Why This Matters

  • PREPARE FOR MORE THAN 20 POSSIBLE CAREERS

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

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 37,500 NEW POLICE OFFICERS

    Projected job growth for police officers and detectives is expected to rise 5% by 2028, In addition to having a bachelor’s degree, fluency in another language will increase your chances of employment.

  • INCREASE YOUR EARNING POTENTIAL BY $35,000

    Entry-level criminal justice jobs like security guard that only require a high school diploma have a median annual salary of $28,490. The median annual salary for bachelor’s-level jobs is $63,380.

Our Research

We primarily looked at bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice for this list, although we also included some associate’s and master’s-level programs. Bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice are typically Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degrees. Your current education level and specific career goals will guide which type of program you seek.

All of the programs we reviewed can be completed online. Some of them do offer on-campus classes as well. You can choose the delivery format that works best for your schedule and learning preferences.

We only included programs at schools that are regionally accredited, to ensure that they meet the highest standards of quality in post-secondary education.

After narrowing our list of programs, we reviewed them all for flexibility, cost, course strength, reputation, and faculty. Then we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best online criminal justice degrees are well-regarded and a good value. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 89 hours to write this article
  • 207 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 323 education programs we compared

The Top 60 Online Criminal Justice Degrees

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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. For 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 7 percent decline in correctional officer and bailiff jobs by 2028, 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 also 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.