Illinois has a lot of working criminal justice professionals, and the pressure is on to compete for promotions, higher pay, and most authority. An online criminal justice degree program from one of Illinois’ colleges and universities help working professionals make advances in their career without the inconvenience of traditional on-campus learning. There are many online schools in Illinois for criminal justice degrees, and a majority of those programs are 100% online.
Students who need flexibility in their education due to work obligations are well-served by the amount of online schools for criminal justice in Illinois. Many prestigious universities in Illinois offer a criminal justice degree program online which offers students the opportunity to receive a quality education from a well-respected educational institution. Seekers of a criminal justice degree aren’t limited to online criminal justice schools in Illinois that don’t have the best reputation.
How We Ranked the Best Online Criminal Justice Programs in Illinois
For our ranking of the best online criminal justice programs in Illinois, the editors at Criminal Justice Degree Hub researched trusted, accredited schools offering fully online and hybrid degrees. We use data from IPEDS and Niche to rank programs according to their tuition, reputation, and graduate salary.
1. Western Illinois University
Western Illinois University offers a BS in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration program that prepares students to work in the field of law enforcement at local, state and federal levels. Students who enter into the program are required to take a minor that refines the program’s focus into a specific area of law enforcement. Courses in the program provide the latest in law enforcement techniques, best practices and the most current information regarding the areas of administrative and organizational behavior. The program is offered 100% online and is designed to enable working professionals to earn their bachelor’s degree while employed.
Western Illinois University (WIU) is a public university and is part of the public university system of Illinois. It enrolls an average of 7,500 students each academic year who are in pursuit of degrees from one of the four colleges that include the Arts & Sciences, Business & Technology, Education & Human Services, and Fine Arts and Communication. The school’s sports teams participate in the NCAA Division I FCS – Summit League.
Program: Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration or Bachelor of Science in Fire Protection Services
2. Lewis University
Lewis University offers a BA in Criminal and Social Justice program that’s available in an online format for sworn officers and adults. The program is designed to teach students the combined roles of criminal and social justice in order to become a more effective law-enforcement individual. Students undergo an education that explores the use of excessive force, the casual factors that influence crim, legal and procedural courses, domestic violence and the mandatory arrest issues that accompany the topic and criminology. Classes are offered in 8-week online sessions and are designed to have flexible attendance for working students.
Lewis University is a private Lasallian and Roman Catholic university that has a highly regarded reputation as an educational leader in aviation and transportation studies. The school enrolls an average of 6,500 students each academic semester and has over 80 undergraduate majors, 35 graduate degree programs, and an accelerated degree program for working adults.
Program: Bachelor of Arts | Criminal/ Social Justice (online or accelerated on-campus)
3. Roosevelt University
The BA in Criminal Justice degree at Roosevelt University brings a social justice perspective to the studies of criminal justice. The program teaches students how to explore the challenges and tensions in the criminal justice system from an individual and community perspective. Students may find themselves working with at-risk youth, work with community organizations, and help organizations with their program development. A minor requirement of 18 hours in a related area of study is required. Some of the classes in the minor electives include: women and crime, corrections, serial and mass murder, white collar crime and others.
Roosevelt University is a private university that was named after President Franklin Delano and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The school enrolls about 6,400 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Its main campus is located in Chicago’s Loop and has three satellite campuses in the greater Chicagoland area. It has seven schools of education that include Chicago College of Performing Arts (Music and Theatre Conservatories), College of Arts & Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education, College of Pharmacy, Heller College of Busihness and Robert Morris Experiential College.
Program: Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
4. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale offers a BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice program in a fully online format or on-campus and is intended for all students who wish to pursue a career in law enforcement. The program also accepts transfer students from 2- and 4-year colleges who may or may not have earned their A.A. or A.S. degree. Some of the classes included in the program include introduction to criminal justice research, introduction to the criminal justice system, crime, justice and social diversity, introduction to criminal law, and more. Students who successfully complete the program can go on to work in one of the many careers related to the criminal justice field.
Southern Illinois University (SIU or SIUC) is a public research university and has a classification of R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity. The school has an average student body of 11,000 each academic year and attracts students from all around the world. It offers 100 bachelors degrees, 73 masters and 36 Ph.D programs. The school’s athletics teams participate in the NCAA Division I FCS – MVC conference.
Program: Bachelor of Arts | Criminology and Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
5. Greenville University
Greenville University offers a BS in Criminal Justice Administration in a 100% online format. The program is designed to help working professionals earn a degree that opens up more career opportunities for them. The curriculum has practical experience and field learning built in so graduates can start their career with hands-on experience that also aids them in finding employment. Students who successfully complete the course will have learned skills to assist with solving problems, making better decisions and maintain ethics while working in the field of criminal justice.
Greenville University is a private religious university and is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church/Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. It enrolls a little less than 900 students each academic year. The school offers bachelors degrees in areas of study that include accounting, chemistry, biology, business management, agribusiness, engineering, environmental biology, mathematics and more.
Program: Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice Administration (online or on-campus)
6. McKendree University
McKendree University offers a BA in Sociology/Criminal Justice program that is entirely online. It’s aimed at working adults who want to advance their criminal justice career. The program combines sociology with criminal justice to change how a criminal justice professional views the world around them. It encourages students to engage in critical thinking skills and apply them to different scenarios for a better outcome. All classes in the program are delivered online and in 8-week sessions.
McKendree University (McK) is a private religious university that’s affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is the oldest institution of higher learning in Illinois. The school offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in areas that include the Arts & Sciences, Business, Education and Nursing and Health Professions. The school’s athletics teams participate in the NCAA Division II – GLVC conference.
Program: Bachelor of Arts | Sociology/Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
7. National Louis University
The BA in Criminal Justice degree program at National Louis University is a fully-accredited program that’s aimed at working students who need flexibility in their education. The program combines law, sociology and psychology into an easily-followed online format that provides a rich and engaging educational format. Students learn how to integrate their knowledge of human behavior with the criminal justice system in order to bring an element of social justice to their work as law enforcement officers. Classes include criminology, forensic and life sciences, logic & effective thinking and more.
National Louis University (NLU) is a private university located in Chicago and has campuses in the Chicago area and a campus in Florida. NLU is the pioneer school for the early childhood education movement that began in 1886 and became known as the Chicago Kindergarten College. The school focuses on providing higher education to underserved students who are college qualified high school graduates.
Program: Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice: Criminal Justice Administration (online or on-campus)
8. Olivet Nazarene University
Olivet Nazarene University offers a BS in Criminal Justice that’s aimed at students who want to enter into a career in law enforcement, courts, probation or corrections. The curriculum provides students with the opportunity to study public administration, psychology, law, sociology and more. The program is designed to provide students with the practical knowledge needed to have a successful career in the criminal justice field while also having the insight to understand and help populations in need. Students in the criminal justice program are offered internships with various law enforcement agencies and work with Olivet’s ROTC Roaring Tiger Battalion while attending school.
Olivet Nazarene University (ONU) is a private Nazarene university with a motto of Education with a Christian Purpose. Around 5,000 students enroll in the school each academic year to earn a bachelors or masters degree. The school offers 67 bachelor degree programs, non-traditional adult educational programs, and a doctor of education degree.
Program: Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
9. Aurora University
The BA in Criminal Justice at Aurora University is a 100% online program that’s aimed at working law enforcement officers who are looking to improve their career pathways. The program uses open education resources instead of textbooks in some courses which helps students save money on their educational costs. The curriculum provides a broad education in criminal justice, criminology, criminal law, policing techniques, and more. Students have the option to refine their educational course by choosing electives that align with their career goals. Classes are taught by instructors who have experience working in the field of criminal justice.
Aurora University (AU) is a private and nonprofit school that offers residential, commuter, full-time and part-time degree programs. The school features bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees along with certificates and endorsements. A one-year master’s degree program is available through the school. Its main campus is located in Aurora, IL, with satellite campuses located in and around the area and a campus in Williams Bay, Wisconsin.
Program: Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
10. Lincoln Land Community College
Lincoln Land Community College offers an AA in Criminal Justice that’s intended for students who want to earn a transfer degree in criminal justice. Students who complete the program will be eligible for working at the entry-level of the criminal justice field. Classes in the program include introduction to law enforcement, fundamentals of investigation, introduction to corrections, courts and victims services, substance abuse and more. An internship is available for students.
Lincoln Land Community College (Springfield) is a public community college and is the largest in the state in terms of land mass. It covers 15 counties in central Illinois and has satellite campuses throughout its district. A majority of students enroll in baccalaureate transfer degree programs with the remaining students participating in vocational/occupational programs. The schools’ sports teams are known as the Loggers.
Program: Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
How Do I Choose a Criminal Justice Degree Program in Illinois?
Before you start picking out a criminal justice degree program in Illinois, you need to identify what you want from the program. The criminal justice curriculum brings together psychology, sociology and traditional policing techniques into one degree, and not all programs are equal to one another. Each school has its own variation on the degree, different electives to help a student focus on a particular area of criminal justice, and are sometimes designed for students who are already working in the field of law enforcement. Some schools offer credit for work experience, and lowers the overall amount of credits needed to earn a criminal justice degree. Details such as these should be taken into consideration when selecting a criminal justice degree program in Illinois.
There are criminal justice degree programs for traditional students who want to have a solid degree backing their desire for a career in law enforcement and related field. A criminal justice degree also helps a student find employment in areas of employment that aren’t strictly law enforcement, but are related to working with the criminal justice field. These are all aspects to consider when looking at a criminal justice degree program in Illinois. Earning degree also opens up the potential to work as a teacher and help educate the next generation of criminal justice degree holders.
How is the Job Market for Criminal Justice in Illinois?
The overall market for criminal justice jobs in Illinois is good according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As previously mentioned, the criminal justice degree is one that covers multiple areas of study and can qualify a graduate for multiple types of law enforcement and criminal justice roles. The BLS categorizes law enforcement and related roles under the major group known as the Protective Services Occupations. All criminal justice jobs in Illinois that fall under this major group show a modest increase in demand through 2029. Working professionals who are already in the field of law enforcement will find that returning to school to earn their criminal justice degree can give them an advantage when it comes to finding better employment opportunities.
Students of criminal justice degree programs in Illinois tend to have different goals when it comes to their employment. Someone who has been working in the area of law enforcement for some time may be hitting a ceiling in terms of promotions because they don’t have the right degree. Getting a degree in criminal justice can help them break the ceiling and open up more avenues of employment with a better outlook for career advancement and improved salaries. A student that’s looking to start their career in law enforcement with a solid degree can find plenty of entry level criminal justice jobs in Illinois in the form of working as a security guard for on-the-job experience or starting out as a rookie in a police department.
The employment area of law enforcement and protection services will always have a demand for qualified graduates in Illinois. The population at large needs law enforcement to help with issues of justice and improvements in the area of social justice. An individual who has studied the various aspects of enforcing the law while maintaining a sense of fairness and understanding of the population they work with is an individual who is well-prepared to succeed in their role and find plenty of employment opportunities in Illinois.
How Much Can I Make with a Criminal Justice Degree in Illinois?
The average criminal justice degree salary in Illinois is $49,705 a year, or $24 an hour. The average salary tends to skew lower due to the fact that the category covers a large range of jobs that fall under the umbrella of criminal justice. A graduate who enters the field of local or state law enforcement is going to start at the low end of the salary range, but the pay quickly scales upward as the graduate becomes more proficient with their skills and takes on employment opportunities that help them earn more money. The same is true of most employment roles that criminal justice graduates are qualified for, but there are always factors such as geography, population density, and overall demand for people with criminal justice degrees that ultimately influence the average salary.