Top Online Criminal Justice Programs (Bachelor Level)

Many law enforcement organizations are now requiring bachelor degrees to qualify for their job positions. By enrolling in an online degree program, you can earn a bachelor degree in criminal justice at your own schedule without interrupting your work life. A bachelor degree can equip you with the skills and knowledge to do your job well. Also, you will typically receive an increase in wages.

There are so many online programs that it can be daunting to choose one. We made the process easier by researching schools and selecting the best online criminal justice bachelor’s degrees. We rated the degrees using the following criteria:

  • accreditation
  • tuition cost
  • special features
  • reputation


Out of these factors, accreditation is especially important. There are two types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation has more credibility than national accreditation. Some employers will only hire graduates from regionally accredited schools. Also, if you choose to transfer schools or earn a graduate degree, many regionally accredited institutions will only accept credits and undergraduate degrees from other regionally accredited institutions. Therefore, we narrowed our search for top degrees by only considering schools with regional accreditation.

Here are our top online bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice:


Liberty University

Regional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Liberty University’s criminal justice bachelor program is one of the best bargains in online education. The low cost doesn’t mean you will get a subpar education. Liberty was ranked 6th overall by the Online Education Database (OEDb) in its 2009 rankings of undergraduate online schools that operate nationally.

Liberty has a flexible credit transfer policy. Law enforcement officials who have completed a course at an accredited police academy may be eligible to earn credits toward the degree. Some forms of military experience may also be eligible as college credit.

Liberty’s program will teach you knowledge and skills for a wide variety of criminal justice related fields. You will be equipped with communications skills as well as leadership and managerial skills required for advancement opportunities and certifications.

[Request information from Liberty University about their criminal justice program]


Post University

Regional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Post University’s criminal justice bachelor program helps you understand the operation of the criminal justice and juvenile justice system, the legal framework by which the system operates, and the concepts of ethics required to act in a professional manner.

The online classes are offered in 8-week accelerated modules. Depending on the number of credits you transfer and your level of effort, you can earn the bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months. Classes start six times a year so you don’t have to wait months to start your education like in other programs.

Upon graduation, you will receive an official, traditional diploma without online distinction. Both your diploma and university transcript will be exactly like the ones earned by on-campus students.

Post University was recognized as one of the nation’s top 20 online schools by the Online Education Database (OEDb), a resource for online degree programs. Post ranked 17th and captured top rankings in many of the factors used to rank schools including a top 10 ranking for students receiving financial aid.

[Request information from Post University about their criminal justice program]


Stevenson University

Regional accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

Stevenson University is categorized as a tier one school by U.S. News & World Report in its “2010 America’s Best Colleges” ranking. The school’s criminal justice bachelor program is an accelerated program that uses 8-week sessions so you can graduate quickly.

You can choose from two tracks, Law Enforcement and Social Service. The Law Enforcement track provides skills for police and investigative careers while the Social Service track focuses on non-law enforcement positions in fields such as juvenile justice and substance abuse.

The degree culminates with a capstone course which requires you to apply the knowledge from your classes to complete a major project on a topic of special interest.

You must have at least two years of professional work experience to qualify for admission.


Washington State University

Regional accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Washington State University (WSU) makes our list because it is a highly ranked school. WSU made The Princeton Review’s 2010 list of “Best 371 Colleges” and U.S. News & World Report granted the school tier one status.

In a study done by PayScale, WSU was named one of the ten best US colleges in the West for salary potential.

WSU’s criminal justice program is the second oldest continuous program in the United States. The department is home to the first chapter of the national criminal justice honor society, Alpha Phi Sigma.

The school’s criminal justice faculty uses “active learning” methods to teach the curriculum. These methods include a mock trial team and simulations on policy making and crisis management.


Portland State University

Regional accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Portland State University (PSU) offers an online criminal justice bachelor program with the same quality coursework as its campus-based program.

The program begins with foundational material on different areas that make up the criminal justice system. You will explore topics such as law enforcement, courts, corrections, and rehabilitation.

Once you’ve learned the basic principles, you can specialize your degree by choosing electives in various topics including neighborhood crime, role of women, white collar crime, juvenile justice, and social factors.

According to U.S. News & World Report, PSU is one of the best schools at developing a learning community. Also, PSU was named one of the best colleges in the West by The Princeton Review.

With a competitive tuition rate, the school provides value to online learners.


Fort Hays State University

Regional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Fort Hays State University (FHSU) has one of the lowest prices for a regionally accredited criminal justice bachelor degree.

FHSU’s criminal justice bachelor program prepares you for many positions in the field including federal agent, security officer, correction officer, U.S. Marshal, customs agent, court administrator, law enforcement agent, juvenile intake personnel, and victim services personnel.

You will be given an academic advisor to help you plan a course schedule that ensures you meet the requirements for graduation within a reasonable time frame. FHSU provides job placement assistance as you near graduation.

Tech support for the online classes is available 24/7.

The classes are taught by the same outstanding faculty who teach on campus, so you can be confident that you will receive a quality education.

FHSU is a growing institution with about 4,000 on-campus students and close to 6,000 online students. The online student body is diverse with over 27 countries represented.


Upper Iowa University

Regional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Upper Iowa University (UIU) offers their Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at a competitive tuition rate.

UIU placed 4th overall in Online Education Database’s (OEDb) 2009 rankings of online colleges and universities.

UIU is welcoming to members of the military. The school was recognized by Military Advanced Education in its “3rd Annual Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities” and made the 2010 list of top military-friendly schools according to G.I. Jobs. UIU offers credit for military training, scholarships for military spouses, and tuition discounts for the whole military family.

As a student, you will learn how to apply concepts from criminal justice research, legal guidelines, and ethical principles. Class highlights include Criminal Law, Juvenile Delinquency, and Ethics in Criminal Justice.

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