Top 10 Most Affordable Criminal Justice Degree Programs for 2019

Criminal justice is one of those fields that, for better or worse, is always hiring, and never quite as staffed as it needs to be; an online criminal justice bachelor degree can be key to getting the most out of a law enforcement or criminal justice career. Colleges and universities know the importance of criminal justice and law enforcement, and they also know that professionals in criminal justice aren’t usually the highest-paid workers. There is an abundance of low-cost bachelor’s degree completion programs out there, designed specifically for the needs of working adults who want to advance in their criminal justice career with an online criminal justice degree.

By keeping tuition at a reasonable rate, the best online colleges for law enforcement are able to make sure working adults in the field can get an affordable criminal justice degree online. Whether you want to be a police officer or you’re interested in another career in law enforcement, such as security manager, criminologist, or forensic scientist, a degree in criminal justice will help you secure the position you desire.

Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Criminal Justice Degree Online Programs

To rank the most affordable online criminal justice bachelor degree, Criminal Justice Degree Hub surveyed the field for online and hybrid criminal justice programs, with one key criteria in mind: cost. All programs ranked in the Most Affordable ranking are regionally accredited and have a demonstrated background of quality, but the ranking is, quite simply, ordered from lowest to highest tuition.

1. Fayetteville State University

The Fayetteville State University’s online BS in Criminal Justice is the ideal program for students looking to build a career in the field of criminal justice. This online criminal justice degree program is certified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) and takes four 200-level criminal justice courses and 38 credit hours of university core courses to complete. The Fayetteville State University is one of the affordable criminal justice degrees online and comes with a proven job market reputation.

Established in 1867, Fayetteville State University is one of the oldest historically black public universities in the nation. Fayetteville State University offers degrees at the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral levels. The university’s online criminal justice degree program is one of the best-ranking in the US. FSU’s criminal justice curriculum holds certification from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. The university itself is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Program: BS in Criminal Justice
Cost: $$$$$

2. Bellevue University

The Bellevue University’s online criminal justice program provides the skills required to start a professional career in criminal justice. Those interested in building a career in law enforcement, corrections, or working in the court system will find this Bellevue University’s online criminal justice program quite helpful. Upon completion, the student will have the skills required to investigate, solve, and prosecute criminal elements thanks to one of the cheapest criminal justice degree programs in the nation.

Located in Bellevue, Nebraska, Bellevue University is a private, non-profit university focussing on providing quality education for working adults in the country. Bellevue University is one of the best online colleges for law enforcement. The university’s online programs are ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Bellevue University has regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). As an accreditation body, HLC is fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Program: BS in Criminal Justice (Traditional or Cohort)
Cost: $$$$$

3. Kentucky State University

The Kentucky State University online BA in Criminal Justice program prepares the student for a career in the field of criminal justice. Students must have a minimum of 120 semester credit hours to complete the Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice program at Kentucky State. Upon completion, students can enter the criminal justice field as professionals in areas such as law enforcement, court services, and corrections. This is one of the cheapest criminal justice degree programs in the state.

Founded in 1886, Kentucky State University (KSU) is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the state. This historically black, liberal arts institution is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Online and distance learning are top priorities for KSU. The University’s online BA in Criminal Justice program is one of the best in the region. Offered online learning resources include an online library, an online bookstore, and online tutoring services via Blackboard.

Program: BA in Criminal Justice
Cost: $$$$$

4. Utah Valley University

The Utah Valley University online BS in Criminal Justice program is designed to provide students with a comprehensive skill set and an understanding of complex issues required to build a career in the criminal justice field. Upon completion, the student will be able to interview suspects and witnesses, process crime scenes, and conduct various field procedures — such as basic patrols. The university also offers law enforcement certifications. This is the most affordable criminal justice degree online in the state.

Located in Orem, UT, Utah Valley University (UVU) is a public higher learning institution established in 1941. UVU is an approved SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) member, which denotes strict adherence to established standards for offering post-secondary online programs in all member states. UVU’s criminal justice programs are nationally recognized having been crowned SkillsUSA champions several times.

Program: BS in Criminal Justice
Cost: $$$$$

5. Louisiana State Alexandria

The Louisiana State Alexandria online BS in Criminal Justice provides solid foundational knowledge in the field of criminal justice. The university’s accelerated online criminal justice programs are designed for working professional looking to start a career or advance their professions in the field of criminal justice. Students get thorough preparation for careers in law enforcement, private security, juvenile justice administration, probation and parole, and corrections. This is one of the best and most affordable online criminal justice degree programs in the country.

Located in Alexandria, Louisiana, Louisiana State University of Alexandria (LSU of Alexandria or LSUA) offers a variety of undergraduate degree programs online and on-campus. The university’s online programs are designed for working adults, flexible to fit the lifestyle of a working professional and very affordable. According to the 2013 U.S. News & World Report ‘Short List,’ LSUA is one of the least expensive public universities for online programs. LSUA’s online BS in Criminal Justice is one of the best in the region.

Program: BS in Criminal Justice
Cost: $$$$$

6. Northern Kentucky University

The Northern Kentucky University online BA in Criminal Justice program is designed for the working professional looking to venture or advance their careers in the field of criminal justice. The online BA in Criminal Justice program focuses on the three major aspects of the criminal justice system i.e. law enforcement, corrections, and court services. The Northern Kentucky University online BA in Criminal Justice program is affordable and has a proven job market reputation.

Founded in 1968, Northern Kentucky University is a public higher learning institution located in Highland Heights, northern Kentucky. Northern Kentucky University ranks among the top 100 universities in the South according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities. The university’s online BA in Criminal Justice program is one of the best in the state.

Program: BA in Criminal Justice
Cost: $$$$$

7. University of Louisiana at Monroe

The University of Louisiana at Monroe online BA in Criminal Justice program provides the student in with in-depth knowledge about the inner workings of the criminal justice field. You can become a police officer, detective, corrections officer, or legal professional without ever stepping foot on campus. The student must complete a total of 120 credit hours to earn the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice online. Those looking for the cheapest criminal justice degree programs with high ROI should consider this program.

The University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) was established in 1931. ULM is part of the University of Louisiana System and offers some of the best online degree programs in the state. ULM’s online criminal justice degree was ranked as one of the best in the country by Affordable Colleges Online. ULM started offering the BA in Criminal Justice program in 1970, which makes it the first of its kind in the state. ULM is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program: BA in Criminal Justice
Cost: $$$$$

8. Missouri Southern State University

The Missouri Southern State University online BS in Criminal Justice Administration is a convenient option for busy or working students looking to enter or advance their careers in the criminal justice field. The program focuses on the police, the courts, and corrections; the three key areas of criminal justice. This online criminal justice bachelor degree is one of the most affordable in the state and comes with a proven job market reputation.

Located in Joplin, in the U.S. state of Missouri, Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) offers a variety of undergraduate degree and certificate programs online and on-campus. MSSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HCL), a nationally recognized accreditation agency. MSSU’s online BS in Criminal Justice Administration program is one of the best in the nation according to Bestschools.com’s 2019 rankings.

Program: BS in Criminal Justice Administration
Cost: $$$$$

9. Troy University

The Troy University online BS in Criminal Justice program is designed for those looking to launch a career in one of the many areas of criminal justice. The program provides the student with an opportunity to understand how the criminal justice system works. Upon completion, students can secure employment in law enforcement, the court system, or corrections department. Those looking for an affordable criminal justice degree online with high ROI should consider this program.

Located in Troy, Alabama, Troy University is a comprehensive public university offering a variety of graduate and undergraduate degree programs online and on-campus. Troy University was founded in 1887 and offers some of the best online degree programs in the state. Troy University’s online BS in Criminal Justice program is one of the largest in the country. Troy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program: BS in Criminal Justice
Cost: $$$$$

10. Columbia College (MO)

The Columbia College online BA in Criminal Justice Administration provides with in-depth knowledge in criminal justice and law. This program prepares students for entry-level jobs in the criminal justice field and is designed for working professionals looking to integrate the general study of criminal justice and law with relevant disciplines. This is one of the cheapest criminal justice degree programs in the country with a proven job market reputation.

Founded in 1851, Columbia College is a private non-profit independent liberal arts and sciences college located in Columbia, Missouri. Being a non-profit institution, Columbia College has some of the most affordable degree programs in the country. The university’s BA in Criminal Justice Administration is not only affordable but also one of the best in the country. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Columbia College #52 in the 2019 Regional Universities South rankings.

Program: BA in Criminal Justice Administration
Cost: $$$$$

Where am I Likely to Find an Affordable Criminal Justice Degree Online?

Most colleges and universities now offer online programs. The online program is usually equivalent to the on-campus program at the same school, but the cost is often less. If you’re looking for an affordable criminal justice degree online, here are two tips to help you find the cheapest criminal justice degree.

First, you are more likely to find an affordable criminal justice degree online through a public college or university. Since public schools receive funding from the state, private schools are almost always more expensive.

Second, if you want the cheapest criminal justice degree possible, you should consider earning an associate’s degree through a local community college. Small, local, two-year schools often offer lower tuition rates than larger schools. Also, an associate’s degree only takes two years to complete and it requires about half as many credits as a bachelor’s degree.

Can I Get an Online Criminal Justice Degree Free?

If you (or your parents, depending on your age) are low income, you may be able to qualify for the Pell Grant by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you choose a college or university with low tuition costs and qualify for the maximum Pell Grant, which is $6,095 for the 2018-19 school year, you may be able to get your online criminal justice degree free (or close to free).

You may also be able to get non-credit criminal justice online courses free. There are plenty of free online training programs for students with an interest in criminal justice. Although these courses don’t give you credit toward your degree, they may help you advance at work and prepare for your degree classes.

It’s a good idea to check with the school you plan to attend and find out whether they have any scholarships or grants available for criminal science majors. Scholarship sites are another option. Many of the scholarships available require written essays, so if you are good at writing, this may be an especially appealing option to help you get your online criminal justice degree free.

Remember, if you don’t qualify for financial aid, you can always take non-credit criminal justice online courses free to get a head start on the material you will need to learn once you start your online criminal justice degree program.

How Do I Find a Law Enforcement-Friendly Online College?

The best online colleges for law enforcement offer tuition discounts to sworn law enforcement officers. These discounts typically range from around 10-25%. Even if your school doesn’t advertise a law enforcement discount, it can’t hurt to call the financial aid office and ask.

Many schools also offer flexible scheduling to allow students to fit their classes around their work schedules. This allows police officers to obtain or upgrade their criminal justice degrees online without having to take time off work. If your work schedule is unpredictable, look for a school with self-paced courses that have few (if any) scheduled meeting times. That way, you’ll be able to listen to lectures and complete your assignments whenever it’s convenient for you.

When searching for the best online colleges for law enforcement, look for schools that give credit for relevant work experience. This can reduce the number of courses you need to take to get your degree and may also reduce the cost. Some schools may require you to test out of certain courses to receive credit. Others determine what credit they will offer based on a review of your past work experience.

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