Best Online Criminal Justice Programs of 2023

Getting a criminal justice degree leads to jobs that make a big impact. Explore our top-ranked online criminal justice programs and which jobs pay the most.
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  • Criminal justice is the study of crime and how society responds to it.
  • A bachelor's in criminal justice leads to numerous law-related jobs, including police and corrections.
  • The best online criminal justice degrees offer convenience and flexibility, especially for working adults.

Crime is an unfortunate but common part of life. But for every crime, someone is out there trying to prevent it, bring criminals to justice, or support the victims.

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice is a popular path to these law-related jobs. You'll be able to work in law enforcement, corrections, social services and other jobs that make a big difference in communities.

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

Ready to Start Your Journey?

If you're considering a criminal justice degree, here's what to do next:

  • Explore this page to determine whether this path is the right choice for you.
  • Check out the top-ranked online bachelor's in criminal justice programs, as well as our sponsored programs.
  • Request more information from schools you're interested in to find the best fit for you.

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

  • What It's About: The study of crime and how society responds to it. A major focus is on the criminal justice system — law enforcement, court systems, and corrections — and what happens in each stage of the criminal justice process.
  • Purpose: This program helps you develop interdisciplinary skills that you can apply to various careers. The combination of legal, social services, and public policy training can prepare you to enter law enforcement, corrections, and security.
  • Popular Jobs: You can work as a paralegal, forensic analyst, police officer or detective, corrections officer, or probation officer. You may also qualify for specialized or administrative positions in law enforcement.

Featured Online Criminal Justice Programs

Why Should I Get an Online Criminal Justice Degree?

An online criminal justice degree is a flexible and convenient path to careers in the criminal justice system. You can balance work with school, control the pace, and minimize stress.

A criminal justice degree also lays the groundwork for a stable career. You'll qualify for government jobs that rarely go away and earn excellent benefits.

Benefits of a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

  • Numerous career paths
  • Widely applicable skills
  • High job satisfaction
  • Job stability
  • Health and retirement benefits

Reasons to Get Your Criminal Justice Degree Online

How Much Does a Criminal Justice Degree Cost?

An online degree costs between $6,000-$36,000. The cost may go up or down depending on a few factors:

Criminal justice is a branch of social science. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the median annual cost for an online bachelor's degree in social sciences is $6,637.

Average Annual Tuition Cost of a Bachelor's Degree | 2020-21

Public Institution

$9,375

Private Institution

$32,825

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Average undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board rates

Total Average Net Cost of Four Years of College | 2020-21

Public Institution

$56,720

Private Institution (Nonprofit)

$112,200

Source: BestColleges, How Much Does College Cost?

What Are the Best Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Programs of 2023?

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Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

#1 Best Online Criminal Justice Programs of 2023

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

  • Little Rock, AR
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Accelerated 7-Week Courses

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $280
Out of State | $280

Credits to Graduate
At least 120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Institutional Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers an online criminal justice degree program that can prepare you for careers in corrections, law enforcement, and in the court system. Required classes include introduction to criminal justice, police and society, and crime and behavior.

To be admitted to the program, you must meet the admissions requirements for the University of Arkansas and complete Composition I and Composition II. You must have a minimum of 12 hours at UA Little Rock with a minimum GPA of 2.25.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,495
Out-of-state
$18,750
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
56%
Students Enrolled
8,899
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
84% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#2 Best Online Criminal Justice Programs of 2023

Franklin University

  • Columbus, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | 6- and 12-Week Courses

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $398
Out of State | $398

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Institutional Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

Franklin University offers an online bachelor of science in criminal justice administration. This criminal justice degree program focuses on leadership within the criminal justice system. Required classes include intro to criminal justice administration, introduction to criminology, and evidence-based practice and research.

If you enroll in this program, you can choose a focus on corrections, homeland security, law enforcement, public administration, or special populations. If you do not want to select a focus, you can choose your own electives.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,552
Out-of-state
$9,552
Retention Rate
9%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
5,926
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#3 Best Online Criminal Justice Programs of 2023

Campbellsville University

  • Campbellsville, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | 8-Week Courses

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $410
Out of State | $410

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Institutional Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Campbellsville University offers a bachelor of science in criminal justice administration. This degree program provides a solid foundation in the principles of criminal justice. If you enroll in this program, you'll learn about law enforcement, criminology, and victimology.

To apply, you must complete an online application and submit copies of your college transcripts. If you have fewer than 24 credit hours to transfer, you must also submit your official high school transcripts.

Average Tuition
In-state
$24,900
Out-of-state
$24,900
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
12,771
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
72% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#4 Best Online Criminal Justice Programs of 2023

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | 8-Week Courses

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $390
Out of State | $390

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Institutional Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Liberty University offers an online criminal justice degree program. This bachelor's-level degree program can prepare you for a career in law enforcement. It is completely online, allowing those who are already serving their communities through law enforcement to continue working while earning their degrees.

If you enroll in this program, you can choose from several specializations, including business administration and management, corrections and human services, crime scene investigation, criminal psychology, and public administration.

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,791
Out-of-state
$14,791
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
50%
Students Enrolled
93,349
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#5 Best Online Criminal Justice Programs of 2023

Ashland University

  • Ashland, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | 8-Week Courses

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $395
Out of State | $395

Credits to Graduate
Unspecified

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Institutional Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

Ashland University offers an online bachelor of science in criminal justice. This criminal justice degree program can prepare you for a variety of careers in law enforcement. You can choose from five tracks: correctional administration, criminal justice generalist, criminology, law enforcement administration, and research or legal studies.

At Ashland, you can receive up to 30 hours of credit for your work and life experience, and you can transfer credits from other colleges. Members of the Fraternal Order of Police, first responders, and their immediate family members receive a 15% tuition discount.

Average Tuition
In-state
$22,000
Out-of-state
$22,000
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
4,447
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
72% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

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

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#6 Best Online Criminal Justice Programs of 2023

Lewis University

  • Romeoville, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | 8-Week Courses

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $445
Out of State | $445

Credits to Graduate
128

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Institutional Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

Lewis University offers a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice. This bachelor's degree program covers both criminal and social justice. You learn about equity, fairness, and public protection. You can also gain an understanding of criminology, juvenile justice policies, domestic violence, and more.

Required courses include court systems and probation, criminology, juvenile justice system, law enforcement, and domestic violence. The application process includes submitting official high school transcripts and official ACT or SAT scores. If you are a transfer student, you'll need to submit official college transcripts as well.

Average Tuition
In-state
$34,268
Out-of-state
$34,268
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
6,437
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
89% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#7 Best Online Criminal Justice Programs of 2023

City University of Seattle

  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Course Format Unspecified

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $470
Out of State | $470

Credits to Graduate
180

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Institutional Accreditation | Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

City University of Seattle offers a bachelor of science in criminal justice. This online criminal justice degree program can provide you with the training needed to administer justice in the public sector. You can choose to focus on justice administration or have a general focus.

If you have attended Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission basic training, you can receive credit for 36 lower-division credits and possibly five upper-division credits. If you have military training, you can also receive credit toward a criminal justice degree.

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,658
Out-of-state
$13,658
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,052
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
83% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
#8 Best Online Criminal Justice Programs of 2023

New Mexico State University

  • Las Cruces, NM
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Course Format Unspecified

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $395
Out of State | $395

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Institutional Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

New Mexico State University-Main Campus offers an online bachelor of criminal justice program. This criminal justice program requires at least 120 credits with 48 or more in courses numbered 300 or higher. You can learn how to become an effective leader in the criminal justice space.

Required courses include criminal law; crime, justice, and society; advanced research methods; and issues in ethics, law, and criminal justice. Elective choices include introduction to criminal justice research, political research skills, and experimental methods.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,041
Out-of-state
$22,507
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
14,227
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#9 Best Online Criminal Justice Programs of 2023

Texas A&M University-Commerce

  • Commerce, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | 7-Week Self-Paced Courses

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $750 per term
Out of State | $1,500 per term

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Institutional Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Texas A&M University-Commerce offers a bachelor of science in criminal justice with an emphasis in law enforcement leadership. This degree program in criminal justice focuses on the need for strong leadership within the law enforcement community.

To be accepted into the criminal justice program, you must first complete your general education core (42 hours) and your prior criminal justice coursework (30 hours). These can be completed through the traditional 16-week format but are not available as seven-week self-paced courses.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,790
Out-of-state
$17,060
Retention Rate
58%
Admission Rate
60%
Students Enrolled
12,249
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
89% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#10 Best Online Criminal Justice Programs of 2023

Lancaster Bible College

  • Lancaster, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $375
Out of State | $375

Credits to Graduate
120 credits

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Institutional Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education

LBC offers multiple online degrees aimed at adult learners. The online bachelor of arts in criminal justice program emphasizes restorative justice with a Christian foundation. You'll study law enforcement, the correctional system, and the court system. 

With flexible transfer credit policies, LBC makes it easier to finish a bachelor's degree. Criminal justice majors take classes in eight-week sessions. Student success coaches help you choose classes. LBC also offers college credits for life experiences.

Average Tuition
In-state
$26,330
Out-of-state
$26,330
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
2,038
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice Online?

The time it takes to get your degree depends on if you're a full-time or part-time student or if you have transferable credits.

A full-time student with a minimum course load of 15 credits per semester can finish in about four years. A part-time student taking less than 15 credits usually finishes in 5-6 years.

Required Course Credits

120 credits

Field Study Requirements

No*

(*Depending on your program and specialization)

Accelerated programs are one way to graduate faster. These programs prioritize finishing quickly, but often demand a more intensive course load.

Transfer credits also speed up graduation times. You can transfer credits you earned in the past and apply them to a new degree. With enough credits, you could get a bachelor's degree in less than two years.

How Much Money Can I Make With a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice?

A criminal justice degree could make you anywhere between $47,920-$66,020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Plus, the odds of finding a well-paying job are in your favor because criminal justice degrees are widely applicable to different fields.

Police and correctional officers are two popular jobs for criminal justice graduates. According to the BLS, police and detectives earned a median annual salary of $66,020 in May 2021, while correctional officers made $47,920.

Average base salary with a bachelor's in criminal justice degree

$60,000

Median annual wage for workers in protective service occupations

$46,590

Median annual wage for workers in legal occupations

$82,430

(Data from Payscale and the BLS)

Salaries may go up or down depending on your education level, occupation, sector (public vs. private), and geographic location. Top-paying states for forensic science technicians and probation officers include California, Massachusetts, and New York.

Also, consider that some entry-level jobs in criminal justice may not pay exceptionally well but make up for it with good financial benefits. Criminal justice jobs often offer pensions and health insurance coverage that can set you up for retirement and better overall quality of life.

What Jobs Can I Get With a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Degree?

Criminal justice programs are known for their broad applications in various fields. You may qualify for jobs as a paralegal, forensic analyst, and public policy official. This degree can also prepare you for jobs that require field experience, such as arbitrator, mediator, or conciliator.

Some of the most popular criminal justice careers include:

Criminal Justice Career Paths

Since a bachelor's degree exceeds the minimum education requirement for many entry-level law enforcement jobs, you may qualify for senior roles in law enforcement as well.

For example, police officers and detectives with a bachelor's degree may qualify for senior administrative roles in law enforcement.

Is a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Worth it?

A criminal justice degree sets you up for a stable career. You'll have plenty of job options, good pay, and excellent benefits.

Many of the jobs you qualify for make a positive impact on the community. You'll also be in a good position to advance your career through higher positions, such as administrative roles.

Everything Else You Need to Know About Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Degrees

What's the difference between a BS and BA in criminal justice?

Schools may offer a bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of science (BS) in criminal justice, which incorporate a philosophical or practical approach, respectively. BA degrees tend to include a liberal arts core, while BS degrees may focus on the technical aspects of this career field.

These degrees can offer a choice of wide-ranging criminal justice concentrations. Options may include computer science, forensics, public policy, administration, or human services.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in criminal justice?

Police officers and probation officers are among the highest-paid entry-level criminal justice professionals, earning median annual salaries of $66,020 and $60,250, respectively, in May 2021.

Within law enforcement, detectives and criminal investigators top the list of highest earners, with salaries exceeding $83,000 per year. Furthermore, police and detectives employed by the federal government earned nearly $94,000 a year as of May 2021.

What courses will I take in an online bachelor's in criminal justice program?

You'll take a mix of general education, elective, and criminal justice courses. Depending on your program, your general education or elective classes may or may not be related to your major.

General education classes are designed to make you a more well-rounded graduate. Electives give you the freedom to learn what you want and explore other interests.

Finally, criminal justice classes will cover the foundations of criminal justice. You can expect to take classes such as:

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • The Judicial System in the United States
  • Technology in Criminal Justice
  • The Correctional System in the United States
  • U.S. Law Enforcement

Still looking for the right fit? You might also like:

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

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