The Most Affordable Online Criminal Justice Programs

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Badge with 2-Line TitleOnline Bachelor'sin Criminal Justice2017
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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.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 California State University-San Bernardino 83.85 45% San Bernardino, CA

CSUSB offers an online criminal justice degree through the school's College of Extended Learning. This program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis and is ideal for students who want to continue working full-time while earning their degree. Graduates are prepared to pursue a variety of careers in the criminal justice industry, including police officer, probation officer, corrections officer, and court clerk. The curriculum includes coursework on a variety of topics, such as police and police systems, community corrections, forensic profiling, women and crime, and more.

This 180-unit program was designed for transfer students, and all applicants must have completed at least 60 credits (or 90 quarter units) of coursework at a community or junior college with a minimum GPA of 2.7 to be considered. All online courses at CSUSB are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. CSUSB is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

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2 University of Central Florida 82.61 68% Orlando, FL

UCF offers one of the most affordable online criminal justice programs in the country. The school offers an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice that can be earned as a BA or a BS. Graduates are prepared to pursue for a variety of careers in the criminal justice industry, including corrections officer, law enforcement officer, homicide detective, crime scene investigator, and FBI agent. This program also prepares students for further study in graduate school.

This 133-credit program includes 60 credits of general education requirements, 30 credits of core classes, 21 credits of electives, and nine credits of supportive coursework. Students have the option of earning six of these supportive credits through an internship. Transfer students can apply up to 12 credits from another accredited institution towards their degree. Online courses are offered in both asynchronous and synchronous formats, with some classes requiring on-campus visits or online attendance at a specific time, while other are completed self-paced. UCF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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3 Excelsior College 81.70 48% Albany, NY

Excelsior offers an online bachelor's in criminal justice program with a concentration in investigative forensics. Students can also choose a concentration in criminal justice administration, homeland security, or law enforcement and public safety, or earn their degree without a concentration. Graduates are prepared to pursue a variety of career in the criminal justice field, including forensic psychology, forensic pathology, and computer or digital forensics.

This 120-credit program include an even split of 60 credits in general education requirements and 60 credits of major coursework. The curriculum includes core courses on a variety of topics, including law enforcement, criminal justice administration, and criminology. Online courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. This makes the program ideal for those who want to continue working full-time while earning their degree. Excelsior is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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4 Florida International University 81.30 53% Miami, FL

FIU offers a criminal justice degree online through the School of International and Public Affairs that prepares students for careers in homeland security. Online courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Students are paired with a success coach during admission that will help them throughout their tenure at FIU.

The 120-credit curriculum includes 24 credits of course coursework and 12 credits of upper-level criminal justice electives. Coursework covers a variety of topics, including criminal justice and public policy, criminology theory, and global terrorism. Students can begin this program in the fall, spring, or summer terms. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and submit SAT or ACT scores to be considered. FIU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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5 Saint Joseph's College-New York 80.06 70% Brooklyn, NY

SJC offers an online bachelor's of science in criminal justice practice and policy that emphasizes the applied side of the field. This program pulls from a broader range of disciplines than almost any other criminal justice degree online, including sociology, political science, psychology, philosophy, and forensic biology. Online courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Graduates are prepared to pursue a variety of entry-level careers in criminal justice or to continue their education in graduate school.

This 120-credit program includes 60 credits of liberal arts requirements, a 36 credit criminal justice core, and 17 credits of additional requirements. These additional requirements include courses in English, biology, sociology, and library research strategies. Core courses cover a variety of criminal justice topics, including corrections, criminal procedure, law enforcement and policing, and criminology. SJC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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6 University of Houston-Victoria 79.64 48% Victoria, TX

UHV offers an online criminal justice bachelor's degree that is ideal for both experienced law enforcement professionals as well as those who are new to the field. This 120-credit program includes general education requirements, core major coursework, and a variety of electives. The curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, including ethics of social control, criminology, criminal justice administration, and a senior seminar.

All courses are offered asynchronously online, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. UHV also offers a master's of arts in interdisciplinary studies concentration that allows students to combine their criminal justice knowledge with a concentration in another field, such as business, communications, psychology, or even digital gaming. Students can transfer up to 12 credits from another accredited institution as long as they were earned with a minimum GPA of 2.0. UHV is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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7 Bellevue University 78.76 37% Bellevue, NE

Bellevue offers an online criminal justice degree that is designed for transfer students. Applicants must have either an associate degree or 60 credits from another accredited criminal justice program to be considered. Online courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace.

This 127-credit program includes 36 credits of general education requirements, 40 credits of major coursework, 42 credits of electives, and the nine-credit Kirkpatrick Signature Series, which focuses on various traditions of Western Civilization that have achieved unprecedented success in the U.S. The curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, including criminal justice problem analysis, criminology, victimology, and crime specifically in America. All online students at Bellevue pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Bellevue is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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8 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus 78.33 41% Denver, CO

The University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus offers an online bachelor's in criminal justice through the School of Public Affairs that prepares students for a variety of careers in the field. This 120-credit program includes 39 credits of core courses, 36 credit of major coursework, and 45 credits of general electives. This online criminal justice degree emphasizes explaining the causes of crime, including courses on criminology, statistics, and crime theory.

All online students pay the same tuition rates, regardless of residency. Online courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their convenience. The school also offers a combined online bachelor's of arts and master's in criminal justice, which allows students to earn credits towards both degrees at the same time. This program allows students earn a master’s degree with only one additional year of study. This school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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9 Florida State University 77.97 78% Tallahassee, FL

FSU is a public research university that was founded in 1851 in Tallahassee, Florida. The school is a member of the State University System of Florida and is the oldest continuous site of higher education in the state. FSU offers a variety of distance learning programs, including an online criminal justice degree that is designed for non-traditional students.

Students may transfer credits towards their degree, but they must complete at least 36 credits at FSU to graduate. This program is only offer on a part-time basis, as it is assumed that all students will be working full-time or have other commitments that preclude them from full-time studies. Students can begin the program in either the fall, spring, or summer semesters. Online classes are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Applicants must have an associate degree in the field to be considered. FSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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10 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus 75.36 67% Norman, OK

OU offers a criminal justice program that can be completed either in-person or entirely online. Students can enroll in this program during the fall, spring, or summer semesters. This 120-credit program includes coursework on a variety of topics, including ethics, statistics, criminology, forensics, drugs and society, and justice systems. Students must also complete a variety of general education requirements and electives courses. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in restorative justice, corrections management, and police administration.

Transfer students can earn their degree in just 18 months of full-time study. Online courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Full-time distance learners can enroll in four accelerated 8-week courses per semester, two in the first half and two in the second half. OU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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11 University of Nebraska at Omaha 75.30 43% Omaha, NE

UNO offers a bachelor's of science in criminology and criminal justice program that emphasizes the theory behind crime and why it happens. This 120-credit program is split into two parts: a pre-criminology and criminal justice curriculum (PCCJ) and the upper-division criminology and criminal justice program (CRCJ). Students must first complete the PCCJ with a minimum GPA of 2.5 and then apply for admission to the CRCJ program.

The school offers a wide variety of internship opportunities, including an established criminal justice study abroad program in London. UNO will accept transfer students as long as they have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and complete all PCCJ coursework. Online courses at UNO are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. UNO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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12 Florida Gulf Coast University 74.55 47% Fort Myers, FL

FGCU is a public space-grant university that was founded in 1991 in Fort Myers, Florida. The school offers a variety of distance learning programs, including an online bachelor's of science in criminal justice. At FGCU, 80% of students enroll in blended learning courses, which involve a mixture of on-campus and online learning, while the remaining 20% study entirely online.

This 120-credit program includes general education requirements, major courses, electives, and a university-wide required colloquium. Students must complete at least 48 credits of coursework in upper-division classes to graduate. The curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, including criminal theory, research, procedure, and internships in the field. Applicants must have either completed an associate degree in criminal justice or earned at least 60 credits towards their degree to be considered. FGCU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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13 University of Houston-Downtown 74.45 48% Houston, TX

UHD offers an online bachelor's of science in criminal justice program that emphasizes hands-on learning experiences. Many online criminal justice programs offer internships, but UHD takes it to the next level. The school offers a variety of field placements, which allow students to gain hands-on experience in a real-world criminal justice agency approved by the department. These field experiences sometimes lead to future employment.

This 120-credit program also includes 24 credits of upper-level criminal justice classes online that cover a variety of topics, including the police system, the court system, the correctional system, and criminology. The school also offers an online master's degree in criminal justice, allowing students the option to seamlessly transfer into graduate studies after graduation. UHD is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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14 Park University 74.30 42% Parkville, MO

Park University offers an online criminal justice degree in criminal justice administration that features three concentrations: law enforcement, corrections, and security. This 120-credit program includes 37 credits of general education requirements, 45 credits of criminal justice major courses, and six credits from a student's chosen concentration. Graduates are prepared for a variety of criminal justice careers in both the public and private sectors and at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, including criminology, procedure, and research. Students must also complete an internship or a senior writing project at the end of the program. Online courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Unfortunately, Park University is currently only authorized to offer this program in 19 U.S. states. Prospective students should check the school's state authorization page before applying. Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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15 Brandman University 74.24 48% Irvine, CA

Brandman University offers an online criminal justice degree through the school's Instructional Design for Engaged Adult Learning platform. Students can choose from one of five concentrations: corrections, forensics, homeland security, leadership, or victim advocacy. Each concentration prepares graduates for careers within that specific subfield of criminal justice.

The program is designed for transfer students and requires that all applicants have completed at least 12 baccalaureate-level courses at an accredited institution to be considered. The curriculum includes the completion of 45 credits split between core requirements, a general criminal justice concentration, and elective courses. Core courses cover a variety of topics, including police and society, foundations of law, constitutional rights, correctional systems, and social and political theory. Online courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Brandman University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

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16 Central Washington University 73.09 52% Ellensburg, WA

CWU offers an online bachelor's of arts in law and justice that provides students with a broad liberal arts education and pre-professional training in a variety of areas. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in law enforcement, corrections, or paralegal. This program also prepares students to continue their education in graduate school.

Online courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. The program includes 88 credits of law and justice courses, as well as general education requirements. Major courses cover a variety of topics, including criminology, victimology, and paralegal studies. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.25 to be considered. Transfer students must have also completed CWU's general education requirements. CWU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

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17 Arizona State University-Skysong 71.09 58% Scottsdale, AZ

ASU Skysong offers an online bachelor's degree in criminology and criminal justice through ASU Online. This program emphasizes policies and practices of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, corrections, and the courts. Students can enroll in this program on one of six start dates throughout the year. Online courses include both synchronous and asynchronous elements. Graduates are prepared for a variety of careers in criminal justice, including crime scene investigator, lawyer, and police officer.

This 120-credit program includes 40 classes, each of which lasts only eight weeks. The curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, including gangs, domestic violence, and white collar crime. Students are expected to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 throughout the program to graduate. All online students at ASU Skysong pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. ASU Skysong is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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18 University of Colorado Colorado Springs 70.42 47% Colorado Springs, CO

UCCS offers a unique online criminal justice degree through the School of Public Affairs: an accelerated BA to MCJ program that allows students to simultaneously earn credits towards both a bachelor's and master’s degree in criminal justice. This 120-credit program includes 39 credits of major coursework and 45 credits of upper-division classes. Students may count up to nine credits towards their MCJ degree. Once these credits are approved by the department, students are automatically admitted into the program. Students may apply for this accelerated option during their junior year.

The curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, including criminal justice systems, violence, criminal justice theory, and statistics. Online courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. UCCS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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19 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin 69.12 30% Odessa, TX

UTPB offers a bachelor's completion degree in criminology and criminal justice online through the University of Texas System Online Consortium. This degree requires the completion of 66 credit hours, 60 of which come from required criminal justice courses and six of which are earned through electives. The program is a degree completion program and allows students to apply up the 66 credits towards their bachelor's degree. This criminal justice degree online is ideal for both trained professionals and those with no experience in the field.

The curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, including criminal justice administration, legal aspects of corrections, ethics in criminal justice, the American judicial system, and criminal evidence and proof. The school has an agreement with Austin Community College that allows students to easily transfer into this program. UTPB is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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20 University of Nebraska at Kearney 68.70 55% Kearney, NE

UNK offers a 58-credit online criminal justice degree completion program designed for those who have already earned an associate degree. This online program combines courses from the Kearney, Omaha, and Lincoln campuses and offers students two study options: a major track and a comprehensive track. Graduates can pursue a variety of careers in law enforcement, corrections, and the court system.

The curriculum includes courses on a variety of criminal justice topics, including organized crime, terrorism, and crime scene investigation. All courses are offered entirely online asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. This program includes an in-depth internship experience, which involves hands-on experience with one of UNK's partner institutions like the Nebraska State Patrol or the National Security Agency. UNK is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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21 Wichita State University 68.58 45% Wichita, KS

Wichita State offers an online criminal justice program that emphasizes a broad background educational background in all areas of the field. This 36-credit criminal justice program includes 27 credits of core courses and nine credits of electives, as well as a variety of general education requirements. The curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, including juvenile justice, forensic anthropology, profiling, and medical and legal aspects of death investigations. Wichita State also offers a master's of arts in criminal justice for those who want to continue their studies at the graduate level.

Online courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Distance learners are welcome to participate in Wichita State’s on-campus Criminal Justice Student Association, which offers networking and employment opportunities through guest speakers and scheduled tours. Wichita State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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22 Fort Hays State University 68.18 44% Hays, KS

FHSU offers both a bachelor's of arts and a bachelor's of science online criminal justice degrees. These 124-credit programs include 55 credits of general education requirements, 21 credits of core courses, 21 credits of major classes, and 10 credits of coursework in a foreign language. Students can also pursue certificates in victim advocacy, law enforcement, corrections, law and the courts, and justice networking.

Online courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. These programs are designed for adult learners who have never earned a college degree and want to change careers, earn a higher salary, or earn a promotion. Transfer students are welcome and the department will work with each student to help them maximize the amount of credits earned. FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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23 The University of Texas at El Paso 67.91 39% El Paso, TX

UTEP offers an online bachelor's of arts in criminal justice program that emphasizes crime that takes place along the U.S.-Mexico border. This program was designed for working professionals and offers asynchronous online courses, which allow students to complete coursework at their own pace. Graduates are prepared to pursue a variety of careers in the criminal justice industry, including police officer, paralegal, FBI agent, and private detective.

This 120-credit online criminal justice degree includes 36 hours of required major coursework on a variety of topics, including criminal justice on the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration law and administration, court systems, and criminology. The school offers a wide variety of resources to military students, including tuition assistance and a mentor program. UTEP is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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24 City University of Seattle 67.70 47% Seattle, WA

CityU offers a bachelor's of science in criminal justice program that can be completed either on-campus in Seattle or online. Students can choose one of three concentrations: corporate security and investigation, cyber forensic investigation, or justice administration. Each concentration includes professionally-focused coursework that prepares students for careers in the respective subfield of criminal justice.

Regardless of chosen concentration, students must complete 180 credits of coursework on a variety of topics, including public and business administration, ethics, justice, and law. They must also complete a capstone course in bureaupathology, which examines the pathologies and issues that plague bureaucracies and large organizations. This exposes students to common pitfalls that they may encounter as managers. Online courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. CityU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

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25 Amridge University 67.24 11% Montgomery, AL

Amridge University is a nonprofit Christian institution that was founded in 1967 in Montgomery, Alabama. In 2017, the school began offering exclusively online programs. Amridge offers an online criminal justice degree that was designed for working professional. Graduates are prepared to pursue a variety of careers in the criminal justice industry, including law enforcement officer, corrections officer, or institutional counselor. This program also serves as a foundation for those who want to pursue a graduate degree on a related subject.

This 128-credit program includes major coursework on a variety of topics, including criminal investigation, constitutional law, criminal law, and criminal procedures. Students must complete at least 40 credits at Amridge and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 throughout the program to graduate. Amridge is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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