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.
What are the most affordable criminal justice programs? Here are our top 10:
|1||University of South Florida||Tampa, FL|
|2||California State University, Stanislaus||Turlock, CA|
|3||Florida International University||Miami, FL|
|4||Florida State University||Tallahassee, FL|
|5||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
|6||California State University, San Bernardino||San Bernardino, CA|
|7||California State University, Sacramento||Sacramento, CA|
|8||Florida Gulf Coast University||Fort Myers, FL|
|9||Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey||New Brunswick, NJ|
|10||Missouri State University||Springfield, MO|
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.
Most Affordable Accredited Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Programs
University of South Florida
|Tampa, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
The University of South Florida maintains its flagship campus in Tampa and serves over 50,000 students annually. USF delivers a comprehensive array of academic programs, including an online bachelor of science in applied science with a criminal justice concentration. Distance learners may complete an entirely remote degree plan or create a hybrid experience by taking some classes in person.
Coursework comprises 120 credits and covers topics like theories of criminal behavior and a survey of the criminal justice system. Bachelor's candidates personalize their undergraduate education with 31 elective credits and can use this opportunity to pursue field work or engage in a mentored research project.
USF requires first-year applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. The university uses the Canvas platform to serve its distance learners.
California State University, Stanislaus
|Turlock, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
California State University, Stanislaus offers more than 60 academic programs. Its undergraduate catalog contains a hybrid bachelor of arts in criminal justice program that prepares students for careers as court administrators, lawn enforcement officers, and crime scene investigators.
The curriculum includes classes like causes of crime, juvenile justice, and criminal procedures. Students also delve into police ethics and civil liability with regards to issues of race and ethnicity. Students also complete an internship, and the program culminates with a research-focused capstone experience.
As a degree completion option, Stan State's online bachelor's in criminal justice program requires applicants to have at least 60 transferable credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA. This accelerated track follows a hybrid format that requires candidates to meet on campus one night per week.
Florida International University
|Miami, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Based in Miami, Florida International University has offered accessible and career-focused distance education opportunities since 2000. Degree options include an online bachelor of science in crime science where students learn to combine computer science and forensic tools with traditional concepts in criminology and criminal justice.
Required coursework covers topics like statistics for behavioral and social science, crime prevention, and terrorism and homeland security. Students also examine cybersecurity issues, like the causes of cybercrime and the usage of ethical hacking as a countermeasure. FIU partners with the Law Enforcement Apprenticeship Program, giving candidates the option to earn college credits while they train to become police officers.
FIU provides fall, spring, and summer start dates. Applicants to this program must submit ACT or SAT scores. Online students pay tuition based on residency status.
Florida State University
|Tallahassee, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
Headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida State University is a comprehensive public institution offering more than 200 academic programs. Its catalog includes many remote options, such as an online bachelor's degree in criminology that teaches students the research and analysis skills needed to work as fraud investigators, parole/probation officers, and corporate security specialists.
Required courses include criminal justice administration and victimology. Students also explore pertinent issues like the social reality of black males, crime victimization and the media, and violence in America. Junior and senior candidates may strengthen classroom knowledge by completing an internship with a local, state, or federal government agency.
Applicants to this program should submit ACT/SAT scores, a personal statement, and a current resume. Distance learners do not need to visit campus.
University of Central Florida
|Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
The University of Central Florida is a longtime leader in distance education, providing over 90 remote academic programs. Students can pursue an online bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science in criminal justice. Graduates are prepared to work as FBI agents, crime scene investigators, and corrections officers.
Core requirements include classes in crime in America and prosecution/adjudication. BA candidates must demonstrate foreign language proficiency equal to one year of college education. All students round out degree work with a capstone ethics seminar that focuses on the moral dilemmas of the U.S. criminal justice system and the need for humane policies and procedures.
This online bachelor's in criminal justice program uses a holistic evaluation process that considers an applicant's GPA, ACT/SAT performance, and professional experience. UCF powers distance education with Canvas.
California State University, San Bernardino
|San Bernardino, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
California State University, San Bernardino enrolls approximately 20,000 students each year, many of whom earn their credentials remotely through Blackboard. The school's undergraduate offerings include an online bachelor of arts in criminal justice. This degree completion track allows candidates to maintain full-time jobs and graduate in two years.
The bachelor's in criminal justice curriculum features required classes like criminal law and correctional theories/institutions. Students gain practical skills in applied research and statistical analysis and may pursue individual interests and goals through six electives, choosing from options like community corrections, forensic profiling, and transnational organized crime.
Applicants need at least 60 transferable credits (satisfying all state-mandated general education requirements) and a minimum 2.7 GPA. CSUSB provides a variety of financial aid, including institutional scholarships based on academic achievement.
California State University, Sacramento
|Sacramento, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
California State University, Sacramento offers an array of flexible certificates and degrees through its College of Continuing Studies. Distance learners enrolled in the school's fully online bachelor of science in criminal justice program take asynchronous courses through Canvas and develop the management and communication skills needed to work in law enforcement agencies, parole and probation systems, and the courts.
Candidates complete core classes like general investigation techniques, law of crimes, and fundamentals of corrections. They also delve into research methodologies, applying these concepts and tools in a capstone seminar that examines pertinent challenges in the criminal justice field.
As a degree completion pathway, this online bachelor's in criminal justice program requires applicants to have an associate degree or at least 60 transferable credits earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Sacramento State maintains fall and spring entry dates.
Florida Gulf Coast University
|Fort Myers, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Located in Fort Myers, Florida Gulf Coast University provides remote learning opportunities through Canvas. Undergraduates can earn a bachelor of science in criminal justice, completing all upper-division requirements (60 credits of classes) remotely.
Coursework includes theories of criminal behavior, juvenile justice system, and constitutional criminal procedures. Students also examine leadership and management strategies for local, state, and federal agencies. To obtain their bachelor's degree in criminal justice, learners must complete an internship.
The average incoming first-year student at FGCU boasts a 3.87 GPA, and applicants must send in ACT or SAT scores. The university offers ample financial aid opportunities, including merit scholarships, tuition waivers for out-of-state residents, and awards specifically for military personnel and international students.
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
|New Brunswick, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
Rutgers is a renowned public research institution that enrolls over 71,000 students annually. Distance learners can pursue a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in criminal justice fully online or through a hybrid program.
The bachelor's in criminal justice curriculum covers topics like police and society, case processing in the courts system, and delinquency and juvenile justice. Candidates learn how to reduce local crime through problem-oriented policing and community corrections. Participants also develop crucial research skills, including the ability to use data analysis as a tool for policy development.
The application materials for first-year applicants include ACT/SAT scores and a personal essay that responds to a designated prompt. Online students access asynchronous classes through Blackboard.
Missouri State University
|Springfield, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
MSU uses Blackboard Learn to deliver over 50 remote certificates and degrees. These offerings include an online bachelor of science in criminology that offers a customizable curriculum with courses that support students' distinct academic interests and career goals. Graduates may pursue master's-level education or obtain jobs as U.S. marshals and police officers.
Required classes include institutional/community-based corrections and juvenile justice. Unlike many other bachelor's in criminal justice programs, this track allows students to further augment their training by completing a specialized certificate in criminal investigation, terrorism and national security, or conservation law enforcement.
Applicants must submit adequate ACT or SAT scores with minimum requirements scaling based on their GPA. For candidates who do not meet these criteria, MSU offers an alternative admissions process that may include an individual review and summer enrollment.