Criminal justice is an incredibly broad field with a great many kinds of jobs. Law enforcement, corrections, and parole are probably the main jobs one thinks of when considering criminal justice. But law, the courts, victim advocacy, and prisoner advocacy and rehabilitation are all also parts of the system. So are organizations that develop, propose, and create criminal justice policy.
The colleges and universities featured in this ranking of the cheapest online criminal justice bachelor’s degrees offer degrees, and in many cases concentrations and minors, that can help you focus on the area of the criminal justice system in which you want to work. If you want to work in law enforcement there are degrees with a law enforcement focus. If you want to work in administration, or corrections, there are degrees that focus on those areas too. If your passion is victim advocacy, or criminal justice policy, or law, we’ve got you covered.
Not all of the programs focus on all of these areas. But you will find degrees among these fifty colleges and universities that do focus on your area of interest. Every one of these colleges and universities is a four-year, non-profit, regionally accredited institution. This ensures that no matter which school you choose, you will find a quality, affordable online criminal justice degree.
Our methodology for this ranking was simple. The schools are ranked from cheapest to most expensive. But even the most expensive program on our list is just a hair over $15,000 per year in tuition. When you consider that the cost of tuition at private colleges and universities in 2019 was over $40,000 per year, and the out-of-state cost at public universities was $27,000 per year, that’s incredibly affordable.
Ranking the Cheapest Criminal Justice Degree Online Programs
#1. Amridge University
In addition to the various careers available to criminal justice graduates, the program at Amridge also serves as a strong foundation for students interested in seeking graduate degrees in leadership and management, marriage and family therapy, ministerial leadership, and professional counseling. Students will take courses like management intervention, introduction to public safety and security, criminal investigation, criminal justice, criminal law, criminal evidence, criminal procedures, and constitutional law.
- Tuition: $6,950
#2. Wayne State College
Wayne State College offers its criminal justice degree online and on-campus. Popular minors for the program include emergency management, Spanish, sociology, psychology, political science, public administration, and pre-law. 100% of recent graduates from WSC are either employed or in graduate school. Law enforcement officers receive a 30% tuition discount while earning either the traditional or online criminal justice degree from Wayne State College.
- Tuition: $7,202
#3. Drury University
Drury University offers its criminal justice bachelor’s degree online. Students will take courses like principles of forensic science, research methods for the behavioral sciences, statistical foundations for behavioral sciences, victimology, white collar crime, advanced criminology, principles of criminal justice, and law and society. Students who are unsure if they want a bachelor’s degree can start out with Drury’s associate degree and make their decision from there.
- Tuition: $7,238
#4. Elizabeth City State University
Criminal justice graduates have a great number of career opportunities. Among these are jobs like state trooper, community development specialist, U.S. marshal, crime analyst, corrections officer, postal service investigator, fish and game warden, ATF agent, and park ranger. Students will take courses like juvenile justice, violent crime, American constitutional law, introduction to homeland security, crime myths and moral panic, directed study in criminal justice, and police in American society.
- Tuition: $7,260
#5. University of North Carolina at Pembroke
UNCP offers an online criminal justice degree completion program. Students must ensure they have all required general education credits to transfer into the program. The BA in criminal justice degree program includes courses like criminal justice writing/rhetoric, social statistics, social research, criminal procedure, criminology, criminal law, and introduction to criminal justice.
- Tuition: $7,490
#6. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
The criminal justice bachelor’s degree online at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin is designed specifically for students who work full-time jobs, work in jobs with unpredictable hours or shifts, or live too far from the campus to attend in person. Graduates from the program have worked as probation officers, forensic science technicians, private detectives, crime scene investigators, state troopers, and police officers.
- Tuition: $7,506
#7. Minot State University
Minot State University offers both on-campus and online criminal justice degree options. Students can minor in police management and investigations; law and legal studies; and offenders, risk assessment and corrections. While earning the degree students will have the opportunity for an internship or field experience during which they will work with an actual criminal justice agency or organization.
- Tuition: $7,592
#8. Peru State College
Peru State College accepts up to the standard 66 credit-hours of transfer credits from community colleges, but up to 90 credits from 4-year schools. This makes the university a prime candidate for students looking to complete their criminal justice degree online or on-campus. All criminal justice degree courses are offered both on-campus and online. There are also no application fees.
- Tuition: $7,704
#9. Bellevue University
The online criminal justice degree at Bellevue consists of 127 total credits. Students will take courses like criminal justice organizations and strategic management, criminal procedure and public policy, justice and contemporary social issues, criminal justice problem analysis, professional responsibility and ethics in criminal justice, and the American criminal and civil legal systems.
- Tuition: $7,851
#10. Western Carolina University
West Carolina University offers both on-campus and online criminal justice degree programs. Online students can choose to specialize in administration of justice. Courses offered in this program include theories of crime, statistical analysis for criminology and criminal justice, research methods for criminology and criminal justice, social justice and the law, criminal procedure and judicial process, cyber crime, and geographic information systems and criminal justice.
- Tuition: $8,277
#11. Colorado State University-Global Campus
CSU-Global is the fully online campus of Colorado State University. One of the reasons tuition is so cheap at CSU-Global is that all students pay the same rate regardless of residency. Students in this online criminal justice program can specialize in areas like applied social sciences, criminal forensics, criminology, emergency management, and intelligence and homeland security.
- Tuition: $8,400
#12. Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus
The criminal justice bachelor’s degree online at ENMU is a degree completion program, which means you have to get your general education credits completed before you can enter the program. Students graduating from the program have pursued careers in local/state/federal and international law enforcement, corrections, victim advocacy, and throughout the legal system.
- Tuition: $8,448
#13. Bemidji State University
Students in the online criminal justice degree program at Bemidji can choose to focus their study on law enforcement, corrections, victimology, and tribal justice. Students must be able to transfer at least 24 credits in order to enroll in this program. It should be noted that some of the courses in the tribal justice emphasis are not currently offered online, and must be taken on-campus in Bemidji.
- Tuition: $8,940
#14. Granite State College
Students enrolled in the online criminal justice bachelor’s degree program at Granite State University will take courses like crime prevention and control, the criminal justice system, victim rights and advocacy, constitutional law, integrative criminal justice, and corrections, probation, and parole. The program is designed to provide a strong fundamental understanding of the variety of criminal justice related institutions operating within the United States.
- Tuition: $9,015
#15. Youngstown State University
Youngstown State University offers a degree completion program in criminal justice online. Youngstown also offers a master of science in criminal justice for students considering pursuing their criminal justice education even further. The online bachelor’s in criminal justice offers courses in policing, corrections, crime and delinquency, criminal justice management concepts, and race, ethnicity and crime in America.
- Tuition: $9,270
#16. Jackson State University
Graduates from the criminal justice degree online program at Jackson State University have worked in many levels of law enforcement, including with federal agencies like Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals Service, and TSA. Students will take courses like social statistics, issues and procedures of criminal justice research, criminology, introduction to correctional service, and introduction to law enforcement.
- Tuition: $9,445
#17. West Texas A&M University
West Texas A&M University offers both bachelor of science and bachelor of arts in criminal justice degrees online with a concentration in administration. Students in the program can take courses like principles of emergency management, public personnel administration, writing and research for criminal justice, women and the criminal justice system, constitutional rights of the accused, and statistics for the social sciences.
- Tuition: $9,541
#18. Trine University
The 8-week course format available to online students at Trine University means there is potential for students to complete their online criminal justice degree quite quickly. Experience as a police officer, emergency medical technician, fire fighter, or military training can apply to the degree as early learning credit, further accelerating the rate at which the degree is earned. The program at Trine offers concentrations in law enforcement, forensic/correctional psychology, agency administration, addictions, or academy training/professional training.
- Tuition: $9,576
#19. Franklin University
Students currently serving in the U.S. military get a $148/credit discount on Franklin’s already incredibly cheap tuition. Students can choose between concentrations in corrections, homeland security, law enforcement, public administration, and special populations. Courses include probation and parole, juvenile corrections, terrorism and intelligence analysis, cyber crime, contemporary policing strategies and issues, victimology, and sociology of deviant behavior.
- Tuition: $9,577
#20. Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global
Indiana Wesleyan works to integrate the Christian worldview of the university with the applications of criminal justice theory and practice taught in the classroom. Students in the criminal justice degree online program will take courses like forensic science (with lab), introduction to corrections, crisis intervention, and criminology. Some students choose to double major in areas like sociology, political science, psychology, business, history, or addictions counseling.
- Tuition: $9,743
#21. University of the Cumberlands
The criminal justice bachelor’s degree online offered by University of the Cumberlands features concentrations in the areas of law enforcement management, criminal profiling, forensics, and chaplain/prison ministries. Students can take courses like police patrol, probation and parole, white collar crime, criminal victimization, death investigation, and understanding child maltreatment.
- Tuition: $9,875
#22. Indian River State College
Indian River State College’s online criminal justice degree does require at least one proctored assessment for each online course. Courses offered include police and society, juvenile justice system, the American court system, criminal and delinquent behavior, law and social control, criminal justice administration and management, and criminal justice ethics and liability.
- Tuition: $10,201
#23. Indiana Institute of Technology-College of Professional Studies
Indiana Tech’s online criminal justice degree offers specializations in administration, crime analysis, and rehabilitative services. Criminal justice students will take courses like understanding criminal behavior, the police in America, foundations of mathematics, abnormal psychology, comparative criminal justice system, and a system of juvenile justice.
- Tuition: $10,224
#24. Dalton State College
Dalton State College’s criminal justice degree online program offers students courses like crime and the media, juvenile delinquency and justice, white collar crime, criminal justice research methodology, special topics in criminal justice, deviance, social control and collective violence, the law of criminal evidence, and race, ethnicity and criminal justice.
- Tuition: $10,589
#25. Los Angeles Pacific University
Los Angeles Pacific University (formerly Azusa Pacific) is a Christian university that integrates the study of criminal justice with its Christian worldview. The online criminal justice degree features concentrations in clinical psychology, criminal behavior, cultural psychology, forensics, human services, and public administration. The program features courses like crime and delinquency, criminal justice ethics, and criminal justice research methodology.
- Tuition: $10,800
#26. Charter Oak State College
Charter Oak State College offers both general criminal justice, and victim advocacy concentrations for its online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Specialization courses include urban youth in American society, social problems: impact on workplace, criminal law, abnormal psychology, mental health/substance abuse in criminal justice, victimology, domestic and sexual violence, and victim’s rights and services.
- Tuition: $11,166
#27. Park University
Park University’s online criminal justice administration degree offers concentrations in corrections, security, and law enforcement. The core curriculum includes courses like introduction to criminal justice administration, agency administration, research in criminal justice, and criminology. The concentrations include courses like probation, parole, and community corrections; and security administration.
- Tuition: $11,190
#28. Wilmington University
In addition to the online criminal justice degree program, Wilmington University offers complimentary undergraduate certificates in conflict resolution, crime scene investigation, and human trafficking awareness. Students will take courses like community corrections, multicultural issues in criminal justice, ethics in criminal justice, research methods in criminal justice, and administration of criminal justice organizations.
- Tuition: $11,480
#29. Polk State College
The criminal justice bachelor’s degree online offered by Polk is a good option for those currently employed in the criminal justice field who want to advance their careers, as well as those who want to qualify for entry level positions in law enforcement, probation/parole, security, and the courts. Students will take courses like ethical dilemmas in criminal justice, critical issues for the criminal justice professional, corrections and penology, and the American court system.
- Tuition: $12,272
#30. SUNY College of Technology at Canton
SUNY Canton’s online criminal justice degree in law enforcement leadership is one of few in the United States that allows students to finish their degree at a certified law enforcement academy, though the availability of this option may be limited based on the online student’s location. Criminal justice students will take courses like correctional philosophy, criminal law, criminal procedure, critical issues in criminal justice, and introduction to forensic criminology.
- Tuition: $12,330
#31. University of Maryland Global Campus
While this program is offered 100% online, students local to the campus can take advantage of the hybrid format and the school’s close proximity to both Washington D.C. and Baltimore, and the headquarters of the FBI, CIA, and NSA. Students will take courses like law enforcement administration, introduction to security management, criminal law in action, ethical behavior in criminal justice, drugs and crime, and correctional administration.
- Tuition: $12,336
#32. Brandman University
Brandman University offers both online and hybrid criminal justice degree options. Students will take courses dealing with the topics of gangs and gang behavior, immigration and national security, local, state, and federal law enforcement, forensics, courts, evidence, corrections, and contemporary issues in criminal justice. Criminal justice is also available as a minor.
- Tuition: $12,440
#33. University of South Dakota
Graduates from the online criminal justice degree at the University of South Dakota have worked in the areas of law enforcement, private investigation, child welfare, and law. Students can complete either a four-year program or a degree completion plan, and have the option of double majoring in criminal justice and political science. The degree includes courses like criminology, criminal law, and criminal procedure.
- Tuition: $12,807
#34. University of Arkansas-Fort Smith
Students in the criminal justice bachelor’s degree online at University of Arkansas-Fort Smith have internship options at a variety of criminal justice institutions including local law enforcement offices, DEA, U.S. Probation Office, and wildlife conservation agencies. Students will take courses like professionalism and ethics in criminal justice, police systems and practices, legal aspects of law enforcement, and juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice.
- Tuition: $13,026
#35. Union Institute and University
Union Institute and University offers an online degree in criminal justice management. The program features courses like applied ethics in criminal justice management, supervision in the criminal justice field, criminal justice management and administration, contemporary issues in criminal justice management, criminal justice management information systems, and forensic science management.
- Tuition: $13,256
#36. Western Illinois University
Western Illinois University offers an online degree in law enforcement and justice administration with minors available online in corrections, homeland security, criminalistics, CSI, security administration, legal studies, fire administration, and fire science. Students will take courses like survey of criminal justice, juvenile justice, and organization and administration in criminal justice.
- Tuition: $13,256
#37. National University
National University offers its criminal justice administration degree online and on-campus. Online students take four-week classes, earning their degree one class and one month at a time, year-round. Students already employed in law enforcement can receive up to $16,500 in scholarships over four years in this program, and their dependents are eligible for $6,500 in scholarships over four years.
- Tuition: $13,320
#38. Western New Mexico University
While students aren’t required to take a minor in this online criminal justice degree program, recommended minors that pair well with the degree include political science, psychology, sociology, chemical dependency, computer science, Spanish, accounting, and public administration. Criminal justice programs are offered in the areas of corrections and policing.
- Tuition: $13,539
#39. Missouri Southern State University
Missouri Southern offers a bachelor’s in criminal justice online with minors in corrections, criminal justice administration, crime scene investigation, and juvenile justice. Students will take courses like economics of social issues, international terrorism, asset protection, professional writing in criminal justice, crime scene investigation, and crime scene photography. Students who intend to go into law enforcement can use their elective credits to take basic law enforcement academy I and II, which is a pre-licensing training course for new law enforcement officers.
- Tuition: $13,606
#40. University of Memphis
The bachelor of arts degree in criminology and criminal justice at University of Memphis is offered both online and on campus. For students interested in the university honors program, criminology and criminal justice is available as an emphasis. Students will take courses like law and society, constitutional and criminal procedure, advanced applications in criminal justice, and ethical dilemmas in criminal justice.
- Tuition: $13,752
#41. Austin Peay State University
Austin Peay State University offers its criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security 100% online. APSU graduates from this program are currently serving as U.S. Customs agents, FBI agents, state police officers, sheriffs, and deputy sheriffs. Students will take courses like terrorism understanding, research methods in criminal justice, courts and law, crime and deviance, along with several homeland security-specific electives.
- Tuition: $13,847
#42. University of Nebraska at Kearney
One of the main features of this particular online criminal justice degree is the internship. It is completed at a place convenient to the student, and has seen students placed in internships across the criminal justice field from the state police to the National Security Agency. Students will take courses like fundamentals of research in social welfare, community based corrections, technology in criminal justice, and theories of crime and criminal law.
- Tuition: $13,854
#43. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
Penn State University’s world campus is the online campus of this world-class state university. The courses are taught by the same faculty as the on-campus courses, and the world campus began offering online courses all the way back in 1998, making this one of the most experienced universities in the online degree space. Students in the criminal justice degree online program can minor in areas like homeland security, political science, psychology, sociology, and human development and family studies.
- Tuition: $13,988
#44. Louisiana State University-Alexandria
LSU Alexandria’s department of criminal justice is devoted to continually updating and improving the degree, evaluating it for ways it can be improved twice every year. Students will take courses like police process, ethical leadership in criminal justice, constitutional law and criminal justice, the judicial process, corrections process, police process, criminology, and juvenile delinquency.
- Tuition: $14,024
#45. Herzing University-Akron
Herzing University offers an online criminal justice degree with concentrations in homeland security and counterterrorism, and management and leadership. The program can be completed in 20-32 months, depending on various factors, and students who have already taken some college can transfer up to 90 approved credits into the program. Enrollment fees are currently being waived through August 31st 2020.
- Tuition: $14,200
#46. Hodges University
Hodges University’s online criminal justice degree program features monthly course start dates where students take one class at a time. Their accelerated program’s formats are available to both part-time and full-time students. Students will take courses like criminal law, terrorism, criminal investigation, victims of crime, criminal justice and public policy, identity politics and the legal system, and fundamentals of law.
- Tuition: $14,300
#47. Missouri Western State University
The online BS in criminal justice degree at Missouri Western features concentrations in corrections, administration, law enforcement, juvenile justice, and legal studies. Students will take courses like introduction to theories of crime, understanding research in criminal justice, intermediate criminal law, quantitative analysis in criminal justice, introduction to mediation, and criminal investigation.
- Tuition: $14,135
#48. Purdue University Global
Purdue University Global Campus is the home of this respected state university’s online degrees. Students interested in criminal justice can major in either corrections or criminal justice. Additionally, an accelerated program is available, with a flat tuition per term of $2,500. Students can save money and earn their degree incredibly fast depending on the circumstances of each student individually. Certified law enforcement officers can receive up to 25 credits toward their degree due to their on-the-job experience alone.
- Tuition: $14,358
#49. University of Central Missouri
The University of Central Missouri offers an online dual degree program in criminal justice that allows students to earn their bachelor’s and master’s in just five years altogether. Students can also choose to earn a minor or certificate in corrections, juvenile justice, international justice, legal studies, and criminal justice. Students can also earn 15 credits while attending the Central Missouri Police Academy, if they are local.
- Tuition: $14,715
#50. Fort Hays State University
Students in the online criminal justice degree program at Fort Hays can earn additional online certificates in corrections, crime mapping and analysis, criminal justice leadership, law and the courts, law enforcement, and victim advocacy. Courses students take include administration of justice systems, technical and report writing in criminal justice, digital and cyber crime, terrorism, and security administration.
- Tuition: $15,360
Frequently Asked Questions
What jobs can I get with a criminal justice degree?
This is a common question and in fact, one of the great things about a criminal justice degree is that it qualifies you for a huge range of jobs! These include probation officer, forensic science tech, police officer, correctional officer, private detective, fish and game warden, fraud investigator, postal inspector, and jobs in federal law enforcement. There are also jobs that will be options for you down the line once you have the right professional experience or education, including jobs at the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service, and NSA.
How much do jobs in this field pay?
The pay ranges depending on the job, your level of education, and experience. But generally speaking, the jobs have a median salary around the same as the earnings of the average American worker ($48,672 per year). Here are some examples.
- Private Detective/Investigator: $50,510
- Correctional Officer/Bailiff: $45,300
- Forensic Science Tech: $59,150
- Probation Officer: $54,510
- Police/Detective: $65,170
- Paralegal: $51,740
Cheap degrees still seem pretty expensive. And I have to eat and pay rent if I earn it online. How do I pay for it?
In short: Financial aid. One of the benefits of attending a cheap university online is that a greater percentage of your tuition will be covered by federal grants, meaning less student loan debt. You should also know that if living at home for free and eating your parents’ food isn’t an option for you, some of your grants/loans can be used for housing and food expenses (just like they apply to room and board for students in residence on a college campus). One of the most important things to know is that the supply of financial aid money, whether federal grants/loans or scholarships is limited. So make sure you apply to college and fill out your FAFSA forms as early in the year as possible, so you can the highest amount of money you qualify for.
Another thing to remember about online programs is that they are a lot more flexible, making it easier to hold down a part-time, or even full-time job while attending college. I’m not saying it will be easy to go to school full-time, and work full-time. But it’s an option that can be considered if you’re having trouble getting enough money to survive while in college.
Finally, you want to know the crazy thing about the tuition at the colleges and universities in this ranking? That’s their out-of-state tuition cost. Some public universities on this list will be even cheaper for in-state students. So even though you’re attending the school virtually, make sure to check out any options in your state. If no schools in your state are on our ranking, it’s worth checking out the in-state costs of any colleges in your state offering online criminal justice programs, just to be sure you’re getting the best value.
Don’t people look down on online degrees?
This might have been the case years ago. It used to be that many of the schools offering online degrees weren’t regionally accredited. Over time, though, the demand became clear, and regionally accredited colleges and universities all over the country began offering more and more degrees online. Over the past decade, online education has become more and more common. And some of the best state colleges and universities in the United States are offering online degrees. If you’re nervous about it, though, consider this: in most cases your diploma and your transcripts won’t ever specify that your courses or degrees were online. This is because the institutions offering them are confident that their online degrees are just as good as their on-campus counterparts and see no reason to make a distinction. So nobody will know your degree was earned online unless you tell them.
Sources and Resources
National Center for Education Statistics: Tuition costs.
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Salary Information
This concludes our ranking of the 50 cheapest online criminal justice bachelor’s degrees 2020.