Timelines, Programs and Resources for Criminal Justice Students
Often times, the first step for those interested in pursuing higher education in the field of criminal justice is to research the different avenues for education, such as traditional and online academic programs. Online programs are often a good fit for students who may be juggling a work schedule or family obligations or who want to attend a program that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. Students aiming at a bachelor's in criminal justice also may want to explore the level of training corresponding to various professional opportunities. Discover available degree programs and associated coursework below as well as possible career opportunities for graduates with an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
Top 10 Best Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice
|#1||Tiffin University Tiffin, OH|
|#2||Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY|
|#3||Lake Superior State University Sault Ste. Marie, MI|
|#4||Saint Leo University St. Leo, FL|
|#5||Washburn University Topeka, KS|
|#6||Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|#7||Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA|
|#8||Champlain College Burlington, VT|
|#9||Ashland University Ashland, OH|
|#10||Siena Heights University Adrian, MI|
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Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice
Before enrolling in an online program, prospective students should research and compare the best available schools offering an online bachelor’s in criminal justice. The makings of a good program often are a combination of factors like tuition cost, graduation rates and student-to-teacher ratios. Students may also want to explore a program’s graduation requirements and how a specific program aids in a student’s internship and fieldwork hours. The rankings list below is a great resource for students exploring the best online bachelor’s in criminal justice programs.
4 - Year Colleges
Tiffin University's School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences has 10 degrees in the field, including justice administration, digital forensics and cyber-defense. Some of these degrees are available online, allowing students to continue to maintain personal and professional obligations while furthering their education. Class sizes for these online programs are small, typically with less than 15 students, and classes start six times during the year. Graduates of these programs go on to become federal agents, chemical dependency counselors, mental health workers and to work in other social service roles.
Those interested in crime prevention, criminal justice research and eventually earning a graduate or law degree can earn a bachelor's or master's in criminal justice from Eastern Kentucky University. These programs may be available online, offered in 8-week terms during the traditional calendar and 6-week terms in the summer. Students access coursework on the Blackboard course management system and participate in class discussions in chat rooms and discussion boards. The courses are asynchronous, so students can log in to submit assignments and watch lectures at any time of the day or night.
The criminal justice programs at Lake Superior State University have a strong emphasis on research and writing, with a senior capstone project that prepares students for further coursework in graduate school. Students can choose from one of eight specializations with their bachelor's degree, preparing them for careers in the field. Several of the programs allow graduates to be eligible for Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards Certification, which includes an entrance interview, fitness requirement and a background screening. Housing accommodations, financial aid and a wide range of other student services are available.
A bachelor's degree in criminal justice at Saint Leo University allows graduates to impact and improve the lives of their community. They go on to work in law enforcement agencies, investigating crimes and protecting citizens. Instructors in the program have first-hand knowledge in the field, where they've served as detectives, FBI advisors, local and federal agents and crime scene investigators. Saint Leo is a Catholic school that offers 6 eight-week terms each year and a completely online degree that is no different than a traditional on-campus degree program.
A criminal justice and legal studies degree from Washburn University will prepare graduates for careers in military operations, loss prevention, risk management and law enforcement. Students can choose from two associate programs, five bachelor's degrees and a master's program. Some students may be eligible for credit for prior learning through national examinations. In addition to criminal justice, WU has 200 other areas of studies in education, allied health, nursing, business and other fields. The school serves about 7,500 students on its campus in Topeka, Kan. And has more than 100 clubs and organizations in which students can get involved.
Keiser University's bachelor's degree in criminal justice is available on 18 campuses, both domestic and international, and its Fort Lauderdale online campus. Graduates walk away with knowledge of the agencies within the criminal justice system, a proficiency in critical thinking and communication and the ability to secure a career in the field. Coursework includes classes in human exploitation, terrorism and ethics as well as the required general education classes. Online students can get involved in student organizations like student government and various honors societies.
Bay Path University offers a unique take on a criminal justice degree. Not only does it offer a women-only program, but it also offers courses online, on campus and on the weekends, offering more options to a diverse group of students. It offers accelerated 6-week sessions that begin six times during the year. Students can complete their degree programs in one to less than four years and transfer up to 90 credit hours to Bay Path. Online courses are very similar to on-campus classes, however students must be self-starters who can learn independently.
Champlain College offers what it calls “upside-down curriculum” in its criminal justice program. Student take courses traditionally held until the final semesters during their first year in the program. This allows students to qualify for internships earlier and to build on these core skills throughout the remainder of their program. Students can study abroad and graduates may be eligible to attend the Vermont Police Academy. Champlain is a private college in Burlington, Vermont with campuses in Montreal and Dublin. It offers 30 undergraduate degrees on its campuses.
The online bachelor's in criminal justice at Ashland University is delivered in 8-week sessions, allowing students to accelerate their learning and graduate more quickly. Graduates can go on to a career as a correctional officer, private detective, park naturalist, security manager or similar service-based career. Ashland was founded on a Christian heritage and is a private university that graduates students prepared to work in today's global environment with integrity and leadership. It offers a comprehensive list of academic programs from journalism to geology and more.
Siena Heights University is dedicated to helping its graduates find employment. While all students are required to participate in an internship, many opt to complete two. Classes are taught by faculty members currently working in the field within the school's immediate community. Small class sizes provide students with individualized attention and accountability. Students can earn either a bachelor or associate of arts at one of three school campuses: Adrian, Jackson or Monroe. SHU is a Catholic school and one of only 18 Dominican Catholic colleges and universities in the U.S.
Timeline: Online Criminal Justice Bachelor's Timeline
Earning an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice can be a great way for students to deepen their understanding of criminal justice and to learn about aspects of the field like the theories and practices of criminology, ethics, research tactics and investigation strategies. Although each program, its degree timeline and its coursework requirements may vary, many career paths in the criminal justice field require at least a bachelor's degree. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some police departments and most federal law enforcement agencies will require applicants to hold a college degree in order to be employed there. Below is a list of some requirements students can typically expect when applying to an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice program as well as an example of a standard four-year timeline for those pursuing this degree.
Prospective students applying to their preferred online bachelor’s in criminal justice program should be sure to understand the specific application requirements set forth by that university. They should take note that requirements will often vary by school, but may include common items like letters of recommendation, additional test scores or essays. Read on to get a better idea of what the application process may involve.
Students should review and understand the program’s academic requirements including minimum high school GPA as well as SAT or ACT scores.Transcripts
Whether a recent high school graduate or transfer to a criminal justice program, a student’s academic transcripts will need to be provided to the institution in which they are applying.Application Fees
Students may be required to submit application fees along with their paperwork. Be sure to review the desired program’s requirements as fees may vary.References and Recommendations
The requirement of letters of recommendation will vary among programs. Typically, letters of recommendation should come from educational and professional references like current or past teachers or employers who can speak to the applicant’s knowledge, experience, and skillset related to the criminal justice field.Schedule an Advisor Meeting
Upon acceptance into an online criminal justice program, students should schedule a meeting with their advisor to enroll in the first semester classes and to develop a curriculum map.
During the first year of an online bachelor’s in criminal justice program, the coursework will typically be focused on completing the institution’s required core classes and some introductory criminal justice classes. Students should meet with an advisor to help set goals related to their degree completion.
Core classes are typically the same for most students, regardless of their major. An advisor can help map these out and determine whether previous academic experience may allow a student to bypass certain classes. For example, some students may be able to advance to a higher level math class than the course generally required for first year students.Map out an Academic Plan
Keep in mind that some classes may only be offered in spring or fall semesters, meaning planning accordingly can be crucial to a student’s desired degree timeline. For example, if a student hopes to graduate in four years, students should communicate this with their advisor to ensure prerequisite courses can be completed in a timely manner.Complete Lower Division Criminal Justice Courses
Students may be able to begin taking some introductory-level criminal justice classes during their first year. This may help students determine a specific area of interest to pursue within criminal justice.
During their second year, students will typically begin thinking about what area(s) of criminal justice most interest them most and may consider opportunities to gain professional experience through a part-time job or internship. Any remaining core classes to complete should also generally be finished before the end of this year.
There are many areas of focus within criminal justice and students should select a concentration that reflect future career goals following graduation. For example, students may choose to enter law enforcement as a police officer or may decide to continue their education and complete law school.Complete Degree-Specific Core Classes
Within the criminal justice degree program, there will likely be required core classes, such as an introduction to criminology or research methodology. If possible, enrolling in these classes during the second year can help prepare students for upper level classes during the final years of a program.Apply for an Internship
It’s never too early to start building a résumé, so as the end of the second year approaches, applying for a summer internship may be a good way to start gaining fieldwork experience.
As a student enters the second half of their academic career, they should begin taking actions to ensure success after graduation. This may include seeking professional assistance with their résumé or networking with professionals working in the field they hope to enter.
Many professional organizations and associations offer discounted rates for students. Students may want to find a criminal justice organization that offers the chance to connect with mentors and peers and provides benefits related to continued education and job opportunities.Investigate Career Options
As students complete more courses, they will usually realize what areas of criminal justice they find most interesting. Students should begin seriously researching what type of work is available that supports those interests. They should also note any additional education or training that may be required for that line of work.Begin Preparing a Resume
Some online colleges and universities may offer a resume preparation service for students. If a program doesn’t, students should consider reaching out to a professor or former colleague from their internship for assistance.
The time has come where a student’s typically begins to wrap up their online bachelor’s in criminal justice degree and begins to lay the groundwork for their professional career. Students will often spend this year busy with final projects and applying for jobs or graduate programs.
Students should meet with their advisors at the beginning of their final year to ensure they have completed all of the necessary classes up to this point, to review their GPAs and to review upcoming graduation requirements.Capstone Project or Paper
A capstone project or paper typically requires a student to investigate a problem or current debate within the field. Students will often conduct research and work with a faculty member who will oversee their project or paper. Requirements for capstone projects or papers may vary by program.Apply for Graduation
Students will typically need to submit a graduation application, along with any necessary fees, by the deadline set by the university.Contact Professors for Letters of Recommendation
As graduating students apply for jobs, it’s helpful to have letters of recommendation on hand or a list of individuals who can provide them as needed. Students should connect with professors, advisors and mentors regarding letters of recommendation.
Students who have been in regular communication with their academic advisor and maintained the coursework track developed when they began school are typically well prepared to begin the last steps leading up to graduation. Although graduation requirements may vary among online bachelor’s in criminal justice programs, there are several general requirements students can typically expect to encounter.
A minimum GPA is typically required for graduation. Students approaching graduation should generally have a good understanding of their academic standings. If a student plans to enter a graduate program, they will likely need a GPA higher than the minimum GPA required for graduation.Capstone Paper or Project
If required, students will need to complete their capstone paper or project in order to graduate. These projects typically take place over the last two semesters of school and may require a presentation of their work.Faculty Approval for Graduation
The dean of the college in which the criminal justice program resides may need to sign off on a student’s graduation application. While this seems like a simple step, students should be sure to account for the time it will take to obtain this.
What Can I do with a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice?
Individuals with a bachelor's in criminal justice degree typically can work in several different fields. In the private sector, occupations range from detectives to security personnel, and in the public sector, professional paths may include police officers, government agents, correctional officers and correctional treatment specialists. Although opportunities tend to be more numerous at the local and state level of government, options at the federal level also exist. The following is a list of common criminal justice careers, their average salaries, expected job growth and a description of what that job often entails:
Browse Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Careers
Detective or Criminal Investigator
Detectives usually work for police departments or other government agencies and help to collect evidence relating to a suspected crime. They may specialize in certain areas of crime like homicide or narcotics. Their work may also require them to keep meticulous notes and to testify in court.Job Growth (2014-2024)
4%Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
Fish and Game Warden
Game, fish and wildlife wardens typically help enforce laws and regulations that affect environmental management. They typically work for the state or local government. Wardens may also respond to emergency calls and investigate accidents, and regularly patrol wildlife areas to assure the public is following the rules when it comes to hunting, fishing and natural habitat preservation.Job Growth (2014-2024)
1.6%Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
Judicial Law Clerks
A judicial law clerk primarily focuses on legal preparation tasks for judges before they enter the courtroom. This may include conducting research and preparing legal documents, much like a paralegal does for a lawyer. Judicial law clerks are typically employed by local governments, working within city and county court systems.Job Growth (2014-2024)
-6.5%Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
Working within the field of corrections, probation officers guide and monitor parolees or probationers-people who have committed crimes and have served time or are being supervised as part of their rehabilitation program. The goal of a probation officer is to help prevent their clients from repeating offenses, and they typically work for state and local government.Job Growth (2014-2024)
3.6%Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
Core Principles Learned in an Online Criminal Justice Bachelor's Program
Bachelor's in Criminal Justice
- Applied Criminal Justice Ethics Students will often study and gain an understanding of the ethical issues that arise while working in the criminal justice system by dissecting the many practices of criminal justice in law enforcement and exploring different philosophies on morality.
- Policing and Law Enforcement Graduates will typically understand the role of police and other law enforcement agents by learning about the limitations imposed by the Constitution, the differences between community policing and problem-oriented policing, communication barriers faced in this role and how problem solving can play a crucial role in the success of police officers.
- Criminology Coursework in criminology and criminological theory often help build a foundation of knowledge so students can understand not only criminal behaviors, but also the criminal justice practices in place.
- Research Methods in Criminal justice Graduates with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice will typically acquire an understanding of how to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research with a special emphasis on research design, instrument construction, data analysis and reporting.
PHD in Criminal Justice
Master's in Criminal Justice
Associate in Criminal Justice
Online bachelor's in criminal justice students have several professional organizations they can join to help further their knowledge of the field and grow their network. These organizations also benefit students in that they can often help determine what criminal justice career best suits an individual's interests. Some organizations are broad, while others cater to specific fields. Below is a list of professional organizations for criminal justice students.
This organization provides resources for education, research and policy analysis. Members have the opportunity to network, share ideas and stay up-to-date on current policies and trends.
This association works to provide research and analysis to help in the decision-making process in criminal and juvenile justice. In addition to publications and newsletters, students can also take advantage of discounted rates for conferences and training classes.
This organization strives to build criminal justice policy and works with state, tribal, and local governments to help prevent crime. They also offer webinars, networking opportunities and conferences for their members as well as discounted rates for association events to their student members.