In today’s economic climate, people pursuing degrees are looking for fields of study with plenty of job opportunity as well as looking for ways to save money in the pursuit of these degrees. Earning a degree online offers students the opportunity to pursue their education on a schedule that suits them, often while working full time outside the home to support themselves and their families. One of the most popular fields of study is Criminal Justice, with a Criminal Justice degree providing a range of employment options from police officer to forensic science technician. The average cost of a Bachelor’s degree in the criminal justice and law data set is $44,799. According to The Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average salary for a police officer is not much higher than this, with the average police officer earning $55,000 in 2010. A forensic science technician earns even less, with the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reporting the average 2010 salary of these technicians at $51,000 per year. With these salaries in mind, those wishing to earn a Criminal Justice degree are often apprehensive about the mountains of student debt that can come along with these degrees. These students recognize the importance of finding an affordable college degree. For these prospective students, researching affordable online options is especially important. But with so much information available, which facts should be taken into consideration? When looking to earn a criminal justice degree, one should consider tuition costs and fees from various online schools, as well as a school’s history and reputation in online education. Many colleges and universities that traditionally have only offered on-campus education have branched out and entered the world of online and distance learning. With so many colleges and universities now offering opportunities for online learning, it can be hard to weed through the options to find the school that is best suited for your needs. Below are the top 10 online programs for earning a Criminal Justice Degree, based on affordability.
1. Fort Hays State University – $21576
Ranking #1 in terms of affordability, with a Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies costing an average of $21,576, Fort Hays is the fastest growing of the Kansas Board of Regents universities.
2. Waldorf College – $27,000
Not far behind Fort Hays is Waldorf College. At this college founded on Lutheran principles a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration will run you $27,000.
3. Columbia College – $27,480
Columbia College is hot on Waldorf’s heels with the same degree costing $27,480. Founded in 1851, the school’s website declares that, “Columbia College prides itself on its ability to change with the times by offering educational programs that meet the needs of an ever-changing society.” Evidence of this is the nearly 16,000 students who take at least one online course through the college each year.
4. Northwestern State University of Louisiana – $29,973
Coming in high on the list, a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice costs just under $30k at this Louisiana University. NSULA earns points for those eager to put their new degrees to work in the field by hosting a Criminal Justice Job Fair every spring.
5. Ohio University – $30,144
Ohio University is one of the largest schools on the list with over 35,000 students enrolled across all campuses. A healthy percentage of those enrolled are e-students, close to 6,000, and the tuition is competitive for a school of this size. Ohio University offers a Bachelor of Criminal Justice for just over $30,000- still way below the average price of a degree in the industry.
6. American Public University – $30,250/$30,500
American Public University, a 100% online university, is sixth on the list, but the only to offer two options for Criminal Justice Degrees. The first is a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice that costs $30,250 and the second is a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies for $30,500.
7. Troy University of Online Learning – $32,160
With a website that boasts a founding date all the way back to February 26, 1887, Troy University proves they have come into the 21st century with a wide selection of online programs hosted on a separate e-learning website. Here, the average cost for a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice is $32,160.
8. Metropolitan State University – $33,490
Though one of the most expensive on our list, ranking at #8, Metropolitan State University (based in Saint Paul, Minnesota) sets itself apart as the only school to offer a Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement- a degree that will cost an average of $33,490.
9. Bemidji State University – $34,615
This small university is also located in Minnesota and boasts on its’ website that it was, “Named a top-tier Midwest university for 2009, 2010 and 2011 academic years by U.S. News and World Report.” This award winning university offers an online program that costs $34,615 on average for a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.
10. Baker College Online – $38,540
Baker College Online is a part of Baker College, the largest private college in Michigan, and is a Not-For-Profit school. The school serves over 40,000 students worldwide and comes in at the bottom of the list, but still well under the industry average at $38,540 for a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.
When looking to receive a Criminal Justice Degree it is important to consider all of the information available. The boom in online and distance learning has provided ample opportunity to make higher education accessible for anyone who is interested in pursuing a college degree. Especially for prospective students already working full time and supporting families, the chance to earn a degree that can lead to a higher salary is a wonderful opportunity. But the cost, both in terms of money and time, can be overwhelming. Earning a Criminal Justice Degree is a great way to market yourself to future employers, and the cost of a degree is an investment in that future.