Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs February 25, 2013

A wide selection of specialties that include but are not limited to the rehabilitation of junior and senior public offenders, law enforcement, and crime prevention are what an online criminal justice degree program will introduce you to. Students will get an introduction to the United States legal system, as well as knowledge about the enforcement of law in the country. Depending on the online criminal justice degree program, some may have hands-on study and training to work in localized security specialist positions.

How to Find a Program

There are actually a number of ways to find an online criminal justice degree program. One of the easiest and most used ways of finding such a program is through a search engine. Typing in keywords such as “criminal justice degree” and “online criminal justice program” can yield hundreds to thousands of results. Sifting through all of those results can actually become time-consuming if you are not sure of which type of program or which school you want to attend. Ultimately, careful consideration of all the programs must be conducted.

As such, it may be easier to narrow down your search by using specific keywords that may yield more specific results. But even this may become time consuming. As a result, it may be a better option to use or search for sites that rank online degree programs and then make sure to find those that have criminal justice degree programs. In this way, you are finding not only online programs with the degree option you want, but you can see how each school stacks up against each other.

One other way to find an effective online criminal justice degree program is by looking at traditional schools with online programs. More and more traditional universities are offering online programs for those who need more flexible schedules and who cannot afford the classroom costs of traditional schools.

Once you have a list of possible schools, the next step is essentially to look at each school thoroughly and select two or three strong candidates.

Cost and Time to Complete Program

The cost of the criminal justice degree program really depends on the type of degree you are seeking. The least expensive option is the associate degree which can be earned at a community college. A bachelor degree in criminal justice at a university is going to cost more. At the associate degree level, students can expect to pay an average of $100 per credit for their tuition. When looking at a bachelor degree, students can expect an average of $200 per credit as their tuition. For those seeking a higher degree, they can expect $400 per credit for a master’s degree tuition.

Since a bachelor degree program requires roughly 180 credit hours to complete, the cost and time to complete will be dependent on the program courses needed. On average, however, an online program can take about three to four years to complete. Whether a student is attending full-time or part-time will factor into the length of time it takes to complete. Some programs can run longer than the average four years for part-timers. A master’s degree program, on the other hand, may not take as much time and can often be completed in two to three years, and sometimes a year and a half for accelerated programs.

What to Consider in a Program

The online degree program you choose should have an equivalent course schedule as a traditional school. Moreover, the program should be taught by professors with at least a master’s degree and many years of relevant work experience, including published writing. The most important factor in choosing a program is that the school is nationally accredited. Accreditation ensures that the school and its programs meet the standards required by universities for education.

Also, look at the courses being offered within the criminal justice degree program. Are there courses that apply to what you want to do? Is there a good variety of courses? Does the progression of courses make sense in the overall program? Ask these and other questions to ensure you are choosing a program with classes you will both enjoy and that will help your career.

Next Steps: How to Start a Degree

The first step to starting a degree program is to apply. A narrowed down list will help keep application costs down. You will need your transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and some schools even require an entrance essay. Application fees vary depending on the program, but can range from $40 to $100.

There are many things to consider when looking to attend an online criminal justice degree program. Knowing where to search, what to look for, and the costs in advance can help you find the perfect program to obtain your online degree.

Have you ever considered going through an online program to get a degree in criminal justice? What do you have to share with others?


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  • This is a great tool. You have great points on what to look for while choosing a Criminal Justice Program. I am not in the field but I am in the process of finding a business program. One of the things I have to consider is tuition. Once I find a program that fits me I will be taking care of the tuition costs with a title loan since I don’t receive financial aid the government.