Top Reasons to Get an Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

Although overall enrollment in higher education has fallen in recent years, online registration continues to rise. Learners are drawn to these programs because they have the same accreditation as in-person programs but more flexibility.

This is also true for online criminal justice degrees. On this page, prospective students who want to pursue careers in criminal justice can learn what to expect from an online criminal justice program, what types of criminal justice careers they can pursue, and where to learn more.

Why Pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice?

Candidates with bachelor's degrees in criminal justice earn an average of $54,000 per year while their peers with associate degrees make about $45,000. Not only do those with a bachelor's degree qualify for more positions, but they also earn more on average.

Benefits of Earning a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice

Higher Median Salary According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers with associate degrees earn median weekly wages of $836 while those with bachelor's degrees average $1,173.
Career Growth Opportunities Criminal justice bachelor's degrees qualify graduates to apply for most entry-level jobs in the field and several positions outside of it, with employers who only require a bachelor's degree in any subject.
Lower Unemployment Rate With a Bachelor's Graduates with bachelor's degrees experience only 2.2% unemployment while those with associate degrees have 2.8% unemployment. Candidates with some college but no degree have 3.7% unemployment.
Better Job Outlook Graduates of bachelor's programs in criminal justice can pursue entry-level positions as paralegals, mediators, or forensic science technicians. All of these fields are projected to grow in the coming years.

Get an Education Around Your Schedule

Students who pursue an online criminal justice degree enjoy flexibility in their educations. Online course schedules can work around student schedules, allowing learners to work full time while attending school. This strategy reduces the need for loans and boosts students' resumes.

Online courses typically require learners to log in to access virtual classrooms, where they watch lectures, participate in discussion forums, and submit assignments through online portals.

Many online courses use asynchronous models in which students must meet weekly deadlines but do not have to log on at specified times. Other courses use synchronous structures, requiring students to attend live video conferences at predetermined times. These conferences sometimes take place in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate more learners.

Online courses typically require learners to log in to access virtual classrooms, where they watch lectures, participate in discussion forums, and submit assignments through online portals. Most online programs do not require learners to go to campus at all. However, some programs require on-campus residencies or intensives that last a few days. Candidates should inquire about in-person requirements before applying.

Accelerated Programs

Some universities offer accelerated programs that allow learners to earn their degrees in less time than in traditional programs. Students still learn the same amount of information as they would without the accelerated courses. Many online criminal justice programs recommend that students do not work while they are enrolled in accelerated classes.

Accelerated plans tend to rely on cohorts, where students most through classes as a group, which help learners build professional connections but are less flexible than asynchronous programs. While students almost always save time -- and therefore money -- in accelerated programs, they must weigh the cost of not working against the potential overall tuition savings.

Cost of an Online Education

While earning a bachelor's in criminal justice is a significant investment, learners can save money with online learning. Some universities offer reduced tuition rates to online students because those programs have lower overheads than their on-campus counterparts.

Even when tuition rates are the same, online criminal justice degrees can save students money. Learners avoid expenses associated with moving to be near school or commuting to class. Students who work while enrolled can save considerable amounts of money because they earn degrees without sacrificing their incomes. Furthermore, many online courses use ebooks, which tend to cost less than printed textbooks.

Online Programs Have the Same Accreditation

Students should be vigilant about checking accreditation for any online program. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) approves organizations to investigate academic programs and institutions. Those organizations then ensure that schools meet high standards in preparing graduates. When learners choose nonaccredited programs, they often find it difficult to transfer credits or earn professional certifications.

Students should be vigilant about checking accreditation for any online program.

Online programs often have the same accreditation as their on-campus counterparts. Prospective learners should check for regional accreditation, which is usually considered more prestigious than national accreditation.

CHEA does not approve any accrediting bodies specifically for criminal justice programs. However, some professional organizations, like the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, do grant programmatic accreditation. Students should also ensure that their online programs meet the educational requirements for the states where they want to work.

Explore a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

Prospective students should explore all of their options for online criminal justice bachelor's degrees. This resource can help learners understand what to expect, budget for their degrees, and pick programs that work for them. Readers also learn about financial aid options and specific scholarships for criminal justice students.

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Explore Criminal Justice Careers

Criminal justice graduates enjoy a wide variety of career options. This resource helps students prepare for life after graduation by mapping out career paths for all levels of education. Readers can filter data by state and learn more about common criminal justice careers.