Criminal Justice Programs in Pennsylvania

An online criminal justice degree will open the door to many new opportunities. Because of the large number of fields that utilize the information taught in an online criminal justice degree program, you have many different options to choose from. People often associate criminal justice degrees with law enforcement. While that is true and many law enforcement officers earn this type of degree, it isn’t solely for individuals who work in police departments and sheriff’s departments.

Earning an online criminal justice degree is also beneficial for private investigators, court reporters, and judicial clerks. Anyone who deals with the law or legal situations can utilize the skills that are taught in a criminal justice program. Taking classes online makes it easy to find an entry-level job that you like and start building your career from the ground up. Online degree programs offer flexible schedules and an opportunity to study and participate in class no matter where you are.

Featured Schools

Students who choose an online degree program will receive a quality education, just like students who choose to attend in a classroom. The key is finding the right criminal justice degree program that will provide you with the education and skills you will need to be proficient in your duties. Some programs offer specializations within the legal field, such as forensics, evidence collection, and investigation. By working and going to school at the same time, you are able to explore new opportunities and direct your career in any direction you want.

How we ranked The Best Online Criminal Justice Programs in Pennsylvania

To rank Pennsylvania’s best online criminal justice programs, Criminal Justice Degree Hub editors focus on trustworthy, accredited schools. We rank programs by practical factors such as tuition rate, student satisfaction, and graduate salary. Data comes from IPEDS and Niche. 

1. Penn State World Campus           

Penn State World Campus, the distance learning platform of Penn State, offers a variety of online criminal justice degree programs that include online degree options at the associate’s (AS), bachelor’s (BS), and graduate studies (MPS) levels. Undergraduate students can add additional skills and knowledge with an undergraduate minor in psychology, organizational leadership, sociology or homeland security. The criminal justice degrees are taught by highly respected experts from many fields within criminal justice. Additionally, Penn State World Campus offers a graduate certificate program in Global Justice and Security.

Penn State World Campus, established in 1998, is the online campus of the Pennsylvania State University. Nearly 15,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students are enrolled through Penn State World Campus. Highlight – Pennsylvania State University has a long-standing history of offering distance education. The school first began its distance learning programs in the 19th century.

2. Drexel University               

Drexel University’s (Drexel Distance) College of Arts & Sciences/Criminology & Justice Studies offers various online criminal justice degree programs across three related concentrations – Criminal Justice, justice Informatics, and Criminology & Justice Policy. Drexel’s online degree options include a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Criminology and Justice Studies or an accelerated version of this BS degree with a Juris Doctor degree that saves one year of studying. Criminal Justice degree online programs also include a minor in computer crime or criminal justice.

Founded in the early 1890s, Drexel University is a space-grant institution of higher education with a student enrollment that exceeds 24,150. Drexel University operates with a unique coop education model that allows students to earn salaries while studying at Drexel. Highlight – Drexel University offers more than 160 undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs.

3. Saint Josephs University              

Saint Josephs University’s (SJU Online) College of Arts & Sciences offers one of the state’s leading online criminal justice degree programs at the graduate level with its Master of Science in Criminal Justice, with classes that have an average of 20 students. Additionally, Saint Josephs University’s online degree options include an accelerated bachelor’s/master’s criminal justice degree online programs. Saint Josephs University’s online master’s program offers six tracks – generation, diversity/inclusion, federal law enforcement, forensic behavioral health, homeland security, and intelligence/crime analysis.

Saint Josephs University (St. Joe’s) was founded as a private college in the 1850s. This Roman Catholic higher learning institution serves more than 6,600 students online and from the school’s campuses in Philadelphia and nearby Lower Merion, Pa. Highlight – Saint Josephs University is organized into four colleges/schools offering programs in health studies, business, arts/sciences, and professional/liberal studies, plus a degree completion program.

4. Saint Francis University                        

Saint Francis University (Francis Worldwide) offers two of Pennsylvania’s most innovative leading online criminal justice degree programs with its Associate of Arts degree (AA) or its Bachelor of Science degree (BS) in Criminal Justice. Saint Francis University’s tuition rates are offered with a military discount. This associate online degree requires sixty credits, whereas the baccalaureate degree requires 128 credits. This bachelor’s degree online program is available with rolling admissions. Examples of coursework include crime and delinquency, administration of justice, and cultural diversity, to name a few.

Saint Francis University (SFU) was founded in the 1840s as a private higher learning institution, operating under the Franciscan Friars of the 3rd Order. Saint Francis University’s rural campus and online platform serve approximately 1,700 students each year. Highlight – Saint Francis University also operates an international campus in France where all classes are taught in English.

5. Seton Hill University           

Seton Hill University (Seton Hill Online) offers one of Pennsylvania’s most innovative and accelerated, leading online criminal justice degree programs with its Bachelor of Arts degree (BA) in Criminal Justice. Seton Hill University offers the transfer of up to 90 credits for applicants to its degree online program, if eligible. Additionally, students have the option to earn their Bachelor of Arts degree at the same time they earn their MBA ultimately, at an accelerated pace – completing both online degree programs in only five years. Students graduate prepared for careers in corrections, the legal system, law enforcement, private security/investigations, or probation/parole, among others.

Founded in the 1880s as an all-women’s school, Seton Hill University now operates as a coeducational private university. The school’s name honors the founder of the Sisters of Charity and the first American-born canonized saint. Highlight – Seton Hill University offers its students an impressive faculty to student ratio of 1 to 15.

6. Shippensburg University            

Shippensburg University’s (SU Online) College of Education & Human Services/ Department of Criminal Justice offers both some of the best undergraduates and graduate degree online programs in south central Pennsylvania. Shippensburg University’s online degree options include a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice or a Master of Science (MS) degree in either Criminal Justice or Administration of Juvenile Justice. Additionally, Shippensburg University’s online criminal justice degree program options include victim services and victimology certificate programs.

Shippensburg University (Ship) was founded in the 1870s as a public institution of higher learning dedicated to training teachers in the south central portion of the state. Shippensburg University’s rural campus and online platform serve more than 8,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students each year. Highlight – Shippensburg University is organized into five colleges/schools offering programs in arts/sciences, education/human services, business, graduate studies, and honor college.

7. Peirce College            

Peirce College (PC Online) offers an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice (ASCJ) that is one of Philadelphia’s most innovative online criminal justice degree program options at the associate level. Students may transfer up to 30 credit units (even for law enforcement training) to complete Peirce College’s 60 credit criminal justice degree online. Topics included in Peirce College’s online degree in criminal justice include criminal law, ethics in criminal justice, criminology, and the juvenile justice system, to name a few.

Peirce College is a private school that was founded in the 1860s. Peirce College was developed to meet the needs of adult learners. The original school was created as a business college to educate soldiers returning from the Civil War. Highlight – Notable alumni of Peirce College include the tennis champ, Bill Tilden, A Somoza, the president of Nicaragua, and Simon Guggenheim, Colorado’s senator in the early 20th century.

8. Widener University             

Widener University (WU Online) offers one of the most innovative online criminal justice degree programs at the graduate level. Widener University’s online degree in criminal justice provides asynchronous cases for working learners, available 24/7. Students enrolled in Widener University’s criminal justice degree online enter the workforce in state, federal, or local law enforcement, a victim’s advocate, or a probation/parole officer, to name a few. This master’s degree permits students to take six electives in the specialty areas of interest.

Widener University (Widener) was founded in Wilmington in the 1820s as a school for boys. The university’s urban campus and online platform serve approximately 6,500 postgraduate and undergraduate students. Widener becomes a military academy/college before adopting its current name in the early 1970s. Highlight – Several buildings on Widener University’s campus have been listed within the National Register of Historic Places since the late 1970s.

9. Waynesburg University               

Waynesburg University (Waynesburg Online) offers a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Investigation (MACI) that is ranked among the best online criminal justice degree programs in the state and beyond. Waynesburg University’s criminal justice degree online can be completed in 12 months if studying full-time. Part-time students enrolled in Waynesburg University’s online degree in criminal justice can finish the required 30 credits in approximately 1.5 years. Waynesburg also offers a dual degree with the MACI program – a Master of Business Administration degree. Sample classes include advanced interviewing and advanced crime scene investigation, among others.

Waynesburg University (WU) is a private institution of higher education that was established in the 1850s. The university’s suburban campus and distance learning platform serves approximately 1,750 undergraduate students each year. Highlight – Waynesburg University operates several campuses, plus two buildings listed within the National Register of Historic Places.

10. Mercyhurst University                 

Mercyhurst University (MU Distance) offers a Master of Science degree (MS) in Criminal Justice Administration that is among the leading online criminal justice degree programs in Pennsylvania. Mercyhurst University’s criminal justice degree online requires the completion of a minimum of 30-semester units. The online degree in criminal justice from Mercyhurst University offers a completion time of fewer than two years and rolling admissions. Sample classes for Mercyhurst University’s graduate degree in criminal justice include research methods, professional ethics, criminal justice planning & evaluation, and advanced criminology, to name a few.

Mercyhurst University is a liberal arts school established by the Sisters of Mercy in 1926. The university operates multiple campuses in the greater Erie area that serve nearly 2,800 students each year. Mercyhurst University offers programs in business natural/allied sciences, applied sciences, and humanities/arts/social sciences. Highlight -The school was used in the film That Thing You Do, starring Tom Hanks.

How Is the Criminal Justice Job Market in Ohio?

In the state of Ohio, there are many opportunities for individuals who are enrolled in an online criminal justice degree. With a criminal justice degree, you can explore several different career options both in and out of the law enforcement field. If you like the criminal justice field, start looking for entry-level jobs that will utilize a criminal justice degree. While most criminal justice graduates may choose to look for a career in law enforcement, it is not the only option you have to consider.

Criminal justice degrees can also be beneficial if you choose to work in the legal field as well. Finding work as a legal clerk in a law firm or as a file clerk/researcher in a court setting are both incredibly lucrative options. The market for criminal justice jobs in Ohio is very good, especially if you have a diverse education that explores more than one avenue in the criminal justice degree.

There are many criminal justice specializations that go hand in hand. Knowing which specializations will best suit your purposes will help you find a job that you truly enjoy. Loving what you do is important if you want to remain productive in your career. It will give you the motivation you need when things start to get difficult. Enjoying your work also makes it more fun and will help you make the most out of every day that you spend on the job.

How Much Can I Make with a Criminal Justice Degree in Ohio?

There will be several factors that influence your criminal justice salary in Ohio. Your level of experience, as well as your education, are both key factors. Location will also play an important role. It’s important to remember that large cities and metropolitan districts will always offer a higher pay scale than smaller, more rural communities. It’s not uncommon for entry-level positions to offer salaries in the $24,000 to $36,000 pay range. If a student is taking classes online when they are hired for their first job in the criminal justice field, the pay may be slightly higher.

Individuals working as experienced criminal investigators may be able to make as much as $97,000 or more per year. Your earning potential increases with every year you spend working. It will also begin to increase as you start to explore additional educational opportunities as well. The more challenges you accept and the more responsibility you are willing to take on while you are working will also improve your value as an asset to your company.

Your criminal justice salary in Ohio will be dependent on your commitment to your career. Taking the initiative to return to school and expand on what you already know is the best way to improve your chances of moving up in the ranks at your place of employment. When you have enrolled in an online criminal justice degree program, you can almost immediately begin to pursue new opportunities. If you are in an entry-level position, pursuing new challenges will allow you to advance much faster than ever before.


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