Affordable Online Criminal Justice Degrees

Do you want to work with cutting-edge technology in a fulfilling career promoting public safety? With a criminal justice degree, you can pursue a job in law enforcement, corrections, or even private investigation. It is estimated that as of 1950, there were fewer than 1,000 students studying criminal justice in the U.S. Today, criminal justice has become a popular degree choice for those who want to pursue a career in law enforcement, courts, corrections, and more. An online criminal justice program gives you the opportunity to embark on an exciting academic journey that will expose you to the inner-workings of our country’s complex criminal justice and law enforcement systems. Your degree will equip you with the skills and expertise necessary to work at the local, state, or federal level.

An online criminal justice program is an affordable and flexible alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar learning, and with job prospects growing steadily in the upcoming years, now is an opportune time to pursue a degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of jobs in the most popular criminal justice tracks are expected to increase by around 4% between 2014 and 2024.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of jobs in the most popular criminal justice tracks are expected to increase by around 4%.

If you have self-discipline and are dedicated to serving and protecting the public while truly making a difference in your community, earning a criminal justice degree online is the first step to launching your career. Read on to learn more about the many criminal justice careers you can pursue with your degree, and explore our ranking of the best online schools for criminal justice.

Did You Know?

The first modern American police forces were established in Boston in 1838, followed by New York City in 1844. Today, criminal justice students can pursue a wide range of careers in law enforcement, courts, corrections, and more. Learn more about your degree and careers options.

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What Can You Do With a Degree in Criminal Justice?

Police Officer

$60,270 Avg Annual Salary
Varies Degree Required

Police officers work in communities to prevent and intervene in crimes. They patrol our roads and highways, issue tickets to reckless drivers, and arrest those who break the law or threaten public safety. Exceptional police officers are expected to go above and beyond to make the lives of the public safer and better. Whether they are saving a life or simply interacting with the community in a positive way, compassionate and hard-working cops are needed now more than ever. Their careers are fast-paced, challenging, sometimes dangerous, and invaluable to the communities they serve.

  • Degree Required: High School Diploma, AA in Criminal Justice
  • Licensure Required: Graduation from an agency’s academy training program
  • Time Commitment: 2 years
  • Median Annual Salary (Entry-Level): $42,910
  • Median Annual Salary (Mid-Career): $58,320
  • Median Annual Salary (Late-Career): $76,160

Private Detective

$35,070 Avg Annual Salary
Varies Degree Required

A private investigator works for individuals or organizations collecting valuable evidence pertaining to legal cases or personal disputes. Private investigators frequently work alongside lawyers in criminal and civil cases to find and reveal information that aids clients. Some private investigators work on high profile capital punishment cases, while others work for organizations like insurance agencies to investigate possible cases of fraud. Private investigators help find the missing puzzle pieces other legal professionals may miss, and they play integral behind-the-scenes roles in the criminal justice system. Private investigators usually have prior experience working as police officers or as detectives for law enforcement agencies.

  • Degree Required: AA in Criminal Justice, BA in Criminal Justice
  • Licensure Required: Varies; may require licensing
  • Time Commitment: 4 years
  • Median Annual Salary (Entry-Level): $35,070
  • Median Annual Salary (Mid-Career): $45,610
  • Median Annual Salary (Late-Career): $62,820

Fish and Game Warden

$52,780 Avg Annual Salary
Varies Degree Required

Fish and game wardens, also known as conservation or wildlife officers, work for state and federal parks and wildlife departments. They ensure that wildlife areas are conserved and wildlife populations can flourish in their natural habitats. They stop and apprehend poachers and those caught destroying wildlife. They also provide safety information to tourists and visitors in the areas they serve. They are environmental experts regarding the wildlife and plants in their areas and know the best applicable conservation practices. If you love nature and have an interest in working in law enforcement, criminal justice careers in fish and game law enforcement might be a great fit for you.

  • Degree Required: High School Diploma, AA in Criminal Justice
  • Licensure Required: Basic training program.
  • Time Commitment: 4 years
  • Median Annual Salary (Entry-Level): $42,780
  • Median Annual Salary (Mid-Career): $52,780
  • Median Annual Salary (Late-Career): $62,870

Criminal Justice Careers by the Numbers

The career outlook for probation officers, police officers, and transit and railroad police officers will remain particularly stable over the next decade. Regardless of your niche and specific interests, criminal justice professionals working for local, state, or federal agencies are always in demand.

Top Criminal Justice Careers by Income and Growth Rate
Career Salary Job Outlook
Detectives and Criminal Investigators $77,210 – 1%
Police and Sherriff’s Patrol Officers $58,320 + 5%
Transit and Railroad Police $59,670 + 4%
Probation Officers and Correctional Specialists $49,360 + 4%
BLS employment projections data, 2014-2024

Highest Paying Criminal Justice Careers by Sector


What Does it Take to Succeed in Criminal Justice?

Successful professionals in the field of criminal justice typically share a similar set of skills, traits, and talents. The following are just some of the skills you will build upon in an online criminal justice degree program.

  • Empathy

    Police officers need to understand the perspectives of a wide variety of people in their jurisdiction and have a willingness to help the public.

  • Attention to detail

    Police officers and other criminal justice agents need to be able to notice details like erratic driving on the roads and missing information in suspects’ stories.

  • Problem-solving

    Careers in criminal justice almost always require the ability to solve complex problems and think on your feet. Some situations can be dangerous, which is why problem-solving skills are particularly important.

  • Communication

    This applies to both verbal and nonverbal communication skills. People should be comfortable speaking and sharing information with you, so listening and communication skills are both essential.

  • Conflict Resolution

    Criminal justice careers, particularly those of police officers, parole officers, and probation officers, inherently involve conflict with civilians and clients. Conflict resolution skills are a must to de-escalate possibly dangerous situations quickly.

  • Compassion

    Police officers and other law enforcement officials need to be able to put themselves in other people’s shoes so they can approach difficult interpersonal situations from a place of understanding and care, allowing them to make the best decisions for all involved.


Associate Degree in Criminal Justice: An Overview

Who should pursue an associate degree in criminal justice?

Many local and state law enforcement agencies require at least an associate degree for certain positions, including police officer positions. For positions that require a high school diploma, an associate degree can give you an edge in the market.

How long does it take to get a teaching degree at this level?

Two years.

Is a thesis or capstone usually required?

No.

What can you do with a teaching degree at this level?

Police officer, private investigator, correctional officer, fish and game warden.

What's the average salary for someone who holds this degree?

The average salary is $42,910.

Core Concepts

The core concepts covered in a criminal justice degree program at the associate level prepare you to work in a variety of careers that require in-depth knowledge of the justice system, court system, and advancements in the field. Here are some of the essential concepts you can expect to cover in two-year criminal justice online schools:

  • Social Justice: Evaluate issues of justice, professionalism, and ethics within law enforcement, the courts, and the private sector security industry.
  • Crime Prevention: Learn about the causes and factors that contribute to crime and ways to mitigate those factors to prevent future crimes.
  • Forensics: Develop an understanding of the basics of forensic science and its role in the criminal justice system.
  • Court and Corrections: Learn about how the corrections and court systems work and how careers in criminal justice relate to those systems.

Course Highlights

Introduction to Criminal Justice

Description This course covers the nature, scope, and impact of crime in the U.S., independent and interdependent operations and procedures of police, courts and corrections, and introductory theories of crime and delinquency.
Job Skill
  • Delve into the numerous components of the justice system including law enforcement, legal and judicial process, and correctional operations.
  • Career opportunities will be fully covered throughout the course.

Ethics in Criminal Justice

Description This course is an examination of the ethical dilemmas those in criminal justice degree careers face and how those ethical dilemmas can be dealt with in a way that improves society.
Job Skill
  • After completing this course, you will have the ability to view situations that arise using an ethical lens and respond to situations in ethically appropriate ways.

Writing for the Criminal Justice Professions

Description This course teaches you written communication skills you’ll need to file reports and produce documents for criminal justice, legal, and social services agencies.
Job Skill
  • Upon successful completion of this course, you will have the ability to help create a paper trail for criminal and legal cases.

Criminal Law

Description This course is an overview of the foundations of criminal law. It exposes you to pertinent laws and how courts handle situations when those laws are broken.
Job Skill
  • When you’ve completed this course, you’ll know more about how society is governed and how to properly police the civilian population according to major laws.

Affordable Schools With Online Associate Programs

Affordable Online Criminal Justice Associate Degrees
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1

East Mississippi Community College

Value Score 8.04
Average Tuition $2,200 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 95%
Net Price $3,490
Graduation Rate 27%
Student to Faculty Ratio 12:1
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 45%
Number of Programs 65 (Online)
A public community college serving six counties in East Central Mississippi, EMCC focuses on principles of leadership, educational excellence, online and on-campus accessibility, and freedom in teaching and learning. EMCC offers a wide array of academic, career and technical education, and workforce development programs.

Academic offerings include foreign language, English, philosophy, biology, and political science. Students interested in taking career and technical education have more than 30 areas from which to choose, such as health care, industrial maintenance, and hotel and restaurant management. Eligible students who are home-schooled or attending public or private high school can participate in EMCC’s dual enrollment program. eLearning at EMCC is offered through the Mississippi Virtual Community College. Among online programs is the associate of arts (AA) degree in criminal justice with courses such as police administration and organizations, homeland security, criminology and traffic law.
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2

Oconee Fall Line Technical College

Value Score 7.50
Average Tuition $2,168 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 98%
Net Price $2,168
Graduation Rate 37%
Student to Faculty Ratio 11:1
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 42%
Number of Programs 12 (Online)
LMS Blackboard
A college of the Technical College System of Georgia, OFTC provides residents of east central Georgia with career and technical education, adult education, continuing education courses, and business and industry services. Programs at OFTC can lead to an associate of applied science (AAS) degree, diploma, or certificate.

Among programs of study at OFTC are accounting, business technology, carpentry, welding, and respiratory care. The school offers courses that are 100% online using the Blackboard learning management system, hybrid, or web-enhanced. Its criminal justice associate degree program emphasizes a combination of criminal justice theory and its applications in real-world contexts. Students can enroll in the program any semester during the year, and can complete this criminal justice associate degree online in six semesters if they study full time. OFTC guarantees that if an employer finds that an OFTC graduate is deficient in one or more competencies, the college will retrain the worker at no cost.
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3

Holmes Community College

Value Score 7.40
Average Tuition $2,000 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 91%
Net Price $4,896
Graduation Rate 25%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 47%
Number of Programs 48 (Online)
LMS Canvas
Located in Central Mississippi, HCC is a comprehensive institution with educational opportunities available to students through campus-based and distance education programs. Holmes’ academic and career/technical courses provide technical and industry-specific knowledge. Its two-year associate of arts degrees, certificate programs, and occupational skills training prepare graduates for the workforce or to transfer to a four-year college.

Areas of study include education, nursing, business administration, education, automotive technology, and criminal justice. When enrolled at Holmes, students can take courses online from any member of the Mississippi Virtual Community College system, a cooperative of 14 of Mississippi’s community college districts. Holmes’ offers cheap online associate degrees in criminal justice focusing on topics such as police administration and organization, juvenile justice, criminal law, corrections, and homeland security.
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4

Itawamba Community College

Value Score 7.37
Average Tuition $2,300 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 97%
Net Price $5,109
Graduation Rate 26%
Student to Faculty Ratio 19:1
Number of Programs 91 (Online)
Whether students are planning to earn as associate degree, diploma, or transfer to a four-year school, ICC offers numerous options. The school, with campuses in Fulton, Tupelo, and Belden, Mississippi, prepares students for careers in a wide range of fields, including accountancy, health care, education, forensic science, and law enforcement.

Students can enroll in online programs offered as semester-based and short-term classes. The AA in criminal justice prepares graduates to work in areas such as probation and parole, corrections, court services and administration, and juvenile justice. This is one of the most affordable online associate degrees in criminal justice; at ICC, more than 80% of students receive a grant, loan, or scholarship. Further, ICC’s supporting counties participate in a tuition-guarantee program.
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5

Hutchinson Community College

Value Score 7.19
Average Tuition $2,432 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 90%
Net Price $5,733
Graduation Rate 29%
Student to Faculty Ratio 15:1
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 38%
Number of Programs 18 (Online)
LMS Proprietary
With programming that is recognized as some of the best in the state, HCC prepares graduates to enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year college. The school, located in Hutchinson, Kansas, offers academic and career and technical education programming.

Fields of study at HCC include agriculture, business, humanities, industrial technology, and public safety. Students can enroll in various AA/AS degree and certificate programs, with more than 250 courses offered online. HCC Online’s AAS–criminal justice is an affordable option that is 100% online, with flexible start dates that provide maximum convenience. Areas of study include juvenile delinquency and justice, criminal procedures, and ethical decision making in criminal justice. HCC notes that online students have one-on-one faculty-learner contact so that even from a distance, faculty and staff are in close contact with each student.
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Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice: An Overview

Who should pursue a bachelor's degree in criminal justice?

Those interested in higher-level and administrative careers with criminal justice degree requirements.

How many years will it take to complete?

A bachelor’s degree is typically completed within four years of full-time study.

Is a thesis or capstone usually required?

Some programs may require the successful completion of a thesis or capstone.

What type of jobs does this degree prepare you for?

FBI agent, CIA officer, DEA agent, probation officer.

What's the average salary for someone who holds this degree?

The average salary is $63,000.

Core Concepts

The curricula covered in four-year online schools for criminal justice provide you with comprehensive knowledge about the legal system, the corrections system, criminal behavior, and human psychology as it relates to crime. These are some of the core concepts you will go over in a bachelor’s criminal justice program:

  • Legal System: Develop an understanding of the legal system as it relates to criminal law and the policing of communities.
  • Psychological Profiles: Learn about the psychological and sociological factors that contribute to crime.
  • Crime Research: Research methods of reducing crime, prison recidivism, and conflict in society as a whole.
  • Human Diversity: Study human diversity in criminal justice and learn how to work with diverse populations.

Course Highlights

Criminology

Description This course provides an introduction to the study of crime, criminal behavior, and laws that pertain to criminal justice careers. It will also delve into more specific topics that relate to policing communities.
Job Skill Empowered with the knowledge you need of the field of criminal justice, you will be able to provide unique insights into criminal cases on the job.

Criminal Law

Description This course will familiarize you with the most common laws that pertain to the criminal justice and corrections systems. It will also expose you to the history and trends of criminal law in our country and around the world.
Job Skill With key knowledge of laws, you will be able to successfully work with lawyers and court system employees.

Justice and Human Rights Advocacy

Description This course will expose you to the intersection of criminal justice and human rights and discuss what criminal justice systems around the world can do to ensure proper human rights.
Job Skill After taking this course, you will be able to approach your profession in criminal justice with awareness of key human rights issues that often affect community/police relations.

Social Research Methods

Description You will learn how to research behavior patterns in populations and use that research to inform the decisions you make.
Job Skill This course will prepare you to conduct research about populations if you end up in an administrative role in the criminal justice system.

Affordable Schools With Online Bachelor’s Programs

Affordable Online Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degrees
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1

University of Central Florida

Value Score 7.71
Average Tuition $4,478 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 95%
Net Price $10,637
Graduation Rate 65%
Student to Faculty Ratio 31:1
Admissions Rate 50%
Enrollment Rate 19%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 51%
Number of Programs 33 (Online)
Founded in 1963, UCF is the second largest university in the nation. The school’s 13 colleges offer 210 degree programs leading to baccalaureate and graduate degrees from UCF’s main campus, satellites throughout Central Florida and online learning. Disciplines range from business, chemistry, and civil engineering to education, film, and gerontology. UCF is a strong research institution with researchers and students working on projects in engineering, the sciences, modeling and simulation, and healthcare, among others.

UCF offers a full portfolio of elearning programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees, 2+2 baccalaureate completion programs, and graduate certificates. UCF’s bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of science (BS) in criminal justice prepares graduates for positions including in local, state, and federal justice agencies, or for graduate-level work in criminal justice. Areas of study for this online criminal justice bachelor’s degree include prosecution and adjudication, corrections, police and society, prison and jails, and crime in the media.
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2

University of Massachusetts – Lowell

Value Score 7.16
Average Tuition $1,454 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 88%
Net Price $10,718
Graduation Rate 54%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Admissions Rate 62%
Enrollment Rate 18%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 42%
Number of Programs 50 (Online)
The UMass–Lowell is a national research university providing an affordable, high-quality education through its more than 100 bachelor’s, 40 master’s, and 30 doctoral degrees. The school focuses on learning through experience as students work side-by-side with world-renowned faculty, alumni, and professionals. In addition to traditional liberal arts areas of study, the institution offers programming in areas such as cheminformatics; bioinformatics; forensic science: chemistry; nanomaterials engineering; and nuclear engineering.

The school notes its award-winning degrees and certificates delivered through distance learning, including a bachelor’s in criminal justice online. The BS in criminal justice gives students a traditional liberal arts education, the criminal justice concentration, and proficiency in a foreign language or completion of four statistics/information technology/data analysis courses. The degree, which can be taken entirely online or in a hybrid online/in-class form, focuses on areas such as violence in America, criminal profiling, criminalistics, hate crimes, and homeland security.
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3

Florida International University

Value Score 6.85
Average Tuition $4,721 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 91%
Net Price $9,039
Graduation Rate 49%
Student to Faculty Ratio 26:1
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 48%
Number of Programs 21 (Online)
Designated a top-tier research institution, FIU emphasizes research as a significant component of the university’s mission, in addition to entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity. Located in Miami, FIU’s 190+ bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs range from engineering and business to medicine. The school’s international business program is highly ranked nationally; FIU is also the top college in the nation awarding bachelor’s and master’s degrees to Hispanic students.

FIU, recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in criminal justice education and offers a number of e-learning programs, including an online bachelor’s criminal justice degree. Its BS in criminal justice prepares students for careers in law enforcement, private security or corrections. Areas of study include criminological theory; global terrorism; criminal justice and the Constitution; and research methods in criminal justice. Each online student is paired with a success coach in order to aid his or her academic achievement.
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4

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Value Score 6.82
Average Tuition $4,176 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 86%
Net Price $6,952
Graduation Rate 33%
Student to Faculty Ratio 14:1
Admissions Rate 73%
Enrollment Rate 70%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 54%
A center of diversity and innovation, UAF is the principal research center for the state’s university system. The institution awards associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degree programs, with general program/studies, biological sciences, petroleum engineering, and mechanical engineering among its top undergraduate programs. Conversely, top graduate programs include fisheries, business administration, and counseling.

UAF offers two bachelor’s in criminal justice online. One is a BA in justice designed for professionals pursuing a career in Alaska or the Pacific Northwest, in which they learn how to solve conflicts concerning federal, state, and Native American issues. Students learn about rural and tribal justice systems as well as restorative justice. The other is UAF’s new bachelor of emergency management, designed for workers in the growing emergency services field. Areas of study include homeland security and emergency management; disaster response operations; hazards risk analysis; leadership in dangerous contexts; and cyber security management.
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5

Fort Hays State University

Value Score 6.75
Average Tuition $3,450 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 96%
Net Price $9,104
Graduation Rate 41%
Student to Faculty Ratio 17:1
Admissions Rate 88%
Enrollment Rate 42%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 75%
Number of Programs 38 (Online)
With an enrollment of more than 13,000 students, FHSU is a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation located in Hays, Kansas. Through its 28 academic departments, FHSU has a large portfolio of degree programs at the associate, baccalaureate, and graduate levels, and certificates. In addition to traditional liberal arts offerings, ranging from agriculture and education to geosciences and informatics, FHSU offers pre-professional programs in areas such as law, medicine, engineering, and public administration.

FHSU’s BA and BS in criminal justice focuses on the cause of crime and the response of society. Whether a student wants to become a law enforcement agent or a U.S. Marshal, these interdisciplinary bachelor’s in criminal justice online programs allow students to specialize in law enforcement, corrections, law, and the courts, or a combination thereof. The institution notes that it is very affordable compared to universities in and out of the state.
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Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice: An Overview

Who should pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice?

Those who want to be being highly competitive applicants for administrative and technical positions and those who are interested in doctoral studies in the field.

How many years will it take to complete?

One to two years of full-time study.­

Is a thesis or capstone usually required?

Yes, and thesis or capstone requirements usually involve extensive research in the field.

What type of jobs does this degree prepare you for?

CIA analyst, computer forensics investigator, emergency management director, information security analyst

What's the average salary for someone who holds this degree?

The average salary is $73,750.

Core Concepts

While a bachelor’s criminal justice degree online prepares you to work with the legal system, corrections system, and the public, a graduate online criminal justice degree positions you as an expert in all of these sectors. Additionally, graduate online schools for criminal justice provide you with extra insights into human behavior and the use of technology in the criminal justice field. Here are some things you will cover as you earn your master’s online criminal justice degree:

  • Public Policy: Develop an understanding of how public policy affects crime and economic outcomes for communities.
  • Policing Methods: Use data to evaluate current criminal justice methods and suggest alternatives that would have a stronger impact.
  • Leadership: Learn about ethical leadership and effective administrative tactics for managing teams in the criminal justice field.

Course Highlights

Criminal Justice Policy Research and Development

Description You will learn how to conduct research for public policy and how to write policy briefs to inform legislators of policy recommendations.
Job Skill After taking this course, you will be able to work with policy leaders at the local, state, and federal levels to enact change in the criminal justice system.

Ethical Leadership in Criminal Justice

Description This course will explore ethical issues that pertain to the jobs of leaders and administrators in the criminal justice field and take a deep dive into employee management with a focus on ethics.
Job Skill Upon completion of this course, you will be able to oversee teams with ethical issues in mind and help prevent problems on teams due to ethical concerns.

Budgeting and Planning for Criminal Justice Managers

Description This course will teach you the financial side of running a criminal justice agency and provide you with real-world knowledge of how criminal justice agencies work.
Job Skill After taking this course, you will be able to work with policy leaders at the local, state, and federal levels to enact change in the criminal justice system.

Courts and Judicial Process

Description This course will offer insights into the inner-workings of courts and the judicial process as a whole. It will also help you develop a deeper understanding of how the public interacts with the judicial system.
Job Skill AWhen working with the courts and lawyers, the information you learn in this class will come in handy to help you better navigate the legal system.

Affordable Schools With Online Master’s Programs

Affordable Online Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice
Rank School Score Toggle Content
1

Texas A&M University

Value Score 8.53
Average Tuition $6,476 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 78%
Net Price $4,304
Graduation Rate 80%
Student to Faculty Ratio 20:1
Admissions Rate 71%
Enrollment Rate 34%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 5%
Number of Programs 58 (Online)
Part of the Texas A&M System, one of the largest university networks in the nation, TAMIU sits in the southerly city of Laredo, not far from the border with Mexico. In this rich, multicultural region, it provides education for more than 7,000 students. The school’s international mission is enhanced by a strong online presence. TAMIU’s “24/7 worldwide classroom” offers students the opportunity to pursue baccalaureate and master’s degrees digitally, including an affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice.

The comprehensive program encourages students to look critically at practical applications of justice in modern society. It explores criminological theory, ethics, corrections, legal studies, and the administration of justice. Graduate students conduct research and take one of two tracks: thesis, which requires an original paper, and non-thesis, which substitutes additional hours of classwork for the writing component. TAMIU has been recognized on a national level for its budget-friendly online education.
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2

University of the Cumberlands

Value Score 8.44
Average Tuition $19,640 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 100%
Net Price $15,327
Student to Faculty Ratio 16:1
Admissions Rate 66%
Enrollment Rate 26%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 66%
A private liberal arts college based in the scenic city of Williamsburg, UC was founded by Baptists to provide access to higher education to the residents of the Cumberland Mountains. The school of 6,000 still retains an affiliation with the Southern Baptist Church, and it remains true to its vision to provide a first-class education at rates that are compatible with the means of mountain people. UC’s virtual classrooms align perfectly with this mission.

The affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice is designed for students who want to enter the world of law enforcement and for current criminal justice professionals desiring to advance their careers. It provides opportunity for rural law enforcement officers to interact with professionals who do the job on a federal or state level, and gain first-hand knowledge how these larger agencies operate. Applicants are not required to have a baccalaureate in the field to enroll in the master’s program. All courses needed to earn the degree are available online, and they’re offered in synchronous and asynchronous formats.
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3

Sam Houston State University

Value Score 8.23
Average Tuition $4,896 (In State)
Students Receiving Financial Aid 89%
Net Price $10,651
Graduation Rate 48%
Student to Faculty Ratio 21:1
Admissions Rate 74%
Enrollment Rate 38%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 40%
One of the nation’s fastest-growing universities, Sam Houston State takes its name from the famous general who is often credited with bringing Texas into the United States. The school was founded in 1879 in Huntsville, making it one of the oldest in the Lone Star State. More than 20,000 students pursue degrees in 80 fields of study at the massive institution, and it has nationally recognized programs in education, business, the performing arts, and computer science.

Its online master’s degree in criminal justice and criminology is considered among the best in the nation. The program is designed for students interested in furthering their careers in law enforcement, corrections, or rehabilitation, and focuses on criminological theory. It requires 36 credit hours, and is set up such that working officers can complete the curriculum in two years without having to miss shifts on the job. It’s available entirely online.
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4

Texas Southern University

Value Score 8.15
Average Tuition $2,000 (In State)
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 21%
One of the nation’s largest historically black universities, TSU is a comprehensive metropolitan university, sprawling for more than 150 leafy green acres in downtown Houston. A diverse student population of more than 9,200 at the school selects from among 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees, with particularly strong business management, biology, pharmacy, law, and administration of justice programs.

TSU’s online master’s of science in administration of justice degree is aimed at mid-career professionals working in law enforcement, courts, corrections, or social services, and it requires 36 credit hours to complete. Prospective students must have five years of work experience, a bachelor’s degree, and two letters of recommendation to enroll. The entire curriculum can be completed on the web, and the school uses the Blackboard platform to deliver its classes. TSU has been recognized nationally for excellence.
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5

Angelo State University

Value Score 8.00
Average Tuition $3,630 (In State)
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 77%
Founded in 1928, ASU is part of the Texas Tech University System, a consortium of four schools and learning centers devoted to delivering public education at the highest level. Based in San Angelo, in the western part of the Lone Star State, ASU confers baccalaureate and master’s degrees in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional disciplines. The school’s 9,600 students can choose from among 100 majors and concentrations and enjoy a student to faculty ratio of 19:1. Rams and Rambelles can pursue their education entirely online if they choose, selecting from among dozens of degree programs.

The affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice is offered through the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Center for Security Studies, and it’s designed for both students interested in entering the field of law enforcement and professionals currently working in criminal justice who want to broaden their knowledge base and enhance their opportunities for advancement. The degree can be completed in as few as 18 months.
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PhD in Criminal Justice: An Overview

Who should pursue a PhD in criminal justice?

Those who are interested in becoming college professors in the field or criminal justice researchers who affect policy.

How many years will it take to complete?

Five years of full-time study.

Is a thesis or capstone usually required?

Yes, a research-intensive dissertation is usually required.

What type of jobs does this degree prepare you for?

College professor, academic researcher, public policy specialist.

What's the average salary for someone who holds this degree?

The average salary is $72,470.

PhD in Criminal Justice Overview

Online criminal justice degrees at the PhD level prepare you to become a criminology expert who can teach in higher education and at the policy level. PhD online schools for criminal justice will give you a chance to do the following:

  • Policies and Procedures: Conduct and publish research about criminal justice policies and trends.
  • Criminology: Develop an in-depth understanding of criminological theory.
  • Research Methods: Apply a mix of research methods to the study of crime causes, social behavior, and the judicial system.

Next Steps: Certification

Professional certifications look great on your résumé and help differentiate you from other job applicants who are competing for the same positions as you. Below are some criminal justice certifications that may interest you.

  • The Criminal Justice Awareness and Terminology Certification: The Criminal Justice Awareness and Terminology Certification is obtained by passing an exam that tests your knowledge of essential concepts, skills, and terms that pertain to the criminal justice system. This certification lets potential employers know that you have advanced knowledge of the field that will give you an edge in the market.
  • The Certified Criminal Justice Professional Certification: This is a link to a state-specific certification program for probation and parole officers. Many states offer such certifications, which provide proof of certain levels of clinical experience and certain numbers of clinical hours in the a clinical role working for a probation or parole department.
  • Peace Officer Skills Training Certification: For law enforcement positions that require additional responsibilities and authority, this certification can be of great help in boosting your skillset and making you a more attractive job candidate. In order to obtain this certification, you must complete an applicable training program.

Sites You May Also be Interested In

Criminal Justice Job Boards

  • PoliceEmployment.com This site contains a job search tool that allows you to find law enforcement positions by state. It is simple to use, and it provides you with access to thousands of open positions around the U.S.
  • USAJOBS.gov Do you find yourself asking “what can I do with a career in criminal justice?” This is the job board for all of the positions posted by the federal government. Many of the jobs you will find on site involve national security and law enforcement.
  • Officer.com This is a site where local and state law enforcement agencies frequently post open positions. It’s a good place to start if you want to be in-the-know about the latest job openings for police officers.

Criminal Justice Blogs

  • Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice This blog publishes articles about the latest research and statistics related to juvenile and criminal justice. If you’re interested in the facts and stats related to the field, you’ll enjoy this blog.
  • Cop in the Hood This blog is run by a former Baltimore City Police Officer and current criminal justice professor. It offers insight into criminal justice statistics and research as well as what it’s like to work as a police officer in an urban area.
  • Second City Cop This entertaining and informative blog is published by a Chicago police officer. It details some of his experiences and sheds light on news stories about criminal justice from the perspective of an officer.

Professional Organizations

  • American Criminal Justice Association This is a professional association for anyone and everyone involved in criminal justice in the U.S. The association’s site offers helpful job search tools, networking opportunities, and more.
  • National Association of Police Organizations This professional organization works with unions and other associations to advance the rights of police officers and advocate for them when things go unjustly awry. This is a good association to know about if you are interested in advocacy work.
  • Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association This is an association for federal law enforcement officers. The site provides helpful legal information, resources, and networking opportunities for members.