In order to provide prospective students with the best chance at having a great education, we have compiled this list of the top criminal justice programs in the nation. Some schools may excel at online programs while others may focus exclusively on the traditional, on-campus aspect of higher education. Regardless of the delivery format, these schools excel at providing a quality education for their students.
Society is fascinated with Criminal Justice. Movies, tv shows, and books about detectives, police officers, and Crime Scene Investigators have entertained and amazed audiences since before Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance in 1887. But for those who are a part of Criminal Justice Programs, it is more than just a source of interest or amusement, it is their day to day life. Criminal justice covers a wide array of interests and prepares graduates to pursue careers as forensic science technicians, police officers, private detectives, fish and game wardens, fraud investigators, immigration and customs enforcers and more.
Online Criminal Justice Programs provide non-traditional, distance, and working students with the resources, convenience, and flexibility that they need to graduate with a degree in criminal justice and transfer into the career. Online learning becomes more popular and practical every day, making it not only possible but easy to achieve a degree regardless of your circumstance.
To help you find the best fit for your unique situation, we have put together a list of the best Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree Programs in the country. Each program offers something unique and personal, and each one provides the education needed to unlock your inner sleuth.
Here Are The Best Criminal Justice Programs of 2018
1. Pennsylvania State University (PSU)
Courses at PSU’s online, Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice program are typically 12 to 15 weeks long and are designed for students with or without a background in criminology. The degree also allows for the option of an 18 credit minor in homeland security. Students will finish the course with a field internship and a capstone class where they explore past, present, and future criminal justice developments. Those with previous law enforcement training can earn up to 7.5 credits for their experience.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $550
- Graduation Rate: 50%
2. Arizona State University (ASU)
ASU’s Criminal Justice degree focuses heavily on research and analysis, creating students who are well versed in the impact of crime, law enforcement and court systems, and correctional facilities. Students participate in internships, self-directed study, and an honors thesis during their time at Arizona, which provides 7.5-week terms and an optional fast-track program. ASU accepts up to 64 community college credits and Arizona transfer students with a minimum GPA of 2.0 are guaranteed admission. To provide efficiency and convenience to their online students, Arizona offers several start dates throughout the year and also partners with Google to offer access to additional educational aids.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $633
- Graduation Rate: 50%
3. Arkansas Northeastern College
Arkansas Northwestern College offers an Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice and an Associate of Science in Criminology. These degrees are designed to prepare students, with or without experience, for entry-level jobs in criminal justice fields such as law enforcement, the court system, corrections, and security. The program combines a broad background of courses in the area of law enforcement, corrections, and criminal law with a liberal arts education.
- Tuition per Credit: Approximately $156
- Graduation Rate: 21.5%
4. Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University was founded in 1902 on 200 acres and now enrolls over 15,000 students. Fort Hays offers four online programs in criminal justice with the choice to specialize by mixing and matching courses that best fit student’s interests. Fort Hays accepts previous credit and transfers, and will even help students find job placement after graduation.
- Tuition per Credit: $166.95
- Graduation Rate:43.9%
5. United Tribes Technical College
The United Tribes Technical College has been serving students for 47 years and is the first tribal college that offers fully online degrees. UTTC offers associate and bachelor degrees in criminal justice that utilizes a law enforcement training simulator that offers real-life, real-time scenarios in a range of critical response situations
- Tuition per Credit: $115-200
- Graduation Rate: 27%
6. Angelo State University
Angelo State University was founded in 1928 in San Angelo, Texas. Angelo offers to bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and one master’s degree. The MA is offered completely online only and requires two letters of recommendation and a GPA of 2.75 to be admitted. This degree can be completed in as little as 18 months.
- Tuition per Credit: $50
- Graduation Rate: 43.9%
7. University of Central Florida (UCF)
UCF’s Online Criminal Justice Program can be completed as either a Bachelors of Science or a Bachelors of Arts, depending on the preference of the student. Online classes are designed by their individual instructors, which allows for variation between asynchronous and non-asynchronous classes. Students are encouraged but not required to participate in an internship, which can take the place of an upper-level course. Students who wish to transfer from another institution must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 at their last school and up to 12 hours of criminal justice related coursework will be accepted. Unfortunately, because of state regulations, UCF is not able to accommodate distance learning for those in the states of Michigan, Minnesota, or Oregon.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $105
- Graduation Rate: 65%
8. Missouri State University
Missouri State University is the second biggest school in the state, with over 26,000 students enrolled and offers over 180 different degree programs. Missouri State offers five different degrees and certificates in the criminology and criminal justice department, and degrees in criminology can be taken as a three-year, four-year, or accelerated path, with students guaranteed to get the first-hand experience with courts, the law, corrections, and the police.
- Tuition per Credit: Approximately $248
- Graduation Rate: 54%
9. Indiana State University
Indiana State University is for those interested in criminology or criminal justice programs. ISU also offers cybercriminology &Security Studies and Intelligence Analysis. In these programs, students will gain an understanding of criminal behavior, the criminal justice system, mechanisms of social control and their relationship to society. ISU”s award-winning online programs will give students the flexibility and time management they need to balance their busy schedules.
- Tuition per Credit: $310
- Graduation Rate: 40.7%
10. Florida International University (FIU)
Every online student at FIU is matched with a virtual success coach to help and guide them through their online education. This aid, as well as 24/7 access to tech support and various tutoring service and academic coaches, provide a huge support to distance learners, particularly those that are newly returning to school. Students at FIU also have the ability to join the FIU Honors College, a group that practices problem-solving, communication and analysis skills and allows them access to scholarships, study abroad and research opportunities, jobs, and internships. To graduate from the honors program, students must complete 12 credits of honors coursework. Students who may be hesitant to apply also have the ability to take a demo course, to see what an online experience at FIU would be like before enrolling. Enrollment is open to students in the fall, spring or summer.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $329
- Graduation Rate: 49%
11. University of Massachusetts (UMass)
Known as one of the country’s top research universities, UMass offers its Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice entirely online. Students in the program also have the option of minoring in business, economics, English, history, political science, or psychology. For those that wish to pursue an MA, UMass uniquely offers an accelerated joint degree program, allowing students to apply some graduate courses toward both degrees. Students at UMass are accepted on a rolling basis, providing the opportunity for students to apply at almost any time. Prospective students under 21 who have fewer than 12 college credits must submit their SAT or ACT scores in order to be considered. UMass is unfortunately unable due to state requirements, to provide distance learning to residents of Arkansas, Kansas, or Minnesota.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $375
- Graduation Rate: 54%
12. The University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK)
UNK stands apart from its competitors by offering multiple online criminal justice programs, providing learners with the freedom to pursue their genuine interests. UNK’s degrees, however, are designed for degree completion for individuals who have already finished the majority of their general education or who already have an Associate’s Degree. UNK’s programs are offered entirely online and are instructor lead with specific start and end dates. All options conclude with a capstone class and intensive field internship. Applicants must earn a minimum ACT score of 20, an SAT score of 1030, or be ranked in the top 50th percentile of an accredited high school to be considered. UNK also accepts up to 66 transfer credits.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $417
- Graduation Rate: 56%
13. Concordia University-Saint Paul
Concordia University in Saint Paul is a private, Lutheran based institution. It varies from others schools by enrolling students of its Criminal Justice degree in a cohort learning program. This program groups students together at the beginning of their studies, who remain together until graduation, regularly working and communicating together. Students who complete their Associate’s degree at one of Concordia’s partner institutions will receive a $2,000 scholarship to Concordia and are guaranteed a seamless credit transfer. According to their records, 92% of students who graduated with an online degree in Criminal Justice received an employment offer by the time of graduation.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $420
- Graduation Rate: 47%
14. University of Oklahoma (UO)
Coursework in UO’s online Criminal Justice program is taught in an accelerated format, allowing students to potentially take up to 18 credits a semester. All classes are taught exclusively online and a rolling calendar allowing students to take courses with separate start dates. UO prides itself on innovation and seeks to offer its students as many options as possible to aid in their degree including free software, iPad integration, digital textbooks, and on-campus space designed for meetings and peer collaborations. Students in the program finish with 192 hours of fieldwork.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $806
- Graduation Rate: 66%
15. University of Colorado (CU)
CU’s Criminal Justice Program allows students to fulfill their coursework either entirely online or through a combination of on campus and off campus learning, providing flexibility and convenience. Discount tuition rates can also be obtained for non-Colorado residents who are enrolled online. CU stands apart by offering a generous bachelor-master joint degree program, allowing 15 credits to be applied to both degrees and making it possible to complete a Master’s degree in criminal justice with only one more year of study.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $968
- Graduation Rate: 45%
16. University of Wisconsin (UW)
Offered entirely online, UW’S online BS in Criminal Justice recognized and accommodates for the busy lifestyle of working adults providing flexibility and speed. Students have the opportunity to complete their degree in their own time in as little as two years. In addition to its flexibility and quick pace, UW perhaps stands most apart in its price. Offering students $310 per credit hour tuition cost.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $310
- Graduation Rate: 53%
17. Florida State University (FSU)
Designed for students who have already earned an Associate’s Degree, FSU’s online program allows students to complete their Criminal Justice Degree with the choice of a minor, an onsite internship, or a specialization in criminology. Designed for those with limited availability, FSU makes it a priority to give students flexibility and ease in their studies. Potential applicants to the program must complete their Associate’s Degree in Florida or meet the FSU Liberal Studies requirements and complete an oral competency exam. An ACT or SAT score must also be submitted. Start dates for students are in the fall, spring or winter and students may transfer up to nine credits from a previous institution.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $315
- Graduation Rate: 75%
18. University of Memphis (U of M)
U of M sets itself apart with its strong emphasis and ties to the community. This focus not only ensures that U of M will provide students with internships from local and national law enforcement, providing them with quality first-hand experience in the field, but also that it seeks to provide students with skills needed to develop and maintain lasting relationships with the community around them, a skill they consider to be vital for someone in the field of criminal justice. With a student to faculty ratio of 15:1, students will receive the attention they need, whether they decide to pursue their degree entirely online or with a combination of on and off campus work.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $480
- Graduation Rate: 40%
19. University of Maryland University College (UMUC)
Students at UMUC are able to complete their degree entirely online or participate in selective hybrid classes. These hybrid courses meet once a week, allowing students to do most of their work away from campus but still occasionally participate in the benefits of in-class instruction and aid. Courses in the program are taught and developed by local law enforcement and pride themselves on their combination of theoretical, practical and real-world learning. Students after completing the program will be prepared to move into a command position in local law enforcement or pursue federal law enforcement.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $500
- Graduation Rate: 84%
20. Park University
Park University was established in 1875 and offers 81 academic programs. The criminal justice department offers a bachelor degree which is 45 credit hours, an associate degree which is 27 hours, and a minor, which is 18 credit hours. More specific concentrations are available. Criminal justice courses are offered online for the convenience of working students with other obligations and time commitments.
- Tuiton per Credit: $399
- Graduation Rate: 42.4%
21. Western Kentucky University
Western Kentucky University was founded in 1906 and now enrolls over 20,000 students and offers over 300 academic programs. WKU offers both a BA in criminology and an MA in criminology, offered completely online. Students taking online classes will never be charged out-of-state tuition, and they will get the unparalleled flexibility to start a course whenever they want and proceed at their own pace.
- Tuition per Credit: $510
- Graduation Rate: 43.6%
22. University of Central Missouri
The University of Central Missouri was founded in 1871 and has been transforming students into life-long learners ever since. Central Missouri offers both bachelor and master degrees in criminal justice, offered either face-to-face or online. The school offers an accelerated BS/MS so students can earn their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in five years. Students can also complete this program 100% online. The online courses have the same requirements that the on-campus courses have to ensure students get a quality education from the excellent faculty, with online courses being offered in a stable rotation.
- Tuition per Credit: $221
- Graduation Rate: 53.2%
23. Portland State University (PSU)
With advanced certificate options in criminology, criminal behavior, and crime analysis, PSU’s online Criminal Justice degree truly allows a student the ability and freedom to tailor their education. Rated by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s top 10 most innovative universities, Portland does all that it can to make learning convenient and personal. PSU prides itself on its innovation and creative thinking skills. It’s Criminal Justice degree can be completed in just two years.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $524
- Graduation Rate: 42%
24. Washington State University (WSU)
WSU boasts being the second oldest criminal justice program in the nation, founded in 1943, and its longevity has served it well. With awards and prestige all throughout the nation, WSU recently boasted on their criminal justice website being rated #1 in the nation. Washington also established the founding chapter of the Alpha Phi Sigma, a Criminal Justice Honor Society. Washington State University’s Online criminal justice program is offered entirely online and combines research with real-world experience to prepare graduates for state, federal and private law enforcement.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $569
- Graduation Rate: 66%
25. Slippery Rock University
Slippery Rock University was founded in 1889 and has been preparing students for a life of career success ever since. SRU knows how important field work is, so they help students combine theory and practice in real-world situations. . For especially ambitious students, Slipper Rock offers students an accelerated program where they can earn their BA and MA in just four years!
- Tuition per Credit: $312
- Graduation Rate: : 65.1%
26. Midway University
Midway University is a private, liberal arts institution in Kentucky. Midway is unique because they understand some students have gained knowledge from experience outside a typical university setting, and they are willing to give students college credit for it. To give students the utmost flexibility, Midway offers evening classes or online classes for those with busy schedules and professional careers. The criminal justice program is offered as a bachelor degree.
- Tuition per Credit: $1,020
- Graduation Rate: 48.8%
27. William Peace University
William Peace University is a nationally-ranked and award-winning university. It was founded in 1857 and has been affiliated with the Presbyterian church for more than 150 years. The Criminal Justice program will teach students the skills and understanding they need of crime and criminal behavior as well as law and law enforcement. With strong ties to the local justice departments, students are sure to get excellent hands-on experience.
- Tuition per Credit: $325
- Graduation Rate: 42%
28. Ohio University
Ohio University‘s Bachelor of Criminal Justice program is a degree completion course, designed for students who have already completed an associate’s degree in criminal justice or a similar field, and are looking to further their education and advance their career. Students will focus on criminal behavior theories and research, decision-making processes, punishment, and the workings of the criminal justice system. Ohio also provides its students with a low 18:1 student to faculty ratio.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $243
- Ohio University: 67%
29. University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF)
UAF provides its students with not only an education in Criminal Justice but emphasizes law enforcement in its unique environment. Courses in this degree include law enforcement in rural Alaska, Alaskan language and culture, and rural justice in Alaska. These courses examine the anthropology, language, cultural and societal qualities of Alaska and their unique influence on criminal justice. Particularly between potential issues arising from western justice systems and native communities. The harsh weather conditions of the area are also taken into consideration, such as the difficulty in enacting procedure in an area with little to no roads. With an astounding student to faculty ratio of 11:1, students are sure to receive individual attention.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $244
- Graduation Rate: 33%
30. Tarleton State University
Tarleton State University was established in 1899 and has over 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees. It has five locations as well as online programs which allow students to obtain a degree while maintaining professional and personal obligations. The criminal justice degrees at TSU merge theory with practice providing for a well-rounded, relevant, quality education.
- Tuition per Credit: Approximately $325
- Graduation Rate: 44%
30. University of Florida (UF)
UF’s online degree is technically a Bachelor’s of Arts in Criminology, but it still prepares graduates to work in fields such as Federal Investigations, Corrections, Probation or Police Officer, and similar positions. UF’s degree in Criminology emphasizes understanding crime and the role it plays in society. This unique focus provides students with sociology and psychology rich perspective not necessarily obtained in a study of simply Criminal Justice.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $258
- Graduation Rate: 87%
31. Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO)
Students in SEMO’s Criminal Justice Online Bachelor’s Degree have the option of two tracks to participate in. The Academic/University track provides students with a well-rounded education in the criminal justice field and utilizes theory, technique and application practices. The Law Enforcement Academy track provides the basic training needed for individuals pursuing a degree in law enforcement.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $265
- Graduation Rate: 50%
32. SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton‘s criminal justice department offers four programs: criminal justice, criminal investigation, homeland security, and law enforcement leadership. Students can expect a nearly 100% job placement rate after graduation thanks to the experienced and talented faculty that teach skills and understanding needed in the workforce. Courses are offered online to give students the flexibility needed for their professional and personal obligations.
- Tuition per Credit: $277
- Graduation Rate: 29.8%
33. California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB)
CSUSB’s online bachelor’s degree program is open to any students from any state who have met California’s General Education requirements, which they evaluate. Rated as one of the top online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice by the Best Degrees Program and Best Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice by the Center for Online Education, CSUSB offers students a quality education at a very affordable tuition price.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $270
- Graduation Rate: 45%
34. University of Missouri at St Louis (UMSL)
UMSL’s degree in criminal justice gives students an education in the fields of criminology, social science, law, public administration, and corrections. It is also tailored toward students seeking to attend law school. Students are able to complete their degree entirely online and will be prepared for a wide scope of potential careers. UMSL was rated #4 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $911
- Graduation Rate: 44%
35. University of Cincinnati (UC)
UC’s online Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice is offered entirely online and emphasizes study in the fields of sociology, criminology, psychology, and law. While not required, students are strongly encouraged to participate in service learning projects and to involve themselves in community-based research and study, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of their studies and to strengthen their sense of civic responsibility.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $389
- Graduation Rate: 59%
36. Mercyhurst University
Mercyhurst University is a four-year, Catholic institution founded in 1926. Mercyhurst’s motto is “Carpe Diem” which means “Seize the Day.” In the Criminal Justice program, Mercyhurst offers a 12-credit certificate as well as undergraduate degrees. The curriculum includes courses in Organizational and Human Behavior, Organized and White Collar Crime, Politics of Crime, Law and Society, Issues in Juvenile Justice, and Forensic Science.
- Tuition per Credit: $840
- Graduation Rate: 64.2%
37. University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM)
ULM’s online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Degree gives its students a hands-on and in-depth knowledge of criminal justice. It focuses primarily on the law enforcement system and coursework emphasizes knowledge of the police force, the court system, and corrections. Upon completion of the program, students are prepared for careers in fields such as forensic science technicians, police officers, private detectives, fish and game wardens, fraud investigators, and immigration and customs enforcers.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $400
- Graduation Rate: 40%
38. University of North Carolina Pembroke (UNCP)
UNCP’s Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice strongly emphasize stimulating students with both real life and in classroom experiences. As a result, students in the online Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree Program will be provided with experiences designed to stimulate critical analysis in diverse social settings and real-world situations. Faculty at North Carolina come from a variety of backgrounds in the criminal justice field, providing students with a broad array of perspectives.
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $380
- Graduation Rate: 90%
39. Seattle University
Seattle University was founded in 1891 as a Jesuit Catholic University and now offers more than 120 academic programs. SU offers certificates, bachelor, and master degrees in the criminal justice program that will provide students with knowledge of the components of the criminal justice system and stages of the criminal justice process. The criminal justice program offers a whopping 13 degree choices for students looking for a more specific line of studies.
- Tuition per Credit: Approximately $1,216
- Graduation Rate: 77.2%
40. Central Washington University
CWU‘s knows that the job demand is growing in this field, so they are out to offer the best degrees in law and justice. This line of work is not only noble but satisfying. The opportunities are vast, where students can choose a path that will lead them to careers as correction officers, juvenile justice officers, law enforcement officers, and wildlife agents. Not only is this school known for its diversity, but also as being ranked with the top online programs in the state.
- Cost per Credit: $264.70
- Graduation Rate: 52.4%
41. Bethune-Cookman University
Bethune-Cookman University was founded in 1904 by a brave, African-American woman who wanted to educate young women. Now, this is a full-fledged university that offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration. A minimum GPA of 2.75 is required as well as a bachelor’s degree and letters of recommendation. Most students are able to finish the degree in 18 months.
- Tuition per Credit: $560
- Graduation Rate: 52.5%
42. Pittsburg State University
Pittsburg State University desires to give its students a transformational experience. Pittsburg offers a flat-rate tuition not only for in-state students and a Bachelor’s of Science in Justice Studies. This program will give students the skills they need and the practical experience they need. Students can also choose a variety of career goals, including law school, law enforcement, probation and parole, social service agencies.
- Tuition per Credit: $251
- Graduation Rate: 50.1%
43. Northern Kentucky University
Northern Kentucky University was founded in 1946 and is the winner of three national championships. This school has over 90 major and master programs, many of which are available completely online. The Criminal Justice degree requires 48 credits total and students must have at least a 2.0 GPA and an ACT score of 18, and to pass each class the student must receive a C- or higher.
- Tuition per Credit: $390
- Graduation Rate: 37%
We know that finding the best school to fit your unique needs can be a huge challenge. For that reason, we work hard to develop lists of the best schools based on the characteristics most important for you. Whether that be the cost of attendance, student success, resources available, flexibility of schedule, or any other number of important factors, we’ve got you covered. For more information about our ranking process and to find lists of schools based on specific characteristics, check out our methodology page.
While every effort has been made to ensure up to date and accurate information, we invite any school listed to contact us for edits or to add or update their school’s information. We also invite schools not included on our list to contact us with information about their university. We are always seeking to provide the best and most useful information.