Best Online Criminology Programs of 2021
This page delves into the best online bachelor's in criminology programs. Discover different programs and careers to find your best fit.
Published on December 22, 2021 · Updated on April 27, 2022
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A bachelor's in criminology is a four-year degree that helps students understand crime and how society reacts to crime. Students learn about the theories of crime and the relationships between law and society.
College costs an average of $35,720 per year, including expenses such as room and board. Tuition alone averages $9,580 per year for in-state tuition at a public college. Out-of-state tuition and tuition at private schools usually runs much higher. Some top online schools charge lower tuition rates, but not all do.
According to Payscale data from Dec. 2020, bachelor's in criminology graduates earn an average base salary of $51,000 per year. As of July 2021, bachelor's in criminal justice degree-holders make $68,000 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for sociologists (including criminologists) will grow 5% from 2020-2030. This projection is slightly slower than average.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Criminology Program?
Criminologists need good problem-solving and computer skills. These skills also serve students well in a bachelor's in criminology program. Students also need to be organized and have good time management skills.
A bachelor's in criminology program requires at least 120 credits and takes about four years to complete. Some schools allow students to choose a concentration within their bachelor's in criminology program. Common concentrations include:
- Juvenile justice
- Social inequality, crime, and justice
- Justice informatics
- Law and society
- Restorative justice
Some programs may require labs or internships. Check with your admissions counselor to learn about program requirements.
You can earn either a bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of science (BS) in criminology. A BA usually requires a foreign language in the general education requirements. The BS typically requires additional science courses instead of a foreign language.
Most online bachelor's in criminology programs occur 100% online, with no in-person requirements. However, in-person requirements vary by school. Some courses may feature labs that students must complete in person.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.
Popular Online Bachelor's in Criminology Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Criminology Program?
Communication Skills for Criminal Justice
This course focuses on communication skills for corrections officers and law enforcement. Students work on their interpersonal communication skills, learn to write reports, and practice interviewing suspects.
Criminology and Public Policy
Students enrolled in this course learn how criminologists impact public policy development in the real world. Learners explore deviance theories and social control. The course also covers the relationships between public policies, civil liberties, and the constitution.
Data-based Policing Strategies
In this course, students learn how data evolved with regard to policing strategies. They examine the benefits and challenges of data analysis in creating effective policing strategies. They also learn how knowledge gained through data can help prevent crime.
Crime Analysis and Solutions
This course teaches students the methods used in crime research to determine policing strategies' effectiveness. Students use common technologies and tools to examine trends and patterns in criminal activity.
Prevention of Crime
Students enrolled in this course practice using their criminal theory knowledge to determine how it helps prevent crime within various communities. They examine the relationships between proven interventions, environmental design, and criminological research in preventing crime.
What are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Criminology Program?
Admission requirements vary by school. However, each school's requirements typically do not differ for online and in-person programs. No matter which school you want to attend, the admissions process starts with an application. Other common requirements include test scores, high school transcripts, essays, and recommendation letters.
Most schools have an electronic college application that you can submit online. You often can create an account and save the application if you cannot complete it in one session. In addition, you can submit applications to many schools at once with a multi-school application called the Common App. Most schools require an application fee.
Many schools require applicants to submit test scores from college entrance exams. You may need a minimum score on the SAT or ACT for acceptance. Some schools accept students with lower scores but require them to complete extra courses in math and/or writing. These remedial courses help prepare you for college but do not count toward degree credits.
Letters of Recommendation
Some schools may require letters of recommendation. Usually, if you just graduated high school, you should ask your high school teachers for letters of recommendation. Be sure to ask teachers who have nice things to say about you. If you have been out of school for a while, it is better to get your recommendation letters from someone at work. For example, you may ask your supervisor.
Often, you need to write a college application essay as part of the admissions process. The average essay length is 400-600 words, but this varies by school. Be sure to follow the guidelines provided, including topic requirements. Some schools give you a few topics to choose from. Others let you come up with your own topic.
You'll need to request your official high school transcripts, as well as transcripts from any college you've attended. Schools may list a minimum GPA needed for admission. Prospective schools also evaluate your college transcripts for transfer credit. If you transfer from a community college or other institution to a four-year school, the new school determines whether any of your existing credits can apply toward your criminology degree.
What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Criminology Degree?
The job outlook for bachelor's in criminology graduates varies depending on the position. The BLS projects the job outlook for probation officers to grow slower than average at 4%. The BLS also projects jobs for court and municipal clerks, police and detectives, and private detectives and investigators to grow 6%, 7%, and 13%, respectively.
Court clerks, probation officers, police, and detectives often work in government. Private detectives can work for investigation, guard, or armored car services. Substance misuse counselors often work in outpatient mental health or substance misuse centers.
See where a bachelor's in criminology can take you. Learn more about criminology careers.
Police and Detectives
Police officers and detectives respond to both emergency and nonemergency calls. They monitor traffic and issue citations for traffic infractions. They also serve arrest warrants and arrest those suspected of committing crimes. Police officers and detectives usually need to complete a police academy training course and on-the-job training.
Median Annual Salary: $67,290
Probation officers rehabilitate people who have violated the law and are either in custody, on probation, or on parole. They talk to parolees and probationers, and offenders' friends and relatives, to evaluate their progress. They offer resources such as job training assistance to help offenders get back on their feet.
Median Annual Salary: $55,690
Private Detectives and Investigators
Private detectives and investigators gather information by conducting interviews and searching public records, such as court records. They gather evidence and document it carefully so that it will be admissible in court. They may conduct surveillance to gather more evidence. They also check if defendants have a criminal history or civil judgments.
Median Annual Salary: $53,320
Substance Abuse Counselors
Substance abuse counselors work with people who have substance use disorders. These people may live with drug addiction, alcoholism, or eating disorders. Substance abuse counselors evaluate their clients' physical and mental health, along with any problematic behavior. They determine whether they are ready for treatment and what that treatment should include.
Median Annual Salary: $47,660
Court clerks perform routine tasks such as collecting data, maintaining records, and providing information to clients. They prepare orders, bills, claims, and reports. They also answer customers' questions while not sharing any legal advice. They locate, file, and maintain written or electronic records.
Median Annual Salary: $36,920
Criminology Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
People with a bachelor's in criminology may opt to continue their education by earning a master's degree in criminology or criminal justice. They may even decide to earn a doctorate in criminal justice. This degree prepares students for law enforcement leadership positions.
With a master's degree in criminology or criminal justice, graduates are eligible for positions as detectives, cybersecurity specialists, and forensic scientists. Graduates with a doctorate in criminal justice can tackle research and policy development positions or advance in law enforcement.
How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Criminology Program?
For students attending a public, four-year college or university, the cost of attendance averages $25,864 per year. So, students completing a bachelor's degree in four years pay an average $103,456 in total. These figures consider the total cost of college, including tuition, fees, supplies, books, and room and board. When comparing costs, keep in mind that some schools charge lower tuition for online programs.
You should also consider the program format when deciding where to earn your online bachelor's in criminology. Some programs are synchronous, while others are asynchronous. Asynchronous programs allow you to log in whenever it is convenient for you. Also consider whether the program is part-time, full-time, or accelerated. Accelerated programs allow you to finish sooner.
When choosing between a local on-campus or an online program, check with the online school if it requires in-person components. Some programs have in-person labs or practicums. If your program is 100% online, then the school's location does not matter.
Most schools are regionally accredited by a third-party accreditation agency. This type of accreditation is very important because it is hard to transfer credits from an unaccredited school. Some schools also hold national accreditation for specific programs. The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) publishes a list of ACJS certified programs.
Student support services play an important role in a student's success. Check with your school to see which services it offers. Many schools offer mentorship programs, academic advising, and tutoring. Some help you find internships. Online students can often access the same student support services as their on-campus peers.
2021 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Criminology Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Criminology Programs
To determine whether a bachelor's in criminology is worth it, you must consider the degree's cost and the salary you expect to earn after graduation. The lower the cost of the degree and the higher the anticipated salary, the better your return on investment will be.
For example, if you can find a school that only costs $15,000 per year instead of $25,000, you can shave $40,000 off your education cost. This means your education may pay for itself faster.
Bachelor's in criminology graduates frequently gain employment as police officers, detectives, probation officers, or private detectives. Police officers, detectives, and probation officers typically work for the government. Police officers arrest criminals, interview suspects, and make routine traffic stops.
Private detectives and investigators may start their own investigative services. They may also work for an ongoing investigation, guard, or armored car service. They gather evidence through surveillance, interviews, and public records searches.
The demand for criminology majors varies by job. For example, the BLS projects a 4% growth rate for probation officers and a 23% growth rate for substance abuse counselors from 2020-2030. The BLS projects 9,500 new jobs for court, municipal, and license clerks from 2020-2030. In addition, the BLS projects 4,400 new jobs for private detectives and 51,700 for police and detectives during the same period.
Salaries vary by job. Bachelor's in criminology graduates earn an average base pay of $62,000 per year. Police officers and detectives earn a median salary of $67,290 per year, while court clerks earn a median salary of $36,920 per year.
Jobs in law enforcement pay the highest salaries to those with a bachelor's in criminology. According to the BLS, detectives and criminal investigators earn a median salary of $86,940, transit and railroad police earn a median of $72,580, and police and sheriff's patrol officers earn a median of $65,540. Fish and game wardens earn a median of $58,040 per year.
Salaries for law enforcement personnel vary depending on the level of government and the job title. Those who work for the federal government earn a median income of $92,080, while those who work for the state government earn a median of $70,280. Those who work for local governments earn the least, with a median salary of $65,850.
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