Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

For those interested in seeking a role within law enforcement or public safety, what better place to begin than by learning more about criminal justice degrees? Perfect for building a foundation for a strong understanding of criminality and the American legal justice system, making the decision to pursue a criminal justice degree is a great way to determine if this career path is perfect for you. Luckily, there are many reputable colleges that allow students to get their criminal justice degree online so going after a position within the criminal justice system has never been more accessible. 

Seeking a criminal justice degree is a great idea for those looking to make their mark within the justice system and provide support for those that have been negatively impacted by criminal activity. A criminal justice program will cover all the fundamentals of criminal justice, including the psychology behind crime, the legal logistics that help hold criminals accountable for their actions, and the sociology of illegal behavior. Students will gain analytical skills as well as extensive knowledge of the legal process of conviction in order to receive a well-rounded criminal justice education and completely online.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Criminal Justice Degree Online?

The time it takes to earn a criminal justice degree will depend largely on the student’s class load. Full-time students can expect to complete an online criminal justice program within an average of four years, but potentially longer if they decide to add a minor to their degree. Many criminal justice students will choose to pursue a minor in communications, pre-law, or forensics in order to strengthen their resume and learn more about potential criminal justice job prospects. For part-time students, an additional year can be expected to complete all degree requirements. Overall, being able to take many if not all of these criminal justice courses online is very helpful in streamlining the education process.

There are numerous degree-specific courses and requirements in order to graduate with a criminal justice degree. The first years will be spent taking introductory courses that will help them succeed in classes that occur later on within the degree process. Courses such as Criminology and Sociology are common, and tiered courses can also be expected, especially in terms of criminology and legal justice related disciplines.

Criminal Justice Bachelors Degrees

When choosing to major in criminal justice it’s important to understand the different criminal justice programs out there to make sure you’re capitalizing on available online resources. Especially with so many great online criminal justice programs to choose from, you’ll want to look into the courses available to ensure you’re choosing a program that aligns with your future job interests. A few great online criminal justice programs include:

BA in Social and Criminal Justice at University of Arizona Global Campus

The University of Arizona’s Global Campus offers an online Social and Criminal Justice BA program to allow flexible students the ability to become a force for justice and make their mark within their local communities. You’ll be prepared for public service with educational resources you can trust will set you up for success, all at your own pace online. Whether you’re interested in working in public safety or more driven toward a courtroom setting, the Social and Criminal Justice program at University of Arizona will provide students with the skills, critical thinking, and knowledge needed to thrive within any area of the criminal justice or legal field. 

BS in Criminal Justice at Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers interested online students the ability to excel within the criminal justice field with their online Criminal Justice bachelors program. Students will learn how to analyze the modern criminal justice system while experienced professors equip them with the educational tools for a prosperous career within public safety and criminal justice. Courses include topics such as Cultural Awareness in Criminal Justice, Technology in Criminal Justice, Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice, and more. Boasting low admission costs and flexible term limits, Southern New Hampshire University is a great online resource for pursuing a degree in criminal justice. 

BS in Criminal Justice at Purdue University Global

If you think you’d be a great fit in law enforcement, homeland security, or public service you might want to contemplate getting a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Purdue University Global. As one of the largest providers of public safety programs for students to choose from, Purdue also offers a comprehensive online criminal justice program. Purdue allows students the ability to get their bachelors completely online and on their own time while preparing themselves for a career in the public policy or criminal justice field. 

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Walden University

Online students are smart to take advantage of the online criminal justice program offered by Walden University. With a variety of courses and flexibility in term durations, online learners are able to earn their bachelors at their own pace with the help of accredited professors and a competency-based program. With specializations and a self-designed track toward courses, students will gain real world experience and training while learning the foundations of criminal justice education such as best investigative practices, victimology, and ethics.

Criminal Justice Masters Degrees

For those looking to accelerate their career and prepare themselves for anything that may come their way for employment opportunities, taking the extra step of pursuing a masters degree in criminal justice is a great idea. Perfect for those looking to strengthen their resume and learn more information regarding the basics of crime and legal processes, obtaining a masters degree in criminal justice is a smart way to open more doors to potential career opportunities down the line. Let’s explore a few criminal justice programs that allow students the ability to get their masters in criminal justice online. 

MS in Criminal Justice at Walden University

Also offering a streamlined masters program, Walden University allows online students the ability to further develop their criminal justice background by obtaining their masters degree in Criminal Justice. Designed to help students grow their skills in preparation for career advancement, online learners will gain even more knowledge surrounding the field and grow their skills with media-rich coursework. The Walden masters program also partners with the Fraternal Order of Police and National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives to provide students hands-on experience and intel to help them feel confident in their career pursuits. 

Masters of Legal Studies at American University – Washington College of Law

The MLS program available at Washington College of Law at American University allows students the ability to gain specialized knowledge of legal studies to propel them into the criminal justice field. Washington College of Law also offers specializations to help students focus their efforts within the career path they have the most interest in. Specializations offered include Cybersecurity, Health Care Compliance, Business, Technology, and generalized Legal Studies. With a variety of specializations, you’ll be able to develop your skills with a fine-toothed comb while attending live online classes with a reputable staff of educators. 

MS in Legal Studies Online at Pepperdine University Online

Pepperdine University’s Caruso School of Law is a great option for online students looking to strengthen their skills even further with a Masters in Legal Studies. With live online classes and an interactive staff of educators, this masters program emphasizes networking and experiential learning to help prepare students for their career. With concentrations and in-person residencies available, Pepperdine helps students accomplish their professional goals by giving them all the tools they need for success within the criminal justice and legal field. 

MS in Criminal Justice at Michigan State University 

Michigan State University’s MS in Criminal Justice program gives students the ability to gain experience and develop their professional resume with an experienced staff of faculty members with decades of field experience. MSU has an expansive criminal justice network that allows graduates access to networking and employment opportunities with the Michigan State Police, Detroit Police, and other major affiliations. Expand your criminal justice knowledge with online courses such as Counterterrorism, Global Crime Control, and Intelligence Analysis. With specializations and student-driven courseloads, the online criminal justice program at MSU is well worth exploring further.

Criminal Justice Doctorate Degrees

If you have a passion for service and want to take your interests to an administrative, research, or teaching level, pursuing a doctorate in criminal justice is something to strongly consider. This advanced degree is great for those looking to reach a high professional standing or want to help educate future students of interdisciplinary concepts. Especially for those looking to work within government agencies, getting a doctorate in criminal justice is a valuable asset to any resume. 

Obtaining a doctorate in criminal justice will typically require that students have fulfilled the higher education requirements and qualifications to apply for a doctorate program, such as a combination of college credits earned as well as hands-on experience. Whether PHD students want to pursue a career in higher education as a professor of criminal justice or prefer to work in an administrative role within public policy, students will completely master the criminology, sociology, and legal policy concepts of criminal justice while pursuing this degree. Online doctorate programs cater well to individuals who may already be working within the field that might want to be eligible for potential promotions but value flexibility within their schedule. 

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Potential Careers with a Criminal Justice Degree

There are many different career paths students can choose from after completing a criminal justice degree. Some of the most common careers chosen by criminal justice graduates include law enforcement officers, criminologists, and forensic technicians. Law enforcement officers can maximize their earning potential with a criminal justice degree that can help them seek advanced positions such as a private investigator or detective. Criminologists and forensic technicians are also highly demanded positions in terms of criminal justice job opportunities. While some career choices may require specific courses or additional education, there are many different avenues an aspiring criminal justice major can choose to follow. 

We’ve covered only a few of the most common employment opportunities for those with a criminal justice degree. Some other exciting criminal justice jobs include:

Corrections Officer

Police Chief

Social Worker


Correctional Treatment Counselor

Emergency Management Director

FBI Agent

Probation Officer

DEA Agent

Private Investigator

Average Salary with a Criminal Justice Degree

Having the desire to serve communities and provide assistance for those that have suffered from the negative effects of crime is a lucrative and fulfilling career path. The average salary of an individual in the criminal justice field will widely vary depending on the specific career path chosen, the level of education the individual obtained, and the specific region of the country the person chooses to work. For those in legal positions, the median salary was $80,810 in 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics while police and detectives make a median salary of $63,380 annually. 

In terms of job growth, criminal justice is a job sector that will be difficult to ever become obsolete. Police officer positions are projected to experience a 7% increase through 2026 and positions in the legal job sector continue to become more and more competitive as these tend to pay the highest. Criminal justice jobs in the highest demand include paralegals, arbitrators, police officers, and private investigators. These have a variety of salary expectations, with experience and educational background playing a significant role in salary expectations and employment opportunities.

Best College for a Criminal Justice Degree

For those looking to step up to the plate to protect and serve their communities, pursuing an online criminal justice degree can lead to many promising career opportunities. Whether you’re interested in becoming a police officer, public defender, or a criminal justice professor, there are numerous online programs that can help you attain the professional goals you’ve set for yourself. Still on the fence about if an online criminal justice degree is a good fit for you? Stay in the loop regarding program updates and new courses by signing up for an email list for one of the accredited universities mentioned above. Explore and research different colleges to learn which program best suits your specific career desires and take the first step toward making a difference within the public service and criminal justice field.