Best Online Criminal Justice Programs in Washington State

If you’re a criminal justice professional in Washington State who wants to advance in your career, an online criminal justice degree programs is a great choice. There are several factors to keep in mind when considering criminal justice programs in Washington State. Employers typically prefer a degree from an accredited institution.  Should you decide to transfer to another school, you’re more likely to receive credit for the courses you’ve already completed if you’ve earned them from an officially recognized program. Also, consider the cost of the program.  Attending online criminal justice programs in Washington State may be less expensive than enrolling in on-site schools.  Not all remote learning programs are created equal.  Make sure the school is transparent about its tuition and fees.

Look for online criminal justice programs in Washington State that give you many of the same benefits as attending in-person.  You should be able to connect with your instructors when you have questions, and you should have access to career services.  Take a look at the course offerings, too, to ensure they’re a good fit for your career goals.

Featured Schools

How We Ranked the Best Online Criminal Justice Programs in Washington State

The Criminal Justice Degree Hub ranking of the best online criminal justice programs in Washington State begins with accredited, reputable colleges and universities offering fully online and hybrid programs. Programs are ranked by cost, potential salary, and student satisfaction, using data from IPEDS and Niche. 

1. Washington State University-Global Campus

Students looking for the best online criminal justice programs in Washington state should check out Washington State University Global Campus’ BA in criminal justice and criminology. This program was started in 1943 and is one of the oldest US criminal justice programs. According to the school’s website, it has been ranked the top criminal justice degree available online. This online degree features faculty members from a number of different disciplines. Current graduates whole jobs in law enforcement, including courts and correctional facilities in Washington. Other graduates go on to work in corporate security or go to law school.

Washington State University Global Campus is a popular online college that has both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students have a lot of flexibility in where and when they study, thanks to the convenient format of courses. Online students are in the same degree as on campus students. U.S. News & World Report considers WSU one of the best US online undergraduate programs.

Program: Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology

2. Bellevue College

Bellevue College also has one of the top online criminal justice programs in Washington state. Learners receive an interdisciplinary education focusing on social science and the rule of crime in society. This program offers students the ability to master the knowledge they need to exceed in America’s criminal justice system. This includes court systems, law enforcement and corrections. As participants in this program, students study criminal justice ethics, constitutional law, and written and verbal communications. Students emerge ready for immediate employment or to pursue further educational opportunities.

Bellevue College is located in the Seattle area and this midsize school has 7,000 undergraduate students. With a generous acceptance rate of 100%, Bellevue provides opportunities for students who might not otherwise get the opportunity to go to college. Popular majors are system administration, business, and liberal arts and humanities. Approximately three out of four students believe that Bellevue professors prepare well for their classes.

Program: AAS-T in Criminal Justice

3. University of Washington, Tacoma

The University of Washington Tacoma offers a BA in criminal justice that is one of the best online criminal justice programs in Washington state. Learners can take classes online or on campus and study courses in a multi-disciplinary environment. Those who graduate from the program master the theoretical understanding of discipline and how to apply the scientific method to the criminal justice system in America. Students get a well-rounded education focusing on all aspects of the US justice system.  

The University of Washington Tacoma is located in the Seattle area. There are over 4,000 undergraduate students enrolled in this small institution. Admissions is somewhat competitive with 87% of applicants receiving the nod to study at the university. Those who are accepted and choose to study at the school may choose majors such as psychology, nursing and information science. UW Tacoma has a fairly generous acceptance policy, giving many students an opportunity to pursue higher education.

Program: BA

4. Western Washington University

Another one of the best online criminal justice programs in Washington state, Western Washington University’s BA in sociology welcomes students who want to develop their talent for critical thinking and improve their writing ability. The program includes statistical computing that can help them further develop their careers. Some specializations offered at Western Washington include criminology and criminal justice and family and the life course.

For those who take courses on campus, Western Washington is located in a beautiful natural environment. Online students can also make connections through advanced tools and the help of their instructors. Western Washington University is ranked number four among the state’s top public universities.

Program: Sociology BA 

5. Central Washington University

Central Washington University offers a plethora of some of the best online criminal justice programs in Washington state. Students can get their bachelor of arts in law and justice and continue with a master of science in law and justice if they so choose. The program focuses on helping students prepare for employment in criminal justice or to go to law school.

Central Washington University is located 90 minutes east of the Seattle area. The school offers 135 undergraduate majors and dozens of graduate programs. This large school has 12,000 students and ranks highly among best-value colleges. Some of the most popular majors include information technology, music, business, education and writing. Central Washington accepts 85% of students who apply and 90% of those who attend the school receive some form of financial aid.

Program: Bachelor of Arts | Law and Justice (online or on-campus)

Master of Science | Law and Justice

6. St. Martin’s University

Saint Martin’s University is among the best online criminal justice programs in Washington state. The school’s criminal justice major focuses on scientific approaches to the criminal justice field. Graduates emerge with a solid background in both theory and practice. Learners can also choose minors in psychology, political science, sociology or social work.

Saint Martin’s offers an interdisciplinary social science program that prepares candidates for positions in the criminal justice field. It provides a solid background for advanced education in graduate or law school. The school’s long history dates back to 1895 and this private university has one of the most beautiful campuses in the Pacific Northwest. It still follows the Benedictine philosophy for educating students. Those values include service, community, faith and reason. The University has a high acceptance rate of 96%, giving most of those who want to attend an opportunity to do so.

ProgramBA in Criminology and Criminal Justice

7. Pierce College

Another one of the best online criminal justice programs in Washington state can be found at Pierce College. Pierce has a criminal justice degree that prepares learners for the responsibility and rigors of careers in law enforcement or criminal justice. Students participate in traditional classroom exercises and also complete internship opportunities at prisons, jails, and other law enforcement agencies. The school aims to provide balanced training and connections so that students can find a rewarding career after graduation.

Pierce is located in the Seattle area and has about 1,800 undergraduate students. It accepts all students who apply and has many majors including data processing, Liberal arts and humanities and system administration. The school’s generous acceptance rate helps students who don’t test well on standardized tests pursue a college education. Approximately 80% of graduates find work in their field within two years.

ProgramAAS in Criminal Justice

8. Shoreline Community College

Students who go to Shoreline Community College for criminal justice can choose from on-campus or online classes. Participants train alongside seasoned law enforcement and criminal justice professionals. Students looking for the best online criminal justice programs in Washington state should also consider shoreline Community College.

Located in the Seattle area, this small school has 2,900 undergraduate students and accepts everyone who applies. Those who answer the call choose from many majors that include manufacturing, automotive mechanics and liberal arts and humanities. Shoreline Community College is ranked third among the best community colleges in the state.

Program: Online or On-Campus

9. Centralia College

Centralia College has a wide range of choices for students who wish to study criminal justice. Students can choose to pursue an AA in criminal justice or obtain a certificate of proficiency in crime scene investigation. Other students may decide to get an associate of technical arts and criminal justice at one of the best online criminal justice programs in Washington state. This program helps students develop communication skills and problem-solving techniques. For adults who already work as deputy sheriffs, police officers or state troopers, Centralia college awards up to 45 credits for work experience.

Centralia has 1,700 undergraduate students, and this small school accepts 100% of the applicants. Popular majors range from property management to culinary arts. The school’s generous acceptance policy means that anyone wishing to get their education can do so there. A recent student survey reveals that 87% of students think professors are well prepared for classes. Another 70% of students said that they could get classes they needed or wanted.

Program: Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice (online)

Associate of Technical Arts | Criminal Justice

Associate of Technical Arts | Criminal Justice

Certificate of Proficiency | Crime Scene Investigation

10. City University of Seattle

City University of Seattle also has one of the best online criminal justice programs in Washington state. this school offers a BS in criminal justice and students can focus on justice administration. As part of this program, students gain advanced technical knowledge needed to succeed in justice administration roles. City University accepts up to 36 transfer credits.

The school has received recognition as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the NSA and Department of Homeland security. CityU is a highly regarded private university located in Seattle. It accepts everyone who applies and has fewer than 200 undergraduate students. Due to the school’s generous acceptance policy, everyone who wants to attend gets the opportunity to do so. In a recent survey, 88% of students agreed that their professors prepare well for lectures.

Program: Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)

Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice: Cyber Forensic Investigation

Master of Science | Information Security

How Do I Choose a Criminal Justice Degree Program in Washington State?

First, make sure the school is accredited.  This means that it has met strict standards in terms of curriculum quality, teacher training, and day-to-day management.  Regional accreditation carries more “weight” than national accreditation.  You can check with the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to make sure the online criminal justice schools in Washington State that you are interested in have received an official seal of approval from a legitimate accrediting body.  Online programs may also receive an approval stamp from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.  

Be sure that you can satisfy the technical requirements of online criminal justice schools in Washington State.  You will need a reliable internet connection to complete your coursework.  You may also be required to have a certain operating system and other tools, such as a camera and microphone, for participating in class discussions.

Another important factor to think about is the course schedule.  Most online programs offer more flexibility than on-ground schools.  However, not all of them follow the same academic timeline.  Some schools may require you to attend class at set times, while others may give you more leeway to complete assignments and participate in virtual discussions when it’s convenient for you, as long as you get everything done by the end of the semester.  Similarly, some schools may allow you to do most of your work remotely while requiring you to take exams in person.  Others may allow you to take tests remotely and submit them through a digital portal.  This scheduling flexibility makes online learning a great fit for people who want to improve their career prospects without taking time off from their current job to go to school.

How is the Job Market for Criminal Justice in Washington State?

According to ZipRecruiter, the outlook for criminal justice jobs in Washington State is promising, especially in Seattle, as large cities tend to be employment hubs.  Look up job openings on any of the major search sites (Glassdoor, Indeed) and you’ll find a variety of positions available, such as police officer, detective, and crime scene investigator

A variety of Washington State criminal justice jobs can be found outside Seattle, too.  So if the big city isn’t for you, there may be employment prospects to pursue in other parts of the state.  Pay varies considerably among positions, suggesting that, with experience, there are ample opportunities for upward mobility. 

Whether you’re new to criminal justice or would like to advance in the field, a degree can put new career possibilities within your reach.  A degree can put you ahead of the pack when it comes to landing leadership positions, which can put you on track for higher pay and better job security than you would have without the credential.  For some positions, you may be able to substitute a degree for years of job experience, which can allow you to fast-track your career.  

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

You’re probably wondering if spending the time and money to get a criminal justice degree will give you a worthwhile return on your investment.  Like employment opportunities in this part of the country, the criminal justice salary in Washington State is promising.  For instance, top earners in Seattle make as much as $108,560 or more.  Pay ranges quite a bit though, from $21,712-$224,720.  Those in the 75th earnings percentile can expect to be compensated about $67,850 per year.  As you might expect, people serving as directors and managers receive the highest compensation.In some cases, the criminal justice salary in Washington state is higher than the national average.  The average salary for a police officer in the state is $70,640.  Nationally, it’s only $58,720.  Typical pay for detectives and investigators in Washington State is $80,410, while nationally it’s slightly less — $79,030.  Pursuing additional experience and professional development opportunities can boost your paycheck.

Related Rankings:

Best States for a Criminal Justice Career

Cities for a Criminal Justice Career

Best Online Associate’s in Criminal Justice

Online Criminal Justice Degrees

Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice