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Best Online Degrees in: Criminal Justice

criminaljusticeandlaw degree

Editor's Picks: Online Schools for Criminal Justice

The award for best value for an online political science bachelor's degree goes to Penn State Online. According to, the Pennsylvania State University system had an annual return on investment of 8.8%, with the number increasing to 10% for those who received financial aid. But beyond the return on investment, online students also get value for their money in the form of several helpful support tools and services throughout their education.

When it comes to finding an online criminal justice bachelor's degree that provides flexibility for the student, there are none better than Kaplan University Online. The student ratings website awarded the school with an A+ in academic flexibility. Kaplan students not only have the benefit of scheduling courses around their existing schedules and time constraints, but also offers programs online and at more than 500 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

Technology Support
Arizona State University Online wins the award for best technology support by going above and beyond what most other online colleges and universities provide. ASU Online students have access to hundreds of software titles at no cost through the school's My Apps store, which provides a virtual online storefront for any software titles needed during a degree program. Students also receive free 24/7 tech support throughout their education.

Student Engagement
Arizona State University Online wins the award for student engagement for offering a unique way for its online student body to connect. The school provides all online student with access to the school's Spark community mobile check-in application. Through the application, students and alumni can check in from anywhere on the globe, allowing students to instantly find other students and alumni in their area. Students can also use the school's ASU on Facebook app, which is built specifically for the university to let fellow students connect without having to use their personal Facebook pages. The school also has its own Twitter account and YouTube channel as well.

Library and Research Support
By providing online students with access to the school's physical library resources online, Arizona State University Online won our award for best library and research support. All online students also have access to a specific subject librarian assigned to help students find resources for their academic disciplines. All online students can also use the "Ask a Librarian" feature that provides general research assistance through email or live chat 24/7.

Learning Support
Arizona State University Online wins our award for best learning support for providing assistance to students even beyond their extraordinary library services. U.S. News & World Reports ranked the university first among all online colleges and universities in its Top Online Bachelor's Programs ratings. The university also earned a perfect score by providing all online students with live tutoring sessions and live streaming videos.

Faculty Credentials
The award for best faculty credentials goes to Sam Houston State University Online for providing the same curriculum and instruction to its online students that its traditional, face-to-face student body receives. Sam Houston State Online was also ranked ranked No. 5 among all online schools by U.S. News & World Reports in faculty credentials and training.

Alumni Engagement
The award for best alumni engagement goes to Kaplan University for providing a host of benefits and services to its graduates. Kaplan's Career Network provides students with job search tools like personal branding, resume coaching, and an online job board specific to Kaplan alums. In addition to career services, graduates are also eligible for discounts from a number of major retailers like Dell, Apple, HP, and Verizon.

New Online Student Orientation
Arizona State University Online wins our award for new student orientation by providing students with a number of features to help them settle into their criminal justice programs quickly. New students are familiarized with the process through the school's orientation website, which provides a number of tutorial videos on how to use all that the school has to offer. The orientation concludes by showing students how to set up their Spark online community application on either a smart phone or computer to help students immediately connect with other new students in the program.

Explore a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice

Pursuing an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice is an excellent choice for anyone interested in the legal system as it applies to criminal law and corrections, and for those who are interested in understanding the thought process that can lead to criminal behavior. Earning your degree can lead to a career focused on preventing crimes and improving people's way of life. In most cases, a bachelor's degree can be earned in around four years, but the amount of time it takes you to complete a criminal justice program depends on many factors, such as your ability to pass each class and progress through the program, the number of transferable credits you're able to use toward your degree, your program's requirements, and whether you're a full-time or part-time student.

Class Curriculum

Online criminal justice bachelor degree programs will give you an understanding of criminal law, criminal behavior, and corrections. Each institution's program will have specific curriculum requirements, but here are a few of the more common classes you can expect to take:

  • Criminology. This class will allow you to gain an understanding of criminal behavior. You will study the psychological, sociological, and biological theories used to explore the reasons people commit crimes.
  • Criminal Evidence and Procedure. This class will cover the topics such as due process, laws applying to gathering and using evidence, search and seizure limitations, and confessions and admissions. You will also learn about the different types of evidence, such as documentary, demonstrative, and real evidence.
  • Corrections. This class will focus on the history and current practices of the correctional system. You will also learn about capital punishment, probation, parole, punishment, rehabilitation, and counseling practices in use today.

As a criminal justice major, you can expect to study court cases that have shaped the criminal justice system and demonstrate your understanding of these cases through exams or written assignments where you define the legal parameters of the case. You will also have to study and show competence of criminal law and the justice system through exams and written assignments. Some programs use interactive simulations and scenarios which require you to assess a situation and determine the proper procedure to be used.

Building a Career

Those who complete a criminal justice program and earn a bachelor's degree will be knowledgeable of criminal behavior, law enforcement, correctional techniques, the court system and legal proceedings, and much more. This knowledge can be used toward a number of careers, such as a law enforcement officer, crime scene investigator, and more. Keep in mind, earning your bachelor's degree in criminal justice does not guarantee employment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides information about many of the careers made available by a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, including job outlook and salary information. The BLS expects to see an increase in employment of 7% for police officers, 5% for correctional officers, and 19% for forensic science technicians.The BLS also shows that average annual salary is $55,010 for police officers, $39,040 for correctional officers, and $51,570 for forensic science technicians. However, income is based on several factors, including experience, location, and employer.

Other Online Criminal Justice and Law Programs