree while still in the service.

Alaskan high school students can take college-level introductory criminal justice courses at a reduced rate through the justice department’s high school initiative, and the small campus initiative is dedicated to sharing transferable online courses with other institutions to make college more accessible.

A variety of support services are available through each of these initiatives. Financial aid is also available for students, as are other types of aid, including fellowships, grants, scholarships, and student employment. Courses are delivered through Blackboard.

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24

Peru State College

66.673/580%Peru, NE

Peru State College offers an online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, with degree concentrations in administration , justice counseling , and law & society.

The interdisciplinary major prepares students for a variety of careers in criminal justice. Students study research methods, victimology, criminology, juvenile justice, and other subjects.

The justice counseling concentration is designed for students interested in a human-services education. Within this concentration, students can take approved provisional licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor (PLADC) courses toward the completion of a credential. Students must also complete 300 hours of supervised field experience and pass a final exam.

Students must complete the required general education and major courses to graduate. Peru State College is a member of the Nebraska Career Recruiting Consortium (NCRC), an online program that connects students and alumni with potential employers.

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25

Louisiana State University-Alexandria

66.232/523%Alexandria, LA

Louisiana State University-Alexandria offers a BS in criminal justice that can be completed entirely online. The program emphasizes knowledge of law enforcement, juvenile delinquency, courts, and corrections.

LSUA focuses on problem-solving and communication in a criminal justice context. Studying criminal justice at LSUA prepares majors for careers in a variety of areas, including police officer, animal cruelty investigator, court clerk, legal researcher, and Federal Air Marshall.

Students must maintain a C average in required classes, at least 45 credit hours of junior-level courses, and 15 credit hours of senior-level courses. Additionally, students must meet the requirements listed on the academic requirements site. Students must complete 120 hours of required coursework to graduate.

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