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Criminology is the study of crime and criminal behaviors and how they impact society. An online bachelor’s in criminology program prepares students for various careers within law enforcement and the social sciences. Potential career paths include forensic science technician, earning a median annual salary of $61,930. Probation officers, parole officers, and correctional counselors earn a median yearly salary of $60,250. The median salary of police and detectives is $66,020 annually.

For an online bachelor’s in criminology, the average cost of tuition is $7,869 at public institutions and $37,095 at private institutions, based on tuition rates for the 2021-22 academic year. Bachelor’s degree programs can take four to five years for full-time students to complete 120 credit hours.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Criminology Program

Choose your area of study

Setting career and educational goals will help students determine which online bachelor’s in criminology program is best. They should reflect on questions like:

  • What type of environment do I want to work in?
  • What tasks do I want to perform?
  • How much money do I want to earn?
  • How much time do I want to spend earning a degree?

Examples of concentrations in a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Criminology include crime scene investigation, law enforcement, and homeland security. Concentrations in a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Criminology include corrections, parole and probation, and administration within these fields.

A B.A. or a B.S. in criminology also provides an educational foundation for those pursuing a master’s degree.

Research schools and programs

Once students clarify their career and educational goals and determine if they need a B.A. or B.S., they can search for the school that meets their needs. One of the first things students should confirm about any institution they’re considering is the school’s accreditation status. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a database of accredited schools. In order to qualify for financial aid, post-graduate job opportunities, and further study at the graduate level, students should attend an accredited institution.

Students can learn more about the schools they’re researching by visiting the school’s website and social media accounts. Many schools offer virtual tours or information sessions for remote students as well as admissions counselors who can answer questions over the phone or via email.

Prepare for tests and applications

As part of their research, students should confirm what the school requires for a complete application to their bachelor’s in criminology program. They should also create a spreadsheet to track the various application elements they need to include, such as:

  • Application
  • Application fees
  • Official transcripts of previous education
  • Standardized test scores
  • Resume
  • Personal essay
  • Proof of overall GPA from previous education
  • Prerequisite coursework

Select your program

Students can apply to as many bachelor’s in criminology programs as they want, but they should keep in mind that most schools charge application fees, which can add up quickly.

If you’re considering applying to a high volume of schools, contact each university’s financial aid department to request an application fee waiver. They can significantly help students who demonstrate a financial need. The Common App is another option for reducing application costs.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

While communicating with the Financial Aid department, ask a representative about completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the first step in the search for funding resources. Even students who feel they do not need help with funding should apply to see if they qualify for need-based institutional aid. FAFSA also determines students’ eligibility for federal loans.

Students can apply for additional financial resources, including:

  • Local and state grants and scholarships
  • Fellowships and assistantships with the university
  • Work study or cooperative programs

Students working full-time jobs while attending an online bachelor’s in criminology can ask their employers about employee tuition assistance.

The Top 50 Online Bachelor’s in Criminology Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Criminology Programs Badge
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University of Florida
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Florida State University
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University of South Florida
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Missouri State University
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Arkansas State University
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Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
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Indiana State University
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Regis University
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Portland State University
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University of Nebraska Omaha
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LeTourneau University
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Penn State World Campus
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University of North Carolina Wilmington
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Ball State University
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ODU Global
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Coker University
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Sam Houston State University
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University of West Georgia
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Arizona State University
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Ohio University
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Western Kentucky University
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University of Missouri - St. Louis
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Drexel University
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Maryville University
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St. Joseph's University, New York
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The University of Alabama
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Southern New Hampshire University
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Texas A&M University - Commerce
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University of Missouri
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Mount St. Mary’s University
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Upper Iowa University
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Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
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University of Mount Olive
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National Louis University
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Mount Saint Mary's University
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Kentucky Wesleyan College

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How We Rank Schools

We focused our list on bachelor’s degrees in criminology and criminal justice. The list includes both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in this area. Both types of degrees offer advanced training, leadership skills, and specialized concentrations for major, minor, and certificate requirements, depending on your interests.

We reviewed top-quality degree programs that are offered online or in hybrid formats to ensure accessibility and affordability for working students and those who cannot attend in-person classes on campus. All of the criminology programs featured in this guide are offered by regionally accredited schools, which means they meet rigorous postsecondary education standards. Degrees and credits from regionally accredited schools are more likely to be accepted by other institutions and recognized by employers.

What Can You Expect from an Online Bachelor’s in Criminology Program?

Students can expect to improve their skills to help them work successfully in criminology. An online bachelor’s in criminology program teaches students how problem-solving, interview, counseling, analysis, and research apply to crime, criminals, and their effect on society.

An online bachelor’s in criminology program generally consists of 120 credit hours, taking four years to complete as a full-time student. Many programs require internships or field projects to help students gain real-world experience. You must check with the school to determine their exact graduation requirements.

Graduates of a criminology program can work in various sectors of the legal system, law enforcement, and counseling. An online bachelor’s degree provides an excellent foundation for continuing education for students who want to be attorneys, sociologists, forensic psychologists, or other higher positions in the industry.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online bachelor’s in criminology degree program

  • Criminal Investigations. As an introductory course, students will learn the importance of evidence and collecting evidence. They will study the various techniques for gathering evidence, how to avoid damaging evidence, how to package it, etc. They will also learn the crime lab’s role and the Federal Rules of Evidence that determine which types of evidence are allowed in court.
  • Corrections. This class focuses on American correctional facilities, rehabilitation methods, prison reform, the rights of prisoners and correctional officers, and legal issues regarding jails and prisons. Students will learn about the role of counseling and treatment options for people committing specific crimes.
  • Crime in the Media. Students will analyze the portrayal of crimes in all forms of media, including film, television, radio, news reports, and social media. Students discuss the media’s influence on crime, how society reacts to crime, and the legal system.
  • Cyber Crime. Students will learn the various types of cyber crimes, internet threats, security options, and laws that apply to cyber crimes. Students will learn more about collecting forensics and digital evidence that may help law enforcement, attorneys, or forensic psychologists perform their jobs better.

Online Bachelor’s in Criminology Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for an online bachelor's in criminology degree program?

Applying for a bachelor’s program involves preparing materials that may take extra steps to acquire. Generally, students submit the following along with their application and fees:

  • Resume showing work experience, specific skills, and recognition
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers, principals, coaches, or other professionals who can verify your character and abilities
  • Official transcripts sent directly from the student’s high school or prior colleges attended
  • Standardized test scores, if applicable
  • Personal essay or statement of why you are applying to the criminology program, your goals, interests, etc.

To ensure you submit the correct materials, contact each school’s admissions department virtually or by phone.

How much does an online bachelor's in criminology degree program cost?

The cost will vary for each student, based on what type of school they attend as well as other factors. Private schools tend to charge higher tuition rates than public institutions. However, private universities offer flat-rate tuition, while public schools may charge different rates based on where students live. Check with your school’s financial aid office to confirm your tuition rate.

Also, attending an online program versus an on-campus program can impact tuition. Reports state online degree programs save students money since they do not have the expenses of an on-campus student, like room and board and transportation.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor's in criminology?

Full-time students typically need four years to complete coursework and internships. Part-time students need at least one extra year, possibly two, to complete an online bachelor’s in criminology program. The amount of time a student can devote to the program determines the length.

Online programs tend to be more flexible, allowing students to move through the program at a faster pace unless there are outside factors that interfere with progress. Similarly, the number of credit hours an online bachelor’s in criminology program requires determines how many semesters it takes to finish. If students are starting from scratch, they will most likely need to complete 120 credits to earn this degree. Students with prior college credits may be able to enroll in a degree completion or accelerated program to earn their degree faster.