2020 Most Affordable Online Criminal Justice Degrees

2020 Most Affordable Criminal Justice Bachelors Degrees Badge

Our list below highlights the 24 most affordable online criminal justice programs offered by accredited colleges and universities, with annual tuition rates under $8,000. Criminal justice students study the law and the role of legal institutions in society and criminology. Graduates are prepared for careers as police officers or detectives, FBI agents, correctional or probationary officers, paralegals, or counselors, among others. Below, we provide information about career options for criminal justice professionals, funding a degree, and answers to frequently asked questions that may be helpful for online students.

You can read more about our ranked schools below or browse our rankings of the most affordable online master's in criminal justice degrees. View our methodology or learn more about OnlineU.

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Rank School Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 $4,037
# 2 #2 $4,725
# 3 #3 $5,363
# 4 #4 $5,490
# 5 #5 $5,670
# 6 #6 $5,766
# 7 (tie) #7 (tie) $5,970
# 7 (tie) #7 (tie) $5,970
# 7 (tie) #7 (tie) $5,970
# 10 #10 $6,044
# 11 #11 $6,060
# 12 #12 $6,180
# 13 #13 $6,560
# 14 #14 $6,708
# 15 #15 $6,900
# 16 #16 $6,977
# 17 #17 $7,290
# 18 #18 $7,440
# 19 #19 $7,492
# 20 (tie) #20 (tie) $7,500
# 20 (tie) #20 (tie) $7,500
# 20 (tie) #20 (tie) $7,500
# 23 #23 $7,556
# 24 #24 $7,740
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OnlineU is supported by advertising. Schools that compensate us advertise via school search results and featured placements. This does not influence our college rankings or our content.
  • Annual Tuition: $4,037
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Acceptance Rate: 56%
  • Example Classes: Citizenship: Community Involvement; Sexual Violence and Child Exploitation; Technology and Modern Policing; Terrorism and Counterterrorism; The U.S. Intelligence Community; Women and Crime

Metropolitan State University (MSU) offers two online criminal justice degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement for Licensed Peace Officers- Track Three. The criminal justice degree provides opportunities for leadership, networking, and real-world experience, and gives students a foundation in criminal justice institutions and procedures. The program requires a 4-credit capstone internship or research. The law enforcement degree was designed to enhance law enforcement careers through a combination of academic and hands-on work. Track three is intended for those who are already police officers and want to earn a bachelor’s degree. Both programs require a total of 120 credits.

Metropolitan State uses the D2L Brightspace learning platform and Zoom to deliver course content. Students can access coursework at their convenience. Transfer credits are accepted, but students must earn a minimum of 30 credits at MSU. Online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of their state of residency, and financial aid is available. Distance learners have access to an Online Learning Success Guide, technical support, academic advising, and library resources.

Students can apply online, and once admitted, they will need to complete 30 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.25 before enrolling in their major. A pre-major advising workshop is also required.

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement for Licensed Peace Officers Track 3
  • Annual Tuition: $4,725
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: DEAC
  • Acceptance Rate: Not Provided
  • Example Classes: Criminal Behavior; Domestic Violence; Forensic Science; Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology; Theory and Practices of Corrections; Theory and Practices of Law Enforcement

California Coast University's (CCU) Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice is a self-paced, online degree that requires 42 courses for a total of 126-semester units. The program includes core courses, general education courses, and electives. It is designed to provide students with an overview of the criminal justice and court system.

Classes are completed entirely online through CCU's digital platform. Students can transfer credits from another institution or take challenge exams to earn credits by demonstrating their prior knowledge in a subject area. Tuition rates (which haven't risen since 2010) are frozen upon admission. Interest-free payment plans are also available. Online resources available to students include a Strategies for Success and Action Planning Guide, a writing lab, a digital library, and a resource page dedicated to criminal justice students.

To apply to this online criminal justice degree, students have to be at least 18 and have their high school diploma, GED, or equivalent. Prospective students need to submit a detailed resume with their application that lists their occupational, volunteer, and academic experience. Official transcripts are also required.

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • B.S. Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $5,363
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 44%
  • Example Classes: Alternatives to Incarceration; Minorities, Crime and Social Policy; Mock Court; Private Security; Theories & Development of Juvenile Gangs; Women in the Criminal Justice System

Fort Valley State University offers a 123-credit hour Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. For a full-time student, this degree will take four years to complete. The curriculum includes courses such as Criminal Investigation, Research Methods in Criminal Justice, and Domestic and International Terrorism. It provides students with an understanding of the court and criminal justice systems and theories and research related to the field. A practicum or internship is required.

Coursework for this online criminal justice bachelor's degree is delivered asynchronously through the D2L Brightspace learning management platform. It includes reading, assignments, and participation in online discussion boards. Financial aid is available, and online students receive a discounted tuition rate.

Prospective students need to submit an application, transcripts, and standardized test scores. There is no fee to apply. Applicants need a minimum GPA of 2.4 to be admitted without consideration of test scores. Students with a minimum GPA of 2.25 will be considered with satisfactory test scores. Applications are accepted in the fall, spring, and summer.

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $5,490
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 42%
  • Example Classes: Capital Punishment; Corrections; Courts in the United States; Crime as Entertainment; Domestic Security; Judicial Process

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Administrative Management - Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $5,670
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 39%
  • Example Classes: Cyber Crime; Geographic Information Systems and Criminal Justice; Issues in Correctional Treatment; Legal Liability in Criminal Justice Personnel; Minorities, Crime, and Social Policy; Stress Management in Criminal Justice

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Administration of Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $5,766
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Example Classes: Comparative World Justice Systems; Crime and Justice in Public Policy; Crimes Against Vulnerable Populations; Gangs and Society; Justice Studies Research Methods; Organized Crime in a Global Society

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies - Justice Studies
  • Annual Tuition: $5,970
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: Open Admissions
  • Example Classes: Courts and Basic Criminal Procedure; Crime and Media; Minorities in United States History; Profiling of Serial Offenders; Terrorism and the Criminal Justice System; The American Police System

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $5,970
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • Example Classes: Crime and Media; Drugs in America; Family Violence; Juvenile Delinquency & Justice; Police Problems and Practices; Profiling Serial Offenders

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $5,970
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 74%
  • Example Classes: Child Abuse Investigation; Death Investigation; Deviance and Society; Homeland Security; Society and Criminal Law

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $6,044
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 50%
  • Example Classes: Criminal Justice Supervision and Management; Professional Writings in Criminal Justice; Rules of Criminal Evidence

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BAAS in Criminal Justice Administration
  • Annual Tuition: $6,060
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 74%
  • Example Classes: Classification of Criminal Behavior; Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design; Issues in Cybercrime; Organized Crime; Seminar in Law Enforcement; Terrorism

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $6,180
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 61%
  • Example Classes: Corrections; Criminal Investigation; Juvenile Justice; Legal Analysis; Police Administration; Technology and Criminal Justice; Technology and Cyber Crime

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $6,560
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Acceptance Rate: 89%
  • Example Classes: Corporate Crime and Deviance; Criminal Law and Procedure; Criminal Profiling; Introduction to Private Security/Crime Prevention; Law of Cyberspace

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $6,708
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Acceptance Rate: 94%
  • Example Classes: Corrections; Courts & Judicial Systems; Crime Causation and Criminal Justice Policy; Spanish for Law Enforcement

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of General Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $6,900
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: DEAC
  • Acceptance Rate: Open Admissions
  • Example Classes: Police and Community Relations; Probation and Parole; Procedures in the Justice System; Race and Ethnic Relations; Supervision of Criminal Justice Personnel; Workplace Security

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • B.S. Criminal Justice Administration
  • B.S. Criminal Justice Administration-Arson Investigation
  • BS Criminal Justice Administration-Forensics
  • Annual Tuition: $6,977
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 81%
  • Example Classes: Addiction and Women; Criminal Justice Writing/Rhetoric; Drugs, Society, and Behavior; Offender Rehabilitation; Social Research; Sociology of Mental Disorders

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Criminal Justice Studies
  • Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Criminal Justice Studies - Applied Organization Management
  • Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Criminal Justice Studies - Sociology
  • Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Criminal Justice Studies - Substance Abuse
  • Annual Tuition: $7,290
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Acceptance Rate: 74%
  • Example Classes: Civil Liberties; Corporate and Governmental Crime; Gender and Justice; Social Psychology of Justice; Sociology of Masculinity; Violence Against Women

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $7,440
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 82%
  • Example Classes: Correctional Administration; Crime and Criminals; Organized Crime; Police Problems; Quantitative Methods in Criminology; Responses to Crime

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $7,492
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Acceptance Rate: 60%
  • Example Classes: Criminal Law and the Courts; Deviant Behavior; Race, Ethnicity, and Gender; Sociology of Law

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science in Criminal Justice/Sociology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $7,500
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: DEAC
  • Acceptance Rate: Not Provided
  • Example Classes: Criminal Investigations; Criminal Procedure; Criminalistics; Juvenile Justice; Technology in Criminal Justice

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Criminal Justice - BS
  • Annual Tuition: $7,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 31%
  • Example Classes: Constitutional Law and Criminal Justice; Ethical Leadership in Criminal Justice; Juvenile Delinquency; Police Process; Professional Writing in Criminal Justice

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Annual Tuition: $7,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Acceptance Rate: 69%
  • Example Classes: Campus Crime; International Crime; Interviewing and Interrogation; Offender Risk Assessment and Typology; Punishment-From Corporal to Capital; Use of Force in Policing

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - CCAF AU-ABC
  • Annual Tuition: $7,556
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Example Classes: Drugs and Crime; Media and Crime; Race, Class, and Gender in Criminal Justice; Restorative Justice; Sex, Sexuality and the Law; White Collar Crime

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (Degree Completion)
  • Annual Tuition: $7,740
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Acceptance Rate: 66%
  • Example Classes: Criminal Law and the Constitution; History of Law Enforcement; Perspectives on Death and Dying; Serial Homicide; Sociology of Family Violence; Sociology of Youth Subcultures

Criminal Justice Career Options

The following are some common careers in the criminal justice field. Requirements for education and experience may vary for professionals across these roles.

Criminal Law Paralegal: Criminal law paralegals work within the legal system to support attorneys in criminal case proceedings by drafting motions and pleadings, interviewing witnesses, and conducting research. They may work for lawyers in private practices or within government agencies. Paralegals will typically need an associate degree to enter the field. However, many employers prefer or require that applicants hold a bachelor’s degree. In 2019, paralegals earned a median salary of $51,740. The job outlook for paralegals is expected to grow at a rate of 10%, which is faster than average.

Law Enforcement Officer: Law enforcement officers work for governmental agencies at the local, state, or federal levels. In general, police officers are responsible for protecting lives and property, while detectives are tasked with collecting evidence and solving crimes. Police officers at the state level can work in patrol, transit and railroad, or fish and wildlife services. Federal agents can work for agencies such as the FBI or U.S. Secret Service. The requirements for these positions typically range from a high school diploma for local police officers to an undergraduate degree for state or federal agents. All officers need to pass specific examinations and attend a training academy; Federal service agents are required to complete more extensive training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the 2019 median annual pay for police officers or detectives was $65,170 per year, and the occupation is projected to grow slightly faster than average.

Private Detective/Criminal Investigator: Private detectives or criminal investigators are full-time professionals who generally have previous work experience and a license in addition to a high school diploma or college degree. These professionals may be hired by individuals, attorneys, and businesses to gather information, collect evidence from a crime scene, and perform surveillance. Private detectives earned a median annual salary of $50,510 in 2019, and the occupation is projected to grow much faster than average, at a rate of 8%.

Probationary Officer/Correctional Treatment Specialist: Probation officers work with people who are on parole or probation while correctional treatment specialists - also known as corrections officers - work with those who are currently incarcerated. Beyond this distinction, the roles are similar, and involve assisting individuals in rehabilitation. Some duties include conducting evaluations, administering drug tests, and providing job training or other support services. Probationary officers and correctional treatment specialists earned a median annual salary of $54,290 in 2019. The demand for these jobs is expected to grow as fast as average. Workers in this field must hold a bachelor’s degree and may be required to pass additional exams.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors: Counselors in this field may work in community health centers or prisons and help those who suffer from mental health problems, drug addiction, or alcoholism. Most counselors in this category will need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the field. Recent data from the BLS indicates that this job is in high demand, with an expected growth rate of 25% between 2019 and 2029. The median annual salary for substance abuse or behavioral disorder counselors was $46,240 in 2019.


Funding a Criminal Justice Degree

Prospective students of both in-person and online programs have many options when it comes to funding a college education. By filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students can qualify for federal student aid, including grants, loans, and work-study funds. Grants are a form of financial aid that does not need to be repaid in most circumstances, but loans must be paid back with interest after a student graduates. Federal work-study programs allow students to gain work experience at participating organizations while also earning money to pay for higher education costs. Private loans are available to students through banks, but this is often considered a last resort as these loans traditionally have higher interest rates and less flexible repayment options than federal loans.

Scholarships also do not require repayment and are offered by private and public universities, associations, and institutions. Our parent company, Optimal, awards $250,000 in scholarships to 50 recipients annually. Students interested in applying for scholarships should research and remain cognizant of deadlines and requirements. Several scholarships are available for criminal justice majors. For example, currently enrolled students are eligible for scholarships offered by the Criminal Justice Honor Society. The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) awards scholarships to high school seniors committed to a career in law enforcement.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, offered by the U.S. Department of Education, is an alternative aid option for graduates who enter into public service careers. To qualify, individuals must be employed by a non-profit organization or federal, state, local, or tribal government agency. They must also make 120 monthly payments towards their federal student loans before being eligible for loan forgiveness.


Frequently Asked Questions About Affordable Online Criminal Justice Degrees

What will I learn in an online criminal justice program?

As a liberal arts major, a criminal justice degree program will cover topics in law, psychology, social justice, sociology, and public administration or policy. Students will take online courses about the three pillars of crime and justice: law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. Coursework will also cover topics related to criminal behavior, public safety, and research methods. Most bachelor’s programs in this subject can be completed in three to four years, and prepare graduates for various specializations in criminology and criminal justice, while an associate degree will require two years of study.


Are there tuition discounts for active military or law enforcement personnel?

Many schools offer military tuition assistance to active military members pursuing in-person or online education. Valdosta State University (VSU), which is featured on our list of affordable online criminal justice degrees, covers 100% of tuition costs for active-duty personnel. To compare military or veteran benefits by school, students can use the GI Bill Comparison Tool offered on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. Law enforcement personnel should check with their intended college or university to determine if they are eligible for any tuition discounts. From our list, Columbia Southern University (CSU) offers a 10% tuition discount and no application fee for members of the National Sheriff Association.


Should I attend an accredited program?

Accreditation ensures that a higher education institution maintains high-quality educational standards. All of our ranked schools listed on OnlineU are accredited, which means that institutions have passed independent third-party party review by accrediting organizations, such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), and Southern Association of Schools and Colleges and Commission on Colleges (SASCOC). Enrollment in an accredited program allows students to qualify for federal student aid, transfer college credits between institutions, and sit for licensing exams. It also increases the chances of employment after graduation. Students can determine if their school is accredited by searching for it in the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP), offered by the U.S. Department of Education.