Most criminal justice careers require an associates, bachelors, or masters degree for employment. Because of modern internet technology, many students earn the degree they need for a criminal justice job by taking online courses. This can be done without quitting their present job or giving up family responsibilities.
Criminal justice is a widely varied field. Individual with degrees are qualified to work in law enforcement as police officers and detectives, corrections officers, probation officers, and security guards. They are also eligible for a career as a victim services counselor, court counselor, or court bailiff.
What are the parameters for choosing the top 10 programs for getting an online degree in criminal justice? All of the schools listed are well-established, accredited, and have been offering online courses for a number of years. They are nationally recognized online universities with a history of producing highly employable graduates.
The schools on this list offer high quality curriculums and the flexibility to work on a degree from anywhere. These online programs give adult learners earning a criminal justice degree the chance to study at a time that is convenient for them and the course offerings to provide a well-rounded education.
As careers in the field of criminal justice continue to be competitive, particularly for state and federal agency jobs, finding the right online criminal justice degree program is dependent on a student’s preferences. To help with the selection process, here is a list of the top accredited colleges and universities which offer the most marketable and reputable online criminal justice degree programs.
1. Colorado Technical University Online
Colorado Technical University (CTU) was founded in 1965. Its main campus is in Colorado Springs, CO. CTU is a private institution of higher learning which has other campuses in Denver, Pueblo, and Westminster. The university also has out of state campuses located in North Kansas City, MO, and Sioux Falls, SD.
Many of the university’s online programs are accredited by state and industry organizations. CTU has several online programs for students everywhere who want to take classes to complete their degree.
CTU provides online programs specifically designed for those seeking an associates or bachelors degree in criminal justice. CTU also offers a masters degree program in management with a concentration in criminal justice.
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
Those who apply themselves to the field of criminal justice can enhance their future by acquiring knowledge and skills that can help prepare them for the current challenges and opportunities of modern society. Colorado Technical University’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree is designed to provide a foundation applicable to a broad range of criminal justice roles and responsibilities.
CTU offers concentrations a student can choose from as they pursue a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree to better prepare them to excel in this competitive field. Students can choose the option that best fits their educational goals.
- Cybercrime and Security
- Forensic Investigation
- Homeland Security and Emergency Management
- Human Services
- General Concentration
The core courses for the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree program are structured to provide a complete overview of the skills necessary to those who want to work in criminal justice. Core courses include:
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Law Enforcement Operations and Report Writing
- Introduction to Homeland Security
- American Corrections
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Criminal Law
- Criminal Procedure
- The Laws of Evidence
- Public Administration
- Abnormal Psychology in the Workplace
- Social Psychology
- Career Planning and Management
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3. Keiser University
Keiser University is a formerly for profit, presently private university founded as the Keiser School in 1977 by Arthur Keiser and his mother, Evelyn, in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The Keisers founded the school to assist in employment growth and training in business and healthcare communities in the region.
By 2009, Keiser grew to accommodate 17,000 students offering over 50 programs accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and schools for students seeking associate, bachelor, masters, or doctoral degrees.
Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs
Keiser’s online degree programs offer flexibility, practicality, and financial aid for those who qualify, and a highly personalized learning experience for students with day, evening, and online classes. Keiser’s criminal justice programs offer degrees at associates, bachelors, and master’s degree levels as well as personalized attention and career placement services.
Students who graduate with an associate’s degree often find entry level employment in the field of law enforcement. Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree often gain middle level management positions in multiple criminal service occupations. Keiser’s online criminal justice degree programs are specifically tailored for students with job or family responsibilities, seeking to achieve personal and/or professional goals necessary for employment in the field of criminal justice.
Courses for students enrolled in criminal justice include: introduction to criminal justice, introduction to corrections, introduction to law enforcement, introduction to juvenile procedures, criminology, criminal law, criminal investigations, and criminal procedures.
Keiser University’s Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice provides learning in many areas of the criminal justice system. Course topics include: law enforcement and investigation, deviant behavior, victimology, forensics, private security, corrections and juvenile justice and how components work together and are governed by the laws the Supreme Court and the U.S. Constitution. This exploration of the American criminal justice system culminates with an emphasis on research, analysis and the future of the system.
The following objectives are designed to meet Keiser University’s mission and its goals.
- To expand a student’s ability to understand the tools and procedures used by a variety of agencies within the criminal justice system.
- To increase a student’s ability to think critically and communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing.
- To help a student become more efficient in researching, collecting and organizing data, solving problems and working as a team.
- To get a student ready for employment and advancement in criminal justice related careers.
4. Columbia Southern University
Columbia Southern University is a fully online educational institution. This school has open enrollment and offers flexible learning options to its students. It was founded by Dr. Robert G. Mayes, Sr. in Orange Beach, AL in 1993.
CSU is also one of Delta Airlines’ six academic partners and one of 140 institutions providing tuition assistance through GoArmyEd, the U.S. Army’s central tuition assistance portal. Programs offered by CSU are self-paced and offer flexibility for adult learners who want to continue their education while keeping up with career and family responsibilities.
Students interested in a criminal justice degree may enroll in an associate, bachelors, or master degree program specifically designed by professionals in the field. Course offerings for CSU online include: theory and practices of law enforcement, theory and practices of corrections, juvenile delinquency, criminology, criminal law, and judicial process. The estimated time for completion of the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration degree is five years.
Online Criminal Justice Degrees
As the nation continues to focus on security, immigration, public safety, and law enforcement, more career opportunities are opening up, making the field of criminal justice one of the fastest growing in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, police and detective occupations will increase by 5 percent between 2012 and 2022.
Employment advantages such as quick advancement and promotion opportunities make this an attractive career field for the first-time student, former military personnel, or individuals interested in pursuing an interest within the criminal justice field.
Depending on a student’s career goals and objectives, an online criminal justice degree at Columbia Southern Universities could meet their needs.
The Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Administration prepares entry-level and seasoned professionals from various backgrounds with the knowledge, skills theoretical foundations, and practices of criminal justice administration including those of law enforcement, courts and corrections. This program lets students learn to make rational decisions and informed responses to the daily challenges faced in law enforcement, courts and corrections operations.
5. Virginia College
Virginia College is for profit educational institution founded in Roanoke, VA in 1983. Virginia College offers degrees related to specific careers and occupations. It is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. The College is focused on offering a career-focused program to students.
Virginia College’s online students receive the same education as on-campus students and schedule classes to fit into their schedule. Small classes and instructors with working experience in their field, 24 different online academic programs are designed to provide a foundation for the student’s chosen career.
Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice
Students with a job or family responsibilities interested in a criminal justice related career may gain associate, bachelor, or master degrees in law enforcement, courts, juvenile justice, parole, corrections, and the private sector through programs available online. Virginia College’s online criminal justice program includes courses designed to allow students to shape their education to achieve their educational and career goals.
A degree in Criminal Justice at Virginia College is right for anyone who is employed in the field, for someone interested in pursuing a career in the field, or someone who has a strong wish to make their community a better place to live. The program helps individuals succeed in a variety of criminal justice positions, including courtroom administrator, private security officer, probation or parole officer, juvenile delinquency case manager, corrections officer, and more. Additional police academy training may be necessary for law enforcement positions.
A Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice is designed to provide a complete overview in law enforcement, criminal law, the criminal court system, corrections, and private security that will allow students to pursue career opportunities. The curriculum includes course work in each these areas, along with courses designed to improve computer skills to enhance the technical knowledge applicable to the justice system.
Upon successful completion of this program, graduates should be able to:
- Document the criminal justice process from law enforcement to the administration of justice through corrections
- Identify the effects of practical and procedural law on individuals in the criminal justice system
- Explain the nature and extent of crime in the United States and theories of what causes it
- Describe the historical and philosophical foundations of corrections in America
- Classify the safety and security of business enterprises as they relate to retail, private, and industrial aspects
- Analyze the principles, strategies, theory, techniques, and scope of criminal investigations
- Trace the historical development and current structure of local, state, and federal court systems
6. Everest University Online
Everest University, formerly Florida Metropolitan University, was founded in 1999 with several campuses located across the state of Florida. As a for profit university, Florida Metropolitan University began in Tampa with five course offerings and rapidly expanded to many on campus and online campus programs by 2007. The university then became known as Everest University Online.
Everest gives online students assistance with personalized support, skilled instruction offered by professionals, career oriented courses, and flexible scheduling for their programs.
Everest is an excellent choice for students desiring training for a career in the field of criminal justice. The university currently offers two bachelor degree programs for those applying for an entry level or middle management position in the field of criminal justice.
The Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
The Bachelor of Applied Science degree offers a solid educational backdrop to secure an entry level or middle management security or corrections position. The Bachelor of Science degree provides students with training for middle or higher level positions in a variety of criminal justice careers.
Courses included for students seeking a criminal justice degree at Everest include: criminal evidence, criminal procedure, interview and interrogations, criminal investigations, criminal justice communications, introduction to terrorism, and introduction to corrections.
Through the university’s comprehensive criminal justice program, students can gain the skills necessary to maintain law and order, protect life and property, and conduct administration, planning, and research services. It is designed to prepare the student for a career in loss prevention, probation, corrections, and security administration.
The curriculum offers a balance of theory and application in the areas of:
- Criminal evidence
- Criminal procedure
- Introduction to corrections
- Criminal justice report writing
- Constitutional law
- Concepts of criminal law
- Computer applications
- Juvenile delinquency
The program includes a wide ranging study of the national criminal justice system, various correctional organizations, and law enforcement agencies. Students learn the nature and extent of crime and delinquency, and the cause and explanation of criminal behavior. Rules of evidence, basic investigative techniques and the philosophy of criminal law are additional areas of study.
Students may also look into specialized areas such as drug operations, gang activity, probation, and criminal justice management. Further areas of interest include: computer crime, interview and interrogations, victimology, and alternatives to incarceration.
The Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
The Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice offers a specialized overview of the criminal justice system, preparing students for entry-level positions in a wide range of criminal justice careers. Students can also pursue a concentration in Criminal Investigations or Homeland Security.
7. University of Phoenix
The University of Phoenix was founded by John Sperling within Phoenix, AZ in 1976. Sperling created the for profit institute for higher learning because “working adult students were often invisible on traditional campuses and treated as second class citizens.”
The university began with just 8 students and within two years expanded to San Jose, CA. During 1989, the University began its first online programs and quickly grew to over 200 campuses worldwide offering more than 100 programs at the associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degree levels.
Online Criminal Justice Degrees
The University has personalized, career specific online programs for students seeking to expand their skills and careers. For students seeking training within the field of criminal justice, the university offers an associate of arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in criminal justice administration and security.
At every academic level, students learn from leaders in the field such as sheriffs, district attorneys, chiefs of police, special agents, security executives, and wardens on how to develop leadership skills for a career in law enforcement, the criminal court system, corrections, and security. Courses allow students to concentrate in Criminal Justice Administration, Organization Security and Management, and Administration of Justice and Security.
At the University of Phoenix, a student’s professional knowledge and training are valuable. Through the Prior Learning Assessment, the university offers college credit for training. For example, a student can earn 30 college credits for police academy training, or 12 credits for State Corrections Academy training.
The university is an academic ally of the FBI National Academy Associates and a strategic academic partner of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. It further supports collaborative efforts with ASIS International, which seeks to identify professional competencies, trends and workplace priorities in the field of security.
Through undergraduate and graduate programs, students gain an understanding of criminal justice and security practices and develop leadership skills. The university offers specialized areas of study in management, human services and health care, as well as programs that provide a greater awareness of how technology has impacted private and public sector security.
With a curriculum that emphasizes current theories, as well as real-world situations, students quickly see how they can have a positive influence in their community.
8. Portland State University
Portland State University is a public research university located in the southwest University District of downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. Founded in 1946, it has the largest overall undergraduate and graduate enrollment of any university in the state of Oregon, and is also the only public urban university in the state that is located in a major metropolitan city. Portland State offers Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, as well as doctorates in seventeen fields. Portland State is governed by a board of trustees.
Portland State is the only university in Oregon to offer a Four-Year Degree Guarantee. PSU promises that full-time freshmen who sign up for the guarantee will get the support and courses they need to graduate in four years – or PSU will not charge tuition for any remaining courses.
Online Bachelor’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Taught by an award-winning, nationally recognized faculty, the Criminology & Criminal Justice degree programs are among the most popular at Portland State University. CCJ brings together students with varied backgrounds who take what they learn about crime and justice back to their communities.
CCJ program graduates are highly qualified candidates for jobs in local, state, and federal law enforcement; corrections; probation and parole; security; non-profit social services; public service; and for top law and graduate schools. CCJ works with over 100 internship placement agencies and 20 to 25percent of graduating CCJ majors are offered a full time position by their internship agency.
Undergraduate Online Programs
Undergraduates and post-baccalaureate students can choose to complete CCJ degrees and certificates completely online to ensure consistent quality, on-time degree completion, and career-readiness. Students in the fully online program are not required to visit campus or “attend” online courses during specific hours.
PSU is one of the top schools in the nation, according to US News & World Report. Its Division of Criminology and Criminal Justice has been offering a high-quality education to students interested in a career in law enforcement since the 1940s.
PSU received a ranking as one of the Best 378 Colleges in 2014 by The Princeton Review and a ranking as an “Up-and-Coming School” in 2014 by U.S. News and World Report.
9. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University, also known as SNHU, is a private, nonprofit, university situated between Manchester and Hooksett, New Hampshire. The university is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and has specialized accreditation for several of its schools and programs.
As a non-profit institution and a pioneer in the field of online education, Southern New Hampshire University has the experience, dedicated student support and resources, and commitment to help students succeed online. SNHU world-class student services, including an online bookstore, online library, tutoring and 24/7 tech support, were all developed specifically with the busy adult learner in mind. SNHU also has one of the lowest tuition rates in the nation and a tuition freeze through June 2015
Undergraduate Degrees in Criminal Justice
Student will gain the education they need with SNHU’s online Criminal Justice programs. They’ll learn to analyze and critique operational and public policy from social, administrative, judicial and managerial viewpoints. As an undergraduate, student will also have the chance to specialize in Criminology, Legal Studies and Advocacy, Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, or Police Administration and Operations. These specializations will prepare an individual for a career in law enforcement, corrections, juvenile justice and public administration.
The Bachelor of Science in Crime and Criminology curriculum gives students an overview of the U.S. justice system. Students take courses in criminal law, corrections and legal research as part of the requirements to complete a degree.
The university’s online programs are designed to accommodate working adults, parents and those with multiple responsibilities. Students will have access to class online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as access to a dedicated and experienced faculty. Choose from these bachelor of science degree programs:
- BS in Criminal Justice
- BS in Criminal Justice / Criminology
- BS in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
- BS in Criminal Justice/Legal Studies and Advocacy
- BS in Criminal Justice/Police Administration and Operations
SNHU has been offering online education programs since 1996. An impressive 95 percent of students attending this school find jobs on graduation.
10. Penn State University
The Pennsylvania State University is a public, state research university with campuses and facilities across Pennsylvania. Founded in 1855, the university has a triple mission of teaching, research, and public service. Its teaching mission includes offering undergraduate, graduate, professional and continuing education programs through resident and online instruction.
Criminal Justice Degrees
As a major, Criminal Justice courses teach students the communications and analytical skills necessary to succeed in a career in the field. With a mixed discipline approach to the problem of crime and society, the program prepares students to pursue graduate studies in criminal justice or related disciplines, and helps students to become effective problem solvers as professionals in their chosen field.
The university approaches the study of criminal justice as an applied science, teaching both theoretical and practical aspects of crime control and justice. The major offers students the opportunity and help to learn about of the roles of policing, laws, courts, and corrections as they apply to the adult and juvenile justice systems.
Students also learn about critical issues and the history related to the role of gender and race/ethnicity in the criminal justice system, victimology, and ethics in criminal justice.
Students earning a bachelor degree in Criminal Justice should:
- Understand each of the three main components of the criminal justice system and how they relate to each other
- Be able to evaluate critically both current and future crime control policy proposals and criminal justice research
- Understand the complexity of the crime experience and how it relates to individual, social, and cultural factors
This major includes the study of law enforcement, courts, and corrections. This is done for each topic individually and as a component of the criminal justice system. Studies also include theories of crime causation and crime control policy. Students should expect to be required to complete reading, writing, and critical thinking skills assignments. These skills will be rigorously applied and developed throughout the course of the degree program.
The Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice provides a broad based liberal arts background for the study of justice, crime, and the criminal justice system. The Bachelor of Science degree offers educational enrichment in fields not traditionally considered part of the liberal arts. Either degree is excellent preparation for a career in criminal justice.
Penn State World Campus
Penn State World Campus offers the student the convenience and flexibility of learning online. Degrees and certificates are developed specifically for online learners and typically start and end on a semester basis .With Penn State World Campus, a student’s degree and transcript will be identical to those earned by on-campus learners.
The Penn State criminal justice program is certified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Services. The University has been offering distance education programs to students for over a century. Students enrolled in this program have the flexibility to log in to their online classroom at any time of the day or night to get assignments and contact their instructors and fellow students.