Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs of 2024

If you want to make a difference in our criminal justice system and your community, enroll in one of these top online programs.
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Updated on February 12, 2024
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2024

Best Online Bachelor's Programs in Criminal Justice

Fighting crime isn't about donning a cool black batsuit and taking down some bad guys.

It's about understanding what makes people do "bad" things, how society responds to crime, and how our policing and legal systems try to correct or prevent criminal activity.

An online criminal justice degree can give you a broad understanding of the justice system as a whole and prepare you for a number of rewarding criminal justice careers, including in law enforcement, corrections, legal services, and forensic science.

Check out these top-ranked online criminal justice degree programs to get started.

Featured Online Criminal Justice Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Top Criminal Justice Program Rankings Summary

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

We use datasets from sources like the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. 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. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such. All data is current as of the date this article was published. Program-specific information may vary.

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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#1 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs of 2024

San Diego State University

  • San Diego, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $278

Out-of-State | $396

Credits to Graduate: 120

SDSU's bachelor of science in criminal justice focuses on the intersections of criminal law, the justice system, and social justice. Using a 100% online format with asynchronous scheduling, learners can complete the program in as few as 15 months.

Primarily designed for transfer students seeking degree completion, the program provides deep coverage of topics including criminal law, justice administration, and crime in contemporary urban settings. Learners can also pursue a minor in public administration, which is suitable for degree-seekers interested in government.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,176
Out-of-state
$16,680
Retention Rate
90%
Acceptance Rate
38%
Students Enrolled
36,484
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
64% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#2 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs of 2024

University of Massachusetts, Lowell

  • Lowell, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $380

Out-of-State | $380

Credits to Graduate: 120

UMass Lowell's online bachelor of science in criminal justice explores interactions between policing, the court system, and corrections from systemic viewpoints. Students must complete coursework in criminology theory and criminal law. These courses prepare learners for a culminating capstone seminar.

Thanks to a generous transfer credit policy, learners with existing coursework can graduate in as few as 12 months. Students can transfer up to 90 credits and benefit from the flexibility of an asynchronous delivery model. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$15,078
Out-of-state
$33,004
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$14,590
Out-of-state
$26,370
Retention Rate
82%
Acceptance Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
17,597
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#3 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs of 2024

Florida International University

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $153

Out-of-State | $567

Credits to Graduate: 120

FIU's bachelor of science in criminal justice centers on the interactive relationship between policing, criminal justice, and the correctional system. Purpose-built for students with at least 60 transferable credits, the degree's 18-credit core covers criminal justice theory, research methods, and professional development.

The program culminates in a capstone experience and includes optional but recommended internship opportunities. Learners with a focused interest in forensics can alternately pursue FIU's online bachelor of science in crime science program.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,721
Out-of-state
$16,529
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,912
Out-of-state
$21,393
Retention Rate
90%
Acceptance Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
56,664
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#4 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs of 2024

Citadel Military College of South Carolina

  • Charleston, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $500

Out-of-State | $925

Credits to Graduate: 120

The Citadel's bachelor of arts in criminal justice is a unique program. This historic military college offers the degree through its "2+2" transfer structure. Students can complete their first two years at one of nine partner institutions or transfer in existing credits to achieve advanced standing.

Coursework focuses on the social causes of crime and how criminal justice institutions and government agencies respond to it. Electives offer degree customization opportunities, allowing learners to pursue interests in specific criminal justice and criminology issues. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,356
Out-of-state
$30,857
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,740
Out-of-state
$18,390
Retention Rate
86%
Acceptance Rate
86%
Students Enrolled
3,693
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#5 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs of 2024

University of Washington, Tacoma Campus

  • Tacoma, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $517

Out-of-State | $1,497

Credits to Graduate: 180

UW Tacoma's online bachelor of arts in criminal justice explores the criminal justice system through a social justice framework. Focusing on the human impacts of crime and criminality, the program emphasizes harm reduction, restorative justice, and rehabilitation.

Core coursework focuses on five interrelated pillars: justice administration, theoretical criminology, the correctional system, criminal law processes, and research methods. Multidisciplinary electives provide extensive specialization and personalization opportunities.

Students who meet the program's minimum of 90 transfer credits can graduate in just six semesters.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,927
Out-of-state
$38,757
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$16,605
Out-of-state
$29,763
Retention Rate
75%
Acceptance Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
5,027
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
#6 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs of 2024

St. Joseph's University, New York

  • Brooklyn, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $740

Out-of-State | $740

Credits to Graduate: 120

St. Joseph's BS in criminal justice practice and policy program has a distinctive emphasis on evidence-based practices. Through this learning model, students develop advanced quantitative analysis skills and the ability to analyze policy.

Designed for working criminal justice professionals, the program's rigorous core covers 53 required credits. It culminates in a senior capstone seminar, in which students produce an original research paper based on an analysis of important criminal justice texts and theoretical models.  

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$29,976
Out-of-state
$29,976
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$20,250
Out-of-state
$20,250
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
4,687
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#7 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs of 2024

University of Oklahoma, Norman Campus

  • Norman, OK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $500

Out-of-State | $500

Credits to Graduate: 120

OU's online bachelor of arts in criminal justice leadership program enables students to quickly earn their degrees with fast-paced classes and a compact schedule. The program is broken up into eight-week terms, leading to degree completion in as few as 18 months. Major requirements cover organizational leadership, conflict resolution, and specific aspects of the U.S. criminal justice and policing systems.

At OU, online programs appeal specifically to learners with existing postsecondary coursework. To qualify for admission, you must be 25 or older with at least 60 transferable college credits.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,920
Out-of-state
$20,724
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,034
Out-of-state
$23,096
Retention Rate
89%
Acceptance Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
28,042
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#8 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs of 2024

University of Central Florida

  • Orlando, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $179

Out-of-State | $716

Credits to Graduate: 120

UCF's online criminal justice program leads to the student's choice of a bachelor of science or bachelor of arts. Both designations provide in-depth coverage of the contemporary justice system through innovative learning methods that include interactive training.

Coursework roots learners in the historical background of crime in the United States before exploring technical aspects of the modern criminal justice system. Classes also focus on policing in the context of law enforcement culture and police-public interactions. Learners additionally develop advanced, career-oriented knowledge of research methods and data analysis.  

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,478
Out-of-state
$19,810
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,916
Out-of-state
$25,759
Retention Rate
92%
Acceptance Rate
36%
Students Enrolled
70,310
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
9% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#9 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs of 2024

University of Northern Iowa

  • Cedar Falls, IA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $350

Out-of-State | $350

Credits to Graduate: 120

UNI's online bachelor of applied science in criminal justice program is a four-year course of study for those interested in a more application-focused education — working to build critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students can choose either the part-time or full-time track. 

Candidates interested in applying must hold an associate of science degree. Graduate outcomes include careers in law enforcement, juvenile court, crime analysis and research, and public policy. Each student will also have a designated enrollment contact and program coordinator who can provide guidance on navigating the course sequence and preparing for graduation. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,780
Out-of-state
$18,480
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,296
Out-of-state
$19,928
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
86%
Students Enrolled
9,217
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#10 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs of 2024

California State University, Sacramento

  • Sacramento, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $489

Out-of-State | $489

Credits to Graduate: 60

Cal State Sacramento's online criminal justice program confers graduates with BS degrees and maintains a multidisciplinary approach — exposing students to theories, applications, and ethics related to crime and justice. 

In order to enroll in the degree-completion program, a candidate must already be a Cal State Sacramento student and have completed a 12-credit series of lower-division courses. The remaining 48 credits are taken after admission into the program. In addition to the major, the program also offers a minor in forensics investigations, a certificate in law enforcement, and a master of science in criminal justice. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,176
Out-of-state
$16,680
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
94%
Students Enrolled
32,498
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

How We Rank Schools

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In order to create this rankings list, BestColleges sourced the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. We then ranked each school according to the top variables college students selected in our 2023 College Choice and Admissions Survey.

To qualify for our ranking list, each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring:

  • Affordability (30%)
  • Student outcomes (30%)
  • Reputation (20%)
  • Diversity and social mobility (20%)

In addition, we only included colleges with graduation rates in the top third of all online colleges. Read more about our rankings methodology.


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

The purpose of a criminal justice degree is to teach students the foundational theories, principles, and practices that underpin our justice system. From there, students explore the many ethical and legal questions that arise when applying the concepts of crime and justice in law enforcement, corrections, and legal services.

Students develop critical analysis and research skills that can help them navigate the complexities of criminal justice with competence and integrity.

These skills equip students to administer justice, uphold the rule of law, and advance equity and well-being in communities that have been affected by crime.

Why Should I Get an Online Criminal Justice Degree?

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

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

Benefits of an Online 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 an Online Criminal Justice Degree Cost?

The cost of an online degree varies widely. A virtual program can cost anywhere between $6,000 and $36,000 a year, depending on the school and program you select.

In 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that the average net cost for full-time, online college was $18,020 a year. Public universities were less expensive than for-profit or private colleges, with an average cost of about $12,980 a year.

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, or public policy official. This degree can also prepare you for positions 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a bachelor's in criminal justice worth it?

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A criminal justice degree sets you up for a stable, meaningful career making a positive impact on your community. It's a great choice for anyone interested in law, law enforcement, or addressing social challenges.

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

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Schools may offer a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science (BA vs. BS) in criminal justice. 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?

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, police officers are among the highest-paid entry-level criminal justice professionals, earning a median annual salary of $69,160 as of May 2022. Probation officers earned $59,860 during the same period.

Within law enforcement, detectives and criminal investigators top the list of highest earners overall, with an annual median salary of $86,280 in May 2022, per the BLS.

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

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You can expect to take a combination of general educational, elective, and criminal justice classes in your online bachelor's program. Your core subject courses will probably include versions of the following:

  • Introduction to criminal justice
  • Criminological theory
  • Statistics in criminal justice
  • Corrections and law enforcement
  • Courts and judicial process

How long does it take to get a bachelor's degree in criminal justice online?

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Social science degrees -- including criminal justice -- typically require 120 credits or four years of full-time study to complete.

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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