Top 25 Best Value Online Undergraduate Criminal Justice Programs for 2022

For adult professionals working in the criminal justice field, a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts in criminal justice, criminology, justice studies, or a related discipline is the way to promotion; for young people considering their future, it’s a starting point into a criminal justice career. The criminal justice field is changing; many police departments now require a bachelor’s degree as a basic minimum of education for law enforcement officers, and of course a college education is needed for pretty much any government agency position. But, fortunately, higher education is changing too, making a bachelor’s degree more accessible than ever.

Today, many accredited, reputable colleges and universities offer fully online bachelor degree programs in criminal justice, and many include in-demand concentrations and specializations such as Homeland Security, Juvenile Justice, and more. For flexibility and convenience, especially working around a law enforcement officer or military service member’s schedule, online is the surest way to go.

Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Value Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs 

The editors at Value Colleges have ranked the best online criminal justice bachelor’s degree programs according to our formula for value: cost, reputation, and salary potential. For the ranking, we use data from IPEDS and Niche, featuring only reputable, accredited institutions

Featured Programs

1. Bellevue University

Bellevue University’s BS in Criminal Justice comes in both a traditional and a cohort format. This online criminal justice degree combines field knowledge with essential critical thinking skills. Students in this program learn about today’s criminal justice issues. They also learn how to make a difference in the field. The course load is streamlined and accelerated, making the learning process more accessible and convenient for adult learners. 

Bellevue University focuses specifically on online degree programs. The school is home to adult learners, busy students, and others who need a lot of flexibility in their learning environment. Bellevue offers career-focused programs that help students move forward. Learners gain the knowledge and skill sets that employers expect. Bellevue is also one of the top US colleges for military members. Best Degree Program ranked Bellevue’s Criminal Justice degree the #3 most affordable criminal justice degree. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice (Traditional or Cohort)

Bellevue University

2. Penn State World Campus

The Penn State World Campus has a great online Criminal Justice bachelor degree. It’s designed for people at all stages of criminal justice knowledge. Some students may be just starting out, while others may already have some criminal justice education and experience. All of these students can thrive in this program. In any case, these students gain skills for career advancement across various criminal justice areas. Students may finish their degrees at their own pace, so they don’t have to make educational compromises. 

Penn State and its World Campus are internationally recognized for their academic rigor. The World Campus in particular adds flexibility to everything that students love about Penn State. Penn State has more than 125 years of distance learning experience, so it excels in online learning opportunities. It provides high-quality education that puts students on a pathway to success. Adult learners get the tools and support they need throughout the educational experience, so they can maximize their success and make the most of their school experiences. Penn State World Campus’s Criminal Justice program has ranked among the top 10 online bachelor’s degree programs. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice

Penn State World Campus

3. University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida offers both a BA and a BS in Criminal Justice. Both of these online criminal justice degree programs empower students to make a wide-reaching positive impact. Students explore unique solutions to today’s most important criminal justice issues. The courses introduce students to a range of potential career options. Students with especially high GPAs have the option to explore specialized topics. 

The University of Central Florida helps students make the most of their potential. And as a top research university, this school also supports the potential of the surrounding community. Students at UCF are high achievers with a passion for learning. The school delivers excellent education and expects excellence in return from its students. As a result, students learn how to thrive in the face of challenges. The University of Central Florida ranks among the most innovative colleges in the nation. 

Program: BA or BS in Criminal Justice

University of Central Florida

4. Indiana Tech

Indiana Tech University has several options for students who want an online Criminal Justice bachelor degree. These programs include enough electives for students to hone their focus and personalize their education. This way, learners get to keep an eye on their personal goals. Students prepare for careers in law enforcement, probation, and more, depending on their goals and preferences. Online students take their courses in six-week increments, which makes the course load manageable. 

Indiana Tech provides a career-driven education for all kinds of students. Teachers at Indiana Tech have real industry experience, and they bring that experience into their programs. Graduates from Indiana Tech enjoy a high employability rate. They also volunteer and participate in internships. Indiana Tech ranks highly for its return on investment, so students can rest assured that they’re getting big educational results. Forbes has ranked Indiana Tech as one of America’s top colleges. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice, BSCJ Administration, BSCJ Rehabilitation Services

Indiana Tech University

5. Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers a BS in Criminology and Justice. In this online criminal justice degree program, students explore how and why crime happens. They also learn effective methods for reducing crime. The program focuses on core criminal justice skills as well as research, leadership, and critical thinking. Students prepare for careers in criminal justice or criminal justice research. Faculty members have real-world criminology experience, which they bring to the classroom. 

Arizona State University has always been known for innovation, so of course it’s a leader in online learning. In addition to traditional students, ASU supports adults with families, working adults, military members, and more. Students at ASU explore new concepts and learn how to make an impact. They also learn how to become innovators themselves in their learning and careers. Employers seek ASU students in particular because they know these students perform well on the job. ASU ranks in the top 10 US schools for best online bachelor’s degree programs. 

Program: BS in Criminology and Justice

Arizona State University

6. Washington State University Global Campus

Washington State University’s Global Campus has an online Criminal Justice bachelor degree. This BA program draws students who want to make a difference by reducing crime. Students in this program get a deep study in criminology. They also get hands-on skills and research skills to prepare themselves for all kinds of criminal justice career paths. 

Washington State University has always delivered a great education, and its online campus adds flexibility to that education. The Global Campus is 100% online, so students can advance their careers without sacrificing their current responsibilities. WSU Global offers many student resources, including career counseling. The school provides high-value degrees that help students reach their goals. 6% of WSU Global Campus students are veterans. 3% are active-duty military members. 

Program: BA in Criminal Justice

Washington State University’s Global Campus

7. University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma offers a BS in Criminal Justice as well as minor options. This online criminal justice degree program teaches students about the law and how to uphold it. Students learn from criminal justice scholars and professionals. They study all facets of the law, including law enforcement, the court system, advocacy, and more. The fast-pace program lets students earn a degree quickly and start making the most of their knowledge right away. 

At the University of Oklahoma, students who enjoy innovation learn how to take their next career steps. The school provides training that fits within busy schedules. The University of Oklahoma’s online campus helps students make the most of their passions and turn those passions into careers. Students at this school develop a passion for lifelong learning. US News and World Report has ranked OU in the top ten online criminal justice programs. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice

University of Oklahoma

8. Florida State University

Florida State University has an online Criminal Justice bachelor degree. The degree is designed to help students make the most of their career possibilities. In addition to the BS in Criminology, FSU also has a Cyber Criminology degree option, which students may pursue if they want to reduce cyber crime rates. All FSU criminology courses are challenging but flexible, letting students learn from their own homes. 

Florida State University is a rigorous research university that makes a difference. FSU makes an impact that benefits its students and community. Its online learning programs provide a combination of excellence and flexibility. They provide a career-focused education that also includes research and critical thinking skills. FSU ranks highly across several areas. According to the Journal of Criminal Justice Education, FSU rank’s #1 for faculty research in criminology and criminal justice. 

Program: BS in Criminology

Florida State University

9. Florida International University

Florida International University’s online Criminal Justice degree covers the basics of criminal justice, as well as how to develop a professional criminal justice career. Courses cover both theory and practical application. The program includes room for electives, so students can further personalize their education according to their goals. It also includes internship opportunities for field experience. 

Florida International University is a top public research university, both in the state of Florida and the nation as a whole. It has highly-ranked academic programs. This deeply innovative school uses the latest education methods. It challenges students to reach their goals and move forward in their careers. FIU consists of a highly diverse group of students, many of whom are adult learners. US News and World Report ranks FIU as one of the top schools for social mobility. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice

Florida International University

10. CSU Global

CSU Global offers an online Criminal Justice bachelor degree. In this program, learners study how law enforcement works, and they get to know the legal system on a deep level. Students gain the knowledge and skills they’ll need to make practical career steps. The program covers a range of criminal justice topics and prepares students for many possible criminal justice careers. 

Colorado State University helps learners succeed both as students and as professionals. The CSU Global Campus brings this student support to adult learners. It provides flexibility without sacrificing any academic quality. The school focuses on innovation and student guidance. Students at this school report high satisfaction rankings. CSU Global ranks in the top ten US schools for online bachelor’s degree programs. 

Program: Bachelor of Criminal Justice

CSU Global

11. University of Nebraska at Omaha

The University of Nebraska at Omaha offers a BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice. This online criminal justice degree prepares students for careers as police officers, probation counselors, and many other possible career options. The program covers criminology theory as well as the best responses to different types of crime. Faculty members are experts in the criminal justice field. 

The University of Nebraska at Omaha provides challenging academics that change lives. Graduates have a high employment rate, and many of them also participate in internships. This school enhances student independence and critical thinking skills. It offers online learning and other resources to help make education accessible. This school also produces highly impactful research. OU’s Criminology program has been ranked among the best online bachelor’s degrees in the United States. 

Program: BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice

University of Nebraska at Omaha

12. UMass Lowell

UMass Lowell has an online Criminal Justice bachelor degree. This program focuses on the criminal justice issues of today and tomorrow. It teaches students how to address social issues in the most effective possible way. The program features highly ranked online courses that provide a lot of flexibility. These courses combine criminology with practical examples, critical thinking, and leadership skills training. 

UMass Lowell always puts its students first. The school is dedicated to helping students reach their goals. This large and vibrant university is full of opportunities. It also has great online learning programs for a flexible educational experience. Employers often seek out UMass Lowell students. Students at this school enjoy a high ROI for their education. UMass Lowell is ranked among the top 100 public universities in the United States. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice 

UMass Lowell

13. Sam Houston State University

At Sam Houston State University, students may pursue either a BA or BS in Criminal Justice. These online criminal justice degree options cover different kinds of crime and the most effective responses to crime. Students learn background criminology information. They may also participate in internships for some hands-on experience. Sam Houston State has one of the oldest criminal justice programs in the US. 

Sam Houston State University is a large public research university in Texas. It has lots of resources and support for students of all types. This school connects students to opportunities, including accessible education for adult learners. Sam Houston State University is a place of discovery, and it’s a well-respected school among Texas universities. Sam Houston is ranked #2 in Texas on the Social Mobility Index. 

Program: BA or BS in Criminal Justice

Sam Houston State University

14. University of Louisville

The University of Louisville has an online Criminal Justice bachelor degree program. It’s designed for students who want to start or advance a career in criminal justice. It’s also for those who want to go to grad school or pursue criminal justice research. Courses cover practical criminal justice knowledge. They also cover theory, ethics, and other important considerations. 

The University of Louisville has great online learning programs. These programs help students get a great education while balancing that education with work and other responsibilities. This school is dedicated to helping students meet their goals. It provides resources so that students can make the most of their careers. The University of Louisville is academically challenging and very worthwhile. Active duty military members receive a discounted tuition rate at the University of Louisville.

Program: BS in Criminal Justice 

University of Louisville

15. University of Louisiana at Monroe

The University of Louisiana at Monroe has a BA in Criminal Justice. This online criminal justice degree is a great program, much like the one offered on the main campus. The program is noted for its affordability. Students get a big ROI for their tuition dollars, including career preparation for all kinds of criminal justice careers. Monroe’s Criminal Justice program is the oldest program of its kind in Louisiana. 

As part of the University of Louisiana system, Monroe offers an education full of resources and opportunities. It helps students discover their potential and make the most of that potential. The online platform offers affordable and flexible degree programs. It also provides the same high quality education as its on-campus courses. Faculty members are highly experienced in distance education. The University of Louisiana at Monroe is a Military and Veteran-Friendly university. 

Program: BA in Criminal Justice

University of Louisiana at Monroe

16. Drexel University Online

Drexel University’s BS in Criminal Justice is available online. This online Criminal Justice bachelor degree provides a strong foundation for theory, research, and practice. It covers today’s immediate criminal justice needs as well as history, ethics, and similar field topics. Students learn how to become as effective as possible in criminal justice or a related field. 

Drexel University is one of the largest private universities in the United States. It’s a research university that empowers students to grow and thrive. Drexel values experience-based learning that prepares students for life after college, and it uses a co-op model of education, providing professional experiences for students. Students here excel both as individual thinkers and as part of a community. 94% of Drexel undergrads are employed or continuing their education within a year of graduation. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice

Drexel University

17. Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University’s online Criminal Justice degree is designed for those who want to make the world a safer place. The program focuses on criminal justice leadership skills. It helps students grow their work opportunities and make the most of their criminal justice knowledge. The program is offered fully online, so students get as much flexibility as possible. 

Indiana Wesleyan is a Christian university that provides a well-rounded education. It educates students who want to enhance their skills and make the world a better place. Students receive a high quality education, and online students learn from a respected online learning platform. Wesleyan’s mission includes “developing students in character, scholarship, and leadership.” US News and World Report ranks IWU #15 on its list of Best Regional Universities in the Midwest. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice

Indiana Wesleyan University

18. Ball State University

Ball State University has a BS in Criminal Justice and Criminology. This online criminal justice bachelor degree helps students make the most of career opportunities. Students prepare for career options in both the public and private sectors. The program is designed for adults who have families, careers, and other reasons for needing a flexible education program. 

Ball State University is a school for curious and creative students. It fosters intellectual challenge and prepares students for career success. Students get to dive deeply into their passions and explore innovative learning methods. They also get the support they need to turn their skills into a viable and fulfilling career. 4 out of 5 Ball State students qualify for financial aid. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice and Criminology

Ball State University

19. University of Maryland Global Campus

The University of Maryland Global Campus offers an online Criminal Justice degree. This degree imparts a deep understanding of crime and the reasons why crime happens. Students learn about the roles they may take on in the criminal justice field. They also study background information such as ethics and decision-making methods. This program prepares learners to enter the criminal justice field after graduation. 

The UMGC is a convenient and affordable extension of the University of Maryland. This school has more than 70 years of distance learning experience, and it has a special focus on serving working adults and military members. As a result, UMGC provides accessible learning opportunities. Students get an excellent education that lets them make the most of their options.  The University of Maryland’s Global Campus has ranked among the best online bachelor’s programs for ROI. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice

University of Maryland Global Campus

20. University of Wisconsin Platteville

University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s online Criminal Justice bachelor degree is both for students who want to start a criminal justice career and for those who want to advance the career they already have. The online format lets students learn at their own pace. Students learn the foundations of law, criminology, policing, and other important criminal justice topics. 

UW-Platteville is a creative and innovative university making a global difference. Its research spans across several areas. This school helps students find their own inner strength and make the most of their education. UW-Platteville has a low student to faculty ratio, so students can get to know their teachers more easily. The school is dedicated to providing an overall excellent college experience. UW-Platteville is ranked #1 in the state for annual ROI. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

21. Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University has several online criminal justice programs, including a BA, BS, and BAS. When choosing an online criminal justice degree from Northern Arizona, students can pick an emphasis in Criminal Justice Administration or Intelligence studies. These programs start with core criminal justice courses before moving into specialties. Students learn from talented faculty members with relevant field experience. They prepare for either a specific career or further education at grad school. 

Northern Arizona University encourages students to make the most of life’s possibilities. The school consistently puts its students first. Programs are grounded in research. They combine tradition and innovation for a unique educational experience. The online learning platform adds flexibility and convenience to the mix. Students can get a great Northern Arizona education from their own homes. NAU has been ranked highly for its return on investment. Students get big results for their tuition. 

Program: BA/BS/BAS 

Northern Arizona University

22. University of Nebraska at Kearney

The University of Nebraska at Kearney has an online Criminal Justice bachelor degree. It gets students ready for all sorts of criminal justice careers, from the municipal level to the federal level and everything in between. Criminal justice courses stay up to date and are based on today’s leading concerns. The program features small and personalized classes, so students can get the individual attention they need as they learn. Students also have opportunities to apply their learning to real-world situations. 

The University of Nebraska at Kearney started as a college for teachers. Now, it offers strong academics across a variety of subjects. The school is fairly large, but it’s not so big that students get lost in the crowd. Many students have said that this school is the perfect size. Kearney’s online programs provide excellence, convenience, and flexibility. As a result, the school is home to many adult learners and nontraditional students. UNK is a top 10 regional university in the Midwest, according to US News and World Report. 

Program: BS in Criminal Justice

University of Nebraska at Kearney

23. West Texas A&M University

West Texas A&M University offers a BA and BS in Criminal Justice. These online Criminal Justice degree choices teach students how to strengthen communities, study legal issues, and get to know the legal system as a whole. The programs are flexible, and they cover key criminal justice knowledge. They’ve earned several rankings across multiple categories. These programs especially stand out for their affordability. Many students choose this criminal justice program for that reason.   

West Texas A&M is a school where students embrace innovation, serve their communities, and reach their potential. They benefit from lots of support and resources along the way. Faculty members are passionate about their subjects and about teaching in general. The school values hard work, dedication, and a challenging education. It helps students find their own pathways to success. Students also get to become part of a community, whether they learn online or in person. Security Degree Hub ranked the Criminal Justice program at West Texas A&M as one of the top programs for quality and affordability. 

Program: BA or BS in Criminal Justice

West Texas A&M University

24. Northern Kentucky University

Northern Kentucky University has an online Criminal Justice degree program. It’s a 100% online degree that provides career preparation with extra flexibility. Students can learn about criminal justice without ever sitting in a classroom. The program is also affordable compared to many similar degree programs. NKU’s Criminal Justice program teaches students about the different parts of the criminal justice system. Students also learn how law and ethics interact with one another and how they can make ethical decisions on the job. 

Northern Kentucky University is a diverse university with a big online community. The online learning platform provides a great learning experience for its students. The school is surrounded by some unique cities, which helps students make connections for their careers. NKU provides the quality education of a private school with the tuition rates of a public school. For those low tuition rates, students get a well-rounded education that includes career training. Forbes has ranked NKU among “America’s Top Colleges” for more than a decade. 

Program: BA in Criminal Justice

Northern Kentucky University

25. Portland State University

Portland State University has a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Criminology & Criminal Justice at Portland State brings together passionate students with award-winning faculty who prioritize a high quality, career-relevant education. Whether they choose to take courses on campus or through our fully online degree pathway, our students are provided the tools they need for a meaningful career as a leader and a changemaker.  While their career interests vary — from law enforcement to victim advocacy, adult and youth corrections, human and social services, criminal justice reform and community organizing, law and legal professions, politics and public policy, homeland security, crime analysis, and crime prevention nonprofits — what our students all have in common is a drive to make a real difference.

Portland State University is an innovative and creative university with a thriving student population. This diverse school has a low student-to-faculty ratio, so learners get an education with a personalized approach. The school is committed to helping students become leaders and create a better future for themselves and others. Many students participate in philanthropic and humanitarian projects. Portland State University promotes curiosity and excellence in learning. Online students, like on-campus students, get a quality education. PSU is the top university in Oregon for social mobility. Students get career training that helps them move forward. 

Program: Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Portland State University

Why Should I Get My Criminal Justice Degree Online?

A criminal justice degree will open the door to several different types of careers. Law enforcement is only one option. Forensics, investigations, research, public safety, and information security officers are just a few of the jobs that will allow a Criminal Justice major to find their place in the field. Many of the concepts of Criminal Justice can also be of use in the legal field as well. Paralegals can benefit from earning a Criminal Justice degree to support their paralegal education.

Earning a Criminal Justice degree online is beneficial for students who are already employed. Whether they are employed in their chosen career field or another type of job, they can study when they have time and earn their degree at their own pace. Students who learn online have access to the same resources and quality education as other students who learn in a classroom. Learning over an online platform gives students a chance to learn from any location. All they need is a laptop or computer and an internet connection that will allow them to access their lessons.

Online Criminal Justice degree programs provide all of the necessary skills that will be needed for a graduate to perform the duties required of them, no matter what path they take after graduation. Whether they become a law enforcement officer or some type of investigator, the graduate will be able to identify and collect evidence. They will be able to use what they find to solve crimes and other problems that may be reported to them.

How Do I Know I Can Trust a Criminal Justice Program?

Quality Criminal Justice degree programs can be identified in several ways. The first way is either regional accreditation or program accreditation. Regional accreditation is given to colleges and universities that meet the standards of the industry in question. Program accreditation is given to the degree programs themselves. While schools are evaluated based on the concepts and teaching techniques that are used, programs are evaluated by the information and skills they teach to each student.

Another way to verify the substance and worth of a Criminal Justice degree program is to look at the school’s reputation. Does it have a solid reputation of producing successful graduates? Look for a college or university that offers a job market network. This type of network helps to match graduates with job openings that require their specific degree program. A network like this also works to create internship or mentorship opportunities for students who are interested in real-life work experiences and want to work with professionals in their field.

The best way to judge any type of Criminal Justice degree program is to look at its students. A quality program will produce students who are well-versed in the knowledge offered in each course. They will be proficient in the skills and abilities that are needed to be effective in their chosen career path. Graduates are able to find jobs rather quickly with the help of the school’s job market networking program. Many return to positions they held while attending their internship or mentorship programs.

Can I Get a Job with an Online Criminal Justice Degree?

Jobs are readily available for graduates who have earned their Criminal Justice degree online. Online degree programs are just as reputable as those found in classrooms. In fact, with an online degree program, students are able to find work long before they graduate, giving them an opportunity to use their skills as soon as they learn them. Employers can evaluate what is being taught by how well the student performs their duties while on the job.

Many employers look for students who are enrolled in online Criminal Justice degree programs. When an employee decides to return to school to complete their degree programs, employers often encourage them to enroll in online degree programs. This gives them an opportunity to keep their employees on staff and still gain the benefits of what they are being taught in class. If students agree to complete their degree program online, some employers will offer to pay for their courses and other educational expenses after the student successfully graduates.

The opportunities and benefits a student receives from completing their Criminal Justice degree online will help them build their career on a solid foundation. They are able to explore new employment opportunities when they are offered instead of being forced to wait until after they graduate.

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