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Top 25 Smart Choice Schools for Online Criminal Justice Degrees

top online criminal justice schoolsCriminal justice is a dynamic field that encompasses several different possible career paths, but those who enter it typically share a desire to fight crime and keep their communities safe from harm. Whether you are looking to earn and associates in criminal justice online, an online bachelor in criminal justice, or an online masters in criminal justice, our Smart Choice ranking of schools with online Criminal Justice degree programs will help you make a smart choice about which program is right for you.

Featured Online Criminal Justice Programs

How We Selected the Smart Choice Schools for Online Criminal Justice Degrees

Only regionally accredited colleges and universities listed in the National Center for Education Statistics database and offering online associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree programs in Criminal Justice were considered for our ranking. Qualifying Criminal Justice schools were then evaluated and ranked based on publicly available information on market reputation, academic quality, student satisfaction, and cost. We believe all of the top online Criminal Justice programs included in the ranking are a smart choice because they offer marketable, high-quality, accredited Criminal Justice degrees on line and at a good value. Our hope is that you find the list useful on your journey towards the online Criminal Justice degree program that is the smartest choice for you.

#1. Arizona State University

Founded in 1885, Arizona State University is one institution spread over four campuses around the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. While the university has typically ranked lower than the top 100 in standard lists (such as US News and World Report), recent advances in quality, such as those experienced by the Carey School of Business, have led to ASU’s reputation as an up-and-coming university. An exceptional reputation for its Criminology and Criminal Justice programs, solid completion rates, and highly competitive tuition costs help make ASU Online our choice for the best online Criminal Justice degree program.

Online programs: ASU Online offers accredited online Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies, online Bachelor of Science in Criminology & Criminal Justice, and online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice. The 120 credit-hour BS in Justice Studies prepares students to understand process of justice and social change. The 120 credit-hour Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice offers three areas of emphasis: criminology, courts, and pre-law. The Master of Arts degree is 33 credit hours and offers three areas of emphasis: law enforcement, probation, parole, and corrections.

Accreditation: Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association.

[Click here to request more information about these programs from Arizona State University]

#2. University of Cincinnati

Part of the University of Ohio system, The University of Cincinnati is a Tier 1 public research university located in Cincinnati, OH. UC consistently ranks as one of the top universities in the nation by US News and World Report. The school’s relatively new online masters degree in Criminal Justice has quickly distinguished itself as one the best distance learning Criminal Justice programs in the country.

Online programs: The University of Cincinnati offers an accredited online Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree. Ranked by US News and World Report as one of the top 3 criminal justice programs in the US, the University of Cincinnati MSCJ can be completed in 2 years part-time or 1 year full-time. Students are prepared to take on higher positions in the criminal justice system, law enforcement, or corrections.

Accreditation:The University of Cincinnati is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

[Click here to request more information about this program from the University of Cincinnati]

#3. Portland State University

Portland State University is a public state university in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1946, Portland State was originally intended to provide educational opportunities for WWII veterans on the GI Bill. Portland State is the largest of Oregon’s state universities, and has been recognized by US News and World Report as a college to watch. As one of top online colleges offering a degree in Criminal Justice online, as well as one of the most affordable, PSU deserves consideration by anyone looking for an online degree in Criminology or Criminal Justice.

Online programs: Portland State University offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science in Criminology & Criminal Justice. This 180 credit-hour degree provides students with a grounding in criminal behavior and crime prevention. In addition to college core classes, students will take 86 credits in criminology and criminal justice, though credits can be transfered from other accredited programs to complete the degree more quickly.

Accreditation: Portland State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities.

[Click here to request more information about this program from Portland State University]

#4. Boston University

Boston University is a private research university in Boston Massachusetts. Founded by the Methodist Church in 1839, Boston University is now nonsectarian. Boston University has the distinction of being open to all sexes, races, and religions from its classification as a university in 1869. Boston University ranks in the top 50 universities nationally according to US News and World Report. The school’s online degree programs are of exceptionally high quality, and it’s online masters in Criminal Justice degree program deserves to be near the top of anyone’s list of the best Criminal Justice degrees on line.

Online programs: Boston University offers an accredited online Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ) degree. This 30 credit-hour program prepares students for the sociological, theoretical, legal and practical aspects of a career in criminal justice. Courses are taught by faculty with practical experience in law enforcement, corrections, and law, and is designed for young professionals to deepen their credentials while still working in the criminal justice field.

Accreditation:Boston University is proud to be a member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

[Click here to request more information about this program from Boston University]

#5. Regis University

Regis University was founded in 1877 by Jesuit missionaries and located in Denver, CO. Regis remains a private, co-ed Jesuit university guided by Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises and the Jesuit principles of intellectual, spiritual, and social development and responsibility. Those looking for a top online bachelors in Criminology or a respected online master’s degree in Criminal Justice can find them both at Regis University.

Online programs: Regis University offers accredited online Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Master of Science in Criminal Justice degrees. The Bachelor’s degree is a 128 credit-hour program designed for working adults to learn the intricacies of criminal psychology and behavior to prepare for employment in law enforcement, homeland security, and criminal justice. The Master’s degree takes 36 credit hours to prepare students for higher levels of management and leadership in criminal justice fields.

Accreditation: Regis University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association.

[Click here to request more information about this program from Regis University]

#6. Michigan State University

Founded in 1855, Michigan State University is a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan. With the distinction of a public ivy (a public university with the reputation of the ivy league), Michigan State has the largest study-abroad program in the country and a pioneering reputation. Michigan State is ranked in the top 100, public universities in the US by US News and World Report, and scores highly in international rankings as well. The school’s on line Criminal Justice degree is among the most highly respected programs in the country.

Online programs: Michigan State University offers an accredited online Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice. This 30 credit-hour program mixes theory and practice and prepares students with concentrations in criminal justice, forensic science, or intelligence analysis. Students may prepare for criminal justice research and teaching, or in law enforcement and security.

Accreditation:Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#7. Washington State University

Washington State University is Washington’s oldest and largest public university. A top ranked public research university with an outstanding academic reputation, WSU established WSU Online in 1992 to provide distance education opportunities for students unable to come to campus. Graduates of the school’s top online bachelor’s in Criminal Justice program receive the exact same degree as traditional WSU students.

Online programs: Washington State University offers an accredited online Bachelor of Criminal Justice. This bachelor’s degree can be completed with 49 credit hours if students bring in transferable credits for college core curriculum. Washington State has the second-oldest criminal justice program in the nation, founded in 1945, and that long tradition continues with its online degrees. Washington State’s faculty consult with and aid law enforcement professionals and bring real-world expertise to their instruction.

Accreditation:Washington State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

#8. Florida State University

Located in Tallahassee, Florida State University is a comprehensive public university with a space grant (for outer space research) and sea grant (for oceanographic research). The first state university in Florida, Florida State was founded in 1851. Florida State has been named in the top 50 public universities by US News and World Report and rated a best value by USA Today and The Princeton Review. The school’s online undergraduate degree in Criminology and online graduate degree in Criminal Justice offer prospective students two outstanding options for a career-enhancing online degree.

Online programs: Florida State University offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science in Criminology and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. In addition to core college curriculum, the Criminology major will complete 36 credit hours in criminology, with no need for on-campus work. The Master of Science program is designed for self-motivated professionals who wish to take on leadership roles in law enforcement and criminal justice.

Accreditation: Florida State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#9. Penn State World Campus

Penn State is one of the largest “public ivy” universities in the nation through its many campuses and robust online program. Founded in 1855, Penn State began mail programs in 1898 and claims over one hundred years of experience in distance learning. Penn State’s online-learning program, The Penn State World Campus, launched in 1998 and now offers over 70 degrees from associate to bachelor.

Online programs: Penn State World Campus offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. This 120 credit-hour full bachelor program prepares working students to take on leadership roles in law enforcement, criminal justice, and other public service careers. Students learn criminology, ethics, juvenile corrections, and other theory and skills to serve and protect.

Accreditation: The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#10. University of Nebraska Kearney

Founded in 1905 as the Nebraska State Normal School, the University of Nebraska at Kearney is one campus of the University of Nebraska system. Located in Kearney, Nebraska, this former teacher-preparation college is today ranked by US News and World Report as a Top 10 Midwestern public university. UNK’s extensive eCampus helps UNK fulfill its commitment to affordable, high-quality education for everyone, including those looking to earn a top online bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

Online programs: The University of Nebraska Kearney offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Students who have completed core college curriculum coursework may apply for this 54 credit-hour program of Criminal Justice major coursework, designed for working students who wish to complete a BS from an associate’s degree. Students will perform a hands-on internship at a location convenient to them for real-world experience.

Accreditation: The University of Nebraska Kearney is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

[Click here to request more information about this program from the University of Nebraska Kearney]

#11. University of Massachusetts (UMassOnline)

The University of Massachusetts was established in 1863 as a land-grant research university. One of the largest public research university in New England, and one of the most respected, UMass is also located in Amherst, MA, one of the best college towns in America, and the university is consistently ranked as one of the greatest in the nation. The school offers two of the best online Criminal Justice degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Online programs: UMassOnline offers an accredited online Bachelor of Arts degree completion program with concentration in Criminal Justice Studies, and a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. Designed for students who have completed core coursework or who have an associate’s degree, the BA completion program allows students to finish their bachelor’s degree and transfer as much as 30 credits for work experience. The MA in Criminal Justice is designed for students who are already working in criminal justice professions who wish to specialize, or who wish to take on leadership roles that require a higher education.

Accreditation: The University of Massachusetts is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

#12. Loyola University New Orleans

Founded in 1904 as Loyola College, Loyola University New Orleans is a private, coeducational Jesuit college in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ranked at the top of southern universities by US News and World Report, LUNO also ranks highly with The Princeton Review. The school’s highly regarded master’s degree in Criminal Justice is now available completely online.

Online programs: Loyola offers an accredited online Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration. This 36 credit-hour program is specially designed for students who wish to take on administrative and leadership roles in criminal justice, law enforcement, homeland security, and other justice fields. Students learn not only criminology, but administrative skills, budgeting, and media management, the skills necessary for leadership in modern criminal justice.

Accreditation: Loyola University New Orleans is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#13. Southern New Hampshire University

Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private university in Manchester, NH. Originally an accounting and secretarial school, the university began awarding associates and bachelors’ degrees in the 1960s. SNHU has been ranked by US News and World Report as a regional university. The school offers top Criminal Justice programs on line at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Online programs: SNHU offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies, and a Master of Science in Justice Studies. These programs go beyond the criminology and law enforcement focus on the traditional criminal justice degree and educates students in the justice system, law, and research. The BS in Justice Studies includes possible concentrations in Policing & Law, Crime & Criminology, Law & Legal Process, and Terrorism & Homeland Security. The MS Justice Studies can be completed in as little as 18 months by working professionals.

Accreditation: Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

#14. Drexel University

Founded in 1891 by financier and philanthropist Anthony J. Drexel, Drexel University is known for its cooperative education program, possibly the best in the nation, with a broad range of corporate partners. Students at this private research university in Philadelphia PA follow a unique 5-year track that includes 18 months of real internship, giving them an exceptional degree of experience and a wide network of contacts upon graduation. The school’s top ranked online Criminal Justice program is extremely comprehensive and draws significantly on Drexel’s strengths in technology and computer science.

Online programs: Drexel offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. This 182 credit-hour program prepares students for employment in many levels of law enforcement, with a thorough grounding in criminology, as well as the history, policy, and administration of the criminal justice system. Drexel also includes a strong foundation for computing in criminal justice settings.

Accreditation: Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

#15. Saint Leo University

A Catholic university founded in 1889, Saint Leo is recognized as a top-ten provider of military education, and a leader in online learning. Grounded in Benedictine education, Saint Leo was the first Catholic institution in Florida, and today operates as a highly-ranked liberal arts university. Saint Leo has a reputation much larger than its small size would suggest, having begun its Center for Online Learning in 1999. The school’s distance learning degrees in Criminal Justice are among the best values we could find.

Online programs: Saint Leo University offers an accredited online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, as well as a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The 120 credit-hour BA is also available with concentrations in Criminalistics or Homeland Security. The 36 credit-hour MS can also be completed with concentrations in Critical Incident Management or Forensic Science.

Accreditation:Saint Leo University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#16. University of Colorado Denver

The University of Colorado Denver is the largest public research university in Colorado, one of three universities in the University of Colorado system. It is also connected to the University of Colorado Hospital, a major teaching hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus, making it a leading university for medical education. The university has been ranked highly by US News and World Report, the Princeton Review, and Forbes. The school’s online master’s in Criminal Justice is one of the top ranked online MCJ degree programs in the country.

Online programs: CU Online offers an accredited online Master of Criminal Justice degree. This 36 credit-hour program will prepare students for careers in law enforcement and other areas of criminal justice, with electives in such specialized fields as domestic violence, homeland security, and police administration. For students who do not have law enforcement experience, a 3 credit local internship will be required.

Accreditation: The University of Colorado Denver is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#17. University of Incarnate Word

The largest Catholic university in Texas, University of the Incarnate Word is a private Catholic university founded in 1881 in San Antonio, Texas. The university has maintained a commitment to its mission, that of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, with campus extensions in China and Mexico, 93 sister schools throughout the world, and an unparalleled study-abroad program. Students looking to earn a top online bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice should definitely consider the merits of UIW’s fine program.

Online programs: The University of the Incarnate Word offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. This 120 credit-hour program includes core curriculum and 74 credit hours in criminal justice coursework. Students learn law enforcement, corrections, and practical skills for careers in probation, corrections, and other criminal justice professions.

Accreditation: University of the Incarnate Word is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#18. Liberty University

Liberty University is a private Christian university located in Lynchburg, VA. Founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell, Liberty is the largest evangelical Christian university, with well-known online education programs and an explicitly Christian worldview. For an on-line Criminal Justice degree program from an Evangelical faith-based perspective, Liberty University is definitely one of the best around.

Online programs: Liberty offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. This 120 credit-hour program provides theory and practical skills in criminology, law enforcement, and other areas of criminal justice. Specializations in Administration and Management, Forensics, Homeland Security, and Youth Corrections are available.

Accreditation: Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#19. Bellevue University

Founded in 1965, Bellevue University is a private university located in Bellevue, Nebraska intended to provide an educational option for the growing city, Offutt Air Force Base, and students who could not travel to the University of Omaha. A top-ranked online school, BU’s online bachelor’s of Criminal Justice offers students the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degree without returning to campus.

Online programs: Bellevue University offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. This degree completion program requires 36 credit hours beyond the core college curriculum and prepares students for careers in the criminal justice system with an emphasis on contemporary social issues, ethical principles, and management and policy development.

Accreditation: Bellevue University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

#20. Columbia College

Founded in 1851 in Columbia, Missouri, Columbia College began as the first women’s college west of the Mississippi River. Though it retains a connection to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), since 1970 Collumbia College has been a non-sectarian, coeducational institution. The school offers top online degrees in Criminal Justice at both the bachelor’s and master’s level.

Online programs: Columbia College offers an accredited online Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The BA is recommended for students who already have law enforcement or criminal justice experience who wish to deepen their knowledge and understanding; the BS offers more practical, hands-on learning for those who lack experience. The MS is designed for working professionals in criminal justice who wish to enter leadership and administrative roles.

Accreditation:Columbia College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

#21. Upper Iowa University

Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a small, private university in rural northeast Iowa. Though it has a small residential student body, UIU offers large distance learning, online programs, independent studies, and branches in Asia. This arrangement allows UIU a very favorable student to instructor ratio, and 8-week terms allow students to double their coursework.

Online programs: Upper Iowa University offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. This program prepares students for careers in law enforcement, homeland security, and legal professions.

Accreditation: Upper Iowa University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association.

#22. Keiser University

Originally founded in 1977 as a career college, Keiser University is a private, non-profit institution located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The school’s extensive collection of online degree programs include both a bachelor’s and a master’s program in Criminal Justice.

Online programs: Keiser University offers an accredited online Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Criminal Justice. The BA prepares students for careers in law enforcement, and working law enforcement professionals can receive credit for as many as four courses (12 credit hours) for work experience. The MA prepares criminal justice professionals for management and leadership roles with knowledge of the court systems, juvenile justice, and criminology theory.

Accreditation: Keiser University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#23. Everest University

Originally Florida Metropolitan University, Everest University is part of the Corinthian Colleges, one of the largest for-profit school networks in the US. Everest’s online bachelor’s and online master’s degree in Criminal Justice both offer multiple specializations.

Online programs: Everest University offers accredited online Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees. Students in the BS program may choose from specialized areas of study such as drug control, gang activity, and management. The MS program prepares students for management and leadership positions, with specialized study in drug abuse and abuse counseling, juvenile justice, and corrections.

Accreditation:Everest University is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

#24. University of Phoenix

The University of Phoenix was founded by John Sperling in 1976. Catering to working adults who wish to have access to higher education, Phoenix provides its educational programs through various campuses and learning centers located in at least forty (40) states and several foreign countries. It also uses the online portal to offer online programs to students worldwide while providing access to important resources such as an electronic library, textbooks, learning materials and software required for the assigned coursework.

Online programs: The University of Phoenix offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration. This bachelor’s program is updated every 18 months to keep the curriculum up to date, preparing students for the complications of the modern justice system. Students may take on further concentrations in Management, Human Services, and Institutional Health Care.

Accreditation:University of Phoenix is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association. University of Phoenix was placed on Notice by The Higher Learning Commission, effective June 27, 2013. For additional information, contact The Higher Learning Commission, ncahlc.org.

#25. Kaplan University

Originally founded in 1937 as Quest College, Kaplan University is a for-profit distance-learning university named in honor of Kaplan Test Prep founder Stanley H. Kaplan. With one of the largest collections of online degree programs of any school, Kaplan offers two different online bachelor’s in Criminal Justice as well as an online master’s degree program.

Online programs: Kaplan University offers an accredited online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, as well as a BS in Criminal Justice Administration and Management. Students in the Criminal Justice BS may choose an emphasis in computer crime, corrections, crime scene investigation, forensics, homeland security, juvenile justice, or law enforcement. Students may also take a fast track option into a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice, with emphasis areas in corrections, global issues, law, leadership and executive management, or policing.

Accreditation: Kaplan University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

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