Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Profile picture of ConsumerAffairs
by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Criminal justice degrees generally refer to two-year or four-year college degrees that train and certify an individual to work within the field. All criminal justice degree programs focus on preparing students for careers that involve criminal law. Popular careers for those with degrees in this field include police officers, legal assistants, investigators and FBI agents.

Online Criminal Justice programs offer a convenient and often affordable option for working students to pursue their degree without worrying about attending onsite classes. Degrees are offered at all levels, from certificates to doctoral degrees.

Compare Reviews for Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

University of Phoenix
Read 1482 Reviews

A University of Phoenix degree is fully customizable. Students can focus on cybercrimes, human services, criminal justice security or criminal justice management with a certificate, or pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree.

Ashford University
Read 429 Reviews

Ashford University's bachelor's in social and criminal justice offers three focuses: homeland security, criminal investigations and corrections management. Faculty have higher degrees and real-life experience in their areas.

Capella University
Read 38 Reviews

Capella University's online programs use virtual labs to prepare students for life after graduation. Students can earn a bachelor's to doctoral degree in as little as 18 months, or add a certificate in a criminal justice area.

Strayer University
Read 446 Reviews

Strayer University allows its program to be tailored to the individual student, with options to enroll online or on campus and to structure a bachelor's degree concentrating on homeland security, forensics or computer security.

Walden University
Read 15 Reviews

Walden University's criminal justice program offers several concentration options - such as psychology or public administration - for students to customize and personalize their bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree.

Everest Institute
Read 376 Reviews

Everest Institute offers criminal justice bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as one-year diplomas in concentration areas. Programs are offered through a combination of in-class and online venues, depending on the program.

St. Johns University Criminal Justice
Read 10 Reviews

The Criminal Justice program at St. John’s University is a 126-credit program for students seeking careers in criminal justice. Minors include Business, Correctional Counseling, Court Administration and Criminalistics.

University of New Haven Criminal Justice
Read 6 Reviews

The University of New Haven Criminal Justice program is one of the oldest, largest and most well-known programs in the U.S. They offer concentrations in Corrections, Crime Analysis, Forensic Psychology and other areas.

California State University, East Bay Read Expert Review

Students enrolled in California State University, East Bay's program focus on either justice and enforcement or community alternatives and corrections as their two options. Seniors intern throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Carrington College Read Expert Review

Carrington College's associate-degree program in criminal justice prepares students through a combination of hands-on activities, in-depth research projects and lectures on relevant topics. Real-life training is also possible.

Not sure how to choose?

Get expert buying tips about Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs delivered to your inbox.

Thank you, you have successfully subscribed to our newsletter!Enjoy reading our tips and recommendations.
We value your privacy. Unsubscribe easily.

What should you consider when choosing a criminal justice program?


Any institution that offers a criminal justice degree should be an accredited college or university, which means it's been evaluated and approved by a local or national accreditation organization. Colleges or universities may be classified as regionally or nationally accredited as well as non-profit or for-profit institutions.

  • Regionally accredited: Criminal justice degrees from institutions that are regionally accredited are generally well received by other colleges in the event that a student wishes to transfer.
  • Nationally accredited: Degrees from nationally accredited institutions are more likely to focus on vocational training.
  • For-profit: For-profit schools are institutions that are run privately where tuition can be spent however the organization sees fit. They are more likely to be nationally accredited.
  • Non-profit: Non-profit schools use tuition money from students to fund education. They are generally regionally accredited.


Before choosing a criminal justice degree program, it is important to determine what the overall cost will be.

  • Student loans: Students paying for their criminal justice degree through student loans should take interest rates into account.
  • Payment plans: Most institutions will allow students to make monthly payments on their tuition, however this may result in paying more over time.
  • Grants/scholarships: For those with grants or scholarships, verify that these forms of payment are accepted by the institution.


The location of the degree provider is important for those who will commute; however, the location of a learning institution can also affect cost.

  • Commute time: The time it will take to arrive at a school is important as long commutes can become expensive and time-consuming.
  • Out of state fees: Many educational institutions charge a higher tuition or a fee to those that live out of the area.
  • Online availability: A school may be located far away from a student's home but may have online programs available.

Online Vs. Traditional Learning

While some may prefer to attend a local criminal justice degree program, others may enjoy the convenience of attending courses online or a mixture of the two.

  • Online program: An online criminal justice degree program allows all course work to be completed through a computer.
  • Online and on-campus: Some institutions offer the option to take certain courses online and others on-campus.
  • Traditional program: A traditional program will require all criminal justice courses to be completed on-campus.

Degree Options

The type of degree a student decides to pursue affects the amount of time they'll spend in school. This will also determine the price and type of coursework that will be required.

  • Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice: This is the most common type of criminal justice degree which is offered by 4-year institutions.
  • Associate of Art in Criminal Justice Degree: An Associate of Art in Criminal Justice degree is a two-year program that also requires the completion of liberal arts coursework.
  • Criminal Justice Certificate: Criminal justice certificates are often the best option for those who have already completed a bachelor's or associate's degree and are seeking to enhance it with additional certifications.
  • Master or doctoral degrees: Graduate degrees are less common in the criminal justice field unless one wishes to hold an administrative job or teach college-level criminal justice courses.


The reputation of the establishment offering a degree is vital. It can provide insight on the curriculum, staff and employment outcomes of those who complete the program.

  • Professor qualifications: Researching the educational qualifications and work experience of the program's instructors will help determine if the program or institution is strong.
  • Employer recommendations: If your goal is to work with a specific employer, ask what programs they recommend and why.
  • Job placement: Exploring statistics such as how many graduates are employed as well as where they are employed can help a prospective student to make a decision about a school.

What are different types of criminal justice degrees?

Associate's degrees

Associate's degrees in criminal justice take two years to complete for full-time students. This degree is generally fitting for those who wish to pursue careers, such as legal assistants, where knowledge of the fundamentals of criminal law is all that is necessary.

Bachelor's degrees

Most students who wish to have a career in the criminal justice field opt for a four-year bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree is often a requirement for most positions in the field including police officers and FBI agents.


A certificate in the field is a popular option for those that have already completed an associate's or bachelor's degree. Adding the certificate to a degree shows that a person has specialized knowledge and is qualified to work as an assistant in the field or an officer, depending on the type of certificate and previous education.

Master's degrees

A master's degree in criminal justice requires the successful completion of a bachelor's degree. A master's degree in criminal justice will allow those who obtain it to work in administrative criminal justice positions such as social work, positions within court or as criminal justice instructors.

Doctoral degrees

Those who pursue a doctoral degree in the field of criminal justice are often those wanting to teach criminal justice courses. A doctoral degree usually takes eight years to complete along with prior experience in the field.

Who gets criminal justice degrees?

Young students

Young students who have just completed high school and wish to pursue a career in the criminal justice field will find a degree in criminal justice helpful. A bachelor's degree will be most beneficial.

Adult learners

Adult learners will benefit from a criminal justice degree if they wish to expand their employment opportunities.

Career changers

For those who are seeking to change careers, a degree in criminal justice can be helpful. Those who already have a degree in an unrelated field will likely benefit from a criminal justice certificate.

Expert reviews for schools with criminal justice degrees

California State University, East Bay

California State University, East Bay (CSUEB), is a regionally accredited university located in California. CSUEB offers more than 100 programs of study for students either online or on-campus.

  • Graduate, undergraduate and certificates: CSUEB offers a wide variety of degree options for those seeking an education in the criminal justice field.
  • Balances academics and real life experience: CSUEB focuses on providing students with real life experiences through internships and overseas studies.
  • Best for: Young students located in California or career changers who are seeking a certificate.
Capella University

Capella University is a regionally accredited, for-profit university that specializes in online education.

Read More
Carrington College

Carrington College is a career-focused educational institution with 18 campuses located throughout the western states.

  • Regionally accredited: Carrington College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
  • On-campus: Carrington's criminal justice program is only offered on-campus.
  • Associate's Degree in Administrative Criminal Justice: Carrington's on-campus criminal justice program prepares students for careers as correctional officers, security guards or loss prevention agents.
  • Best for: Adult learners or career changers who are seeking to enter the criminal justice field.
Gardner-Webb University

Gardner-Webb is a private Christian university located in North Carolina that was established in 1993. Gardner-Webb is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Bachelor's degree program: Gardner-Webb offers a bachelor's degree program in the field of criminal justice.
  • Online program: Those who wish to complete a bachelor's degree in criminal justice at Gardner-Webb must participate in an online program.
  • Best for: Adult learners seeking to complete a bachelor's degree in a criminal justice program online.
Globe University

Globe University is a career-training university. With small class sizes and one-on-one instructor availability, Globe University is ideal for those who prefer an intimate learning atmosphere.

  • Nationally accredited: Globe University is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
  • Associate's and bachelor's programs: Both associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available at Globe University.
  • Small class sizes: Small class sizes allow students to receive personalized attention from instructors.
  • Best for: Adult learners or career changers seeking an education specific to the criminal justice field.
Lamar University

Lamar University is a rapidly growing university based in Texas. Lamar offers programs in the criminal justice field for bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees.

  • Regionally accredited: Lamar University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • Newer institution: Lamar is a newer institution that is quickly gaining popularity among students and employers.
  • Bachelor's and master's degrees: There are opportunities for students to complete undergraduate or graduate degrees in criminal justice or criminal justice management.
  • Best for: Those who wish to obtain a bachelor's or master's degree in criminal justice.
Monroe College

Monroe College is an educational institution located in New York. Monroe College is a regionally accredited school that was founded in 1933.

  • Scholarships and awards: Monroe College regularly awards scholarships and awards to their students.
  • Online degrees available: Although located in New York, residents of any state can attend Monroe College through their online criminal justice programs.
  • Best for: Young students or adult learners seeking an online criminal justice program.
New England College

New England College (NEC) is a private higher education institution in New Hampshire. It is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

  • Associate's and bachelor's degree programs: NEC offers programs for both associate's and bachelor's degrees in criminal justice.
  • On-campus or online: Both traditional and online programs are available at New England College.
  • Best for: Young students and adult learners who wish to take online courses.
Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a traditional non-profit university that was founded in 1964. NSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • State of the art facilities: NOVA campuses are equipped with top of the line libraries, technology and classrooms.
  • Several degree options: NOVA offers undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs in the criminal justice field.
  • Best for: Young undergraduate or graduate students who prefer traditional learning environments.
St. Johns University Criminal Justice

St. John's University is a catholic university located in New York City. Founded in 1870, St. John's is a regionally accredited university.

Read More
University of New Haven Criminal Justice

Founded in 1920, the University of New Haven (UNH) is a private educational institution. UNH is a regionally accredited school offering criminal justice degrees.

Read More
Upper Iowa University

Upper Iowa University is an educational institution founded in 1857. Upper Iowa University offers various options for criminal justice degrees.

  • Regionally accredited: The school has been regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • Self-paced programs: Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice degrees are available through a self-paced program which allows students to complete coursework on their own schedule through paper or web-based programs.
  • Best for: Adult learners or career changers with busy schedules.
Valdosta State University

Valdosta State University is a 100-year-old state university located in Georgia. VSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Regionally accredited: Valdosta State University (VSU) is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
  • Online or on-campus: Those participating in a criminal justice degree program at VSU have the option of a traditional college experience or a more convenient online program.
  • Best for: Young students or adult learners who wish to pursue a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
Walden University

Walden University was established more than 45 years ago. It is a regionally accredited school that focuses on educating adults.

Read More

Compare Reviews for Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Gardner-Webb University

Gardner-Webb University's degree completion program in criminal justice allows students to gain a broad knowledge base focusing on the philosophy of law enforcement, as well as a more hands-on curriculum. A minor is also offered.

Globe University

With courses and programs offered at various times both on- and offline, Globe University's criminal justice bachelor's, master's and associate degrees are highly customizable and prepare students for all types of employment.

Lamar University

Degrees offered at Lamar University range from BAs to MAs and are offered in the areas of law enforcement, corrections and law and courts. Professors have terminal degrees in their fields and have conducted research in many areas.

Monroe College

Founded in response to the September 11th terrorist attacks, Monroe College's Criminal Justice program is designed to be service oriented. Students pursue either an associate's or bachelor's degree, and minors are available.

New England College

Small class sizes, professional faculty at the top of their field and real-world internships set New England College apart in the criminal justice field. Here, students enrolled in the bachelor's program "learn by doing."

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University partners with local law enforcement to give students opportunities to gain experiences before graduation. This focus on current law and policy helps students create real-world knowledge.

Upper Iowa University

Upper Iowa University's Criminal Justice program is taught on campus, online and in a self-paced format, providing maximum flexibility. The students learn from nationally recruited faculty while studying real-world scenarios.

Valdosta State University

Both a bachelor's degree and a master's in criminal justice are offered at Valdosta State University. In addition to criminology theory, students learn scientific techniques and how to apply that to the study of crime.

Make the best choice, every time

Join our community to stay up-to-date with the latest reviews, recall notices, and brand recommendations.

Our community members are happier with their purchases than consumers who didn’t research before buying. To see why, sign up below!


Keep an eye on your inbox, the latest consumer news is on its way!

Profile picture of ConsumerAffairs
ConsumerAffairs Research Team

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.