Many students pursue a criminal justice degree to make a difference in the community, whether as a police officer, social worker, security guard, or correctional officer. The degree has gained popularity in the last decade, with many popular TV shows centered around criminal justice, forensics, and law enforcement.
A criminal justice degree teaches students about policing, the courts, and the correctional system in the United States. Programs include the psychology behind criminal behavior and research methods for criminology.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects an 8% growth in Protective Service Occupations by 2030, making a Criminal Justice degree a valuable asset. Protective Service occupations include law enforcement officers, private detectives, security guards, and correctional officers, among other similar professions.
With over a thousand schools in the United States that offer a degree in criminal justice, it might be challenging to narrow down the best options, especially if cost is an issue. However, an affordable online criminal justice degree is not out of reach.
Hopefully, this article will answer your questions about the most affordable programs and help you find a cheap online criminal justice degree to meet your needs.
|1||Metropolitan State University||Saint Paul, Minnesota|
|2||California Coast University||Santa Ana, California|
|3||Fort Valley State University (University of Georgia System)||Fort Valley, Georgia|
|4||Clayton State University||Morrow, Georgia|
|5||Western Carolina University||Cullowhee, North Carolina|
How Much Do Online Criminal Justice Degrees Cost?
Online criminal justice programs are much more affordable than in-person, with tuition ranging from roughly $4,000 per year (the cheapest criminal justice degree online) to almost $8,000 per year. If you complete your Bachelor of Arts or Science in the recommended four years, the degree would cost anywhere between $16,000 to $32,000.
Most colleges offer affordable payment plans, tuition assistance, financing, and scholarships, to help offset the cost.
Because you don’t have to worry about room and board costs with an online program, your annual expenses are much less than with a traditional in-person college.
However, online learners should consider additional costs such as technology fees, books, supplies, and tools. While these other expenses aren’t as costly as room and board, you need to budget for them.
24 Cheapest Criminal Justice Degree
Metropolitan State University
Metropolitan State University in St. Paul Minnesota offers the USA’s cheapest criminal justice degree, but the university maintains the same standards for its inexpensive online BA in Criminal Justice program that it does for on-campus students. Criminal justice undergrads learn from professionals who work in the criminal justice system, along with researchers who address the most important unanswered questions in the field. Metropolitan State University’s criminal justice program offers online, on-campus, and hybrid classes, along with opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom through service clubs and internships.
California Coast University
California Coast University offers the second-cheapest criminal justice degree, but it has a feature that other online criminal justice programs do not. California Coast University allows its students to pay their tuition bills at no interest for $100 or $125 a month, after making a down payment of either $500 (for the $100 monthly repayment rate) or $300 (for the $125 monthly repayment rate). California Coast University offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in criminal justice that are fully accredited and recognized by major employers everywhere..
Fort Valley State University (University of Georgia System)
Criminal justice students at Fort Valley State University can take classes in person or entirely online. There are two years of mostly core courses that apply to nearly all undergraduate degrees. Then students take theory of criminal behavior, American criminal procedure, alternatives to incarceration and other criminal justice courses for the 30 hours required for their major. If you pursue your degree full time, the degree program gives you a relatively light second semester your senior year so you will have more time for your job search.
Clayton State University
Undergraduate criminal justice students at Clayton State University get a well-rounded liberal arts education to help them go farther with the full load of criminal justice courses they take for their degrees. Students complete courses in Criminology, Corrections, Survey of Criminal Law and Procedures, Law Enforcement, and the Research Methods course along with an off-campus internship, but also courses in communication, English, political science, and psychology
The program outcomes at Clayton State are a good example of what all accredited criminal justice programs expect of their undergraduate students:
Outcome 1: Describe the varying responsibilities and administrative competencies of each component of the criminal justice system.
Outcome 2: Demonstrate the major theoretical perspectives in the criminology and criminal justice fields, as well as identify the social policy implications of these perspectives.
Outcome 3: Illustrate how gender, race, ethnicity, age and social class contribute to varying experiences in the criminal justice system.
Outcome 4: Demonstrate the ability to summarize and discuss in written and oral form academic journal articles.
Outcome 5: Analyze and interpret the kinds of data commonly found in the criminal justice field.
Outcome 6: Critically evaluate existing or proposed criminal justice policies and practices.
Outcome 7: Apply material learned in criminal justice classes to real life experiences gained by working in a criminal justice or related organization.
Western Carolina University
The criminal justice program at Western Carolina University is one of the school’s most popular programs. Many graduates of the program go on to great graduate programs in criminal justice, like those at the University of Cincinnati and Florida State University. Western Carolina University’s criminal justice program also has a track for students aiming for careers in emergency and disaster management services, focused on the skills for solving real-world problems with cutting-edge technique.
Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern offers degrees in criminal justice through its department of criminal justice and criminology. The department emphasizes effective communications skills. Students are expected to become skilled writers who can clearly convey important facts for trial and parole hearings. The department makes sure that students can understand criminal justice issues from diverse points of view so they can represent their agencies effectively. The department offers an online certificate in cybercrime studies and an online master’s programs for students looking to continue to advance their careers.
Georgia Highlands College
Georgia Southern offers a BA program in criminal justice both in-person and online and a BS program in criminal justice entirely online. Students work in criminal justice agencies when they graduate, although some go on to law school.
Georgia Southwestern State University
Georgia Southwestern University offers criminal justice studies through the University of Georgia’s emajor system. There are both a BS in criminal justice program and a certificate program that verifies your progress toward better professional credentials in criminal justice. The university helps students obtain federally guaranteed loans for tuition and other costs as necessary.
University of the Cumberlands
The University of the Cumberlands online undergraduate criminal justice program is intended for future law enforcement officers, border patrol officers, FBI agents, federal marshalls, ATF agents, DEA agents, customs patrol agents, police officers, and deputy sheriffs. If you problems getting good scores on your SATs, the university may be able to admit you through its test-optional admission process.
Tarleton State University
Part of the Texas A & M University system, Tarleton State University offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in crime analysis as well as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in criminal justice.
The Bachelor of Criminal Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration is designed for working professionals who pursue their degrees parttime. These students can get up to 33 hours of credit toward their degrees from their professional training or from military service. Most students in this program are seeking to get a promotion in their agency or to move to a different agency into a higher-level job.
The traditional Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice at Tarleton is more theory-intensive and prepares students for graduate study in criminal justice if they wish. Students will have opportunities to engage with people who are working as police officers, as probation officers, as district attorneys and district judges. They will also have opportunities to work with full-time faculty who are experts in cybercrime, mediation and arbitration, and racial profiling.
Valdosta State University
Valdosta State University offers both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science programs in criminal justice online. Online students can take coursework in cybercrimes, sex crimes, organized crime, white collar crime, and terrorism for law enforcement jobs in their field of specialization. The department sponsors annual trips to Asia, Europe, and Australia for their comparative justice systems class.
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University offers both BS and MS degrees in criminal justice. Their BS degree program is offered online for working professionals. The university’s Double Owl program allows students to fulfill BS requirements with courses that will also count toward their master’s degrees.
Fort Hays State University
The Fort Hays State University online criminal justice program challenges students to understand the principles behind the investigation, prosecution, and resolution of their cases so they can interact more successful with attorneys representing the agencies they serve. Students will be expected to show critical thinking skills and to express themselves clearly orally and in writing. The university expects its students to become leaders in law enforcement with reputations for integrity.
Wichita State University
Wichita State offers degrees in criminal justice, forensic science, and homeland security. The university has been offering studies in police science since 1934, so it has deep connections to law enforcement agencies, news organizations, and criminal justice professionals all over the world to give students numerous networking and internship possibilities. It’s a great school for students who want to combine criminal justice with journalism or criminal justice with medical technology, although these double majors will require some work on campus.
Columbia Southern University
Columbia Southern University offers students opportunities to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice supplemented by coursework in homeland security or fire science. Students develop an understanding of constitutional and criminal law in addition to criminal science so they can make lawful and informed decisions in their professional careers. This program offers BS degrees in criminal justice or in criminal justice with an emphasis on arson cases, as well as a certificate program you can use to demonstrate your progress toward your career credentials.
University of North Carolina at Pembroke
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke offers criminal justice degrees through its Sociology and Criminal Justice Department. Elective courses give students a background in addiction issues that they can use their law enforcement careers. It’s also possible to combine studies of criminal justice with studies in medical sociology and community development.
Ohio University (Athens, Ohio Campus)
Do you already have an associate degree in criminal justice? Then you can earn your Bachelor of Criminal Justice online at Ohio University! The Bachelor of Criminal Justice at Ohio University is designed to help students qualify for careers as police officers and court reports and in probation and parole, forensic science, adult and juvenile corrections, and law enforcement administration. The program can be completed online in as little as four semesters or at your own pace.
Part of the Texas State University system, Lamar University in Beaumont offers BS and MS degrees in criminal justice as well as an MBA in criminal justice management.The university offers multiple internship experiences for real-world exposure to the criminal justice system, as well as 8-week and 15-week courses with multiple start dates every year.
Eastern New Mexico University (Portales Campus)
Eastern New Mexico University offers online undergraduate studies in criminal justice both through online capture (view the video on your own schedule) and synchronous instruction (you have to be online when the class is held). Students who have issues with English language mastery are offered online tutoring and special library access. Many students are offered scholarships.
Abraham Lincoln University
Students at Abraham Lincoln University have opportunities to study community policing, fingerprint analysis, crime scene investigation, homicide investigation, kinesic interviewing, arson investigation, white collar crime, cybercrime, and much more. Discounted tuition rates may be available for active military service members.
Louisiana State University (Alexandria Campus)
Fascinated by crime? Earn an online bachelor’s degree in criminology from Louisiana State University. Graduates of the LSU criminology program have become law enforcement officers, lawyers, victim advocates, and judges.
Minot State University
Minot State University offers substantial discounts on tuition costs to any student who has served two years or more working for a law enforcement agency. Their programs are specifically tailored to members of the Air Force who have associate degrees from Air University, allowing completion of a degree with no more than 60 semester hours of upper division credit. And an automatic four-year scholarship award is available to selected incoming freshmen.
Fayetteville State University
The Crime and Justice program at Fayetteville State University was the first in North Carolina to be accredited by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. There are approximately 350 students in the university’s criminal justice programs, making it one of the most popular majors on campus, and giving students many networking opportunities.
Arkansas State University
Arkansas State University offers 100-percent online access to courses you can take on your own schedule. Financial aid is available.
How Fast Can I Earn an Online Criminal Justice Degree?
There are different options for studying criminal justice, including certificate programs, Associates degrees, and Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees. In addition, there are advanced degree options like Master’s degrees and Ph.D. programs.
A certificate program is the fastest and least expensive to complete, with only four or five required courses of 12-15 credit hours. You can complete a certificate in just a few short months, depending on course availability.
However, an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice will likely take about two years, while a Bachelor of Arts or Science will take about four years. You can shorten these timeframes if you received college credit from high school dual credit courses or scored well on Advanced Placement (AP) exams. In addition, if you take classes over the summer, you will decrease your degree completion time.
Why Attend an Online Criminal Justice Degree Program?
An online criminal justice program is designed for those who want the flexibility to learn wherever they want, even if they live out of state from their program of choice.
Benefits of online vs. on campus
In addition, the cost of online programs is much cheaper than in-person programs, giving students a more affordable degree option.
You’ll also have more time to do other things if you attend an online program because you don’t have to worry about the commute.
What Can I Do With an Online Criminal Justice Degree?
The possible career options after completing an online criminal justice degree are numerous. Typical jobs might include law enforcement, such as public safety officer, police officer, or criminal investigator.
In addition, there are jobs within the prison-industrial complex, such as bailiffs, correctional officers, or parole officers.
There is also a growing need for private investigators, investigative reporters, and intelligence analysts. These career options are optimal for those who like to do in-depth research and can make analytical judgments about the data they find. The jobs also require strong computer skills.
Criminal Justice Degree Salary Information
Many students who pursue a degree in criminal justice want to know what they can expect as a salary in their career field. As with any degree, the compensation will vary based on the employer, location, and experience.
Based on the May 2021 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimate, these are salaries for typical jobs in the Criminal Justice industry:
- Police officers: $70,740
- Detectives and Criminal Investigators: $90,370
- Correctional Officers and Jailers: $53,420
- Bailiffs: $52, 340
- Private detectives and investigators: $60,970
- Security Guards: $35,860
- Forensic Science Technicians $66,850
- Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists $63,290
*Note: all salaries are estimated mean salaries
Tips for Managing Costs While Attending an Online Criminal Justice Degree Program
College can be expensive, but don’t let that keep you from investing in your future career. Most students don’t have the entire tuition to pay upfront, so they use financial assistance to manage their program’s costs.
With the help of scholarships, students can reduce their program costs tremendously. A scholarship is similar to a grant in that it’s money given to your college program for your tuition, but you don’t have to pay it back.
You can usually find the most significant scholarships through the school or program you want to attend. However, it’s also a good idea to check with your high school guidance counselor, as they are a fantastic source for local scholarship options. In addition, if your family is a part of any community group, you should check with them to see if they offer college scholarships.
There are also many types of scholarships for first-generation students, underrepresented groups, or community-minded youth.
Lastly, you may be able to find scholarships for students wanting to enter the criminal justice field.
In addition to scholarships, many students take out federal or private loans to help pay for tuition. To see if you qualify for either a government grant or a federal loan, you must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form.
However, additional options such as private student loans exist if you don’t qualify for any federal assistance. These private student loans can help students who don’t qualify for federal aid or who have hit the loan limits of federal assistance.
Most private loans can cover your entire tuition or the remainder of what’s left after scholarships, grants, and federal aid.
Many programs offer payment plans, so if you can budget and make the minimum monthly payments, that’s another option.