In this article, we highlight the 20 best online schools for criminology degrees.
According to the United States Department of Labor–Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, the job outlook is highly favorable for criminologists, criminal justice personnel, and forensic specialists through 2030. In fact, the projected job growth is 16 percent faster than the average of most all other occupations, which is considered much faster than average. However, due to the small number of available positions and the high degree of specialization within the field, competition for jobs is expected to be strong. This means that education is essential for success. Thankfully, online schooling has become the norm. Even the most prestigious institutions in the country offer online options. Today, individuals can maintain their current career while attending school.
This ranking was created to identify the top institutions offering online criminology degrees. The data collected for this list of schools was taken from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator based on various methodology, including the percentage of admitted applicants, graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, and overall cost of in-state undergraduate tuition. We examined schools that offered online bachelor’s degrees in criminology, criminal justice, or closely related programs. From our original pool of 193 schools, we applied our ranking criteria to develop a list of the 20 best online schools for criminology. In the event of a tie, the college or university with the lowest undergraduate tuition price was awarded a higher ranking. Our methodology is listed below.
Student to Faculty Ratio
15:1 and under–3 Points
16:1 to 20:1–2 Points
More than 20:1–1 Point
Less than $10,000/year–3 Points
More than $20,000/year–1 Point
Less than 50%–3 Points
More than 50%–1 Point
50% or Greater–3 Points
Less than 25%–1 Point
Note: The tuition prices listed in this post are based on costs for students within their respective states. Online and out-of-state students may pay different rates. Consult the website of the school you are interested in for more details.
|School||Tuition||Student to Faculty Ratio||Admission Rate||Graduation Rate||Points|
|Colorado Technical University||$12,576||31:1||100||23||5|
|National Louis University||$11,505||16:1||97||22||6|
|Arizona State University||$10,818||16:1||73||24||6|
|Upper Iowa University||$32,945||11:1||65||27||7|
|Texas A&M University Commerce||$9,820||21:1||60||43||7|
|Southern New Hampshire University||$9,650||21:1||94||37||7|
|Colorado State University-Global Campus||$8,400||27:1||98||47||7|
|Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College||$31,150||8:1||71||69||8|
|Washington State University||$12,170||16:1||80||59||8|
|Old Dominion University||$10,800||18:1||95||53||8|
|Portland State University||$10,112||19:1||95||49||8|
|Indiana State University||$9,466||18:1||92||41||8|
|University of Florida||$3,876||49:1||62||75||8|
|Pennsylvania State University World Campus||$13,988||15:1||78||73||9|
|Missouri State University||$7,938||20:1||87||58||9|
|University of Wisconsin Whitewater||$7,735||20:1||80||62||9|
|Arkansas State University||$7,315||14:1||67||53||10|
|Florida State University||$5,656||21:1||32||84||10|
The 20 Best Schools for an Online Degree in Criminology
20. Colorado Technical University
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $12,576
Thanks to its affordable undergraduate tuition and Fast Track options, we chose Colorado Technical University for our list of best online criminology schools. Students can complete a series of mini-modules that will test their knowledge of key course objectives. Depending on the results of the tests, they can earn credit for concepts and skills they have already learned, which will shorten the length of time it takes to earn the degree.
The criminology program has a general track, or students can select a concentration in human services. Both programs emphasize professional skills, technical knowledge, and communication. The Flexible online course schedule is designed to fit around busy lifestyles.
The program is entirely online, and classes are taught by the same professors who teach on campus.
Some of the courses include criminal law, criminology, ethics in criminal justice, law enforcement operations and report writing, and the laws of evidence. Colorado Tech has been repeatedly ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a best regional university in the West.
19. National Louis University
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $11,505
National Louis University’s low student-to-faculty ratio and affordable undergraduate tuition earn this school a spot on our list of the top online criminology schools. Students may earn a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice either on-campus or entirely online. The online program is specifically designed for working students who need flexibility when completing their degree requirements.
There are two concentrations available: Criminal Justice Administration and Forensic Social Justice. A former homicide detective directs the program, and most of the faculty members have relevant experience working for years in the justice system. Plus, it was also designed by consulting with leaders in law enforcement. This means you’ll gain hands-on knowledge and exposure to the field’s most current theories and techniques. Some of the most important things students will learn in this program include:
- Investigation and Analysis
- Law and the Justice System
- Ethics and Diversity
- Punishment and Corrections
- Sociology and Psychology
18. Arizona State University
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $10,818
The Online Bachelor of Science in Criminology & Criminal Justice program at Arizona State University is offered through the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. U.S. News and World Report have ranked this comprehensive public service college as having one of the country’s top online criminal justice programs.
Online courses are taught by the same university professors who teach on the ASU campuses, and your diploma will simply say “Arizona State University.” In fact, the only difference is that the online program is designed to work around a career, family, and other commitments. Some of the courses you can expect to take in the program include:
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Research Methods
- Statistical Analysis
- Crime Control Policies and Practices
- Introduction to Corrections
- Courts and Sentencing
- Introduction to Policing
17. Upper Iowa University
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $32,945
One of the top online criminology schools on our list is Upper Iowa University. The institution offers a low student-to-faculty ratio and a generous transfer policy of up to 90 credits from another institution. If you have a lot of work and life experience, you may even qualify for experiential credits.
The eight-week classes are delivered online and taught by the same professors who teach on the Fayette campus. One benefit of attending UIU is the school’s Corporate Advantage Program (CAP). The university partners with over 50 organizations to make higher education more accessible for employees and their family members. Since UIU is one of the more expensive colleges on our list, CAP (combined with financial aid) can significantly lower tuition costs.
The criminal justice courses are designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skills needed to protect society and ensure public safety. A wide range of courses are required, including Juvenile Justice, Criminal Law and Procedure, Introduction to Terrorism, Victimology, Criminal Investigations, and many others.
Major publications like U.S. News and World Report have ranked Upper Iowa University as being among the top online bachelor degree programs nationwide.
16. Texas A&M University-Commerce
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $9,820
For students who want to pursue a blended B.S. or a B.A. degree in Criminal Justice, Texas A&M University-Commerce offers an excellent hybrid program. Rather than taking place entirely online, courses are 50 to 85% online, with the remainder of your time spent face-to-face.
Some aspects of this criminal justice program require hands-on learning, and this 120-credit hour hybrid program is ideal for those who want to spend at least a little time on campus. In addition, the program helps build social research, statistical analysis, and communication skills. It is designed to prepare students for careers in major areas of corrections, courts, juvenile justice, law, and other related fields of criminal justice.
Students are encouraged (but not required) to pursue minors that pair well with the degree, including History, Gender Studies, Sociology, Legal Studies, or Latin American and U.S. Latino Studies. Featured courses include Mass Media and Crime, White Collar Crime, and Ethics in Criminal Justice.
15. Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $9,650
SNHU offers an online Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Criminology and Crime Analysis. This is one of the top online criminology programs we’ve come across. It’s designed for working students who want to attend flexible courses while balancing outside obligations.
All classes are delivered online, but there are no set class meeting times, so you can access the course materials 24/7 and learn on your own schedule. Some of the courses you will take in this program include:
- Policing in the United States
- The United States Judicial System
- The United States Correctional System
- Technology in Criminal Justice
- Criminology and Public Policy
- Prevention of Crime
- Data-Based Policing Strategies
- Crime Analysis and Solutions
- Problem Solving for Criminal Justice Professionals
U.S. News and World Report have ranked SNHU as one of the most innovative schools in the country every year since 2015.
14. Colorado State University-Global Campus
Fort Collins, Colorado
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $8,400
If you are looking for one of the top criminology schools online, Colorado State University-Global Campus offers an affordable 120-credit program that will give you a solid foundation in criminal justice. If you want to finish in the fastest time possible, CSU Global’s program may be for you. That’s because they offer alternative credit options that include:
- Credit by Exam: Get credit by taking an exam to test your prior knowledge.
- Self Study Assessments: Take a proctored exam in specific content areas to earn course credits.
- Prior Learning Assessment: Through the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program, students may earn credit for life experience, previous education, or even independent study.
The online bachelor’s in criminal justice program offers classes that are delivered entirely online. You can add a specialization that allows you to tailor your degree to suit your personal interests and career goals. Some of the most popular specializations include Healthcare Management, Emergency Management, Human Resources, Organizational Development, Marketing, Organizational Leadership, and Project Management. However, you can work with your advisor to develop a program that you can customize to your exact goals.
13. Regis University
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $38,558
Regis University offers a bachelor’s in criminology program with coursework that students may complete entirely online. Classes include a series of foundational courses and upper-division major requirements. Although it is not the most affordable online school for criminology on our list, Regis does offer a low student-to-faculty ratio and a relatively high graduation rate compared to some of our other options.
The school has a scholar-practitioner model that is unique from other criminal justice and criminology programs. The faculty members have all worked in the field as crime scene investigators, police chiefs, security consultants, undercover detectives, etc. Thus, instead of textbook learning, students will gain the type of wisdom and skills that come from decades of experience.
There are six start dates a year, and classes run in five and eight-week terms. The school has a generous transfer program; you can transfer up to 81 credits toward your criminology degree. Additionally, those who plan to get their graduate degree in criminology can join Regis’ FastForward program. This dual degree option allows you to complete your bachelor’s and masters in criminology simultaneously, allowing you to get more done for less money and at a faster pace.
12. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
Saint Mary of the Woods, Indiana
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $31,150
Students interested in law and the psychology of crime can earn a Bachelor of Science in Criminology at SMWC entirely online. Two available concentrations (psychology and sociology) allow students to tailor their degree toward special areas of interest. There is a particular emphasis in this program on critical writing, research, and reading. The program is also offered as a minor. Some of the required online criminology courses for the degree include:
- Juvenile Justice
- Criminal Interviewing and Investigations
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Philosophy and Practice in the Ethical Administration of Justice
- American Federal System
- State and Local Government
Students who choose to major in criminology are strongly encouraged to add another major in a social science area to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the content. Several major publications rank Saint Mary-of-the-Woods as being one of the best online criminology schools in the nation. Plus, U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College as one of the top online colleges in the Midwest.
11. Ohio University
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $12,612
Ohio University offers a Bachelor of Criminal Justice degree intended for students who have already finished an associate degree in a similar, related program such as police administration, human services technology, law enforcement, corrections technology, etc. For students with technical backgrounds, this program will expand on their education to help them qualify for careers in forensic science, corrections, law enforcement administration, and more.
The school offers a generous transfer policy and recognizes several types of transferable credits, allowing you to finish up your degree quicker. These include:
- Credit from Another Institution
- Credit by Examination
- Career-Technical Credit
- Military Credit
- Prior Learning Assessment
Classes are delivered asynchronously, and the format is extremely flexible, allowing students to complete their coursework on their own schedule. As a result, you can take a full course load and finish up in just four semesters or go at your own pace and schedule school around your career and family responsibilities.
10. Washington State University
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $12,170
Due to its low student-to-faculty ratio, high graduation rate, and affordable undergraduate tuition, Washington State University earns a place on our list of the top online criminology schools. The criminal justice program at WSU was founded in 1943 and is the second oldest continuous program of its kind in the country. The school offers an accredited online criminal justice program for undergraduates designed to prepare students for careers, graduate programs, or even law school.
Courses are taught by the same university professors who teach at the Pullman campus, and you’ll complete the typical required courses, including university criminal justice core and core writing requirements. In addition, however, you will also choose from among several engaging electives, including:
- Violence Toward Women
- Crime Control Policies
- Criminal Justice Management
- Juvenile Justice and Corrections
- Realizing Justice in a Multicultural Society
- Criminal Courts in America
- Policing and Society
- Criminal Procedure
WSU’s online criminal justice degree was rated the top in the country in 2014 by Criminal Justice Degree Online. It has also been ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a best national university. In fact, currently, the online bachelor’s programs at the school rank #28 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.
9. Old Dominion University
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $10,800
The Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Old Dominion University offers a criminal justice degree that you may complete entirely online. There are two options. Students can enroll as part of a degree completion program and earn a B.S. provided they take 30 credits at ODU. Alternatively, you can take the entire 120-credit program from start to finish and earn a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice.
While your exact curriculum will vary depending on whether you are pursuing the B.S. or the B.A., here is a sample of some of the courses you might take:
- Intro to Psychology
- Introduction to Criminology
- The Criminal Justice System
- Law and the Criminal Justice System
- Introduction to Social Research
- Criminological Theory
All courses are led by university professors who regularly instruct on the Norfolk campus and have experience in criminology and criminal justice. The courses follow the standard academic calendar at ODU, but the online program does allow some flexibility. For example, while some instructors may schedule exams or assignments at specific times, many classes do not have set meeting times, so you can study at your own pace.
8. Portland State University
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $10,112
Students seeking an undergraduate degree in criminal justice can earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice entirely online at Portland State University.
Depending on which path you choose, your courses may be different. However, you’ll need 180 total credits for each one. The electives for both programs are compelling and include courses like:
- Crime, Grime, and Fear
- Women, Crime, and Justice
- Race and Criminal Justice
- Juvenile Justice Reform
- Crimes of the Powerful
- Offender Rehabilitation
- Courts, Prosecution, and Justice
- Correlates of Criminal Behavior
- Geographic Criminology
- Applied Crime Mapping
The courses are all created and taught by the same award-winning PSU faculty that teaches on campus, and the word “online” will not appear anywhere on your official transcripts or degree. The program has been designed for students to complete their education around family and work responsibilities, so no log-in requirements or campus visits are necessary. You can choose to go at your own pace. You’ll have an online advisor who will be a tremendous help in keeping you on track and guiding you through the program.
7. Indiana State University
Terre Haute, Indiana
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $9,466
The online bachelor of science in criminology and criminal justice at Indiana State University is designed to teach students both applied and theoretical aspects of criminology. The courses in this program cover criminal behavior, the criminal justice system, criminal justice administration, criminal law, and how these topics relate to our current society. However, this is a practical program too, and all students must participate in internships with various criminal justice agencies.
Offered through The School of Criminology and Security Studies, the program is multidisciplinary. Students will also receive a liberal arts education to equip them with critical thinking and communication skills to help them succeed in the field. Classes are taught by faculty members who have significant experience working in criminal justice, and the school sponsors a chapter of the national criminal justice professional fraternity, Lambda Alpha Epsilon.
Required courses for the program include:
- Introduction to Corrections
- Introduction to Law Enforcement
- Introduction to the Court Systems
- Criminal Justice Report Writing
- Introduction to Research Methods in Criminal Justice
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Dynamics of Criminal and Delinquent Behavior
- Ethics in Criminal Justice
- Internship in Criminology
6. University of Florida
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $3,876
The University of Florida is the most affordable online school for criminology on our list. Offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, The UF Online B.A. Criminology degree can open the door to a wide range of rewarding careers in criminal justice.
It’s one of the most popular online majors at the school and is designed for those who have work and life commitments that make on-campus learning impractical. Students in the program will earn the same elite degree they would receive in the on-campus program, and the courses are taught by the same professors as well.
All classes are taught online with core courses including criminal justice, criminological theory, law and legal process, and law and society. Additionally, there are six criminology and law elective courses required, which can be tailored to suit your interests and career goals. Some of these include:
- Introduction to Law Enforcement
- Race and Racism
- Skeleton Keys: Forensic Identification
- The Legal Environment of Business
- Medicine and the Law
- Law of Mass Communication
- Introduction to Public Administration
- Legal Issues in Sport
- Media and Crime
- Juvenile Justice
5. Pennsylvania State University World Campus
University Park, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $13,988
Individuals interested in criminology and the law can earn a bachelor’s in criminal justice entirely online through Penn State World Campus. The program prepares students for careers in security management, social services, law and corrections, protective services, court administration, crime-related prevention and support, and more. If you are already in a position in criminal justice, you’ll learn valuable skills that you can apply to your current job right away.
The program teaches practical and theoretical aspects of criminal justice as it relates to juvenile and adult justice. Students interested in homeland security are also encouraged to add the 18-credit homeland security minor. This is a 120-credit program, and you’ll have many different course options available so you can customize the program to meet your goals and interests. Here is a sampling of some of the available courses:
- Policing in America
- Courts and the Prosecution Process
- Corrections in America
- Research Methods in Criminal Justice
- Ethics in Criminal Justice
- Police Administration
- Alternatives to Incarceration
- Border Security
- The Juvenile Justice System
Penn State was ranked as one of the top ten schools for online bachelor’s degrees by U.S. News & World Report in 2021.
4. Missouri State University
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $7,938
At Missouri State University, students can pursue a B.A. or a B.S. in criminology and criminal justice on campus or online. The programs are highly customizable so that you can tailor your degree to suit your specific career goals. Plus, you can earn a specialized certification in Terrorism and National Security, Criminal Investigation, or Conservation Law Enforcement.
Students can select from a variety of courses that encompass areas like:
- Serial killers
- Crime prevention
- Global criminology
- Forensic science
The online program at Missouri State is highly flexible, and the courses are presented by the same highly-respected faculty members who deliver the on-campus versions.
As an online student at MSU, you’ll have a wide range of support services to take advantage of, including writing assistance, virtual research assistance, and one-on-one tutoring.
3. University of Wisconsin Whitewater
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $7,735
The University of Wisconsin Whitewater offers a Law Enforcement Bachelor’s Degree Completion (LEB) program specifically designed for law enforcement officers who have been working in the field for at least three years.
The program is tailored to the needs of those who are working and require a flexible schedule. This is a hybrid program, where classes are offered online with some face-to-face interaction required. If you’ve completed general education credits prior to entering the program, you may be able to earn the degree in three years. However, those who need longer are welcome to take the time they require. Additionally, the school may award Credit for Prior Learning and other options that may significantly reduce the cost of tuition.
Additionally, students will have the opportunity to participate in the Independent Learning Program. This program allows you to submit assessments in the form of essays, presentations, and tests for five courses within your major. If the results of the assessments demonstrate a specific level of knowledge, you can earn test credits for the courses instead of taking them. This unique program can also save time and money.
2. Arkansas State University
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $7,315
Arkansas State University is the second-best choice on our list of online criminology schools, thanks to its affordable undergraduate tuition, relatively high graduation rate, and low student-to-faculty ratio. The school offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology program that you may complete entirely online.
This 120 credit hour program is taught by the same university professors who teach at the Jonesboro campus, and the distance learning program mirrors the on-campus program.
At only $258 per credit hour, this is a very affordable program. Plus, students have the opportunity to reduce their costs even further; the school’s generous transfer policy allows you to transfer up to 90 credits. Additionally, you may qualify for financial aid. Finally, all US residents are offered the same cheap, pay-by-the-course tuition with all fees included.
Some of the courses you can expect to take in this online program include:
- Criminal Evidence and Procedure
- Institutional Corrections
- Police and Society
- Methods of Social Research
- Community Corrections
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Serial Homicide
- Criminal Justice Systems
- Criminal Law and the Constitution
- Minority Groups
- Collective Behavior
- Sociology of Family Violence
1. Florida State University
Undergraduate Tuition/Fees: $5,656
Finally, we come to our number one choice. Florida State University is the best online criminology school on our list, thanks to the highly affordable undergraduate tuition costs and a high graduation rate—an impressive 84 percent! This part-time, flexible program has been designed specifically for busy, working students or those who are not located near the campus.
Florida State’s online bachelor’s degree program in criminology is designed to teach students critical thinking and program solving skills they can apply to many different careers. And it provides a solid foundation in criminology and criminal justice for those who would like to pursue a graduate degree or go to law school. There are no on-campus visits or classes required, and you will get the same diploma delivered to criminology students who complete the program on campus.
The course offerings are varied. Of course, you’ll find the usual core courses offered by most criminology programs, but there are a few at FSU that seem extra fascinating:
- The Social Reality of Black Males
- Crimes against Humanity
- Religion and Crime
- Crime Victimization and the Media
- Crime Hotspots
- Minorities, Crime, and Social Policy
- Women, Crime, and Justice
- Violence in America
- Communities and Crime
Every FSU student is paired with an academic advisor who will help them with any academic concerns, short and long-range planning, and preparation for graduate school. They will be there to offer guidance through all the phases of the program.
If you choose to enroll in the online bachelor’s degree program in criminology at Florida State, one thing to consider is pursuing your master’s as well. U.S. News and World Report have ranked the online master’s degree program in criminology at FSU as one of the top in the nation.
This concludes out list of the best online bachelor’s degree programs in criminology and criminal justice
BCS Staff 2021
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