Most Affordable Online Criminal Justice Programs
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Criminal justice professionals help keep people safe, ensure justice, and promote peaceful and equitable solutions among neighbors. A degree in criminal justice can get you started in this rewarding public service career.
A two-year associate degree program prepares aspiring police and corrections officers, and a bachelor's degree can set up graduates for careers as probation officers or detectives. Going to graduate school for criminal justice can even lead to leadership roles or college professorships.
As society's emphasis on security and justice persists, public agencies increasingly need criminal justice professionals who can help make communities safer.
How Much Does a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Cost?
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that in 2020-2021, the average net price for first-time, full-time undergraduate students attending college was $14,700 at public institutions and $28,400 at private nonprofit institutions. These figures do not include living costs such as housing, groceries, transportation, utilities, and insurance.
In-state students at public institutions or community colleges typically pay the lowest tuition. Online learners may pay less, more, or the same cost per credit as their on-campus counterparts.
What Can I Expect From An Online Bachelor's In Criminal Justice Program?
In general, an online bachelor's in criminal justice features about 120 credits and takes four years to complete. The program attracts problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and students who use ethics and morals to guide their decision-making. The training starts with general education and criminal justice foundations and progresses into advanced criminology courses and practical experiences.
Learners may earn a BA or a BS in criminal justice. These degree types can differ in many ways. For example, a BS tends to offer training more focused on protective services, whereas a BA provides more interdisciplinary training.
When students decide to earn an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice, they should also think about their intended focus. Possible options include forensic science, criminal justice technology, homeland security, and juvenile justice. Concentrations offer targeted training and can lead to more career opportunities after graduation.
All Other Types of Degrees
Associate Degree in Criminal Justice
A criminal justice associate degree provides graduates with the leadership and critical thinking skills they need to serve as police officers, security guards, or correctional officers. In this degree program, students explore topics related to law enforcement, social services, and the court system.
A two-year degree can serve as a starting point for further education or specialization in criminal justice or law. While roles with more complex responsibilities might require higher degrees, can enable graduates to enter the field.
Featured Associate Degrees in Criminal Justice
Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice
A bachelor's degree in criminal justice lays a solid foundation for entry-level roles in law enforcement, security, or social services. This degree prepares graduates to assume roles as police officers, correctional officers, or private security personnel. Students learn key theories and skills in criminology, juvenile justice, and the judicial process.
Aspiring federal agents and detectives can use the degree as a stepping stone to gain valuable experience before pursuing further specialization or advancement in their careers.
Featured Bachelor's Degrees in Criminal Justice
Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice
A master's degree in criminal justice equips students with advanced knowledge and skills in the administration of justice, corrections program evaluation, and leadership and management in the field.
Graduates can land jobs as criminal investigators, probation officers, or corrections administrators, benefiting from a deeper understanding of criminal behavior and justice systems. This degree can also open doors to policy analysis, consulting, and management positions within government agencies, nonprofits, and private security firms.
Featured Master's Degrees in Criminal Justice
Doctorate Degree in Criminal Justice
In a doctoral program in criminal justice, students sharpen their analytical and research skills, preparing them to make distinctive contributions to the field. The professional doctorate emphasizes practical application, while the Ph.D. focuses on criminal justice theory.
Graduates with a doctoral degree can excel as university professors, shaping the next generation of criminal justice professionals while conducting groundbreaking research. Additionally, they can influence policy and practice by assuming leadership roles in government agencies, think tanks, or nonprofit organizations.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in an Online Criminal Justice Program?
Criminal Justice Ethics
This course explores the most common ethical issues in the criminal justice system. Students examine the professional code of ethics in place and how ethical decision models can be applied in protective services.
In this course, students learn about the criminal investigation process. The training can cover topics in collecting and preserving evidence, crime scene investigations, and interviews and interrogations.
Corrections in the U.S.
Students in this course learn about the country's corrections system. They examine the evolution of the system, along with its structures and practices.
This course looks at criminal behavior and the causes for it. Learners study the sources of and reactions to crime, along with leading criminal justice system theories.
In this course, students examine the process and system in place for correctional rehabilitation. They evaluate this system's effectiveness and study leading theories on the topic.
What Can I Do With An Online Bachelor's In Criminal Justice Degree?
Although the industry is growing slower than average, the demand for public safety officers remains high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that there will be little to no change in the number of protective services jobs between 2022 and 2032.
However, many local police departments are waging aggressive recruitment campaigns to fill open positions. Even the cheapest online criminal justice degree can qualify you to compete for one of those posts and possibly command a wage in the upper part of the salary band.
Police and Detective
Police and detectives protect the people and property within their communities. They investigate crimes, patrol their jurisdictions, and respond to emergency and non-emergency calls. These professionals typically must complete a training academy program offered by their specific agency.
Median Annual Salary (May 2022): $69,160
Correctional officers work in the prison and jail system. They enforce rules, supervise inmates, and protect visitors and property. These officers use their observation skills and routine inspections to prevent criminal behavior and write reports. Correctional officers typically must complete a training academy program.
Median Annual Salary (May 2022): $49,610
Probation officers assist in the rehabilitation process of law offenders. They meet with probationers, guide and direct their treatment, and help them access the appropriate resources. They also write and submit reports to the courts. Probation officers may need to complete a state-sponsored training program and certification test.
Median Annual Salary (May 2022): $59,860
Paralegal or Legal Assistant
Paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in several ways, specifically with research and paperwork. They often prepare documents, exhibits, and transcripts for cases. They may perform specific investigative duties. Employers might require paralegal candidates to pass a certification exam.
Median Annual Salary (May 2022): $59,200
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators help facilitate disputes and negotiations outside of court. They meet with and interview all parties, evaluate the information and documents provided, and draft settlement agreements. Employers may require candidates to complete a training program.
Median Annual Salary (May 2022): $64,030
How Do I Pay for An Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice?
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
One of the first steps in the financial aid process should include completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In general, financial aid and the FAFSA are closely linked, as a completed application can help candidates qualify for scholarships and financial aid programs.
As per our guide to college loans, students can access federal and private loans. Students can receive subsidized or unsubsidized federal loans. Private loans can come from financial institutions or private organizations.
Grants offer one of the most desirable types of financial aid. These awards do not require repayment. Grants and scholarships typically differ in that the former are need-based, and the latter are merit-based.
Federal work-study programs provide students with paid work placements while they study. Compared to traditional part-time jobs, federal work-study jobs may be more accommodating for study schedules and more closely related to desired training.
Scholarships come in many sizes and do not require repayment. These awards usually reward academic merit and achievements and come from governments, schools, and private organizations. There are numerous resources available for finding scholarships for college students, including several online scholarship databases.
Most Affordable Accredited Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Programs
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Featured Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's In Criminal Justice Programs
Is a bachelor's in criminal justice worth it?
Criminal justice training paves a path for students to help others and prepares graduates to enter fields with strong growth. Distance education students can benefit from the additional value of an online degree, such as increased accessibility and flexibility.
What can I do with a bachelor's in criminal justice?
Graduates can pursue entry-level careers in law or protective services, although they may need to complete additional training, such as an academy program. People with a bachelor's degree can also pursue an advanced degree in criminal justice, criminology, or legal studies.
Are criminal justice majors in demand?
The BLS projects little to no change in the number of protective service job openings between 2022 and 2032, including 3% for police and detectives and 6% for private detectives and investigators. The BLS also projects faster-than-average growth for legal occupations between 2022 and 2032.
How much money can I make with a bachelor's in criminal justice?
As of May 2022, the BLS reports that the median annual wage for protective services careers stands at $45,450. Some professionals in the industry can earn even more. For example, the top 10% of detectives earned more than $109,580 as of 2022.
What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in criminal justice?
The BLS reports that police and detectives earned a median annual salary of $69,160 as of May 2022. Payscale data shows that security managers earn an average of $79,480 and fraud investigators bring in $68,280.