Why This Matters

  • 38% OF PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS HAVE BACHELOR’S DEGREES

    Data from O*NET shows that 38% of private detectives and investigators have a bachelor’s degree, and another 41% hold a high school diploma or an associate degree.

  • 95,200 NEW JOBS FOR PROTECTIVE SERVICE OCCUPATIONS

    The demand for protective service workers, criminology experts, and law enforcement officers is expected to grow 3% from 2019 to 2029. This will produce 95,200 new jobs.

  • EARN $67,290 AS A POLICE OFFICER

    Police officers and detectives earn just over $67,000 on average, but those who work for the federal government could make upwards of $90,000 per year.

Our Research

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.

  • 80 hours to write this article
  • 68 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 107 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Bachelor’s in Criminology Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Criminology Programs Badge
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What You Should Know About This Degree

Criminology focuses on researching and analyzing social behavior and how it relates to crime. A bachelor’s degree is a good starting point for students who wish to pursue a rewarding career in criminology. Criminal justice addresses law enforcement, courts, police work, and corrections departments. A criminal justice degree prepares students for careers as law enforcement and corrections officers, detectives, and security guards.

The job outlook for this industry is positive, with positions for police and detectives expected to grow by 5% through 2029 and create more than 40,000 jobs.

Some accreditations to look for when you’re checking out programs include the Higher Learning Commission, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and the New England Commission of Higher Education.

While certification is not required for many jobs in the criminology field, those who want to go into police or detective work should look into weapons training, physical fitness testing, and security clearance.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online bachelor’s in criminology programs:

  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Online criminology and criminal justice courses can be offered synchronously (students must attend live lectures through teleconferencing software) or asynchronously (students can learn at their own pace). Review each program and make sure the class is conducted in a manner that fits your schedule and lifestyle.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Most bachelor’s degree programs take four years to complete and include 120 credit hours of coursework, which includes general education courses and degree-specific classes.

Research the admissions process and make sure you understand the procedures and application requirements. Note all the deadlines for the programs that you’re interested in pursuing. Also, you should look into federal loans, scholarships, and employer-based tuition programs to help fund your education.