Online Criminal Justice Degrees

An online criminal justice degree opens doors to a number of rewarding careers serving the public through law enforcement, the legal system, and corrections. Those who typically excel in a criminal justice degree online are critical thinkers with strong verbal and written communication skills. An eye for small details and the ability to explain difficult concepts are also key for criminal justice professionals. Prospective online criminal justice students should not have any felony convictions, domestic abuse convictions or DUI convictions, and should not have used illegal drugs for three years prior to their job application.

Those who feel called to protect the public can expect greater flexibility in criminal justice online degree programs, which makes it easier to continue working full-time or manage a busy schedule. Though many online criminal justice degree programs can be completed fully online, some will require several visits to the campus.

It’s beneficial to take on a relevant internship locally, as well, to gain experience before entering the job market. These may be found in community police departments, legal offices and elsewhere. It’s also wise to check out relevant certifications, such as the Criminal Justice Awareness and Terminology Certification, as detailed further below.

Regardless of which program is right for you, an online criminal justice degree properly prepares graduates for a rewarding and meaningful career. To learn more about how you can pursue your degree online, be sure to check out our guide below.

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“Earning a master’s degree has enhanced my reputation as a medicolegal death investigator and has allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher.”

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Online Criminal Justice Degree Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, police and detective work will grow at a rate of 4% between 2014-2024. Graduates of online criminal justice degree programs will have an edge over the competition, making it far easier to secure a job. Employers in the criminal justice field value professionals who demand and deserve respect, and earning your degree will demonstrate your commitment to justice.

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $12,837 15.78% 1+ years $30,600 $46,000 8.9%
Bachelor's $18,070 11.51% 4 years $36,900 $62,900 4.7%
Master's $16,476 10.39% 1+ years $43,100 $62,900 3.9%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

If you want to ensure public safety on the ground in your community, an associate degree will take you less time and money to earn while ensuring opportunities for advancement as a police officer. If you have more specific interests in criminal justice, a higher-level degree such as a bachelor’s or master’s may be a better fit. A bachelor’s degree requires less financial investment when spread across four years and results in stronger employment opportunities. Though a bachelor’s degree will, on average, cost approximately $5,000 more than an associate degree, the average difference in salary between the two degrees is $6,300, making a bachelor’s degree a worthwhile financial investment. A master’s or doctoral level program requires additional financial investment, but will likely yield higher salaries across the span of your career.

Online Criminal Justice Degrees


Online Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice

Although there are good jobs in the criminal justice field that don’t require more than a high school diploma or GED (like uniformed police officer), an online criminal justice associate degree can seriously strengthen a candidate’s credentials to work as a police officer, detective, or legal investigator. At an average cost of $12,000 for one to two years of study, an online associate degree can help an applicant secure an average salary level approximately 2.5 times higher than the cost of tuition.

Online Criminal Justice Degrees
For the 2016 rankings, has greatly refined its approach to evaluating schools and their respective programs. Our innovative method of assessing schools is what makes our rankings so distinctly authoritative. On the surface, every ranking we produce employs a basic formula: Academic Quality + Online Offerings + Cost and Student Aid = Final Score. This final score determines where a school ends up in our rankings. Of course, there's a lot more than meets the eye. Visit our methodology page to discover the data points that shape our formula and to learn more about our process.

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Criminal Justice Associate’s Degree Rankings

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1South Texas CollegeMcAllen$$$$$3201 W Pecan
McAllen, TX 78502-9701
(956) 872-8311

South Texas College offers a criminal justice associate degree online, designed to prepare students for careers as probation officers, border patrol agents and private security guards. The degree comprises 60 to 61 total credit hours, combining topics in criminal justice, government, sociology, English and history for a well-rounded set of professionals skills in the field. Graduates of the two-year program are eligible for entry-level employment in both public and private criminal justice positions or, if preferred, enrollment in a four-year bachelor's program.

Online courses are delivered through Blackboard, with the help of numerous additional student services available via South Texas College Online, including a live tech support feature, an interactive course schedule and student help desk for distance learners. Academic support services found online include tutoring, test proctoring and student advising.

2Northampton County Area Community CollegeBethlehem$$$$$3835 Green Pond Rd
Bethlehem, PA 18020-7599
(610) 861-5300

Northampton County Area Community College offers a criminal justice associate degree online, awarded by the department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Northampton. The program is designed to provide an introductory education in criminal justice topics, including speech communication, psychology and the American justice system; all of which prepare students for transfer into a four-year program or entry-level employment in the field. Potential careers resulting from completion of the NCACC program may include police officer, corrections officer or community treatment center staff member.

Online assignments are completed through Blackboard, with a variety of online support tools dedicated to distance learners, including career services, counseling, tutoring and technical support. Additional services for nontraditional students may be accessed through the New Choices program, aimed at providing options to single parents, displaced homemakers and dislocated workers enrolled in a college program at NCACC.

3Southeastern Technical CollegeVidalia$$$$$3001 E First St
Vidalia, GA 30474
(912) 538-3100

Southeastern Technical College offers an online AS in criminal justice technology, emphasizing a combination of the theoretical and practical skills needed in modern occupations in the field. Graduates are prepared for entry-level employment in a variety of occupations involving criminal justice and investigative technology, including police officer, corrections officer, private investigator, security guard, police administrator and more. Coursework comprises 63 semester hours in criminal law, ethics, juvenile justice and psychology training, among other topics; students are required to complete a practicum or externship experience during their final term.

Online courses are accessed through an exclusive student portal, with the aid of additional resources designed to enhance the virtual classroom, including personal tutoring, counseling services and online learning workshops.

4Northern Kentucky UniversityHighland Heights$$$$$Nunn Drive
Highland Heights, KY 41099
(859) 572-5100

Northern Kentucky University offers a criminal justice associate degree online through its department of political science and criminal justice. Coursework in the AA program stresses a broad overview of concepts, processes, theories and research methods comprising the complex criminal justice system in America. The curriculum includes a combination of core and secondary courses totaling 60 credit hours, designed to prepare students to begin a career in local, state or federal law enforcement, corrections or security sectors. The online program can also lead to transfer into a four-year degree program in criminal justice or a related field.

Assignments are completed through Blackboard, incorporating additional student resources, such as video tutorials, live Web conferencing and IT support, through a single sign-on portal for distance learners.

5Western Wyoming Community CollegeRock Springs$$$$$2500 College Dr
Rock Springs, WY 82902-0428
(307) 382-1600

Western Wyoming Community College offers an online criminal justice associate degree, ideal for students looking to gain basic skills and transfer into a bachelor’s degree program. Coursework in the WWCC program is designed to develop in students a foundation in criminal law, sociology, statistics and problem-solving, combining core and elective courses over four semesters to total 67-69 total credit hours. Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions within corrections, law enforcement, and parole and probation divisions.

Online courses are delivered via Blackboard, alongside a variety of student services through a single sign-on portal. Support resources for distance learners include peer and professional tutoring, library and bookstore services, Blackboard and IT technical assistance and access to WWCC’s mobile site for remote students.

6Genesee Community CollegeBatavia$$$$$One College Rd
Batavia, NY 14020
(585) 343-0055

Genesee Community College offers two options for an online criminal justice associate degree. Each program is designed to address a diverse set of skills needed in the criminal justice field: the AA stresses humanities and sociology concepts in criminal justice, while the AAS incorporates the study of criminal law, corrections policy and forensics basics. Graduates of both programs are well-versed in introductory general education and core liberal arts topics and are prepared for transfer into a four-year program or entry-level employment as detectives, corrections officers, customs inspectors and more.

Courses are delivered through Genesis, alongside a wealth of links and resources for online student support; through Genesis’s one-stop student portal, distance learners can access personal counseling services, find tutoring information, get technical help and view job opportunities for those who have an associate degree in criminal justice.

7North Central Missouri CollegeTrenton$$$$$1301 Main St
Trenton, MO 64683
(660) 359-39481418

North Central Missouri College offers an online AAS in criminal justice, well-suited to students seeking entry-level employment in criminal justice. The degree comprises 46-58 total credit hours, depending on the student’s desired area of expertise. Though the curriculum in the AAS degree is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of concepts including corrections, criminology and criminal law, students are given the opportunity during the first year of study to customize their courses to their individual area of interest via optional electives. Graduates are prepared for employment in police departments, corrections agencies and juvenile justice centers, among other options.

Online students complete assignments primarily through Blackboard, using digital dropboxes and multimedia tools to share information. Additional support services available for online students include math, writing and tech labs, as well as system support, mental health resources and academic advising.

8Oconee Fall Line Technical CollegeSandersville$$$$$1189 Deepstep Rd
Sandersville, GA 31082
(478) 553-2050

Oconee Fall Line Technical College offers an online AAS in criminal justice technology, emphasizing a combination of theory-based learning and application of skills relevant to today's tech-oriented criminal justice field. The 60-credit-hour program is designed to introduce students to an overview of criminal justice programs and technologies used on-the-job. The curriculum explores principles of law enforcement, introduction to computers and criminal procedures and includes a mandatory practicum or externship to complete the degree. Graduates are prepared to enter law enforcement, security and corrections occupations at the starting level.

Online assignments are delivered through ANGEL, with the help of additional support services, including tutoring, test proctoring and counseling.

9Jefferson Community CollegeWatertown$$$$$1220 Coffeen St
Watertown, NY 13601-1897
(315) 786-2200

Jefferson Community College offers a criminal justice associate degree online, with available concentrations in criminology and juvenile delinquency. The program focuses on building a foundation in core principles of the field, including criminal evidence and administrative procedures, American government and sociology, while also offering diverse electives for students aspiring to a variety of criminal justice professions. Graduates of the comprehensive 63-credit program are qualified for entry-level employment as police investigators, crime lab technicians, corrections officers and probation officers.

Online assignments for the online criminal justice associate degree are completed in Blackboard, using interactive TV and other multimedia delivery methods developed specifically for the virtual classroom. Additional online support services include academic coaching services, advising, tech support and access to a mobile Blackboard app for distance learning on-the-go.

10West Kentucky Community and Technical CollegePaducah$$$$$4810 Alben Barkley Drive
Paducah, KY 42002-7380
(270) 554-92000

West Kentucky Community and Technical College offers an online AAS in criminal justice in a variety of optional tracks, including corrections, criminal justice, law enforcement and security and loss prevention. Curriculum in the 60-credit-hour program comprises a combination of courses exploring criminology, computer forensics, police supervision and more to prepare students for careers in a broad range of occupations involving criminal justice. Graduates may be eligible to become professional police officers, criminal investigators, parole officers or security guards, among other opportunities.

Online assignments are completed in Blackboard via the KCTCS eLearning portal, with the support of numerous online student support resources. Learning tools for distance learners offered at KCTCS include a virtual library and bookstore, self-service tutorials and online advising services.

11Northwest Mississippi Community CollegeSenatobia$$$$$4975 Hwy 51 N
Senatobia, MS 38668-1714
(662) 562-3200

Northwest Mississippi Community College offers an online AA in criminal justice, designed to provide an overview to the common theories and practices used in the field of criminal justice. The AA program's curriculum covers broad topics within the judicial system, criminology and the prison system, preparing students to apply their skills in a range of diverse occupations within the industry. Graduates are eligible for entry-level employment in law enforcement, security and loss prevention.

Online coursework is completed through Canvas, assisted by several other online learning platforms; distance learners may access library databases, writing labs, cultural reference materials and tech help through various apps in Canvas, Microsoft portals and via a Canvas mobile app.

12Barton County Community CollegeGreat Bend$$$$$245 NE 30th Road
Great Bend, KS 67530
(620) 792-2701

Barton County Community College offers an online AS in criminal justice, providing a broad education in for students exploring a range of careers. Through an introduction to general concepts in criminal justice, the program is designed to be customizable according to student preferences. The AA degree comprises 64 credit hours in a combination of foundation, humanities, social and behavioral science, natural science and mathematics and physical education, health and performance courses. Students must also perform a practicum to complete the degree. Graduates are prepared to assume a variety of law enforcement and criminal investigation employment opportunities at the entry level.

Distance students can access assignments through the exclusive BARTonline student portal, which also features student support resources like student advising, tutoring services, transferability counseling and virtual conferencing tools.

13Dawson Community CollegeGlendive$$$$$300 College Dr
Glendive, MT 59330
(406) 377-3396

Dawson Community College offers an online AAS in criminal justice, ideal for students looking to find immediate employment in criminal justice upon graduation. Curriculum in the career-oriented program serves a variety of interests, and optional electives can be customized to suit individual student needs. For example, a student interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement may tailor courses outside of the general education requirements to focus on this specialty. Other topics offered include criminology, probation and parole, corrections and penology.

Online assignments are delivered through Moodle, assisted by online student support resources, including virtual library services, a job board and interactive calendar system. Additionally, students may take part in live elearning events hosted through the DCC online community platform.

14Middlesex Community CollegeBedford$$$$$Springs Rd
Bedford, MA 01730-9124
(978) 656-3200

Middlesex Community College offers a criminal justice associate degree online, with a concentration in administration of justice. The program emphasizes both academic and practical skills in three major areas of criminal justice: the police, courts and corrections. Graduates are equipped with the skills needed to find gainful employment in parole, probation, corrections and advocacy-inspired sectors of criminal justice. The program encompasses 60-61 credits in topics such as criminology, juvenile justice victim psychology, as well as soft skills including communication, sensitivity and interpersonal relations.

Assignments are completed online through Blackboard, with additional student support provided via live chat, interactive tutorials and a mobile online learning app.

15Lanier Technical CollegeOakwood$$$$$2990 Landrum Education Dr
Oakwood, GA 30566
(770) 531-6300

Lanier Technical College offers an online AAS in criminal justice technology, designed to provide relevant professional training for students aspiring to a career in corrections, security, police administration or other occupation within criminal justice. The degree comprises a total of 60 credit hours in a combination of general education core, program-specific core and elective courses. Coursework explores conceptual topics in language arts, social sciences and humanities, but also requires completion of a hands-on practicum experience.

Assignments are delivered through Blackboard with the aid of additional support services available through the GVTC portal, including tech support, virtual library access and tutoring services via the Smartthinking platform.

16Ridgewater CollegeWillmar$$$$$2101 15th Ave NW
Willmar, MN 56201
(800) 722-1151

Ridgewater College offers an online AA in liberal arts with an emphasis in corrections, designed for students intending to find employment as a probation officer, corrections officer, parole officer or other non-peace-officer occupation in criminal justice. The 60-credit program explores topics in communications, global perspective and logical reasoning, intended as an overview of social behavior and the ethical and civic responsibility skills needed in a corrections job in the field of criminal justice. Students planning to advance to a four-year program after completing the AA degree must satisfy minimum transfer credit requirements, according to Minnesota college system standards in this discipline.

Online assignments are delivered through D2L Brightspace, with supplemental Web-based resources available for elearning, such as advising, counseling, a full-service help desk and more. Distance learners may also take advantage of a live chat option and student discounts on select Web-based software and programs.

17McHenry County CollegeCrystal Lake$$$$$8900 US Hwy 14
Crystal Lake, IL 60012-2761
(815) 455-3700

McHenry County College offers an online AS in criminal justice, ideal for students looking to complete their associate degree in an accelerated format and go on to pursue a bachelor’s in criminal justice or a related field. Curriculum in the 60-credit program mimics that of the first two years of a four-year degree in the subject; McHenry supports immediate transfer into four-year programs at a variety of partner schools in the state. The AS degree may be completed via a cohort model in as little as 16 months. Courses delivered online in Canvas provide introductions to criminal justice, psychology, corrections and sociology, as well as explore topics in humanities, ethics and computer literacy.

Resources in support of distance learners are available through the convenient MyMCC student portal and include tutoring, counseling and advising options, a career center, tech support and online continuing education opportunities.

18Albany Technical CollegeAlbany$$$$$1704 South Slappey Boulevard
Albany, GA 31701
(229) 430-3500

Albany Technical College offers an online AAS in law enforcement technology, designed to prepare students for entry-level employment opportunities within security, corrections, police administration and investigative areas of criminal justice. The program comprises 60 hours of core and occupational courses, combining theoretical and practical application of skills in language arts, social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. Students are also introduced to a wide range of criminal justice and law enforcement topics through optional electives and are required to complete a practicum or internship as part of the degree.

Courses are completed online through ANGEL, with a wide range of online student services available to aid distance learners in completing their degree online. Support resources include an interactive school calendar, Titan help desk, counseling, tutoring options and more services available via Albany’s Academic Achievement Center.

19Southeastern Community CollegeWest Burlington$$$$$1500 West Agency Road
West Burlington, IA 52655-0180
(319) 752-2731

Southeastern Community College offers an online AAS in criminal justice, well-suited to those looking for a broad overview of major competencies and skills needed for entry-level employment in the field. Graduates of the AAS program are qualified for employment within civic police departments, state sheriffs' agencies and highway patrol divisions, correctional institutions, narcotics agencies, parole and probation offices and more. Students who complete the AAS program may also transfer into a four-year degree program upon graduation. The 64-credit AAS program consists of coursework in criminal justice, corrections, criminal law, psychology and juvenile delinquency.

Courses are delivered through the Iowa Community College Online Consortium, which also features links to numerous other student support resources for distance learners. Available tools for the virtual classroom include 24/7 tech support, live chat options, online tutoring and advising services and mobile apps for the online learning system.

20Luzerne County Community CollegeNanticoke$$$$$1333 South Prospect Street
Nanticoke, PA 18634-3899
(570) 740-0200

Luzerne County Community College offers an online AAS in criminal justice, designed to promote a broad, introductory education in the field of criminal justice. Through coursework in criminal law, sociology and police community relations, for instance, students are prepared for either entry-level employment or further study in criminal justice or a related field. The 65-credit degree spans two years of combined core, elective and field experience courses, incorporating relevant topics in English, composition, mathematics, science and history.

All online assignments are accessible through Blackboard, via advanced multimedia delivery and video conferencing programs. Additional support tools available to distance learners include counseling and advising options, career services, transfer assistance and live tech support through the technology help desk.

21Georgia Military College$$$$$
, GA
() -

Georgia Military College offers online AA and AS degrees in criminal justice. Each of the programs are 90-98 quarter credit hours in length, depending on optional electives, and are designed to prepare students for entry-level employment in corrections, law enforcement and private and corporate security, as well as to pursue the next level of study in a four-year criminal justice baccalaureate program. Students are required to complete an e-portfolio as a final condition of the degree. While the AA curriculum focuses the majority of courses in humanities-based concepts such as English composition, the AS degree features a more scientific approach, offering electives including statistics and environmental science, for example.

Online assignments are accessible via the GMC Online single-sign-on student portal, which also offers support services for online learning, including academic advising, personal technology assistance and a mobile app for distance learners.

22Prince George's Community CollegeLargo$$$$$301 Largo Rd
Largo, MD 20774-2199
(301) 546-7422

Prince George’s Community College offers an online AAS in criminal justice, designed to provide students with a wide range of communication and service-oriented skills that can lead to entry-level employment in local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Curriculum in the AAS degree emphasizes literacy and articulation competencies; in addition to basic introductory courses in criminal justice, humanities, science and IT concepts, the program includes extensive training in ESL, English composition and language-based topics.

Online students complete assignments in Blackboard, with the support of additional student services including a live chat feature for Blackboard-specific tech support. Additionally, student support tools offered to distance learners include free online tutoring via Smarthinking, a virtual library media center and an online job board.

23Eastern Kentucky UniversityRichmond$$$$$521 Lancaster Ave
Richmond, KY 40475-3102
(859) 622-1000

Eastern Kentucky offers an online AA in police studies, designed for prospective police officers looking to satisfy minimum college credit requirements and obtain hands-on experience in the field of law enforcement. The 60-hour program was developed in accordance with typical credit requirements for entry-level police officers; by completing this comprehensive introduction in criminal justice, police policy, ethics and contemporary police strategy, graduates are qualified to enter the field as trained professionals in police theory and administration.

Online assignments are delivered through Blackboard, with a variety of student support resources built-in to the extensive EKU Online elearning portal. Resources for distance learners include streaming video tutorials, access to library databases and archives, textbook-lending services and virtual learning materials and advising via the Instructional Development Center at EKU.

24Phoenix CollegePhoenix$$$$$1202 W Thomas Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 264-2492

Phoenix College offers an online AAS in administration of justice, designed to provide an overview of basic concepts in criminal justice. The 60-credit program is well-suited for both students looking to continue their studies in a specialized field as well as those seeking entry-level employment in law enforcement, security, probation or parole. The curriculum encompasses general education and required courses exploring criminal law, constitutional law, oral communication and social and behavioral sciences, among other topics.

Online assignments are delivered through Canvas, supported by a range of additional services for distance learners. Resources available through the online student portal include academic advisement, personal counseling, a live chat option for program or tech assistance, interactive career services and outreach program opportunities.

25Lone Star College SystemThe Woodlands$$$$$5000 Research Forest Drive
The Woodlands, TX 77381-4399
(832) 813-6500

Lone Star College System offers an online AA in criminal justice, intended to provide an introductory education in criminal justice concepts for those seeking transfer into a four-year degree at an affiliated institution. The 60-hour, two-year program covers broad topics in criminal justice, touching on court systems and practices, correctional systems and practices, general psychology, Texas history, federal government and more. Students may also choose from electives in composition, speech, math, creative arts and other humanities options.

Online assignments are delivered through D2L, also offering numerous elearning resources at the same single-sign-on site. Resources for distance learners include live chat support, online advising opportunities, virtual exam proctoring and round-the-clock technical assistance.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice

A criminal justice online degree at the bachelor’s level opens the doors to a number of careers in the criminal justice field. Some examples include the probation officer, detective, and computer forensic investigator careers described above. Although earning a bachelor’s degree requires four years and an average investment of $18,070, the cost per year is much cheaper than earning an associate degree. Also, salary levels with this degree can be much higher than with an associate or high school diploma/GED.


    Drugs and Society, Statistics in Criminal Justice, and Crime Prevention


    Criminal Justice, Computer Forensics, and Science in Criminal Justice


    Probation Officer, Computer Forensic Investigator, and Homicide Detective


    $58,630 per year, $28.19 per hour


    4% growth rate per year

Online Criminal Justice Degrees
For the 2016 rankings, has greatly refined its approach to evaluating schools and their respective programs. Our innovative method of assessing schools is what makes our rankings so distinctly authoritative. On the surface, every ranking we produce employs a basic formula: Academic Quality + Online Offerings + Cost and Student Aid = Final Score. This final score determines where a school ends up in our rankings. Of course, there's a lot more than meets the eye. Visit our methodology page to discover the data points that shape our formula and to learn more about our process.

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Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree Rankings

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1University of Central FloridaOrlando$$$$$4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, FL 32816
(407) 823-2000

UCF's online criminal justice degree prepares graduates for careers in justice agencies, private security organizations, and related positions. Both a BA and BS degree are available; students who apply for the BS program must have at least one year of college-level foreign language experience. Students may also participate in online internships. The curriculum covers white collar crime, community-based corrections, women and crime, risk management in criminal justice, private security, and much more.

UCF hosts a user-friendly online services interface, which offers students access to library services, a writing center, online consultations, software, and skills training through LyndaCampus, the UCF bookstore, and more. Non-resident students have access to a competitive tuition rate, and several campus-based fees are waived for all online students.

2Liberty UniversityLynchburg$$$$$1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, VA 24515
(434) 582-2000

Founded in 1971 as a nonprofit Christian university, Liberty is now the largest institution of its kind in the world. Liberty offers a criminal justice degree online, and the program provides students with a foundation in the constitutional basics of law and justice. Students can pursue specializations in business administration and management, criminal psychology, crime scene investigation, homeland security, public administration, strategic intelligence, or juvenile justice. Students can access their courses through the Blackboard LMS; all courses are eight-weeks long. Qualifying students -- those who have volunteered or worked full-time in emergency response fields within the last five years -- are eligible for the Emergency Response Personnel discount. Distance learners with law enforcement or military experience may be able to receive credit for their professional training. Reduced per-credit tuition rates are available to full-time students.

3Arizona State University - SkysongScottsdale$$$$$1475 N Scottsdale Road - Ste 200
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
(480) 884-1860

ASU's online criminal justice bachelor's degree covers the science of criminology and the inner-workings of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, corrections, and the courts. Graduates often pursue careers in either criminal justice or corporate security; many others continue their education in law, criminology, or criminal justice in graduate school. Courses cover real-world issues, and the curriculum features classes that review gangs, domestic violence, white collar crime, and much more. ASU's faculty includes Nobel Laureates, Fulbright Scholars, and Pulitzer Prize winners. Students have access to a variety of online resources, including Google Apps for Education, Microsoft Office, and iWork software. Online courses include interactive activities, customized video lectures, conferencing tools, and real-time assessment activities.

4University of Massachusetts - LowellLowell$$$$$1 University Ave
Lowell, MA 01854-5104
(978) 934-4000

UMass Lowell is one of five campuses in the UMass system. The school offers a criminal justice degree online, and the program successfully integrates programmatic material with a foundation in the liberal arts. Students can customize their degree with a variety of electives, many of which are available for the first time in 2017. These classes include hate crimes; criminal mind and behavior; gender, race, and crime; and child maltreatment. Criminal justice students can begin their master's in criminal justice during their undergraduate career by taking two graduate-level courses that count towards their core credit hours. Courses are delivered through Blackboard, and students can access digital library materials and several other online services.

5Florida International UniversityMiami$$$$$11200 S. W. 8 Street
Miami, FL 33199
(305) 348-2000

FIU's online bachelor's of science in criminal justice provides students with the skills and knowledge needed to work in law enforcement, security, or corrections. Core course topics include global terrorism, measurement and analysis in criminal justice, and criminal justice and public policy. All online students are paired with a success coach upon admission to the university. Both residential and out-of-state students have access to competitive tuition rates, and qualifying distance learners may apply for several scholarships earmarked for undergraduates. Students can register online for a virtual degree-specific information session to find out more about the program. Courses are available through the Florida Virtual Campus' Blackboard LMS; here, students can also find information about virtual proctoring services.

6Pennsylvania State University - World CampusUniversity Park$$$$$128 Outreach Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 865-5403

In 1998, Penn State became one of the first universities to provide online courses to distance learners. PSU's online criminal justice degree meets the needs of both professionals in the field and students who have limited experience with criminal justice. The degree is certified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Science (ACJS), and all faculty who teach both on campus and online are trained to adapt coursework to the virtual environment. Asynchronous coursework is delivered through the Blackboard LMS and may include readings, group discussions, projects, and other activities. Faculty members work with instructional designers to create engaging learning experiences that are of the same caliber as classes found on campus. Active military members and their spouses are eligible for Grant-in-Aid benefits.

7Keiser University - Ft LauderdaleFort Lauderdale$$$$$
Fort Lauderdale, FL
() -

Students in Keiser's bachelor of arts in criminal justice program take courses on a variety of topics in the criminal justice system, including forensics, private security, and juvenile justice. Graduates are expected to know how the Constitution and Supreme Court interact to shape laws, and they develop strong research and analytical skills that can be applied in the field. Students can choose from several elective courses, including cyber crime and deviant behavior, to customize their degree. Courses are accessible through the Blackboard LMS, and online students are automatically enrolled in the school's Online Writing Lab (OWL). Students can chat with an admissions agent online at anytime.

8Indiana Wesleyan University-MarionMarion$$$$$4201 S Washington St
Marion, IN 46953-4974
(765) 674-6901

Indiana Wesleyan has offered adult education programs since 1985. Its online criminal justice bachelor's degree prepares students for careers throughout the field, with a "Christ-centered" perspective woven into the curriculum. Courses include restorative justice, cybercrime, and youth and crime. Students complete a final capstone paper addressing a current issue within the criminal justice system. Typically, students enter with an associate degree and complete this accelerated program in 18 months. All students are assigned to a peer cohort upon admission. IWU is home to the Center for Learning and Innovation, which is dedicated to educating and working with faculty to design and implement engaging and high-quality online courses. Students can watch IWU's live online streaming of many sporting events, including men's and women's basketball. IWU is the largest member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities in the nation, and has the largest enrollment of any private university in the state.

9Florida State UniversityTallahassee$$$$$222 S. Copeland Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1037
(850) 644-2525

Founded in 1851, FSU is the oldest higher education institution in the state and serves over 41,000 students. Graduates from FSU's online bachelor's degree in criminology leave school prepared to pursue careers in law enforcement, social welfare, corporate security, and other related fields. The FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice also offers a comprehensive job search portal for graduates. FSU's criminology and criminal justice faculty are renowned for their research productivity: The FSU Criminology and Policy Research team recently presented a report on elder fraud issues, with recommendations on how community centers can help educate their residents and promote safe shopping programs.

10Saint Leo UniversitySaint Leo$$$$$33701 State Road 52
Saint Leo, FL 33574-6665
(352) 588-8200

All courses at Saint Leo are offered in a distance format, perfect for students who want to pursue a criminal justice degree online. Saint Leo's program features a criminalistics specialization with a strong focus on forensic science analysis and interpretation of evidence. The curriculum is rooted in the school's commitment to "steadfast moral consciousness" and to recognize the fundamental rights of people from all backgrounds. Students take core criminal justice courses, along with general electives that range from literature to social science. For incoming distance learners, Saint Leo provides "Starting Point," a series of self-paced tutorials about different aspects of online learning, available on its site 24/7.

11Western Carolina UniversityCullowhee$$$$$Highway 107
Cullowhee, NC 28723-9646
(828) 227-7100

Located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, WCU serves over 9,000 undergraduates. The school offers a bachelor's of science degree in criminal justice online, with a concentration in administration of justice. Popular courses include stress management in criminal justice, computer applications & criminal justice, and cyber crimes. Applicants interested in WCU must first apply to the university; after they are accepted, they can then apply to the criminal justice program. Courses are accessible through the Blackboard LMS and students have access to online library and tech support services. Students can further connect with the university through its multiple social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube. WCU offers both merit-based and need-based scholarships to qualifying students, along with military tuition assistance to active service members.

12Concordia University - Saint PaulSaint Paul$$$$$1282 Concordia Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55104-5494
(651) 641-8278

Concordia offers an online bachelor of arts in criminal justice, a program designed for professionals in criminal justice who want to enhance their skill set while they work full-time. Students who complete this program leave school prepared to enter high-level positions as private investigators, CIA agents, fraud investigators, and related jobs. Students must complete a criminal justice e-folio as a culminating project that reflects their understanding of the field and highlights their career objectives. Popular courses include contemporary issues in criminal justice, inside the criminal mind, and troubled youth. CSP recently reduced its tuition by 33%, making it the second-lowest tuition in Minnesota and the Concordia University system.

13Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester$$$$$2500 North River Road
Manchester, NH 03106-1045
(603) 668-2211

Southern New Hampshire University is a nonprofit, private school with over 60,000 online students. SNHU's online bachelor's degree in criminal justice offers leading instruction from experts in the field and simulated real-world scenarios. Students can pursue several specializations as part of the program, including a general track and concentrations in corrections, criminology, homeland security & counterterrorism, human services, legal studies & advocacy, or police administration & operations. The program requires students to complete a final capstone project that offers them the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they developed in school. Distance learners have access to several dedicated web services, including an online writing center, free Smarthinking tutoring services, one-on-one career counseling, and more. Students take courses at their own pace; classes are offered during six nine-week terms per year. SNHU offers one of the lowest per-credit tuition rates in the nation, and active-duty military and their spouses can receive further discounts.

14Florida Gulf Coast UniversityFort Myers$$$$$10501 Fgcu Blvd S
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000

FGCU offers a BS in criminal justice in a hybrid format. Students with an associate degree or qualifying transfer credits can complete all upper division courses online; freshmen will need to take a few courses on-campus in Fort Myers. Students must also complete an internship at an approved law enforcement agency, law firm, local government entity, corrections facility, or a similar organization. On average, 80% of students complete courses both on-campus and online, while 20% take classes entirely online. Distance learners can tailor the curriculum to an extent by taking elective courses that align with their specific interests. FGCU works to keep costs down, and has maintain its tuition rate for the past three years. Matriculating freshmen have a 3.78 GPA and 1583 SAT score on average.

15Florida Institute of TechnologyMelbourne$$$$$150 West University Blvd
Melbourne, FL 32901
(321) 674-8000

Students enrolled in the Florida Institute of Technology's multidisciplinary online criminal justice program learn a broad range of criminal justice theories and practices, and develop a multicultural awareness of criminal behavior. Students can customize their degree focus by choosing from high-level electives like crisis and conflict resolution, introduction to crime analysis, and organized crime. Asynchronous online courses are offered in eight-week increments. Peer-to-peer and instructor interaction takes place through live conference software, chat rooms, and discussion forums. Students have access to resources like Turnitin software, which helps distance learners check for errors in citations or possible plagiarism, as well as free Smarthinking tutoring services.

16Rowan UniversityGlassboro$$$$$201 Mullica Hill Road
Glassboro, NJ 08028
(856) 256-4000

Rowan's bachelor of arts in law & justice prepares students for careers in law enforcement and security, court services, corrections, and social services. Many graduates also continue their education in a related grad program. Rowan's law & justice offering is a full-time program that can be completed over four or five semesters. Courses are structured in eight-week modules, and the curriculum covers legal theory and its applications while helping distance learners develop strong analytical and communication skills. Popular courses include sentencing and the rights of the convicted and law & human rights. Rowan's online programs are offered in conjunction with six other academic colleges, which helps students access a variety of quality content and to communicate and interact with a large network of students and professors.

17Excelsior CollegeAlbany$$$$$7 Columbia Cir
Albany, NY 12203-5159
(518) 464-8500

Excelsior College is an adult-centric higher education institution with online programs built for working professionals and other nontraditional students. About 75% of students work full-time and 10 percent work part-time while they're in school. Excelsior offers an online criminal justice bachelor's degree with an emphasis in investigative forensics. The program is designed for newcomers and experienced professionals in the field alike. Excelsior offers a flexible transfer policy, allowing students to transfer up to 117 existing college credits, and to receive credit for relevant military and professional experience. The faculty includes experienced professionals in the field who can facilitate student connections with potential employers in homeland security, law enforcement, forensics, and other domains. Students must complete a capstone research project to graduate. Distance learners have access to several online services, including free Smarthinking tutoring services, an Online Writing Lab, software skill tutorials, and more.

18Fort Hays State UniversityHays$$$$$600 Park St
Hays, KS 67601-4099
(785) 628-4000

Fort Hays State offers both an online bachelor of science and bachelor of arts in criminal justice. As an interdisciplinary program, the curriculum centers on the roots of criminal behavior and society's response. Most students are working professionals, and many already work in criminal justice. Students can pursue concentrations in law enforcement, corrections, law and courts, or create a customized focus through electives. Coursework is delivered through the Blackboard LMS, and students can interact with professors over Skype, email, and the phone. Fort Hays offers one of the lowest tuition rates in the country. The school's Department of Criminal Justice also provides job placement assistance to graduating students.

19Park UniversityParkville$$$$$8700 NW River Park Dr
Parkville, MO 64152-3795
(816) 741-2000

Students in the criminal justice degree online at Park University can pursue concentrations in law enforcement, corrections, or security. The curriculum covers theory, philosophy, and real-world applications, preparing students for a range of careers in the field. Students on the cusp of graduation can complete the program by either completing an internship within their state of residence or finishing a senior writing project. Park generally doesn't require students to take exams with a proctor. The school's online classroom is powered by the Canvas LMS. Online students have access to a range of library services, including librarian live chat. Students can also contact the dedicated Online Operations Department with questions about their online experience.

20University of Nebraska at OmahaOmaha$$$$$6001 Dodge St
Omaha, NE 68182-0225
(402) 554-2800

Among UNO's 15,000 students, about half are enrolled in online courses. Nebraska's online criminal justice degree curriculum includes both general and major-related core classes in criminal justice theory, research, and response to crime. In addition to taking online courses through UNO, students can apply to take intercampus online courses through UNL (Lincoln) or UNK (Kearney). Courses are accessible through the Blackboard LMS; students also have access to Google Apps for Education. UNO is home to the Nebraska Center for Justice Research and the Juvenile Justice Institute. The program's faculty members often present research at national conferences and to community agencies to help them formulate best practices and inform policy in the field. The university has received the Carnegie Classification of community engagement for excellent curricular engagement and outreach partnerships.

21University of MemphisMemphis$$$$$Southern Avenue
Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-2000

Memphis is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the seventh largest higher education system in the country. Students looking for a quality online criminal justice bachelor's degree can pursue a BA in criminology and criminal justice at UofM. The curriculum covers the root causes of criminal activity, prevention and intervention strategies, program analysis, and modern issues covering social justice. Online students work with an academic advisor to stay on track with program requirements through graduation. Courses are taught asynchronously and are available through eCourseware at UofM Online. Distance learners have access to many of the same resources as on-campus students, including library services, financial aid opportunities, career prep training, and more. Courses often include weekly discussions, and students can expect feedback from instructors within 48 hours. Courses are taught on the university's semester schedule, and all distance learners qualify for UofM's reduced eRate tuition.

22Westfield State UniversityWestfield$$$$$577 Western Ave
Westfield, MA 01086-1630
(413) 572-5300

Westfield State was founded in 1839 by Horace Mann, and the school is recognized as the first co-educational institution to open its doors to all students, regardless of racial of class background. WSU offers a criminal justice degree online, and the program is primarily designed for graduates from Massachusetts community colleges who plan to complete the final two years of their program online. Students who have not graduated from this system are still invited to apply, though some courses may require students to attend campus in-person. The curriculum covers the criminal justice system and the local and national legal system. Core courses review the American judicial system and theories of crime. Classes also cover how the law and criminal justice affects demographics differently, highlighting how the system treats people based on their gender, class, race, and cultural background. Students log in to the Plato LMS to access online courses and to Blackboard Collaborate for virtual meetings with peers and professors. WSU offers a very competitive annual tuition for all students, including free tuition for all students over 60.

23Concordia University - WisconsinMequon$$$$$12800 N Lake Shore Dr
Mequon, WI 53097-2402
(262) 243-5700

CUW's bachelor's degree in management of criminal justice prepares students to operate in law enforcement at all levels of government. Instructors are active professionals in the field, and classes are delivered from a Christian perspective. The curriculum includes core business courses, such as public relations and managerial accounting, along with degree-specific offerings like juvenile theory and criminal investigation. All students are assigned an online student success advisor upon admission and have access to an online writing lab, free Smarthinking tutoring services, career services, and more. CUW is one of 10 universities in the U.S. operated by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Campuses are independent but share academic resources. Advanced transfer students, with an associate in criminal justice or 63 credits of relevant coursework, are encouraged to apply.

24Columbia CollegeColumbia$$$$$1301 Columbia College Dr
Columbia, SC 29203
(803) 786-3012

Originally founded as a women's college in 1851, Columbia changed its name when it became a four-year co-educational institution in 1970. Columbia's online criminal justice degree is a multidisciplinary program that features a focus in criminal justice administration. Students can pursue both a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science; the BA is recommended for students already employed in the field, while a BS is advised for graduating high-school students or people who want to change careers. The curriculum includes general education courses; ethics, foreign language, and multicultural course requirements; and core content. Core classes include police in a democratic society, management of criminal justice agencies, and advanced research writing and methods courses. Asynchronous coursework is offered through the Dream2Learn platform, which also provides access to library and tutoring services. Courses are structured in eight-week increments over five sessions annually.

25Siena Heights UniversityAdrian$$$$$1247 E. Siena Heights Dr.
Adrian, MI 49221
(517) 263-0731

Working professionals or students who already hold an associate degree can pursue an online applied science program through Siena Heights University. This is a career-focused degree for professionals from a variety of public service backgrounds, including law enforcement and criminal justice. The curriculum includes liberal arts course topics, management classes, and career-specific electives. Students can transfer up to 90 previously earned credits to complete the 120-credit degree requirement for their BAS. Students may also be able to obtain credit from their professional or military experience and training. Students can opt to apply for the online cohort program, which allows them to network and get to know their peers. Courses are taught asynchronously, and are accessible through eCollege and structured in eight-week terms. SHU has offered distance education programs since 2004; most distance learners graduate from the applied science program in two years or less.

Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice

Earning a master’s in criminal justice degree online can help working individuals secure promotions and higher salaries. Depending on your area of study, you can earn a master’s degree in one to three years. This advanced degree explores niches within criminal justice and will likely open doors to additional career paths.


    Organizational Behavior, Victimology, and Policing Special Populations


    Homeland Security, Science in Terrorism and Counterterrorism, and Science in Criminal Justice


    Criminal Investigator, Youth Correctional Officer, and Victim’s Advocate


    $44,570 per year or $21.43 per hour


    5% growth per year

Online Criminal Justice Degrees
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Criminal Justice Master’s Degree Rankings

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1Florida State UniversityTallahassee$$$$$222 S. Copeland Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1037
(850) 644-2525

Located in Tallahassee, Florida State University is recognized as a preeminent research university in the state by the Florida legislature. Students looking to advance to a leadership position in law enforcement, corrections, or juvenile justice will find a premiere online criminal justice master's degree through FSU. This program, offered through the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, was recognized as one of the Best Online Programs in Grad Criminal Justice for 2016 by U.S. News & World Report. Students must have an undergraduate degree to apply, though not necessarily in criminal justice. All application materials are considered on an individual basis. Courses are delivered via MyCampus, powered by Canvas LMS. Distance@FSU program offers smaller class sizes and personalized feedback from instructors. Online students enjoy access to a comprehensive set of resources, including a one-on-one reading/writing center, an extensive library database, training courses, proctored testing support, and more. Notable FSU alumni include actor Burt Reynolds and rock star Jim Morrison.

2University of Central FloridaOrlando$$$$$4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, FL 32816
(407) 823-2000

University of Central Florida's master's in criminal justice online provides a deeper investigation of the elements at play in shaping the U.S. criminal justice system, from philosophical to economic factors. UCF also places an emphasis on research, writing, and computer skills. An online graduate degree in criminal justice opens doors to a wide range of careers: for example, the school produces many criminologists, DEA agents, or forensic examiners. A user-friendly online student services interface provides access to full UCF library services, software and skills training through LyndaCampus, advising services, tech support, and more. Dedicated Online Success Coaches are also available via phone to answer questions about UCF's online programs. Located in Orlando, Florida, UCF is the second-largest public university nationwide. U.S. News & World Report ranked the school as its 13th most Innovative School of 2016.

3Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing$$$$$
East Lansing, MI 48824-1046
(517) 355-1855

Michigan State University began its existence in 1855 as an innovator -- it was the first institution of higher learning in the U.S. to teach scientific agriculture. In 1998, the school launched an online criminal justice master's degree -- its first online degree. This program is designed to advance the skills of professionals already operating in the criminal justice field. Students may follow the general track for a master's in criminal justice, go with an international focus, or choose a concentration in security management or judicial administration. Students generally take anywhere from one year to three years to complete the degree. Core curriculum covers policy analysis, an in-depth understanding of criminal behavior, and research methodology. Online courses have similar requirements and activities as their on-campus counterparts, including weekly readings, discussions, and occasional case problems or research papers. Internships are available on a voluntary basis. Online courses are accessed via the Dream2Learn (D2L) platform. MSU is one of only 62 members of the renowned Association of American Universities.

4University of LouisvilleLouisville$$$$$2301 S 3rd St
Louisville, KY 40292-0001
(502) 852-5555

University of Louisville is a state-supported research university and a member of the Kentucky public university system since 1970. The university currently offers 16 online programs with almost 6,000 students taking at least one online course. Louisville's online master's in criminal justice provides a thorough curriculum in structure, theories, and issues in the criminal justice system, along with advanced research methods. Specialized electives include a broad range of topics, such as capital punishment, international terrorism, and substance abuse and policy. Courses are structured in an accelerated six week format, with six starting points throughout the year. Program requirements can be completed in two years with a full course load. Students access coursework and can interact directly with peers and instructors through the Blackboard LMS. Louisville's Department of Criminal Justice scholarships include a Blue Coats Scholarships for Metro Louisville First Responders, and an NSA Scholarship for members of the National Sheriffs Association. Graduate students can transfer up to six credits, and may be able to earn credit for qualifying professional development.

5University of Colorado - DenverDenver$$$$$1380 Lawrence Street, Lawrence Street Center, Suite 1400
Denver, CO 80217-3364
(303) 556-5600

A master's in criminal justice online from University of Colorado Denver is a boon for both existing criminal justice professionals and students looking to enter the field. The program has been recognized as the 9th best of its kind nationwide by U.S. News & World Report. Curriculum covers a broad range of law enforcement-related topics, from the development of laws and codes to juvenile justice. Electives are also offered in several domains, including domestic violence and homeland security. Students may choose a degree concentration in general criminal justice, crime analysis, gender-based violence; or emergency management and homeland security. The program includes a culminating capstone projects, in which students work with an agency client to identify a problem and formulate a solution. Asynchronous courses are delivered via Canvas LMS. UCD program alumni include 40 police chiefs in Colorado, FBI and CIA agents, research faculty, and city mayors. UCD is one of four University of Colorado campuses in the state.

6Troy UniversityTroy$$$$$University Avenue
Troy, AL 36082-0001
(334) 670-3100

With roots date back to 1887, the Troy State University System was formed in 1982. Today Troy University is an educational engine that has grown far beyond the borders of its namesake Alabama college town. Due to its innovative curriculum, reputable faculty, and flexible online course options, Troy's online criminal justice master's degree is one of the best in the nation. This master's degree is a non-thesis program that prepares students to lead in the criminal justice field as professors, criminal investigators, federal probation officers, or criminologists as a few examples. Concentrations are available in homeland security, digital forensics, or a customized emphasis via elective choice. Courses are accessed via the Blackboard LMS. Troy is a long-standing military-friendly university. The school offers two proprietary scholarship opportunities for qualifying students, the Troy Horizon Scholarship and the school's Military and Family Scholarship. Students connect via the Trojan Café, an online community created in 2014 that allows students to interact with peers and professors and stay up-to-date on university news and events.

7Nova Southeastern UniversityFort Lauderdale$$$$$3301 College Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314-7796
(954) 262-7300

Nova Southeastern University's SACSCOC-accredited online master's in criminal justice offers 12 different concentration options, including (but not limited to): legal perspectives in criminal justice, substance abuse, public administration, information security, and strategic community planning. Program graduates pursue careers as, for example, conservation officers, federal air marshals, animal cruelty investigators, and detectives. Students access courses and other student services through the Blackboard LMS, which also facilitates student interaction through chat and discussion boards. Students who to take more than two courses per semester can complete the program in less than two years. NSU is a private research institution that serves a diverse student population, offers small class sizes with one-to-one professor interaction, and operates cutting-edge facilities, including one of the best research libraries in the nation. NSU maintains cooperative partnerships with many law and social service agencies throughout the state of Florida.

8Mississippi CollegeClinton$$$$$200 South Capitol Street
Clinton, MS 39058
(601) 925-3000

The oldest college in the state, Mississippi College was founded in 1826. Today the school is a private Christian university affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention that produces quality online higher education programming tailored for busy adults. The university's online criminal justice master's degree features a homeland security focus, ideal for students looking to advance their careers in federal agencies such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the Transportation Security Administration. Courses cover legal facets and special issues associated with the criminal justice field, as well as technical topics like grant writing methodologies. Course materials, discussion boards, assessments, and other learning components are accessed via the Moodle LMS. In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked MC as number 22 on its list of best value schools in the nation.

9University of CincinnatiCincinnati$$$$$2624 Clifton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0063
(513) 556-6000

Since its introduction a decade ago, more than 1,500 students have completed the University of Cincinnati's master's in criminal justice online. The program's seasoned and skilled staff include a winner of the American Society of Criminology's Edwin H. Sutherland Award, the society's most renowned mark of distinction. The school offers concentrations in analysis of criminal behavior, law enforcement & crime prevention, and corrections and offender rehabilitation. Students have the option of attending online part- or full-time. Courses and student services are accessed through the Canopy platform, which provides links to the Blackboard LMS; tutorials; 24/7 chat support; WebEx conferencing tools; and other services. Founded in 1819, UC has produced many firsts, including the development of the first antihistamine and the first degree program offered by satellite. The school is classified as Carnegie-designated Research University for high research activity. UC programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. All online courses meet Quality Matters best-practice standards.

10University of Massachusetts - LowellLowell$$$$$1 University Ave
Lowell, MA 01854-5104
(978) 934-4000

A leading research university, the University of Massachusetts Lowell's online master's in criminal justice is ideal for either students already working in the criminal justice system or those looking to enter a new field. Curriculum covers theory and research, administrative and management skills in emergency management, forensic psychology, criminal behavior analysis, terrorism, and more. Many of UMass Lowell's criminal justice electives are available for the first time in 2017, courses which include a focus on mental health, criminal justice, intimate partner violence, and comparative terrorism and counterterrorism. Programs are administered and taught by full-time experts in the field. Online program support is available to students via the school's dedicated Online Learning Office. Online courses are accessed via Blackboard LMS, and students can try out a demo course online at any time. UMass Lowell is regularly listed as providing its graduates with one of the highest returns on investment among schools in the United States.

11Sam Houston State UniversityHuntsville$$$$$1806 Ave J
Huntsville, TX 77340
(936) 294-1111

Located in Huntsville, Texas, Sam Houston State University, named in tribute to the legendary Texas leader, bears the motto "the measure of a life is its service". In turn, Sam Houston's online criminal justice master's degree is geared towards just that, public service. The degree is ideal for professionals and novices in the field who work full-time and cannot commute to campus. Graduates are prepared to work at various government and public-sector levels, from the field to administration to social policy. This is a non-thesis program, with a capstone course that meets the university's comprehensive exam requirement. Courses are taken in a sequence that allow students to complete the program in two years. Distance learners have access to writing and online tutors, library services, advising and more. Blackboard LMS provides course access, links to the Blackboard Collaborate and Mobile apps, as well as to multimedia resources via NBC Learn.

12Lewis UniversityRomeoville$$$$$One University Parkway
Romeoville, IL 60446-2200
(815) 838-0500

Founded in 1932 by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is a private Catholic institution located in Romeoville, Illinois. The school's two-year master's in criminal justice online program combines the study of criminal with social justice theories and practices. Lewis students learn organizational and management theory, and choose from a range of electives that align with career goals. Example elective courses include homeland security/defense, correctional counseling, and issues of juvenile crime. A cyclical curriculum builds upon foundational topics as students move through the program. Virtual Blackboard-based courses are asynchronous, with weekly scheduled assignments and discussion forum assignments. Students have access to 24/7 technical support. Lewis is a Gold Academic Alliance Member of the FBI National Academy Associates, Inc. -- the largest international law enforcement leadership network in the world -- and the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program. All Lewis programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

13Valdosta State UniversityValdosta$$$$$1500 N Patterson St
Valdosta, GA 31698
(229) 333-5800

While the majority of Valdosta State's 11,200 student population hails from Georgia, the university enrolls students from the 49 other states, the District of Columbia, and over 60 countries. VSU's online master's in criminal justice integrates theory with practice through its curricular focus on scientific research methods and the social sciences. Students choose between thesis and non-thesis option degrees, and between an applied criminal justice track, (which focuses on court procedure, correctional studies, and law enforcement) or an alternative research and theory track, which places an emphasis on investigating the causes and correlations of crime theory and real-life incidents. Potential career options are extensive and include (but are not limited to) arson investigator, narcotics agent, U.S. customs agent, or corporate security specialist. Outside of Georgia, VSU offers in-state tuition rates to residents of Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama. Certain courses may include video conferencing, which allows students to attend live courses without ever leaving the comfort of home.

14University of San DiegoSan Diego$$$$$5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
(619) 260-4600

The University of San Diego is one of 36 institutions nationwide to earn designation as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. According to Ashoku, this designation is reserved for "global leaders in social innovation and changemaking in higher education [that] represent a vision of what education and universities can be". USD's online criminal justice master's degree can be completed in just five semesters -- less than two years. Curriculum is designed with feedback from law enforcement and public safety organizations, and faculty have extensive experience in the field. Course content combines criminal justice topics with management and leadership skills, covering topics like budget and resource allocation and effective communication techniques. Courses are taken year round and consist of three 14-week semesters. USD students create a portfolio of learning throughout the program. Courses are asynchronous and often combine multimedia and interactive activities. Students connect with peers via chat, email, and discussion forums. Military members and their spouses, veterans, and law enforcement and public safety professionals are eligible for reduced tuition rates.

15University of New HavenWest Haven$$$$$300 Boston Post Road
West Haven, CT 06516
(203) 932-7000

The University of New Haven's master's in criminal justice online is tailored to the needs of working professionals. Generally completed in two years, UNH students enrolled in the program remotely attend accelerated classes in seven and a half week terms during the year and six week terms during summer. Students may start the program during any term, with asynchronous courses accessed through the Blackboard Learn LMS. UNH alumni have gone on to work for a number of federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the Department of Defense. The Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences is named after Henry Chang-Yu Lee, a celebrated forensic scientist. Lee joined UNH in 1975 to create the program and continues to serve at UNH as Chief Emeritus for the State of Connecticut's Scientific Services Division.

16University of North TexasDenton$$$$$1501 W.Chestnut Ave.
Denton, TX 76203-1277
(940) 565-2000

The University of North Texas is located in Denton, one of the largest cities within the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The school's online master's in criminal justice places an emphasis on justice policy and administration. Many students complete the program as a stepping stone in their career: students use the degree to advance in the corporate world as investigators or contingency managers, in all levels of law enforcement, or in such roles as probation or parole officers and victims' advocates. Courses are designed by full-time faculty members who bring years of experience in the field. Students can transfer up to nine credit hours in past graduate credits or professional training toward their degree requirements. Course materials are delivered via the Blackboard Learn LMS, also used to interact with peers and professors. Students have access to a dedicated Off-Campus Services Office for questions concerning their online program, as well as an online writing lab, online tutoring, and library services.

17University of MemphisMemphis$$$$$Southern Avenue
Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-2000

The University of Memphis offers its online criminal justice master's degree through the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. Curriculum covers criminological principles, theories, and concepts, and prepares graduates with an understanding of social justice perspectives in public policy. Students also learn the analytical and research skills necessary to become leaders in the criminal justice field. Online courses are asynchronous and accessed through the eCourseware LMS. UM offers a unique Adult Scholarship program to students ages 25 and older, for both part- and full-time students. Online students have access to many of the same services as on-campus students, including library services, career preparedness, disability resources and others. UM is a public research university and a pinnacle member of the 45 institutions that make up the Tennessee Board of Regents System. Over 3,600 graduates are enrolled in its 110 degree programs, which are accredited by SACSCOC.

18New Mexico State UniversityLas Cruces$$$$$2850 Weddell Street
Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001
(575) 646-0111

New Mexico State University is a public research institution located in sunny Las Cruces, New Mexico. NMSU was the first honors college in New Mexico, and the school is a NASA Space Grant College. The university's online master's in criminal justice prepares graduates to pursue an advanced study in criminal justice and related fields, or to take leadership positions as administrators or policymakers. A focused coursework non-thesis option is available to online students. Admission is competitive, and accepted students are assigned to a small peer cohort. Internships are optional and available to students who maintain a GPA of 3.0. Courses are delivered through the Canvas LMS. Weekly assignments may include a combination of readings, critical analyses, class discussions, learning exercises, research papers, and live web meetings. Active military service members are eligible to pay the NMSU in-state tuition rate, and students with residency in a member state of the Western Region of the U.S. also receive a tuition discount.

19Wichita State UniversityWichita$$$$$1845 N. Fairmount
Wichita, KS 67260-0124
(316) 978-3456

Founded by scholar and police chief O.W. Wilson in 1937, Wichita State University's master's in criminal justice online is the second-oldest of its kind in the U.S. Research faculty come from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds and bring a wealth of urban field experience to the classroom. Full-time students can complete degree requirements in less than two years. Student may attend part-time, but must complete the program within six years. Students work with an online graduate coordinator to develop a customized plan of study based on their interests and needs. Graduates are prepared to attend law school, earn their doctorate in a related field, or use the degree as evidence for advancement in their current career. Courses are accessed via the Blackboard LMS. Students may access a range of helpful services through WSU's OneStep portal, including live chat, technical assistance, academic advising services and more. For students who like to stay in the know, WSU runs a listener-supported public radio station that may be streamed live (89.1 KMUW-FM), and the school has published an independent, student-run newspaper -- The Sunflower -- since 1895.

20Wilmington UniversityNew Castle$$$$$320 Dupont Hwy
New Castle, DE 19720
(877) 967-5464

Located in New Castle, Delaware, Wilmington University is the second fastest growing university in the nation according to The Chronicle of Higher Education (2014). Online programs are offered through the College of Online and Experiential Learning, with courses designed to engage working adults. An online master's in criminal justice places an emphasis on administration of justice, with concentrations offered in leadership and administration, criminal behavior, or homeland security. Graduates can also work toward a post-master's certificate in homeland security, a domain with a continued need for well-informed criminal justice professionals. Students complete weekly assignments via the Blackboard LMS, and have opportunities to interact with peers and instructors in small classes. Courses may span the traditional semester length or may be offered in an accelerated block structure that takes place over seven weeks. Up to 75 credits can be transferred toward degree requirements. Students enjoy access to online advising, library services, tutoring and more. Based on recent alumni responses to the Wilmington University Alumni Review Report, 91% of graduates felt "exceptionally well prepared" for their jobs.

21University of Arkansas at Little RockLittle Rock$$$$$2801 S University Ave
Little Rock, AR 72204
(501) 569-3000

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock's master's in criminal justice online is an accelerated program geared towards professionals in the criminal justice field who are looking to advance to a supervisory role or become a better-informed and well-rounded practitioner. Students study advanced concepts and issues in criminal justice, as well as leadership/management skills, while gaining the research and critical-thinking skills needed to analyze and make informed decisions on new policies. A culminating capstone paper allows students the opportunity to apply learned theory to real-world issues in the field. Electives are interdisciplinary and may include courses from gerontology, journalism, history and other subjects. UALR enrolls upwards of 11,000 students from 82 countries in its more than 100 programs. The university is a member of the Electronic Campus of the Southern Regional Education Board. ULAR is also home to many institutional organizations within the Little Rock community and the state of Arkansas, including the Center for Public Collaboration, which consults with public officials, government representatives, and public-service organizations on a variety of public issues.

22Tarleton State University - Global CampusStephenville$$$$$Box T-0011
Stephenville, TX 76402
(817) 732-7300

Tarleton State University is a member of the Texas A&M University System, which the school joined in 1917. Its online criminal justice master's degree is designed to provide professionals in the field with advanced analysis and research skills, as well as knowledge of historical and contemporary issues in the field. Graduates are prepared to make better policy decisions and better protect their communities. The program's thesis option requires a comprehensive research project, while its non-thesis track includes a comprehensive exam. Thesis students can complete the program in under two years, while non-thesis students usually finish the degree in about a year. Reputable faculty members include police chiefs, and district and county judges and attorneys. More than 500 students are enrolled in Tarleton's 15 online programs, which feature class sizes with an average student-teacher ratio of 19:1. Courses are accessed via the Blackboard LMS, and online students can schedule one-on-one chat sessions with the writing clinic or the accounting and statistics clinic. Students may apply for a number of non-traditional, graduate and transfer scholarships available directly through Tarleton.

23Saint Cloud State UniversitySaint Cloud$$$$$720 Fourth Ave. South
Saint Cloud, MN 56301-4498
(320) 308-0121

St. Cloud State University is one of the largest higher-education institutions in Minnesota and the school operates with an educational philosophy centered on active and applied learning, community engagement, and global and cultural understanding. St. Cloud's online master's in criminal justice offers specializations in criminal justice administration, criminal justice counseling, or a customized degree via electives. St. Cloud's Department of Criminal Justice Studies also helps prepare students for the first step in the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (more than 96% of its students have passed the MPOST exam). Graduates pursue a variety of careers, becoming public safety specialists, FBI agents, and family service advocates. Both a thesis and portfolio option are available. Asynchronous courses are accessed through the D2L learning platform, and distance learners enjoy access to library services, online tutoring, proctored testing, and more. St. Cloud is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools in the U.S. and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

24University of Oklahoma - NormanNorman$$$$$660 Parrington Oval
Norman, OK 73019-3072
(405) 325-0311

The University of Oklahoma's master's in criminal justice online curriculum covers complex topics in administrative leadership, restorative justice, ethical decision making, policy development, and other critical domains needed to become a leader in the criminal justice field. Students may design a customized focus area through chosen electives, or choose a pre-designed concentration in corrections management, restorative justice, administration and leadership, or drug abuse policy and management. Program track options include a thesis, a research project, or a comprehensive exam as a culminating degree requirement. In Spring 2017, UO begins transitioning its online courses from the D2L to the Canvas LMS, which offers an intuitive user interface and easy mobile apps. Distance learners enjoy access to advisory and library research services. The school offers tuition rate discounts to active and veteran military members and their spouses. Founded in 1890 in Norman, Oklahoma, just outside of Oklahoma City, OU now has three campus locations in the state, as well as learning centers in Italy, Mexico, and Brazil.

25University of Central MissouriWarrensburg$$$$$202 Administration Building
Warrensburg, MO 64093
(660) 543-4111

The University of Central Missouri is located in Warrensburg, Missouri, about an hour south of Kansas City. UCM's online master's in criminal justice program was created in 1962, and the program's alumni includes police and corrections officers, judges, attorneys, professors, and more than 400 chief administrators worldwide. Applicants to the program must have an undergraduate degree in criminal justice or a related field. Students without experience who are still interested in the program may complete background courses prior to enrolling. Both a thesis and non-thesis degree option are available. The same competitive online tuition rate is offered to all students, regardless of state of residency. Students access courses through Blackboard LMS and Google Education apps and online learning support is available via UCM personal assistant live online chat sessions.

Online Doctorate Degree in Criminal Justice

A doctorate in criminal justice will help those people who are seeking high-level careers in academia, private or governmental research agencies, or criminal justice leadership. An online doctorate in criminal justice will allow you to pursue a variety of specializations while continuing to work.


    Contemporary Public Safety Leadership, Race and Ethnicity in Crime and Criminal Justice, and Management and Leadership Theory


    Criminology, Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Criminal Justice


    FBI Agent, FBI Investigator, and First-Line Supervisor of Police Officers


    $68,400 to $115,720 per year

Online Criminal Justice Choose Your Career

Average Criminal Justice Salaries


Computer Forensic Investigator

Salary: $55,360
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
27% 14,400 Bachelor's None

Computer forensic investigators examine computer systems and data in order to present information for legal cases. They can also help determine when and how a hacker gained access to a system, as well as discover hidden digital information. A bachelor’s degree in computer forensics will provide the necessary background for a successful career in this area. In addition, analytical and problem solving skills are key, as well as effective verbal and written communications abilities, and an interest in the latest technological advances.

Legal Investigator

Salary: $44,570
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
5% 34,900 Associates Licensed Private Investigator / Certified Legal Investigator recommended, not required

A legal investigator, more commonly known as a private investigator (PI), is a for-hire detective. They may search for clues by studying crime scenes, conduct surveillance and background investigations, report information to the authorities, and testify in court. PIs often work undercover. In addition to their help in the criminal justice field, PIs may also be hired to escort valuable property from place to place or to guard high-profile individuals. There are no formal educational requirements to be a PI, but most states require PIs to obtain a license. To be successful in this field, PIs must be assertive, unafraid of confrontation, possess effective communication skills (including the ability to question or interrogate individuals), and be extremely detail-oriented. They must also be at least 18 years old and have no criminal record.


Salary: $75,720
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
4% 108,720 High School Diploma or Equivalent On-Job Training

Detectives investigate crimes. They gather evidence, interview witnesses, conduct background checks on victims and suspects, identify responsible parties, prepare for court, and assist in the prosecution of offenders. The scope of the work varies by location, and the work itself can be stressful and dangerous, so a detective must have mental and physical endurance. The minimum education requirements for a detective are a high school diploma, law enforcement certification, and experience as a sworn law enforcement officer. However, many agencies require a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice, forensic science, or a related field. Additionally, detectives should possess strong communication skills, the ability to remain objective, and the patience and empathy necessary to work through the long investigation process.

Probation Officer

Salary: $49,060
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
4% 91,700 Bachelor's State Specific Licensing Requirements

Probation officers, also known as parole officers, help criminal offenders re-enter society after serving their sentences. Based on their supervision of and interaction with the offender, parole officers attend hearings and make suggestions to the parole board. Parole officers may encounter dangerous situations and heavy workloads of 70 to 130 cases at a time. Most state and federal parole agencies require applicants for this position to hold a bachelor’s degree, typically in either criminal justice, psychology, social work, correction, sociology, counseling, or business administration. Most parole officers must be at least 20 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, and must attend required training and certification courses. They must also have a license to carry a firearm, undergo background investigation and drug screening, and pass a psychological examination.

Uniformed Police Officer

Salary: $58,630
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
4% 806,400 High School Diploma or Equivalent Police Academy Training

Uniformed police officers protect the public by enforcing local, state, and federal laws within their jurisdiction. Police officers have a number of specific responsibilities, including preventing and investigating criminal activity; apprehending criminals; conducting routine safety patrols; enforcing traffic laws; conducting safety inspections on roads and highways; and participating in public safety community programs. Education requirements to become an officer vary by state or city. Some police departments require a candidate to have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED, though several years of college coursework, such as an online associate degree in criminal justice, is often needed. Higher degree levels typically equate to higher pay and more opportunities for promotion and advancement. Candidates must be US citizens, 21 years of age, and must meet rigorous physical criteria include tests of stamina, agility, vision, hearing, and physical and mental strength. Military police experience is highly advantageous.

Online Criminal Justice Degree in Action

Mary Lou Chernik Criminal Justice

Mary Lou Chernik is an Air Force vet with more than 27 years of investigative experience that has earned a master of science in management for criminal justice, and a bachelor of science in criminal justice from Colorado Technical University (CTU), online. She also earned two associate of applied science degrees by going to on-ground campuses part-time while in the Air Force.

As a board certified fellow with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, she has worked in private, federal, and state agencies. She has 24 years of experience as the administrator of a woodworking company and ran her own private investigations business for 16 years. In addition to teaching criminal justice courses online, she works part-time as a field deputy medical investigator.

Why did you pursue your criminal justice degree online?

I live in a rural community with limited access to higher education. I had three choices—do nothing, move to a city where I would have access to an on-ground campus, or complete my degree online. I really liked CTU's accelerated program. I was just going to finish my bachelor's degree for my own satisfaction, but found I really liked online learning. Earning a master's degree has enhanced my reputation as a medicolegal death investigator and has allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher.

What were the biggest advantages for you as you studied online?

The biggest advantages for me were the flexibility of online learning and not having to waste time by driving to a campus. I continued to work, while going to school full time.

What were the challenges or obstacles you faced as an online student?

Time management was a challenge throughout my degree programs, along with self-discipline. The same flexibility that was an advantage was also a challenge because it was up to me to decide when to study or when to participate, rather than going to weekly class meetings. Balancing work, family, and school required both self-discipline and time management skills.

How did the online format help prepare you for your career?

I now teach criminal justice online degree courses for an online college. My experience as an online student helped me become familiar with online classrooms, submitting assignments, working with others through discussion boards, and the like. I know many of the challenges my students face. I know I would not be teaching online college courses if I had not been an online student first.

Online Criminal Justice Professional Requirements

State law prescribes whether or not you need to pursue a professional certification to work in criminal justice. Generally, uniformed police officers are required to be certified with the Peace Officer Skills Training Certification before they can work in the field. A Certified Criminal Justice Professional Certification will likely enhance a probation officer’s credentials. Take a look below for more information.

The Criminal Justice Awareness and Terminology Certification

Whether or not you hold a college-level degree, this short, ultra low-cost, and highly recognized multiple choice certification is a great way to demonstrate your professional prowess and boost your résumé.

Is it required?


How long will it take?

35 minutes

Certified Criminal Justice Professional

Parole or probation officers who work with recovering drug users may pursue this clinical certification. Specific requirements vary by state, but a bachelor’s degree is usually required. Additional hours of work-experience and specialized education may also be required depending on your jurisdiction.

Is it required?

Varies by state

How long will it take?

At least 4 years to earn a bachelor's degree

Peace Officer Skills Training Certification

This certification is required in order to work as a uniformed police officer. In some jurisdictions, correctional officers are also required to have this certification. Only candidates who have successfully completed 500 hours in an approved peace/police officer academy and have at least a high school diploma or GED are eligible for this certification.

Is it required?

Varies by state

How long will it take?

500 hours