If you’re seeking a high quality online criminal justice degree, Create a Career has done the heavy lifting for you. Not all of the top criminal justice programs offer online degrees, but based on our thorough research online students have numerous top programs to choose from.
Our list of criminal justice programs showcases the schools providing high quality undergraduate and graduate criminal justice degree programs.
Criminal justice provides a variety of concentrated areas. The broad criminal justice field includes an array of criminal justice careers such as:
- ATS agent
- Border patrol agent
- Computer forensic specialist
- Corrections officer
- Crime scene investigator
- Criminal profiler
- Customs agent
- Drug enforcement agent
- FBI agent
- Forensic pathologist
- Forensic scientist
- Homeland security agent
- Industrial security specialist
- Law office manager
- Paralegal Police detective
- Police officer
- Postal service investigator
- Private investigator
- Probation officer
- Secret service agent
- U.S. Marshall
The best criminal justice programs providing online degrees ranking guidelines:
We evaluate programs based on our own independent research. We selected the criminal justice programs based on factors such as academic quality, courses offered, faculty, awards, rankings and reputation.
The Best Criminal Justice Programs Providing Online Degrees
#1 University of Cincinnati School of Criminal Justice
The University of Cincinnati (UC) School of Criminal Justice ranked as one of the top three PhD programs in the nation, supports research and activities through several institutes such as the Center for Criminal Justice Research. The school provides undergraduate and graduate programs.
The University of Cincinnati School of Justice includes many distinguished faculty members such as Dr. Robin Engel, ranked #1 as the “Most Prolific of Female Scholars in Elite Criminology and Criminal Justice Journals”, according to the Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 2012. The school includes professors and directors published extensively in leading journals, such as Criminology, Journal of Research and Delinquency, Justice Quarterly, American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, and Social Problems.
The School of Criminal Justice prepares students for careers in areas such as advanced research and education, criminal justice, and criminal investigation or law school.
The graduate degree program offers concentrations in Corrections, Criminal Justice or Law Enforcement/Crime Prevention. The Online Masters in Criminal Justice program has similar options with specializations in one of three concentrations: Corrections and Offender Rehabilitation, Analysis of Criminal Behavior, or Law Enforcement and Crime Prevention.
The Ph.D. program offers classes in advanced research and theory and courses specializing in corrections and policing and crime prevention. The Ph.D. program also includes a teaching practicum and dissertation.
#2 Penn State Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice
The National Research Council recognized the Penn State Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice program. The council ranked Penn State among the top three sociology programs in the Nation. The school is affiliated and works closely with the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Institute of Justice, American Educational Research Association and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
The undergraduate program offers both a B.A. and a B.S. in Criminology and Crime, Law & Justice. The curriculum covers topics in crime and justice as well as social research methods.
The Penn State World Campus Online program offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree with courses in areas of criminology, policing and criminal justice. It’s the first online program in the country to receive certification through the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.
The graduate program in Criminology provides training in theory, methods, statistics, and issues related to sociology, crime and its control. Degrees offered include a M.A. and PhD in Criminology or Sociology.
Faculty members have articles in notable publications such as the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Criminology and Public Policy, American Society of Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Law and Society Review and more.
#3 Florida State University College of Criminology & Criminal Justice
The Florida State University (FSU) College of Criminology and Criminal Justice program, one of the strongest criminology programs in the United States, has a highly regarded research branch named the FSU Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research. This institute expands the influence of education in policy and advocates for policy-making and practice at the state and national levels.
The Florida State University College of Criminology & Criminal Justice nationally recognized as the # 1 ranked program for faculty research according to the Journal of Criminal Justice Education (2011).
FSU School of Criminal Justice has two of the top criminologists in the country who serve as Editor or Co-Editor for some of the most prestigious scholarly journals in the field, including Criminology and Public Policy, Criminology, Social Problems, the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and the Journal of Drug Issues. Faculty members have articles in numerous scholarly criminology publications.
The undergraduate school offers two bachelor’s degrees: A Bachelors in Science in Criminology (including an online bachelor’s program) and Criminal Justice and Computer Criminology. The school also provides a combined BS/MS program.
The graduate program offers both Master’s in Science and Master’s in Arts degrees as well as an Online Master’s degree for busy working professionals. Courses in Theory in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Victimology, Applied Statistics in Criminology and Research methods are just some of the graduate courses offered both online and on campus.
The Ph.D. program emphasizes training in theory, research methods, and statistics. The program includes a dissertation.
#4 UC Irvine Department of Criminology, Law and Society
UCI’s Department of Criminology, Law and Society (CLS) combines two multi-disciplinary areas of scholarship – criminology with law and society. The department offers bachelors (B.S), masters (M.S., both online and on-campus) and doctoral programs. The CLS department offers courses such as legal systems, criminal behavior and victimology, and provides courses in areas such as criminal, immigration and constitutional law.
The CLS department includes former presidents of the American Society of Criminology, the Law and Society Association, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the American Psychology-Law Society as well as two Fellows of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
The CLS undergraduate program focuses on introductory classes such as social ecology, criminology, law and society and psychology.
The online criminal justice degree program, otherwise known as the Master of Advanced Study (MAS) meets the needs of busy professionals and students by offering curriculum which provides theoretical and practical courses pivotal to crime, social policy and the law.
The PhD program offers advanced core courses such as Research Methods, Criminology, Eyewitness Testimony, Law and Society as well as a Doctoral Dissertation Research and Writing courses.
#5 Michigan State University College of Social Science School of Criminal Justice
The School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University is the nation’s oldest continuous degree-granting program in criminal justice.
The Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice has received funding for major projects from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Forensic Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, Michigan State Police, the Guggenheim Foundation and more.
The School of Criminal Justice offers several degrees including:
- Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice
- Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science
- Doctorate in Criminal Justice
The College of Social Science School of Criminal Justice offers three completely online master’s degree programs: Master in Criminal Justice, Master in Judicial Administration and Master in Law Enforcement.
The Masters in Criminal Justice degree offers a solid foundation in areas such as corrections, law enforcement, courts, and corporate security policies. The Masters in Forensic Science degree offers three concentration areas: Forensic Biology, Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Chemistry.
The Doctoral program in Criminal Justice prepares students for teaching and research at the collegiate level, as well as advanced public policy positions. Students study crime causation, social reaction, and the legal system. Residential teaching, exams and a dissertation are required to complete the program.
#6 Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice
The School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, founded in 1974 by an act of the New Jersey Legislature, is the only school in the nation with this charter. Rutgers School of Justice is regarded as one of the best schools in field.
Affiliated Centers and Institutes include: Rutgers Center for Conservation Criminology, the Rutgers Center on Public Security, the Evidence-Based Institute, and The Police Institute.
Notable faculty members such as Dr. Freda Adler (Emeritus Professor) and Dr. Shadd Maruna (current Dean) provide outstanding research and teaching contributions in the Criminal Justice field. Dr. Adler is a founding faculty member of The School of Criminal Justice and Permanent Representative to the United Nations. She has made significant editorial contributions in journals including Advances in Criminological Theory, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Criminal Justice Studies, Women in Criminal Justice, European Journal of Criminology and The American Sociologist. Dean Shadd Maruna has received many distinguished awards, including named an H.F. Guggenheim Fellow, a Soros Justice Fellow and a Fulbright Scholar.
The Rutgers University program provides degrees such as:
- Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice
- Masters of Arts in Criminal Justice (both residential and on-line)
- Combined BS/MA or BA/MA degrees
- Ph.D. in Criminal Justice
Undergraduate courses offer a solid foundation in criminal justice issues and theory with studies in areas such as Cybercrime, Violent Crime, and Juvenile Justice. The master’s programs (both on-campus and on-line) include advanced study in areas of research, crime, justice and law-enforcement. The Ph.D. degree has specific program requirements including advanced coursework in criminal theory and methods, attending professional development activities, and a dissertation.
#7 Arizona State University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
A study conducted by Florida State University professor Gary Kleck and University of Texas-Dallas assistant professor J.C. Barnes, published in the Journal of Criminal Justice Education, nationally ranked the Arizona State University (ASU) School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in terms of faculty and productivity (#3 in the nation).
The program houses distinguished faculty members such as Scott H. Decker, a professor and director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. The American Society of Criminology awarded Decker the title of “Fellow” in 2012 for his scholarly contribution to the field of criminal justice and to the career development of other criminologists. Other faculty members have contributed several important research articles featured in publications such as Criminal Justice and Behavior, Crime & Delinquency, Justice Quarterly, Criminology and more.
ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice program offers several degrees including:
- Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice Online
- Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Online
- Master of Arts in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
- Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
- Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology and Criminal Justice
The B.S. in Criminology and Criminal Justice, available on-campus and online, offers courses such as policing, corrections and criminology. Upon completion, graduates can seek careers as a practitioner or continue their education in law, criminal justice, criminology or related fields.
The M.A. programs in Emergency Management and Criminology and Criminal Justice offer courses in public policy and management, advanced criminal justice research, science and technology. The M.A. in Criminal Justice (MACJ) program, designed for working professionals, offers the same rigorous coursework. The Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice offers advanced research and theory in criminal justice areas.
#8 University of Florida Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law
The University of Florida (UF) Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law offers numerous individual and combined programs including:
- Bachelors of Arts in either Sociology or Criminology & Law
- An Online Bachelor of Arts in Criminology & Law degree
- Combined BA/MA degree in Sociology or BA/MA degree in Criminology, Law & Society
- MA in Sociology, Criminology, Law & Society or a joint MA/JD in Criminology
- Ph.D. in Criminology, Law and Society or Sociology
The undergraduate online criminal justice degree program prepares students who seek to enter advanced study or careers in areas such as business, social work, education, counseling, public administration, and criminology.
The graduate and doctoral programs prepare students for scholarly research and applied research in both academic and nonacademic institutions. The curricula provide a comprehensive foundation in quantitative and qualitative methods, advanced statistics and independent research.
The Sociology and Criminology & Law faculty have received international recognition for their interdisciplinary research in areas such as health, families, gender, environmental and resource sociology, law, race and ethnicity, criminology and criminal justice, and law.
The faculty has received awards such as the McKnight Fellows program award for faculty excellence in mentoring. A special issue of Criminology and Public Policy published faculty member Dr. Abby Fagan’s article titled “Criminology, Causality and Public Policy”. Notable magazines such as Criminology, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Law and Society Review, Deviant Behavior, and Law & Social Inquiry have published other faculty research.
#9 Northeastern University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
The Northeastern University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, one of the oldest criminal justice programs in the United States, offers degrees at both the undergraduate (B.S.) and the graduate (M.S. both online and on-campus) levels as well as a dual BS/MS accelerated program.
The criminal justice school houses three major research facilities: the Center for Criminal Justice Policy Research, Institute on Race and Justice, and the Institute on Security and Public Policy. In addition, the George Lewis Ruffin Society, committed to fairness in justice and the representation of people of color in administration roles, is also part of the prestigious program.
The master’s programs, both online and on-campus, concentrate on crime and the criminal justice systems.
The criminal justice degree course offerings, such as globalization, juvenile justice, psychology and law, give students the ability to customize their own programs, which may include a directed study, internship or a thesis.
The Ph.D. in Criminology and Justice Policy program includes a teaching or policy practicum to choose from as well as courses such as Crime Mapping, Globalization and International Crime, Terrorism as well as Courts and Sentencing.
#10 Washington State University Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology
The Washington State University (WSU) Criminal Justice and Criminology department offers several degrees including bachelors, masters, and a doctorate in criminal justice and criminology. The school provides the B.A. and M.A. residentially and online through the WSU Global Campus. The undergraduate program, both online and on campus, includes studies in areas such as courts, probation and parole, crime research, policy and juvenile justice.
The master’s program, both online and on-campus, offers courses of study such as quantitative methods in the criminal justice system and criminological theory. The Ph.D. program in Criminology includes advanced coursework in criminal theory, teaching and research, exams and a dissertation.
The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology consists of renowned faculty members including David C. Brody, a department Chair and associate professor. Brody, along with several other faculty members, have published articles in journals such as the American Criminal Law Review, Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, Hastings Women’s Law Journal, Crime and Delinquency, and Judicature.
Affiliated research centers include: The Division of Governmental Studies & Services, Institute for the Study of Intercommunal Conflict, the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy & Public Service and the Washington State Institute for Criminal Justice.
#11 Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice
Sam Houston State University (SHSU) College of Criminal Justice offers several undergraduate and graduate degree programs such as a B.S. or B.A. in Criminal Justice or Victim Studies, a M.A. in Criminal Justice and Criminology or M.S. in Forensic Science or Security Studies as well as Online Master of Science programs in Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice Leadership and Management and Victim Services.
The school offers a PhD program, one of the first schools in the U.S. to offer a doctoral program in criminal justice.
Research centers include: the Crime Victims’ Institute, Institute for Legal Studies in Criminal Justice, Policy Research Center and the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Faculty (STAFS) Willed-Body Donor Program.
Sam Houston State University has received recognition as one of the best forensic science schools in the United States. The university has one of the largest training facilities widely utilized by local and federal law enforcement agencies. The faculty has received recognition as one of the most productive research groups in the nation.
Notable faculty such as Dr. Gaylene S. Armstrong and Dr. Todd Armstrong have achieved excellence in their field. The Carnegie Foundation nominated Dr. Gaylene Armstrong for the U.S. Professor of the Year for Excellence in Teaching. In 2012, she received recognition as one of the top Female Academic Stars in Criminology in an article published by the Journal of Criminal Justice Education. In 2011, Dr. Todd Armstrong became fellow of the Academy of Experimental Criminology. The Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Justice Quarterly, and Crime and Delinquency published his research.
#12 Indiana University Department of Criminal Justice
The Indiana University (IU) Department of Criminal Justice, the home of the “Breathalyzer” has received recognition for its interdisciplinary curriculum in law, crime and justice. The IU Department of Criminal Justice offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees.
Faculty members have numerous papers published in a variety of journals such as Justice Quarterly, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Archives of General Psychiatry, Journal of Criminal Justice, Criminology, and Homicide Studies.
The Master in Criminal Justice program includes five concentrations including: Criminal Justice Systems and Processes, Nature of Crime and Delinquency, Research Methods, Law and Society, and Cross-Cultural Studies. Students need to complete a thesis with oral exam or a substantial paper option. The Ph.D. in Criminal Justice includes advanced core courses, research, exam and dissertation.
IU Online offers a Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree completion program utilizes an interdisciplinary approach which combines sociology, legal studies, psychology, political science, forensic science, philosophy, public administration and urban studies.
#13 University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida Online Department of Criminal Justice offers a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) Professional Track. The university also offers an on-campus Ph.D. program in Public Affairs with a Criminal Justice track complete with core courses and concentrations, exams and dissertation.
The online undergraduate program offers core foundational courses in subjects such as Crime in America, Criminal Justice Systems, Prosecution and Adjudication and Corrections and Penology. The online MSCJ degree provides two tracks for students. The traditional graduate Research Track includes courses requiring campus-based attendance and are not available online. The Professional Track emphasizes criminal justice theory, policy, research and administration.
The department has more than 20 full-time faculty members, with many distinguished professors. Roberto Hugh Potter, interim chair and research director for the Department of Criminal Justice, received the Peter P. Lejins Research Award from the American Correctional Association. Journals such as Criminal Justice and Behavior, Criminal Law, Philosophy and Public Health Practice, Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, International Journal of Criminology and Sociology, and Criminal Justice Policy Review have published faculty research articles.
#14 University of Nebraska Online Worldwide
The University of Nebraska Online Worldwide degree program offers several online options including:
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of General Studies in Criminology and Criminal Studies
- Masters in Criminology and Criminal Justice
The online B.S. in Criminal Justice program includes courses in subjects such as theories in crime and criminal law, criminal evidence, procedure and the courts, and police service as well as research classes and senior seminars. A special feature of this program is the intensive internship which provides hands-on experiences in the field with placements in agencies including the Nebraska State Patrol and the National Security Agency (NSA).
The online BGS in Criminology and Criminal Studies, a degree completion program, covers a variety of subjects including sex crimes, women and crime, juvenile justice system and criminal law.
The online Masters in Science program in Criminology and Criminal Justice offers advanced courses in administration, crime and criminal justice research, theory, and planning.
#15 University of Texas, Dallas
The University of Texas, Dallas Department of Criminology offers several degrees including:
- Bachelors of Art in Criminology
- Masters of Science in Criminology (both residential and on-line)
- An Executive Masters of Science in Justice Administration and Leadership (MSJAL)
- Ph.D. in Criminology
The undergraduate program offers courses in a variety of criminal justice areas such as theories of justice, comparative justice systems, research methods and statistics. In addition, students must take electives to complete the program.
The graduate programs combine advanced applied research and theoretical concepts in criminal justice and criminology. The flexible online graduate degree in criminology mirrors the on-campus program. The MSJAL program offer courses to prepare students in managing and administering justice and other social service organizations.
Distinguished journals such as Criminology and Public Policy, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Criminal Justice, Justice Quarterly, the Journal of Criminal Justice, and the Journal of Quantitative Criminology have published research conducted by UT Dallas Department of Criminology faculty members.
Some faculty members act as contributing editors, such as Alex Piquero, Co-Editor of the Journal of Quantitative Criminology and John Worrall editor of Police Quarterly.
#16 University of Massachusetts, Lowell School of Criminology and Justice Studies
UMass Lowell School of Criminology and Justice Studies offers a Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree, Master in Criminal Justice and Criminology online and on-campus degrees and a Doctoral in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree.
The Online Master degree in Criminal Justice provides the skills required for leadership positions in the administration of criminal justice agencies. Students can choose to complete a Master’s Thesis.
Staff members have articles published at notable criminal justice related publications and perform large scale national research projects. Professor Eve Buzawa, Director of the school has authored and edited numerous books and monographs. She is a former president of the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology and former president of the Northeast Association of Criminal Justice Sciences. Professor Paul Tracy, Doctoral Program Coordinator, is also the editor of the Crime and Delinquency journal.
#17 Florida International University
Florida International University Department of Criminal Justice provides a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (BSCJ) and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) programs as well as a dual BSCJ/MSCJ degree. Both degrees require core courses and general electives. The MSCJ offers more advanced courses in research, theory and data analysis.
All bachelors and masters degrees in Criminal Justice are available on-campus and online. The department also offers joint Juris Doctor/MSCJ and MSCJ/Master of Public Administration degrees. The Criminal Justice program has an affiliation with the Center for the Administration of Justice.
The full-time faculty members, considered experts in the field of criminal justice, have garnered extensive publication records and honors. This distinction is evident in an award granted to Dr. Harry M. Rhea. Professor Rhea received the Roslyn Muraskin Emerging Scholar Award by the Northeastern Association of Criminal Justice Sciences.
#18 Loyola University New Orleans
The Department of Criminal Justice at Loyola University New Orleans has received recognition for its track record of excellence in research and scholarship as reflected in awards and publications. Professor Dr. Rae Taylor received the prestigious Marquette Research Fellowship award (2014) and the University Faculty Senate Award for Excellence in Research for her two peer reviewed journal articles, one in the journal Violence Against Women and the other in Homicide Studies.
Loyola University New Orleans Criminal Justice Department offers several undergraduate and graduate degree programs such as:
- Bachelors in Criminal Justice (BCJ)
- Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice (BACJ)
- Masters in Criminal Justice (MCJ)
- Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration (MSCJA)
The BACJ degree offer courses with a heavy concentration in research within the social sciences. The program evaluates the criminal justice program in overall effectiveness. The BCJ is a broader degree with a full spectrum of introductory courses such as criminology, deviant behavior, research methods, and criminal law.
The MCJ program focuses on theory, research and seminars in criminal behavior and criminal justice combined with a practicum component. The online MSCJA degree combines public management and business administration education for law enforcement and forensic science professionals.
#19 Eastern Kentucky University
The Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) School of Justice Studies offers students both online and on-campus bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. The university offers a low professor to student classroom ratio, most on-campus courses have between 6-8 students, with the online classes rarely exceeding 20 students.
The EKU School of Justice Studies faculty includes highly accomplished and published researchers and book authors. The University includes the Center for Crime and the Built Environment and the Institute for Global Justice & Security.
The university offers specialized degrees such as the Bachelor in Corrections & Juvenile Justice Studies degree program and the online Master’s degree in Adult, Juvenile & Community Corrections Leadership. The Master’s in Criminal Justice degree program includes the following specializations: Leadership and Administration, Social Justice, Research Specialist, and Security and Surveillance in a Global Environment.
The undergraduate program offers general courses in areas such as juvenile justice, criminal justice, policing, and law as well as co-ops, internships and field opportunities.
#20 University of Colorado Denver
The University of Colorado Denver (UC Denver) offers a Master in Criminal Justice degree, a Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree, a dual Bachelor/Master of Criminal Justice degree and a dual Master of Public Relation/Master of Criminal Justice degree program. The university offers an online Bachelor in Criminal Justice program and an online Master of Criminal Justice program through UC Denver Online.
The Bachelors in Criminal Justice (BCJ) program includes studies in areas such as courts, probation and parole, crime research, policy and juvenile justice as well as a combined or dual degree option.
The Masters in Criminal Justice (MCJ) program offers courses of study such as quantitative methods in the criminal justice system and criminological theory as well as concentrations in Gender Based Violence and Emergency Management and Homeland Security and a capstone project.
The UC Denver affiliated research institutes include: The Buechner Institute of Governance, Wirth Chair in Sustainable Development Policy, Workshop on Policy Process Research and Center on Gender Based Violence. Some of the staff members have articles published in notable criminal justice related publications.