Criminal Justice Degree Online Programs
These days there are so many online programs and degrees that it could be confusing for those seeking out a good program. Some programs are even edging on fraud, offering certificates in a particular field, certificated which are hardly worth the paper they are printed on. It is important to do your research prior to enrolling in any online degree program, especially if you are looking into a degree in Criminal Justice. Today, more and more people are looking to go into Criminal Justice, since there has been an increase in the job market in this particular area. The outlook for Criminal Justice jobs is good, and is projected to continue to rise over the next decade and possibly beyond. The following list gives some good online programs, and other options. The biggest thing to remember when looking into online programs is to do your research to make sure the program is what it claims to be. Also keep in mind that online course work is not for everyone. Some people thrive well doing online course work, those who are self-motivated in particular. Others, however, thrive better in a real classroom setting with the accountability of in person professors and other classmates. Determine where you will be most successful before pursuing any of the following options.
Online Criminal Justice Certificates
Here’s a word of advice: avoid any online criminal justice certificate programs. Most of these programs are for profit, and the certificate that you end up with is not worth the money you pay for the program. There are very few, if any, jobs that will hire you based on the completion of a Criminal Justice certificate. Any of the jobs you would qualify for with a certificate, you would also qualify for as long as you have a high school diploma or GED. The only benefit of a certificate program is if the credits will be accepted by another program towards and associates degree or bachelor’s degree. However, if you are simply doing a certification program to apply those credits towards a higher level degree, we suggest simply enrolling in an accredited program and begin working towards a degree from the start. This will ensure that none of your school work, or credits earned, go to waste. It is much easier to work towards a degree from one college, or university, than attempt to transfer credits between programs or schools.
Online Associates Degree in Criminal Justice
There are online options for an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice, however, it may not be your best, easiest, or cheapest option. Many community colleges offer Associates in Criminal Justice for a fraction of the price of an online degree program. In fact, many people who plan to attain their Bachelors in Criminal Justice first attain their Associates through a local community college before applying to schools or online degree programs to complete their bachelors. This is primarily because of the fact that most community colleges offer college credits for around $100- $150 a credit. Compare that to the University of Phoenix (which offers both online programs, and even in person satellite sights all over the country) who offers college credits for $395 a credit. You can see why many people opt for the community college option for their Associates work, and then transfer to a larger college or university or online program to complete their Bachelors work.
There are many Criminal Justice degree jobs available for those who have attained their Associates in Criminal Justice. Another positive factor in attending a local community college is that often a community college will have ties to sources within the local community once you have completed your degree. The professors you come in contact with can often connect you to their own resources in the community, and may also work in the Criminal Justice field apart from their teaching work. Connections you make in a real-life setting may be the best and most valuable part of attending a school in person, versus doing course work online.
If you follow this link: http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=all&p=43.0199+43.0103+43.0107+43.0104+43.0111&pd=1&l=92&ct=1+2&ic=2 you can search through colleges that offer 2 year associate degree programs. This sight is the National Center for Education Statistics, the college navigator is a great tool to allow people to find schools near them. This may be the best place to start your research when trying to decide which Criminal Justice degree program to pursue, or just visit your local community college and talk to an enrollment advisor to see if they offer the program you are looking to achieve.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice
As stated in the previous section, one of the best ways to begin your path to a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice may be to get an Associate’s degree through a local community college first. This is helpful because it will give you some in class experience with professors and teachers and also will save you quite a bit of money in the long run. Paying for online credits can run as much as $570 per credit hour. Over 4 years this is quite a sum of money or student loans that you would rack up. Paying for 2 years of a community college would save a lot of money, leaving you with less debt as you begin your career in criminal justice. Our suggestion would be to check into local state schools prior to checking into an online program. There are some great breaks for in-state tuition for many large colleges and universities. You may find a cheaper option in your own backyard.
If you have made the decision to pursue an online course as opposed to other options for your Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, you should first look into some of the top schools for an online Criminal Justice degree program. Looking at school statistics can help you get a feel for how well the program runs. For instance, the top 5 schools as far as graduation rate goes are: Penn State, Texas A & M, Saint Louis University, DeSales University, and Drexel University. Based on this information, you can assume that if you are accepted into one of these programs you have 70-85% chance of successfully completing the program. The schools with the highest retention rate are: Penn State, Texas A & M, Drury University, Saint Louis University, and the University of Central Florida. Choosing one of these programs based on this information means that 88-92% of the students are satisfied enough to stay with the program. Some of the top rated schools in the area of Criminal Justice by US News and Forbes are: Washington State University, Arizona State University, Sam Houston State University, Penn State, and the University of Central Florida. As you can see there is some overlap in schools listed; these schools are a good starting point, doing research on these programs may give you an indication of what program suites you.
The following is a short list of some of these programs, their strong points, costs, and even weak points:
Arizona State University
Arizona State University’s online Criminal Justice Degree is one of the highest ranked programs in the country. It placed on US News’ list for top programs. A strong point of Arizona State University’s program is that the online course are top by the same professors that teach Criminal Justice on sight at Arizona State University. Another positive is that it is more affordable than some of the other top ranked schools, costing $480 per credit hour. ASU’s online program combines criminal justice and criminology. Some of its weaker points is that unlike some of the others on the list ASU has yet to win Sloan Consortium, and some say the enrollment employees leave something to be desired in the way of making a person feel welcome and accepted.
Penn State World Campus
The biggest plus about Penn State is that it has the highest graduation rate and the highest retention rate! It ranks #3 on US News list for their online Criminal Justice degree program. The cost is rather high at $518 per credit hour, but they do offer more options than some other schools including a minor in homeland security. The cost is one of the biggest drawbacks as well as the limited amounts of internship resources the program has.
Sam Houston State University
The biggest draw of Sam Houston State University’s online Criminal Justice degree program is the tuition cost: $384 per credit hour. This adds up to a lot of savings over some of the other top ranked online programs in the country. Similar to some of the other programs, the faculty is the same for online students as students who attend Sam Houston in person in Texas. A drawback is that it has a lower retention rate than many other online programs offering the same thing. Sam Houston also did not place as well on national ranking.
Washington State University
Washington State University has one of the highest rankings out of any online program for Criminal Justice. It ranked on US News and Forbes for the quality of its program. The program is designed to engage the online students as much as possible to make them apart of the University community. There is a career counselor who works exclusively with the online students. This is one of the reasons that Washington State University is wonderful choice for students opting to go the online route to achieve their Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. One of the biggest drawbacks, however, to Washington state University’s program is the cost. At $570 dollars whether you are in or out of state, WSU is a very expensive program. Many people think it is well worth it though.
Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice
As far as online Master’s degree programs go in the field of Criminal Justice, we recommend checking into the same online program carriers we listed under the Bachelor’s degree section. Most of these universities also have Master’s degree programs as well. Be aware that many of these programs have minimum GPA requirements. Be aware of your undergraduate GPA and check with each program to see if you will be accepted based on your undergrad GPA.
If you are looking for Master’s program in Criminology or Criminal Justice you can start by looking into programs through Michigan State University, Northeastern University and the University of Cincinnati. WSU, ASU, and Sam Houston all have online Master’s programs in Criminal Justice as well.
Online PhD in Criminal Justice
Most of the online PhD programs that are offered are offered through for-profit universities, and many of these are not true PhD’s in Criminal Justice, but rather PhD’s in philosophy with a specialization in Criminal Justice. For a true Criminal Justice PhD you can look into a program through Nova Southeastern University.