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How to Get a Criminal Justice Degree

Criminal justice is one of the most popular degree programs chosen for both online and on-campus students. It gives graduates the opportunity to work in a variety of jobs related to law enforcement and research.

Jobs For Criminal Justice Degree Program Graduates

Criminal justice graduates qualify for a wide range of jobs. Crime scene investigators, forensic research technicians, police officers, highway patrol officers, sheriffs, detectives, government inspectors and federal agents often get their jobs with criminal justice degrees. However, some of these jobs are limited to people with clear backgrounds. People who have any prior convictions should discuss their options with an admissions counselor.

Choose A Degree Program

Most people choose a four-year degree program, and the majority of available jobs require a bachelor's degree. Some people choose a two-year degree program or a master's degree. A master's degree may be better for people who want to seek federal jobs after graduation. The main choice students must make is whether to pick an online or classroom degree program. Most bachelor's degree programs are offered online. Student should pick based on the amount of time they have to devote to classes and tuition rates if they depend on loans or have limited funds.

Complete Program Requirements And Apply

Depending on prior credits and the degree program chosen, there may be additional requirements for entry to a program. Some people may need to submit to a criminal background check, provide professional references, submit specific test scores and complete several other items. There are more requirements for master's degree programs. After completing the requirements for enrollment in a program, it is time to apply. Students may apply to more than one program, but applying to the program is often a separate form than the application to the school itself.

Salary And Job Growth For Criminal Justice Jobs

Pay varies depending on different jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, detectives and police earn slightly less than $57,000 annually. FBI agents typically start at a salary of $32,000 annually. However, they have the potential to earn much more. Correction and probation officers earn an average salary of slightly less than $50,000 annually. During the next several years, the BLS says that projected job growth is about average for criminal justice jobs.

Top Online Criminal Justice Programs

Rank School FT to PT
Faculty Ratio
Fin. Aid Rate
Acceptance Rate Retention Rate Graduation Rate Accred.
Job Place. Rate
1 Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

201 Old Main,
University Park, Pennsylvania 16802-1589

(814) 865-4700

6.42 to 1 30% 52% 92% 86% 93 0% 83%
  Penn State University has been offering distance education for more than 100 years, originally through correspondence before the advent of online courses. Their online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree strives to assist students in furthering their knowledge of the criminal justice system.
2 University of Oklahoma Norman Campus

660 Parrington Oval,
Norman, Oklahoma 73019-3072

(405) 325-0311

4.59 to 1 65% 79% 85% 66% 101 0% N/A
  The University of Oklahoma's online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program was designed with the working adult in mind. Accelerated courses last eight weeks each, making it possible for learners to take four courses per semester, focusing on two at a time. This program will prepare students for a career in the criminal justice field by instilling a base understanding of the justice system.
3 St. John's University-New York

8000 Utopia Pky,
Queens, New York 11439

(718) 990-6161

0.78 to 1 98% 49% 76% 59% 93 0% 45%
  Provided with a laptop and access to a range of online student services, students of St. John's University's online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program are given an opportunity to prepare for a rewarding and challenging career in the justice system.
4 Loyola University Chicago

1032 W. Sheridan Rd,
Chicago, Illinois 60660

(773) 274-3000

0.97 to 1 94% 58% 87% 70% 93 3% N/A
  Based in Loyola University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree program instills students with knowledge of all aspects of the nation's criminal justice system. With a strong background in liberal arts, students can complete their degree in a time, place, and manner that best fits their personal and professional lives.
5 Arizona State University

University Drive and Mill Avenue,
Tempe, Arizona 85287

(480) 965-2100

11.79 to 1 75% 89% 80% 57% 83 0% 65%
  The Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice online degree program at Arizona State University imparts students with an understanding of the cause of crime and the application of justice. Students will learn from professors who are leaders in their field as well as criminal justice professionals with expertise in policing, corrections and more.
6 Florida State University

222 S. Copeland Street,
Tallahassee, Florida 32306-1037

(850) 644-2525

3.32 to 1 40% 54% 91% 75% 99 3% N/A
  Students can balance their busy lives while earning their degree from the nationally ranked Bachelor of Science in Criminology program at Florida State University. Learners will gain the foundation knowledge for career advancement or law or graduate school when it best fits their schedule.
7 Drexel University

3141 Chestnut St,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

(215) 895-2000

1.11 to 1 98% 75% 85% 65% 87 2% N/A
  The uncompromising quality of Drexel University's accredited online Criminal Justice degree program sets students up for success. A well-rounded education — drawing from criminology, psychology and computer science — ensures that graduates from this degree program will be ready to face a career in the criminal justice system or higher education.
8 Central Methodist University-College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

411 Central Methodist Square,
Fayette, Missouri 65248-1198

(660) 248-3391

1.05 to 1 100% 67% 72% 50% 99 0% N/A
  With a choice between either a Bachelor of Art or a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, the online criminal justice degree program offered by Central Methodist University trains students in the ethical, legal and social aspects of the criminal justice system. After the exit examination, graduates will have the knowledge needed to pursue a career or further education.
9 Drury University

900 N.Benton,
Springfield, Missouri 65802-3791

(417) 873-7879

3.97 to 1 71% 87% 83% 51% 99 8% 63%
  The College of Continuing Professional Studies at Drury University offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice via the Behavioral Science Department Program. This degree prepares students for a career in corrections, probation, criminology, forensic sciences, and various law and security positions.
10 Washington State University

French Administration Building,
Pullman, Washington 99164-5910

(509) 335-3564

2.57 to 1 50% 76% 82% 67% 96 4% N/A
  Founded in 1943, Washington State University's criminal justice program is the second oldest continuous criminal justice program in the nation. The online degree program brings together program-driven research with real-world expertise to prepare students for the fields of state, federal and private law enforcement and the corporate security field.