One of the fastest-growing career fields, along with health care, is criminal justice. While most people would only think of the obvious jobs, such as police officers, probation officers, and lawyers, the criminal justice field is actually expanding rapidly in many directions, due to the war on terror and the rise of the digital age. Criminal justice includes everything from cybersecurity and cyberforensics to homeland security, border patrol, and counter-terrorism. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the criminal justice field is expected to grow 17% by 2022, faster than any other area.
Criminal justice education cover many disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, information technology, and more; students learn how to analyze human behavior, study rehabilitation and punishment, and discover how to uncover social and cultural patterns that endanger us and that keep us safe.
Since many criminal justice jobs are office work or technical, online criminal justice degrees are popping up everywhere. Online degrees are flexible, convenient, fast, and – depending on the source – pretty darn affordable. But affordable doesn’t always mean good. That’s why Value Colleges has put together this short list of the most affordable and reputable Criminal Justice bachelor degrees online.
Note that these prices may vary depending on fees, and online programs are not available in every state; check the institution’s website for restrictions.
West Texas A&M University
If you can get a more affordable online Criminal Justice degree than West Texas A&M University, be careful – it might not be legit. That’s because Texas residents pay only $50 per credit, one of the lowest rates for any reputable degree anywhere. Even residents of border states get a rate of only $80, an incredible value itself. But if you’re not in Texas or the southwest, you may want to go elsewhere – rates jump to $412 per credit, which is definitely not the same value. As a part of the highly-regarded Texas A&M system, you can trust WTAMU to have solid educational quality that will prepare you for a career. Plus, at such a low cost, a Criminal Justice BS or BA from WTAMU is an investment sure to pay off pretty quickly.
University of Wyoming
As one of the biggest and least populous states, the Cowboy State has good reason to offer online degree programs for citizens who can’t travel easily to campus. The University of Wyoming, as a public land-grant institution, has a mission to make education accessible to the people, which includes both extensive online courses, and an affordable tuition price of $119 per credit for Wyoming residents. Some other states can also benefit from the low in-state price. UW’s online Criminal Justice bachelor’s program also offers concentrations in Pre-Law and Pre-Forensic Science, for students who want to specialize and go on to graduate programs. At such a low price, more credentialing is a great value.
University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida, in Orlando, is best known for its advances in space exploration, as one of the few space-grant institutions originally founded to support NASA’s centers in Florida. But UCF deserves to be known for their great value too – at only $212 per credit, online students can earn a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice that will prepare them for a professional career in the field, or further graduate study in criminal justice or law. With knowledgeable instructors and a solid reputation for excellence, it’s a cheap way to jump start or advance your career.
Florida International University
Like UCF, Miami’s Florida International University is one of the biggest universities in the nation, and one of the most acclaimed, especially for such a young institution. With a high research rating and consistent rankings, FIU has a growing reputation for excellence that is attracting students in a big way. The price doesn’t hurt either – only $215 per credit. The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree can be earned online, as can many of FIU’s degrees, and provides a solid background for everything from graduate school to law enforcement and government agencies.
University of West Georgia
The University of West Georgia is a part of the innovative Ecore, Georgia’s Core Curriculum Online, in which students can take core freshman and sophomore courses online before moving into their majors. That means students can earn their entire degree online, rather than through a degree-completion program as with most programs. Tuition is a low $169 per credit for core classes, and a still-reasonable $250 for major courses, and unlike other public universities, the price is the same regardless of residency. UWG’s Bachelor of Science in Criminology can be a great, low-cost investment in your future, earned at your own pace in your own place.
Valdosta State University
Another great Ecore institution, Valdosta State University offers the same advantages – all courses online, low price regardless of residency – as the University of West Georgia. Valdosta State prides itself on combining the advantages of a small college – strong mentoring, personal attention, and close student relationships – with the resources of a public university. Those values extend to their many online degree programs, including the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, which prepares students for their careers with a broad knowledge of the criminal justice field.
Portland State University
One of the most exciting, up-and-coming universities in the US, Portland State University has a commitment to adult education and accessibility. Their national reputation is based not only on the excellence of their education, but on their affordability – at $259 per credit, Portland State is an obvious value. Portland State was one of the first accredited universities to offer the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice fully online, and has the acclaim to back up their pride. Their program emphasizes the latest in law enforcement technology and concepts, preparing students not just for the market today, but for the future.
University of Maryland University College
The University of Maryland University College is not a division of the University of Maryland, as you may assume, but an institution in its own right in Adelphi, MD. As a public university specializing in career and professional education for working adults, UMUC has a commitment to affordability and accessibility, and its many online programs reflect this mission at only $279 per credit. Located near Washington, DC, UMUC’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice is especially current in government agencies and homeland security, with a number of relevant minors as well, including Terrorism and Critical Infrastructure, Forensics, and Diversity Awareness, tailored to the complex world of contemporary law enforcement.
Columbia College, in Columbia, MO, offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice for $385 per credit. That doesn’t sound so cheap, but consider this – there are no extra fees, and tuition includes course textbooks and a laptop, so the value added is pretty serious. The BA is recommended for students already working in Criminal Justice who need further credentialing for career advancement (unlike the Bachelor of Science, which includes practical experience and internships, not available online). Columbia has made a reputation in online education, so it’s a name employers will trust.
Sam Houston State University
Okay, so at $9492 per year, Sam Houston State University isn’t the cheapest of the cheap. The College of Criminal Justice is, however, one of the oldest criminal justice programs in the nation, a model and pace-setter for the field for over 50 years. SHSU’s criminal justice is one of the largest and best-ranked, and a bachelor’s degree can be earned online from this significant institution. The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice or in Victim Studies will not only provide you with the knowledge you need for your career, but a highly reputable name that should carry a lot of weight on the job market.