Best Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice

Best Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice

An online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is a great choice for students who are interested in learning about the judicial system, law enforcement, court procedures, intelligence, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Justice Degrees

What courses will I be taking?

Many colleges and universities offer online and on-campus courses related to criminal justice, including studies about corrections, criminal investigations, administrative operations, ethics, and restorative justice.

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How long does it take to get a bachelor’s in criminal justice?

Students typically take about 120 credits over the course of four to five years.

Some programs may also grant credits toward a degree to those with field experience in law enforcement or the military.

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What can I do with a bachelor’s in criminal justice?

Those who graduate with a bachelor’s in criminal justice can typically enter the workforce as law enforcement, community specialists, court administrators, and other related areas. This degree can also be a good starting point for those who intend to pursue a graduate degree in law, homeland security, or intelligence.

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Learn more about how to major in criminal justice.

Best Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

How do we determine the best online criminal justice bachelor's degree programs?

Methodology

Pursuing your degree online doesn’t mean you need to settle for an inferior school. Today, most universities and colleges offer online degrees, and many respected schools are seeing significant growth in their numbers of online students.

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why influence — i.e., the academic impact of faculty and alumni associated with a school — gets at the heart of what is truly best in education. The combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers is the best indicator of academic excellence. For our online degree rankings, we focus on the academic influence of faculty and alumni in the specific disciplines we’re ranking.

If you are serious about finding the best online colleges, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

25 Best Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

  1. #2

    Sam Houston State University

    Huntsville , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/21

    Online Degrees

    BA/BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: 4-5 years
    • Format: Online
  2. #3

    University of Cincinnati

    Cincinnati , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    33K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/26

    Online Degrees

    BBS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. #4

    Portland State University

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/21

    Online Degrees

    BA in Criminology And Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: 4 years
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminology And Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: 4 years
    • Format: Online
  4. #6

    University of Alaska Fairbanks

    Fairbanks , AK
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/21

    Online Degrees

    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. #11

    University of North Texas

    Denton , TX
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    35K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    Online Degrees

    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: 4-5 years
    • Format: Online
  6. Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/26

    Online Degrees

    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: 4 years
    • Format: Online
  7. #15

    Eastern Kentucky University

    Richmond , KY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/23

    Online Degrees

    BA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  8. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/21

    Online Degrees

    BS in Criminology And Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: 4 years
    • Format: Online
  9. #17

    Charleston Southern University

    Charleston , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/25

    Online Degrees

    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  10. #20

    Nova Southeastern University

    Fort Lauderdale , FL

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/24

    Online Degrees

    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  11. #22

    Baker University

    Baldwin City , KS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/22

    Online Degrees

    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  12. #23

    Florida Atlantic University

    Boca Raton , FL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/24

    Online Degrees

    BA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  13. #24

    University of Memphis

    Memphis , TN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/22

    Online Degrees

    BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  14. #25

    Benedictine University

    Lisle , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1076/22

    Online Degrees

    BA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Hybrid

Online Degree Frequently Asked Questions

If this is your first time taking an online course, the experience may require a time of adjustment. Although you’ll typically learn the same material and take the same exams as your on-campus peers, going online will require greater independence and responsibility than going in person. You’ll be accountable for your own time management, for harnessing the online educational technology that you’ll need to use, and for completing the course requirements, such as listening to lectures, learning lessons, reading texts, and handing in assignments. This means you’ll need to create a suitable workspace for yourself, maintain a realistic schedule, and take the initiative in building relationships with your instructors and classmates. With online college, your goal is to find a balance between independence and engagement.

No. The only part of online education that’s easier than campus-based education is ease of access: all you need is a computer and an internet connection for online education. But even this seeming advantage of online education can be misleading: what’s easier, studying online with your computer and internet connection from your home where you need to cook, clean, pay rent, and maintain a job? Or studying on campus in a dorm where all your living needs are handled by the school, and college staff are there to help you every step of the way?

If you take the commute to campus out of the equation, campus-based education is easier. All the support structures available on campus for students, especially with real people to help you in person, are not there online. The demands on you as an online student will largely be the same as for your campus-based counterpart, but without the same helps.

In general, your online courses will present the same material and test you in the same way as traditional in-person courses. In many cases, you’ll even have the same instructors as your on-campus counterparts. In fact, if you are adjusting to the experience of independent learning with remote educational technology for the first time, online college may be considerably more challenging than campus-based college. For a few insights on how to manage this new online experience, check out our 10 Tips for Adjusting to School Online.

Accreditation is especially important when it comes to online college. This is because the online education landscape is a mix of highly-reputable non-profit institutions on the one end and less-than-reputable for-profit institutions on the other end. Accreditation gives you the power to identify the more reputable actors in online education. Accreditation is a stamp of approval from an independent accrediting agency indicating that a college or university is meeting standards of quality and credibility. School-wide accreditation falls into two major categories: regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditors generally hold jurisdiction only over schools in the states comprising their region, whereas national accreditors hold jurisdiction over schools in all states. Regional accreditation is widely regarded as a more rigorous standard of quality and credibility than national accreditation.

Attending a college or university that is not regionally accredited could limit your opportunities. For students seeking an online education, we strongly recommend that they opt for regionally accredited schools. Regional accreditation ensures eligibility for federal loans and grants, ensures your college credits can be transferred between schools, and ensures that your degree credits can be accepted if you wish to earn an advanced degree. For more on this important topic, check out our What is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter? College & University Accreditation Guide.

As long as your online college degree is regionally accredited (see the previous point), you should have little difficulty transferring most of your credits or credentials to another regionally accredited undergraduate school. Every school carries its own standards and procedures for granting a transfer of credits. In many cases, you will encounter some bureaucratic haggling in which some of your credits will be transferred and others may be refused. However, provided that you have attended an online school with recognized regional accreditation, you should be in good shape in transferring your credits earned online.

In most cases, as long you graduate from a well-regarded, regionally-accredited online college, prospective employers won’t look sideways at your degree. In fact, unless you attend an exclusively online college or university, there will likely be no specific indicator on your degree, transcript, or resumé differentiating your school from its brick-and-mortar counterpart. This means that your employer will likely only differentiate between an online and in-person degree if you mention this distinction.

Some employers may express the concern that because you did your degree online, you may need to transition from an online education experience to in-person workplace experience. But in an age of Covid, that concern seems much diminished. The fact is that much employment these days is remote. And collaboration increasingly happens online over Zoom. Many employers will therefore view your online degree as evidence of valuable 21st century professional skills such as independence, self-motivation, time management, and tech savvy.

If you are a student who thrives on the dynamic energy of in-person discussion, who requires the physical surroundings of a classroom to feel engaged, or who considers the social aspects of education to be of equal importance to the actual content of your courses, online education will be less than ideal for you (though depending on your circumstances, it may also be the only viable option).

While there is much in traditional campus-based education that can be substituted or simulated through the online medium, some students may find that there is nothing that can replace the conversation, collaboration, and motivation that occur in an actual in-person classroom setting. As you transition to online education, one of the biggest challenges you will likely face in getting the most out of your online classes is overcoming this difference between “real reality” and “virtual reality.” Fortunately, we’ve got some great Tips for Online Education Beginners.

The advantages of online classes are many. Above all, online courses give you the freedom and flexibility to attend class from anywhere that works for you, whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop, or in a quiet conference room at work. In many cases, you’ll also enjoy the convenience of asynchronous learning opportunities—educational experiences that you can complete at your own pace and on your own schedule. This may include pre-taped lectures, ongoing chat-board discussions, and 24/7 access to digital materials. And of course, just as there are some learners who prefer the energy of a live classroom, there are those who learn best when working in their own personal space, free from distractions. If this sounds like you, you might find the solitude of online learning to be a major advantage.

Resources for Online College-Bound Students