Why This Matters

  • PREPARE FOR A VARIETY OF POSSIBLE CAREERS

    Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can go on to fill a variety of roles, including police officer, intelligence analyst, private investigator, victim’s advocate, and more.

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 20,600 NEW POLICE OFFICERS

    Projected job growth for police officers and detectives is expected to rise 3% by 2031. In addition to having a bachelor’s degree, fluency in another language will increase your chances of employment.

  • EARN UP TO $100,000+

    The average salary for police and detectives is $66,020, and the top 10% of workers in this field earn more than $105,540.

Our Research

This list features some of the best online criminal justice degree programs at top colleges across the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online criminal justice degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The Top 63 Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Best Criminal Justice Degree Programs 2023
01
Intelligent Pick
University of Central Florida
01
Best Private Institution
Liberty University
01
Best in the Northeast
Southern New Hampshire University
01
Best Public Institution
SDSU Global Campus
01
Best Faculty
Sam Houston State University
01
Best Accelerated Program
Averett University
01
Best in the West
California State University at San Bernardino
01
Most Innovative Curriculum
Fisher College
01
Most Flexible Admissions
Reinhardt University
01
Best for Veterans
Penn State World Campus
01

Central Christian College of Kansas
01

Northwestern State University of Louisiana
01

National University
01

University of Maryland Global Campus
01

Trine University
01

Fort Hays State University
01

Herzing University
01

Southeastern Oklahoma State University
01

McNeese State University
01

Southwestern College - Professional Studies

What You Should Know About This Degree

Criminal justice jobs can be physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. Police officers, FBI agents, and correctional officers often find themselves working in dangerous situations and interacting with violent or vulnerable populations. While criminal justice degree programs help students develop their critical thinking, communication, and perception skills, individuals considering a career in criminal justice should determine if they have the natural aptitudes necessary for succeeding in this field.

Many criminal justice jobs involve working with diverse populations, within the U.S. and in foreign countries. Being fluent in languages besides English can increase your job prospects. Certain jobs, particularly those with government agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), require additional training beyond a degree.

While certain jobs within criminal justice are expected to grow at an average or above average pace in the next decade, the overall job growth outlook for the field is slightly slower than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10 percent decline in correctional officer and bailiff jobs by 2031, thanks to changes in laws and state budgets affecting the number of prisoners and lengths of their sentences. Before enrolling in a program, consider what your career aspirations are and research the job prospects in those specific areas.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Criminal Justice programs:

  • Does this program offer any specializations? Criminal justice is a broad field, and most bachelor’s programs will cover a variety of topics to give students a solid foundation. Through electives, students can concentrate in certain areas of criminal justice, including juvenile justice, crime analysis, cybersecurity, and more. If you have an interest in a specific area of criminal justice, be sure to select a program that offers coursework in that area.
  • Are there any in-person requirements? Even if all of the coursework can be completed online, some programs may have internship or other experiential learning requirements that you must attend in-person. When reviewing the curriculum, check to see what, if any, in-person requirements the program has and where you are expected to complete them.

At this stage, you should look at the admissions requirements and deadlines for the programs to which you plan to apply. Gathering your application materials well ahead of deadlines will help your application process go smoothly. You should also consider your options for funding your degree, including financial aid, scholarships, grants, and, if you are currently employed, tuition assistance from your employer.