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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Mary Lou Chernik Criminal Justice

“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

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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, OnlineColleges.net 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

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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.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

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

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Criminal Justice, Computer Forensics, and Science in Criminal Justice

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Probation Officer, Computer Forensic Investigator, and Homicide Detective

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $58,630 per year, $28.19 per hour

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    4% growth rate per year

Online Criminal Justice Degrees
For the 2016 rankings, OnlineColleges.net 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

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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 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.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Organizational Behavior, Victimology, and Policing Special Populations

  • COMMON MAJORS

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

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

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

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $44,570 per year or $21.43 per hour

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    5% growth per year

Online Criminal Justice Degrees
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Criminal Justice Master’s Degree Rankings

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Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing$$$$$
East Lansing, MI 48824-1046
(517) 355-1855

The online criminal justice master's degree, is the first of its kind to be offered at Michigan State in 1998, is designed for professional students working in the areas of criminal justice and security. Students may choose to only complete the 30 required credits for the general MA in Criminal Justice, or complete additional coursework for an emphasis in Security Management or an international focus. Average time to complete the program, depending on work and other obligations, is one-and-a-half to three years. Michigan State is ranked as #26 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

Michigan State uses the Desire2Learn (D2L) learning management platform. Online courses are taught by the same on-campus faculty, and students are required to complete weekly readings and participate in class discussion boards. Small group collaboration is also used when solving case problems. Though all courses are completely online, students are required to purchase some class texts. A dedicated, 24/7 telephone support line is available to students for any technical issues with the D2L platform.

2Florida State UniversityTallahassee$$$$$222 S. Copeland Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1037
(850) 644-2525

Acceptance to the Florida State University (FSU) online criminal justice master's programs are competitive, and students must hold either a bachelor’s degree or have five or more years of relevant professional experience to apply. FSU is ranked #7 on U.S. News and World Report’s list for Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs. This 36-credit online program provides an extensive foundation in criminological theories, research and real-world issues and applications. The online faculty and coursework are the same used for the on-campus program.

Students must complete an online orientation before registering for classes. Online courses are delivered through the Blackboard Learn management system, which is accessed through the myFSU portal. Courses are offered in an asynchronous format, to allow students the flexibility needed to fit their schedules. Blackboard can be used to access and submit course assignments, complete quizzes and tests, participate in discussion forums and more. Compatible Kaltura software allows students to record and create video presentations. Online criminal justice master's degree students also have access to Bb Student, the mobile app version of the learning platform.

3University of Central FloridaOrlando$$$$$4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, FL 32816
(407) 823-2000

University of Central Florida (UFC) offers its MS in Criminal Justice “Professional Track” online, with a focus on research, theory, policy and organizational administration. The 36-credit master's in criminal justice online program is specifically designed for criminal justice organization leaders. Residency requirements hold that students must have completed a minimum of 21 hours in Criminal Justice at UCF. Admission is competitive, and students must hold a bachelor’s degree and prepare a statement of career goals as part of the application process.

Online or “distributed” learning is offered via Webcourses@UCF. The Center for Distributed Learning (CDL), which collaborates with universities to design and create online programs, is the anchor of UCF’s distance learning courses. All online courses are designed by the UCF faculty who teach them. Students can access course content at any time of the day and participate in online discussions when their schedules allow. Faculty can usually be reached by email, phone or in-person during scheduled office hours.

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

The online criminal justice master's programs at University of Louisville (UofL) are offered to professionals in the criminal justice system striving to become leaders in their field. The program, which is ranked #13 on U.S. News and World Report’s list for Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs, covers many areas of the criminal justice system, including administration, theories, legal issues, advanced statistics and research methods. The 36-credit degree can be completed by full-time students in three semesters. Classes are offered every six weeks, with course enrollment offered at six points during the year.

The UofL Online Learning experience is delivered through the Blackboard learning platform. Online courses are taught by the on-campus faculty and many assignments are similar to those offered on-site as well. Students can interact with peers and instructors and view recorded lectures via Blackboard Collaborate. Classes are asynchronous, allowing students to work full-time and complete weekly coursework around their schedules. UofL’s Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning offers a number of useful Blackboard resources as well as an IT help desk to help resolve technical issues.

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

The University of Colorado Denver offers an online criminal justice master's degree geared towards professionals pursuing advancement in the criminal justice field, professionals desiring a career change and students looking to continue their education. The 36-credit program is ranked #9 on U.S. News and World Report’s list of the Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs. All students are required to choose and complete a traditional research thesis or a field-based capstone project; students without any experience in the criminal justice field also complete an internship in criminal or juvenile justice.

The CUOnline experience is delivered through the Canvas learning management system. Classes are taught by the on-campus faculty and offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at any time during the week. Students can access course syllabi and schedules, along with all assignments, tasks and recorded lectures through the Canvas Dashboard. Threaded discussions are a requirement of most courses. Exams may be either offered online, printed and taken at home or completed at a proctored location.

6University of CincinnatiCincinnati$$$$$2624 Clifton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0063
(513) 556-6000

The University of Cincinnati (UC) MS in Criminal Justice is specifically designed for professionals in the field who are looking to move into a leadership or administrative role. Ranked #27 on U.S. News and World Report’s list for Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs, UC’s online degree program consists of an 11-course curriculum taught over six, 15-week semesters (or two years), though the degree can be completed in one year with an intensive, full-time courseload. In addition to the General Track option, students may choose a concentration from the following: Analysis of Criminal Behavior, Law Enforcement and Crime Prevention and Corrections and Offender Rehabilitation. Courses cover policies, research methods, analysis of criminal behavior, professional writing and more.

Online courses use a mix of internet resources, as well as manuals, textbooks and real-world applications; any required hard-copy materials are provided via mail to a student’s home or office. UC uses the Blackboard Learn platform, accessible through “Canopy,” UC’s “eLearning ecosystem.” Courses are asynchronous, and students have 24/7 access to assignments; recorded lectures; course materials; discussion forums, wikis and blogs; and complete assessments through Blackboard.

7University of Massachusetts - LowellLowell$$$$$1 University Ave
Lowell, MA 01854-5104
(978) 934-4000

University of Massachusetts (UMass Lowell) offers an Online MS in Criminal Justice through its Division of Online and Continuing Education. The program, designed for full-time professionals in law enforcement, security and corrections, spans topics that include leadership, public policy, forensic psychology and terrorism. The 33-credit program includes a core curriculum focused on theory, research, scholarship, quantitative analysis and criminal justice administration. Additionally, a range of electives offered allow students to choose subject areas that fit their career goals.

UMass Lowell delivers its online courses through the Blackboard learning platform. All online classes are the same as those taken on-campus, though a more limited range of electives is offered online. Students access all course materials, communicate with peers and faculty and complete all assessments online; if they encounter any issues, they can contact the 24/7 online help desk via email or phone. Access to Blackboard Mobile Learn is also provided.

8Nova Southeastern UniversityFort Lauderdale$$$$$3301 College Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314-7796
(954) 262-7300

The online criminal justice master's programs offered through Nova Southeastern University (NSU) are ranked #22 on U.S. News and World Report’s List of Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs. Students generally complete the 36-hour program, which includes a core curriculum and a customized elective track for differing career tracks, over a two-year period. Those seeking careers in the police force, the FBI, Loss Prevention, the DEA, the Secret Service and many other areas within criminal justice fill find that NSU's program fits their specific training needs. Nova offers a unique Valor Award 20% Scholarship for Law Enforcement, Veterans, Military and First Responders.

Online courses are accessed on the Blackboard “Sharklearn” platform through the NSU “Sharklink” portal. Students access course materials and distance library services, interact with faculty and peers through threaded discussion boards and chatrooms, submit assignments and deliver multimedia presentations through Blackboard. Class recordings and live interactions are conducted through GoToMeeting software. All courses are asynchronous, allowing students to work full-time and complete coursework according to their schedule.

9Lewis UniversityRomeoville$$$$$One University Parkway
Romeoville, IL 60446-2200
(815) 838-0500

Lewis University’s MS in Criminal and Social Justice is specifically designed for the working professional looking to enhance their knowledge and advance their career. The 36-hour program covers theory and real-world application in the areas of administration, law enforcement, homeland security and other specialized areas. Students must hold either a bachelor’s degree or be currently serving in the criminal justice field to be considered for immediate acceptance. All program requirements must be completed within seven years.

Online courses are offered in an accelerated seven to eight-week format ; in comparison, the on-site program is delivered through 16-week long courses. Lewis uses the Blackboard learning management platform to deliver its online program. Students have access to course materials, discussion boards, group wikis and other collaborative resources via Blackboard. A wide range of online training videos is available via the Blackboard dashboard, and students are also offered email and phone help through the Center for Academic Technology Solutions (CATS).

10California State University - Long BeachLong Beach$$$$$1250 Bellflower Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90840-0115
(562) 985-4111

The online master's in criminal justice is an accelerated and flexible program designed for working professionals in the criminal justice field. The program, offered through California State University’s (CSULB) College of Continuing and Professional Education (CCPE), is appropriate for those seeking supervisory positions in the field or pursuing a more advanced degree. Curriculum spans a variety of subject areas, including police organization and management, law and social control, research and statistics and ethics and diversity. Students must choose between completing a thesis or comprehensive exam. Full-time students can complete the program in 16 months.

CSULB offers online courses through the “BeachBoard” Desire2Learn content management system. Students have access to a dedicated help desk and site on the BeachBoard home page. Students can access course announcements and content, submit assignments via Dropbox, complete quizzes and participate in online discussions with faculty and peers via BeachBoard. Students also have access to an integrated email system within the platform. Additional materials and podcasts may be available to students via iTunes U.

11East Carolina UniversityGreenville$$$$$East 5th Street
Greenville, NC 27858-4353
(252) 328-6131

East Carolina University’s (ECU) MS in Criminal Justice, ranked #25 in U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs, is geared toward students looking to advance in the field or pursue higher degrees. Core concepts covered include principles of criminal justice, research methods and statistics, criminal justice administration and management as well as a series focusing on a variety of corrections and law enforcement specialization areas. The 36-credit program can be completed in two years with full-time enrollment. Distance Education students must be currently employed in the criminal justice or a related field and have a minimum of five years experience in order to apply.

All online courses are offered through the Blackboard learning management system. An online orientation course is offered to all new students, and a number of how-to tutorials and help desk resources are also available. ECU also provides students with access to Lynda.com, a site offering a collection of educational videos covering everything from Adobe PhotoShop to resume writing. Students access assignments, discussion boards, wikis and blogs through Blackboard, which is also accessible on all mobile devices.

12Sam Houston State UniversityHuntsville$$$$$1806 Ave J
Huntsville, TX 77340
(936) 294-1111

The Sam Houston State University (SHSU) online MS in Criminal Justice is designed for full-time professionals looking to complete their degree in two years. The 36-credit program, ranked #5 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs, is geared towards professionals currently in the field of criminal justice and those who are making a career change. The degree is appropriate for those looking to enter the criminal justice field immediately upon graduation. Graduates have secured work as judges, victim advocates, police administrators, chief probation officers and more. Those interested in pursuing a PhD after earning a master's degree should instead look into the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology from SHSU.

Online courses are available on the Blackboard learning platform through My Sam, SHSU’s web portal. Students access streaming and recorded video lectures, course materials and assignments, and participate in interactive discussions with peers and faculty via Blackboard. A technical team is available from 7 a.m. to midnight by phone or email to assist with any issues. SHSU Online also features “Student Central”, an online campus community where students can use social media and discussion boards to share advice and personal success stories about their online learning experience.

13DeSales UniversityCenter Valley$$$$$2755 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034-9568
(610) 282-1100

DeSales University offers both an online Master’s in Criminal Justice (MCJ) in Digital Forensics and an online MCJ in Investigative Forensics. Both 30-credit programs consist of 10 courses that can be taken part- or full-time. DeSales aims to address the changes science and technology have made to the field of criminal justice; the program emphasizes high ethical standards in all of the offered coursework. Info sessions for both programs are held online throughout the year, and students who attend are eligible to have their $50 application fee waived. Additionally, DeSales offers all employed law enforcement, probation and corrections offers a 20% tuition discount for either online program.

The online course experience is delivered through the Blackboard learning management system. Courses are asynchronous and can be accessed at any time. Students can find class updates and materials, submit assignments and participate in Blackboard Collaborate and other discussion boards via the Blackboard platform. DeSales also provides students access to Blackboard Mobile Learn. Students have the option to attend free online learning workshops, including a new student orientation, throughout the year.

14New Mexico State UniversityLas Cruces$$$$$2850 Weddell Street
Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001
(575) 646-0111

The online Master’s of Criminal Justice (MCJ) offered through New Mexico State University (NMSU) provides distance learners or those in full-time professions access to the same program curriculum and faculty as on-campus. Online students complete the 36-credit focused coursework option; the thesis option is reserved for on-campus participants. Students can take a variety of courses focused on research, policy analysis, criminological theory, ethics and administration, among other topics. Admission to the program is competitive and only a small cohort of students are selected once a year.

Online courses are delivered through the Canvas learning platform. Course structure varies by class instructor, but typical assignments include online readings and quizzes, research papers, learning activities, discussion forums and real-time chat sessions. Distance learners have access to the online NMSU Library and can purchase all texts and materials through the online NMSU bookstore. Students have d access to an online orientation, a library of how-to Canvas videos and a technology help desk reachable by phone and email.

15Saint Cloud State UniversitySaint Cloud$$$$$720 Fourth Ave. South
Saint Cloud, MN 56301-4498
(320) 308-0121

Saint Cloud State University offers an online version of its MS in Criminal Justice in a research- and course-centered structure. Students choose from three specializations, including criminal justice administration, criminal justice counseling or an elective track. The Department of Criminal Justice Studies has trained students for over 37 years, and is authorized by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (MPOST) to prepare students for the first step in MPOST licensing of peace officer candidates.

Online courses are offered through the Desire2Learn (D2L) Brightspace platform. Students have access to assignments, course lectures and quizzes through the platform. The Central Minnesota Distance Learning Network also provides real-time interactive options for classes with two-way audio and video, as well as recorded and streamed courses. Distance learners have access to digital library resources through the main library site. Online master's in criminal justice students have access to a dedicated technology help desk by phone and email, as well as free online training through its Training Hub site.

16University of Central MissouriWarrensburg$$$$$202 Administration Building
Warrensburg, MO 64093
(660) 543-4111

University of Central Missouri (UCMO) offers an online option for its MS in Criminal Justice, a program designed for students who are entering or want to move ahead into leadership roles in the fields of law enforcement, corrections and juvenile justice. The 36-credit program allows students to choose a thesis or non-thesis option. Students who opt for the non-thesis track take an additional Individual Research course and four elective classes. Graduates of UCMO online have gone on to become attorneys, judges, professors, juvenile justice professionals and chief administrators. An undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice or a related field is required for admission.

UCMO uses the Blackboard learning platform to deliver its online learning experience. Courses may be synchronous or asynchronous, depending on the class or instructor. Students access all assignments, tests and quizzes, and interact with peers and faculty through discussion boards, wikis, blogs and more. Online classes may also make use of NBC Learn, a collection of current event videos, documents and images, accessible via Blackboard. Additionally, students have access to both Blackboard Mobile and iTunes U for streaming audio-recorded lectures.

17Washington State UniversityPullman$$$$$French Administration Building
Pullman, WA 99164-5910
(509) 335-3564

The online MA in Criminal Justice offered through Washington State University (WSU) is designed for students looking to enter the field or for those interested in expanding their knowledge about criminal justice policy, institutions and the theory and applications of crime and public safety. In addition to providing knowledge related to administration and processes, the 31-credit program prepares professionals to design and conduct research, apply for grants and prepare research reports for criminal justice agencies.

The WSU Global Campus online learning platform is powered by Blackboard Learn. The program is highly interactive, though students can access materials and assignments based on their schedules. Students may participate in group projects and complete real-world activities outside of the online classroom. Online library resources and an online bookstore are available to all distance learners. Students also have the option to enroll in the Global Connections program, a virtual learning environments that provides extra-curricular experiences and events for distance learners.

18University of Arkansas at Little RockLittle Rock$$$$$2801 S University Ave
Little Rock, AR 72204
(501) 569-3000

University of Arkansas’s MS in Criminal Justice online is a terminal degree that provides professionals with training in advanced criminal justice system issues, supervisory and administrative skills and the knowledge to understand current research trends in the field. The 36-credit program is offered in an accelerated format online, with seven-week courses that move twice as fast as a regular semester-length course. However, the suggested sequence of study spans three years. A bachelor’s degree is required for admission to the program.

Online courses are accessed through the Blackboard Learn platform. Classes may be synchronous or asynchronous, depending upon the instructor. Students access all class updates and announcements, submit scheduled assignments and participate in discussion forums and other collaborative tools. Distance learners have access to a range of digital library resources through the university’s Ottenheimer Library.

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

The Criminal Justice program at Wichita State University (WSU) is one of the oldest in the country. The online MA in Criminal Justice is designed to be an an affordable and flexible program that prepares students for careers in the Criminal Justice field or for law school or doctoral studies. The program focuses on integrating theory and practice of criminal justice through the scientific study of crime, criminals, the justice system and the law. After graduating, students should be equipped to become researchers, teachers, policymakers or managers. Students can enroll part- or full-time and transfer up to 12 approved graduate credit hours toward degree completion. WSU offers some of the lowest tuition rates available for in-state residents. Program completion typically takes one-and-a-half to two years.

WSU provides all online courses through the Blackboard learning management system. Students access class materials, submit assignments and participate in interactive discussion forums via Blackboard Collaborate in an asynchronous or synchronous fashion. Students can download the Blackboard IM application to instantly connect with peers and faculty in real-time. In one convenient dashboard, students have access to on-demand Blackboard tutorials, online library resources and an online bookstore. Live chat help is also provided through the OneStop online help desk.

20Concordia University - Saint PaulSaint Paul$$$$$1282 Concordia Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55104-5494
(651) 641-8278

Concordia University’s (CSP) online MA in Criminal Justice Leadership is designed for working professionals from a variety of backgrounds, including law enforcement, corrections and the military. The program, ranked #34 on U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs, requires 36 hours for degree completion. Students enter the program as part of a cohort, and each course length is seven weeks. According to a Concordia graduate survey, 92% of CSP students receive a job after graduation. Common careers pursued by graduates include criminal sociologists and private detectives or investigators. Admission is competitive, and applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and be currently employed in a Criminal Justice-related field to be considered.

Students take online courses through the Blackboard Learn platform. All class materials and updates, as well as assignments, tests and quizzes, can be accessed through Blackboard. Classwork, including discussion forums and other interactive or group assignments, can be completed around students’ schedules. Distance learners also have access to CSP’s online library resources. Technical support is available 24/7 via email and phone.

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

University of Memphis’s (UM) MA in Criminal Justice, offered through the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, serves students looking to obtain a full-time career in the field. The program focuses on creating partnerships with policymakers, program developers and other community groups. The curriculum covers criminological theories and principles, and provides students with the skills necessary to perform and evaluate research. Students complete 33-credit-hours to complete their degree online.

UM Online offers online courses through eCourseware, powered by the Desire2Learn (D2L) management system. All courses are asynchronous, allowing students to complete coursework around their schedules. The online curriculum, including all materials, is identical to the on-campus program. Students access and submit all assignments, complete quizzes and tests, participate in discussion forums, access email and chat options and view grades via eCourseware. Distance learners have access to digital library resources, online career services and online disability services.

22College of Saint ElizabethMorristown$$$$$2 Convent Rd
Morristown, NJ 07960-6989
(973) 290-4000

The online MA in Justice Administration and Public Service offered through the College of Saint Elizabeth (CSE) focuses on developing an understanding of social, ethical and political issues that are part of the American justice system. The program, which ranks #13 in U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs, is designed for both current criminal justice practitioners and those interested in careers in the field. Current law enforcement officers receive a 50 percent discounted tuition rate.

Students meet virtually with a graduate advisor to plan out a planned 30-credit course of study. CSE uses the Moodle learning management system to deliver its online experience. Students access all class updates and resources, participate in discussion forums and complete assignments and tests through Moodle. New students are provided access to a Moodle Orientation, and students can contact a dedicated Help Desk via phone or email until 5 p.m. EST on weekdays.

23Sul Ross State UniversityAlpine$$$$$HWY 90 East
Alpine, TX 79832
(432) 837-8011

Sul Ross State University’s MS in Criminal Justice focuses on criminal justice theory, social research and homeland security. A range of elective tracks offer students the ability to customize their course of study according to their career goals. The program is offered in a 30- credit thesis or 36 credit non-thesis track.

Online courses are offered through the Blackboard learning management system. All classes are asynchronous, allowing students to access and complete assignments and quizzes around their weekly schedule. Students may use Blackboard Collaborate for real-time conferencing or recorded lectures, as well as Blackboard Instant Messaging for instant chat communication with peers and faculty. An online Technical Assistance Center is available to help with Blackboard-related issues.

24Western Oregon UniversityMonmouth$$$$$345 North Monmouth Ave
Monmouth, OR 97361-1394
(503) 838-8000

The MA in Criminal Justice from Western Oregon University (WOU) is designed for full-time professionals in criminal justice and related fields. The 45-credit program prepares students to assume supervisory and leadership positions. After graduating, students will emerge with foundational skills in conducting social science research and the ways to apply these methods to solving administrative issues in criminal justice. Full-time students can complete the program—which includes a thesis, professional project or comprehensive exam—in two years. Students are required to have a bachelor’s degree and experience in the criminal justice field in order to apply.

WOU uses the Moodle learning management system to deliver their online course experience. The average online course size is 13 students. Courses are asynchronous and students can design their own schedules. All course materials, assignments and assessments, discussion forums and other interactive resources can be accessed through Moodle. The WOU Moodle Support Team is available via email and phone until 5 p.m. PST on weekdays.

25Texas A&M International UniversityLaredo$$$$$5201 University Blvd
Laredo, TX 78041-1900
(956) 326-2001

Texas A&M International University’s (TAMIU) online MS in Criminal Justice prepares students to become informed and skilled participants in the development of knowledge and policy responses to current issues in the criminal justice system. Students participate in research and are encouraged to take leadership roles in the field of criminal or juvenile justice. The program, which is ranked #35 on U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs, offers both a thesis and non-thesis track option, the latter of which requires additional hours of coursework.

TAMIU’s eLearning platform is powered by the Blackboard Learn management system. A typical assignment includes reading a range of professional and scholarly literature and participating in thoughtful analysis and debate via discussion forum. Students can access all other assignments, tests and communication features such as email through Blackboard. In addition to online student orientation videos, students can access live chat until 5 p.m. CST for help with any technical issues.

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.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

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

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Criminology, Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Criminal Justice

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

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

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $68,400 to $115,720 per year

Online Criminal Justice Choose Your Career

Average Criminal Justice Salaries

$55,360
$44,570
$75,720
$49,060
$58,630

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.

Detective

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?

No

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