The qualifications vary by the agency or company. However, a college degree is a big plus.
The increasingly popular Criminal Justice Bachelor degree programs explore the various aspects of crime, the justice system, and the law, including the role and origin of criminality, the law, and social policy.
Most of the Bachelor degree in Criminal Justice programs provide concentrations such as Justice Policy (for students interested in law and policy), Crime and Criminology (for people interested in law enforcement), and Community Justice (for students interested in social work and related areas).
The Bachelor of Criminal Justice degree at some colleges and universities is known as Administrative Justice, Justice Studies, or a similar name.
Criminal Justice Careers
The Criminal Justice field provides an extensive range of Criminal Justice career opportunities in the private sector, as well as with federal, state, and local government agencies.
The majority of people with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice use the degree to begin their career in law enforcement, criminal law, corrections, or social work.
Available careers in Criminal Justice for those with a Bachelor degree include police officer, detective, corporate security specialist, criminologist, crime scene investigator, sheriff, marshal, corrections officer, DEA agent, INS agent, ATF agent, Homeland Security agent, and CIA agent.
A Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree also provides job opportunities in protective services, such as:
- U.S. Secret Service
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- U.S. Marshal’s Office
- Department of Homeland Security
- Security and Loss Prevention
- Municipal and State Police Departments
In addition, a Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree provides job opportunities in crime-related prevention and support, such as:
- Rape Crisis Centers
- Shelters for Abused Women and Children
- Drug and Alcohol Programs
- Crime Prevention and Diversion Programs
- Halfway Houses
Finally, a Criminal Justice Bachelor’s degree provides job opportunities in law and corrections, such as:
- Legal Aid/Paralegal
- Court Administration
- Juvenile Court Personnel
- Delinquency Prevention Programs
- Probation and Parole Officers
- Jails and Prisons
- Juvenile Residential Institutions
Bachelor of Criminal Justice Salary Information (PayScale.com, 2012)
Salary ranges of employees with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree:
- Paralegal: $29,695 to $61,972
- Police or Sheriff’s Patrol Officer: $30,579 to $80,462
- Security Manager: $36,162 to $94,363
- Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist: $25,111 to $55,925
Median salaries of employees with a Bachelor’s of Criminal Justice degree, by practice area:
- Litigation & Appeals: $44,891
- General: $43,398
- Personal Injury & Wrongful Death: $37,088
- Family Law: $35,483
- Corporate, Business, Mergers, & Acquisitions: $51,380
- Criminal Law: $32,370
- Trusts & Estates: $36,332
Median salaries of employees with a Bachelor’s of Criminal Justice degree, by industry:
- Law Enforcement: $46, 527
- Law Firm/Law Office: $39,982
- Insurance: $50,437
- Legal Services: $42,898
- Police agency: $47,756
Bachelor in Criminal Justice Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the online Bachelor of Criminal Justice degree programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.
Florida State University’s (FSU) online Bachelor’s degree in Criminology prepares students for careers such as: social services case manager, detective, crime intelligence analyst, corporate security specialist, private investigator, and other criminal justice careers.
FSU’s faculty includes two of the top criminologists in the nation, as well as other prominent criminologists. College faculty members serve as Editor or Co-Editor for some of the most important scholarly journals in the criminology field.
In 2012, FSU was ranked #46 in the “Top Public Schools” list by U.S. News & World Report. In 2010, the school was named a “Budget Ivy” university by the Fiske Guide to Getting into the Right College, and that same year, the Princeton Review and USA Today both ranked FSU #4 in their list of public “Best Value Colleges.”
Penn State World Campus offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree program, which provides students with the tools to lead, serve, and protect national, state, and local interests.
The program covers the theoretical and practical aspects of crime control. Students are prepared for leadership positions in security management, law enforcement, court administration, corrections, and crime prevention.
Coursework covers subjects such as:
- Introduction to Law, Policing, and Corrections in America
- Security and Police Administration
- Ethics in Criminal Justice
- Concepts of Social Science Research
- Aspects of the Juvenile Justice System
- Alternatives to Incarceration
In 2012, Penn State University was ranked #12 by U.S. News & World Report in its “Top Public Schools” list. In 2011, the university was ranked #12 nationally by SmartMoney Magazine in its “Colleges That Help Grads Get Top Salaries” list. Penn State World Campus was included in the top 15% in the category of Bachelor’s programs: Student Services and Technology, and in 2011, the Sloan Consortium named Penn State the winner of the Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education Award.
Washington State University (WSU) has the second-oldest academic program in criminal justice. The founding chapter of the Alpha Phi Sigma criminal justice honor society was established at Washington State University.
The online Bachelor in Criminal Justice program can be completed with 49 credit hours if students have transferable credit hours of core classes.
The program provides electives such as Juvenile Justice and Corrections, Comparative Criminal Justice Systems, Juvenile Delinquency, Law of Evidence and Criminal Procedure, and Sociology of Race Relations.
Notable professors teaching the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice program regularly assist law and corrections organizations.
In 2011, WSU was ranked #57 among all public universities, and #6 in the category of Top Online Bachelor’s Programs: Student Services and Technology, by U.S. News & World Report.
ASU Online is the online school of Arizona State University.
The online Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice program provides the same high academic quality as the on-campus program.
The program provides an interdisciplinary approach to studying crime and criminal justice, based in social sciences. The curriculum focuses on the practices and policies of criminal justice system components, including law enforcement, corrections and the courts.
Students learn from criminal justice professionals, experts in policing, fraud, gangs, crime, and the court system.
ASU was named one of America’s Best College Buys” by Forbes magazine, and U.S. News & World Report ranked it among the top tier U.S. universities. In 2010, ASU was ranked #81 in the world and #45 in the United States by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, a publication established by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Colorado State University (CSU)-Global Campus offers an online Bachelor in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration degree program, which provides the knowledge and tools required to advance into leadership and management roles in criminal justice organizations. The program thoroughly covers the trends and developments regarding managing a criminal justice organization.
Courses focus on law enforcement, criminology, corrections, and juvenile justice, as well as research methods designed for criminal justice professionals, and consist of eight weeks with multiple start dates every semester.
The Bachelor in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration program provides the critical thinking, leadership, and effective decision-making required in law enforcement, court, corrections, and community-based justice delivery offices. Students may take a specialization in a career-relevant field.
Princeton Review named CSU as one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education.
St. John’s University, a Catholic institution located in New York City, offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree, which thoroughly covers the criminal justice system.
The program includes courses in criminal justice theory and application, as well as a solid interdisciplinary liberal arts foundation. It also reviews the theories behind the causes of crime.
Students receive the knowledge and skills to identify and evaluate the results of patterns and practices of differential treatments of suspects and offenders based on race, class, gender, and ethnicity. They also learn how criminal justice agencies use technology to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
Students are required to completed at least 126 semester hours.
St. John’s University has been ranked in the first tier of American universities by U.S. News & World Report, and was named a “Best Northeastern College” by the Princeton Review in 2011.
Drexel University Online’s Bachelor in Criminal Justice online degree curriculum provides a rigorous academic foundation, which along with specialized coursework prepares students for a broad range of positions.
Those with the degree can apply for positions in criminal justice, the legal profession, or private security.
Students receive a strong foundation in criminology and criminal behavior. The online Criminal Justice Bachelor degree program also reviews policies, administration, structure, and procedures of the agencies of crime control and criminal justice, including corrections, law enforcement, and the judiciary.
In 2011, Drexel University was included among the top 100 colleges and universities by U.S. News and World Report. In addition, Drexel University Online has received the 2010 Sloan Consortium Award for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education, as well as the 21st Century Best Practice Award for Distance Learning from the United States Distance Learning Association.
Portland State University (PSU) offers an online Bachelor in Criminology and Criminal Justice curriculum covering criminology and criminal justice topics from prevention, enforcement, and the justice system to punishment, corrections, and rehabilitation. Industry-experienced faculty members teach the courses.
Applicants should have an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree, or else 30 semester hours of transferable college credit.
Students can complete the online program for a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in two years.
PSU was ranked among the country’s best colleges in five categories which lead to student success by U.S. News & World Report. The school is also included among the Best 376 Colleges in the Princeton Review‘s 2012 edition of “The Best in the West.”
The University of Nebraska Kearney (UNK) offers an online Criminal Justice bachelors degree completion program that is designed for students who have an associate’s degree or who have completed the majority of their general education courses.
Students learn about current trends in justice. They also take an internship—which is completed at a convenient location—to gain valuable experience.
Graduates can apply for criminal justice jobs in law enforcement, the courts, corrections, and other areas.
The online Criminal Justice Bachelor degree program provides courses such as:
- Correctional Services and Systems
- The Police Service
- Theories of Crime and Criminal Law
- Criminal Evidence
- Procedure and the Courts
- The Juvenile Justice System
- Community Based Corrections
- Technology in Criminal Justice
In 2011, UNK was ranked as a top-10 public Midwest regional university by U.S. News & World Report.
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Corrections & Juvenile Justice Studies curriculum.
This program covers subjects such as the juvenile justice system, rehabilitation strategies for adult and juvenile offenders, applied criminal justice analysis, delinquency interventions, school-based interventions for at-risk youth, diversity in corrections, and the offender in the community.
The instructors have substantial experience in their field.
EKU was included by Forbes magazine in the top 10% of America’s colleges and universities. U.S. News and World Report also included EKU as a first-tier regional university in its annual listing of top colleges and universities. In addition, the university was ranked #2 in the nation in the “Best for Vets: Colleges” issue by Military Times EDGE magazine, and was named as one of America’s most Veteran Friendly campuses—and ranked in the top 15% of educational institutions doing the most to embrace veterans as students—-by GI Jobs magazine.
Florida International University (FIU) offers an online Criminal Justice Bachelor’s degree curriculum.
This program includes courses such as:
- The Criminal Justice System
- Criminological Theory
- Measurement and Analysis in Criminal Justice
- Research Methods in Criminal Justice
- Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
Applicants to the Bachelor in Criminal Justice program are required to meet all the lower division requirements, including CLAST and completing 60 semester hours.
FIU was named a “Best Buy” in higher education by U.S. News & World Report, and was included among the best values in public higher education in the nation by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine’s “100 Best Values in Public Colleges” 2011 survey. The university is listed as tied for #3 in the category Top Online Bachelor’s Programs: Student Services and Technology by U.S. News & World Report.
The Carnegie Foundation has classified the University of Texas at Arlington as a high research activity institution.
The Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice program reviews crime causation, trends, and issues associated with the criminal justice system.
Faculty members have expertise in criminological theory, corrections, and management.
The online Bachelor in Criminology and Criminal Justice program covers areas such as:
- Criminal Justice
- Theoretical Criminology
- Ethics and the Criminal Justice System
- Juvenile Justice Systems
- Criminal Justice Statistics
- American Judicial Systems
The University of Houston-Victoria is a separate and distinct institution of the University of Houston System.
The Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice program provides an understanding of criminal behavior, reviews how crime can be prevented, and covers effective criminal rehabilitation methods.
Students are prepared for criminal justice careers such as police officer, sheriff, deputy sheriff, probation/parole officer, juvenile/adult corrections officer, and department of public safety officer.
The Bachelor degree in Criminal Justice program includes courses such as:
- Foundations of Criminal Justice
- Ethics of Social Control
- Criminal Justice Administration
- Research Methods in Criminal Justice
- Quantitative Analysis in Criminal Justice
Saint Leo University, a catholic university, offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree program.
This program covers substantive criminal law, the law and legal system, ethics, criminal procedure, police organization and administration, and criminal behavior. It also provides a foundation for advancement to administrative levels.
The Criminal Justice Bachelor degree program includes 120 semester credits.
Saint Leo University has been named one of the “Top Universities in the South,” and ranked #11 in the category of Top Online Bachelor’s Programs: Faculty Credentials and Training, by U.S. News & World Report. The university was also ranked #29 in the category of Top Online Bachelor’s Programs: Student Engagement and Assessment, by the same magazine.
Fort Hays State University (FHSU) offers a Bachelor in Justice Studies, an interdisciplinary program focusing on the cause of crime and society’s response to crime.
Students take the program to change careers, receive a promotion, or an increase their salary. Some of the students are criminal justice practitioners and military veterans working at the federal, state, or local level.
The degree includes 124 hours.
Graduates of the online Bachelor in Justice Studies program are prepared for careers such as:
- U.S. Secret Service
- State and Federal Special Agents
- Customs Agents
- U.S. Marshals
- Law Enforcement Agents
- Court Administrators
- Correction, Parole, Probation, and Community Correction Officers
- Victim Service Personnel
- Juvenile Intake Personnel
FHSU was ranked #35 in the category of Top Online Bachelor’s Programs: Faculty Credentials and Training, and #6 in the category of Top Online Bachelor’s Programs: Student Engagement and Assessment, by U.S. News & World Report.
Grand Canyon University is an all-online university providing an education from the context of its Christian heritage.
Graduates of the Bachelors of Science in Justice Studies program can apply for positions in law enforcement, social work, governmental and private agencies, political science, and other fields.
The curriculum covers the components of the justice system from a systems perspective, including function, issues, organization, and practices, as well as the interrelationships between law enforcement agencies, the courts, and the corrections system. The degree includes 120 credits.
The online Bachelor of Justice Studies degree includes courses such as:
- Crime and Criminology
- The Police Function
- The Adjudication Function
- The Correctional Function
- Criminal law
- Criminal Procedure
- Juvenile Delinquency and Justice
- Social Research and Statistics
University of Maryland University College (UMUC) offers an online Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice program.
The curriculum reviews the nature of crime, as well as the personnel, institutions, and processes which prevent and respond to crime. The program covers theory and practice of the criminal justice system, as well as crime, criminal behavior, courts, law enforcement, security, corrections, and investigation. The degree includes 120 credits.
The online Criminal Justice Bachelor degree also reviews subjects such as:
- Security Management
- Correctional Administration
- Ethical Behavior in Criminal Justice
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Criminal Investigation
- Drugs and Crime
Walden University offers an online Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree program, which provides students with the knowledge and skills required for careers in law enforcement, corrections, the justice system, social services, and homeland security.
The program combines theory on the nature, extent, and causes of crime with study of national and international criminal justice practices.
Online students can select from concentrations such as:
- Crime and Criminals
- Computer Information Systems and Security
- Homeland Security
- Criminal Justice Management and Administration
- Human Services for Criminal Justice
Herzing University offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree program, which provides students with a solid academic foundation in law enforcement, criminology, corrections, and the criminal justice system. The program also includes the techniques and skills used in these disciplines.
The online Bachelor degree in Criminal Justice reviews the American Criminal Justice System, the interactions among its parts, and the impact of each part on public safety. Students need a minimum of 125 semester credit hours to graduate.
The online Bachelor of Criminal Justice program includes courses such as:
- Criminal Law
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Introduction to Law and Judicial Practices
- Introduction to Criminology
- Evidence Forensics
- Juvenile Justice
- Criminal Investigation
Herzing University was ranked #39 in the category of Top Online Bachelor’s Programs: Student Engagement and Assessment by U.S. News & World Report.
Post University Online offers an online Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree program, which includes courses such as Criminal Procedure, Forensic Science, Criminal law, and Ethics and Discretion in Criminal Justice.
The faculty members teaching the courses have extensive experience.
Students are prepared for criminal justice careers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in law enforcement, public and private investigation, and security management.