Earn an Online Criminal Justice Degree
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Criminal justice is an ever-evolving field that requires qualified professionals who have both a deep understanding of our legal system and adept interpersonal skills.
At Southern New Hampshire University, you can earn the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with real-world perspective. Expanding the boundaries of a traditional criminal justice program, you’ll be exposed to:
The bachelor's degree in criminal justice includes an embedded communication certificate, which can help give you the tools to write and speak effectively in situations where every detail matters.
Learn how to:
Get credit for law enforcement training: If you have completed a basic police, corrections or probation and parole academy training, you may receive up to 12 credits toward your criminal justice degree at SNHU.
With the U.S. correctional system in a state of change, there's a need for professionals focused on prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration within the broader offender treatment system.
In Southern New Hampshire University's online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Corrections, you'll explore evidence-based programs and practices for rehabilitating offenders in correctional institutions and in the community.
This program addresses the continuum of services provided in corrections, including community-based supervision and the social factors that lead to incarceration. Through simulated scenarios, you'll encounter actual challenges and solve them with the guidance of experienced instructors.
Employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is projected to see a slight increase through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, adding about 3,000 jobs to the industry.2
While the U.S. prison system continues to need correctional officers, additional job opportunities will present themselves in community-based programs that rehabilitate prisoners and limit their risk of repeated offenses.
A bachelor's degree is often required for roles in this field. SNHU's online degree in criminal justice and corrections can help prepare you for a variety of roles within the corrections, probation and parole system. These jobs include:
In the field, most probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work either in state or local government – excluding education and hospitals – with a smaller amount working in social assistance.2
In addition, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists can feel personal satisfaction from counseling members of their community and helping them become productive citizens.
Law enforcement positions may involve additional training and eligibility requirements.
Courses may include:
The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Criminology provides a comprehensive overview of social and behavioral sciences in relation to criminal behavior.
Examine the psychosocial theories of crime and identification of causal factors associated with inception, continuity and subscription to a criminal lifestyle with this online criminology degree concentration.
Courses may include:
The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Homeland Security & Counterterrorism offers you a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the threat of terrorism.
Examine the history of terrorism, how terrorist groups succeed and fail, and responses to domestic and international terrorist campaigns with this online homeland security degree concentration.
This Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Police Administration and Operations helps students understand the demands, functions and goals of modern police agencies..
You'll dive into topics like deployment of patrol assets, policy development and crime analysis with this online law enforcement degree, which provides a thorough understanding of the many roles police agencies assume throughout the United States.
Learn how advocates intervene in the criminal justice system to help people find the resources needed to address a wide range of challenges they may face.
With your Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Human Services & Advocacy, you'll examine public policy, child welfare and support services that can help families navigate the system – including community medical and mental health providers, nonprofit organizations, family courts and human services departments.
Your coursework will dive into state and federal laws and regulations, as well as ethical principles that guide and impact child welfare programs. Other issues you'll discuss in the human services concentration include child protection programs, child abuse and treatment laws, parent and child rights and responsibilities, education law and emancipation laws. Go further into issues regarding children with course topics that include custody, foster care, adoption and best interest standards.
The human services and advocacy concentration also helps you gain the skills necessary to develop policies that allow you to plan and lead an advocacy campaign.
The need for social and community service managers continues to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 13% growth for these positions through 2028.2
Students seeking to become a human services professional may also be interested in the online Bachelor of Arts in Human Services program. The degree has several concentrations that allow you to specialize your skill set even further.
With increasing recognition of the substance abuse crisis in the U.S., the need for highly skilled community workers is on the rise. Through 2028, growth for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors is projected to grow 22% – much faster than the average of all jobs – according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).2
The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Substance Abuse was designed to help you become a voice for justice and a conduit for recovery for people in treatment facilities, outpatient programs and the court system. Graduates of the program are prepared to provide entry-level services to individuals, groups and families in residential addiction treatment facilities, outpatient addiction programs, the drug court system and corrections departments.
According to the BLS, counselors who work with substance abuse, behavioral disorders and mental health typically work for employers like:
The substance abuse program provides students with a strong foundation in the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) 12 core functions of a drug and alcohol counselor, theories of addiction, assessment, diagnosis and treatment of individuals diagnosed with substance use disorder, as well as legal and ethical issues associated with addiction. This program is an important educational first step toward become a drug and alcohol counselor.
If you have a heart for recovery, you may also be interested in the online Bachelor of Arts in Human Services with a concentration in substance abuse.
The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Substance Abuse offered by Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) does not directly lead to licensure. It does provide a significant portion of the substance abuse coursework most often recognized as necessary for licensure. Students seeking licensure and/or certification may be required to complete additional coursework and will be required to complete fieldwork as prescribed by each state. Most states also require a passing score on a licensing exam.
The licensure process and educational requirements for drug and alcohol counselors vary from state to state. This program does not directly lead to licensure.
It is the student’s responsibility to contact their state board or agency for additional information regarding the licensure process and educational requirements. If the student moves to another state, the requirements for licensure will likely be different from the state where the student currently resides, and the student is responsible for determining the licensure requirements in the state to which he/she relocates. Southern New Hampshire University does not guarantee that the completion of this program will result in state licensure or certification.
Whether you’re looking to start a career in criminal justice or advance in your current role, earning your online criminal justice degree opens doors to positions in a variety of areas:
Careers as police and detectives are projected to see 5% growth through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.2 The BLS also sees 3% growth for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists during that same timeframe.2
"I attribute my education with my promotion and have seen, firsthand, the continued career opportunities that are now attainable as a result of earning my degree," said Joseph Medina, a citywide mobile sergeant with the Boston School Police Department. Medina earned his associate degree in criminal justice at SNHU and is now finishing up his bachelor's degree in the same subject.
Law enforcement positions may involve additional training and eligibility requirements. Some students also choose to gain more knowledge through an online master's in criminal justice: SNHU offers the general track, as well as 2 concentrations – Advanced Terrorism and Public Safety Administration – for more specialized graduate study.
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 90 credits from your previous institution.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.* Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of our mission to expand access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials.
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 6 (8-week) undergraduate terms.
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions and walk you through the application process. Start by:
Test scores are not required as part of your application.
Throughout the courses in this online criminal justice degree program, you'll gain the practical, hands-on experience that can help you pave your way in the field. It was a major benefit for David Lemieux.
"(My criminal justice degree) has provided me with the knowledge in constitutional law to conduct proper police community involvement," said Lemieux, a criminal justice graduate and an employee of the Portland (Maine) Police Department. “Every instructor had a vast array of knowledge; they got back to you within 24-48 hours on a question that you might have."
Critical thinking and communication are crucial for success in the field, and it's why this program includes courses that make up an embedded criminal justice communication certificate – a bonus if you want to move up the ranks.
Our criminal justice faculty have experience working for major law enforcement agencies, including:
"Criminal justice programs have the direct responsibility to help ensure that future law enforcement professionals have an enhanced understanding of the human condition along with strong critical thinking skills in order to become culturally competent public servants," said Dr. Jeff Czarnec, associate dean of criminal justice and social science programs at Southern New Hampshire University. Czarnec spent decades with the Manchester (N.H.) Police Department.
Curriculum Requirements & Resources
Total Credits: 120
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
*Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Yes. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can be earned online the same way you would get a degree at a brick-and-mortar school: through classes and assignments, interactions with your classmates and discussions with your instructor.
Getting an online criminal justice degree is especially ideal for those who are already working in the field. Many people in the industry don't work a standard 9-to-5 schedule, meaning a traditional, set class time on campus isn't the most convenient. By having access to a classroom that's open 24/7, you can do your classwork when it's most convenient for you.
Thousands of students have graduated with SNHU's online criminal justice bachelor's degrees, and many continue on the path when they go for their master's degree online.
The best place to earn your online bachelor's degree in criminal justice depends on what you are looking to get out of your program, as well as what your career goals are.
SNHU may be the right online college for you. Here are some unique features of our online program:
The time it takes you to earn your 120-credit bachelor's degree in criminal justice completely depends on how many credits you start your program with.
If you begin the online program with no credits – and you enroll full time – it would take you around 4 years to graduate. At SNHU, being a full-time online student means taking 2 classes per 8-week term. And there are 6 terms each year.
Most students who begin an online program here are transferring in any number of credits – from a handful of courses up to the maximum 90 credits that the university accepts. Transferring credits can significantly reduce the amount of courses you need to take – helping you get to that finish line quicker.
You may be able to earn credit for your criminal justice degree from your law enforcement training – from basic police, corrections, or probation and parole academies. With at least 400 hours of instruction, you could receive up to 12 credits toward the following courses:
There are a wide range of careers in the criminal justice field. Depending on your background, interests and qualifications, you may find some positions to be a better fit.
Law enforcement agencies may have specific requirements – such as age, fitness or education – for sworn officers. But there are also many positions in the criminal justice system for civilians, including those for crime analysts, victim advocates and private investigators.
Likewise, SNHU's online bachelor's in criminal justice offers a wide range of concentrations to match your interests:
Getting a bachelor's in criminal justice won't solely earn you a uniformed position – but it can be a big advantage in your career.
To become a police officer, you typically have to graduate from the police academy and pass the law enforcement entrance exam – though requirements can vary by department.
A bachelor's degree can give you a leg up on gaining entry-level jobs. It also can help you if you're interested in climbing the law-enforcement ladder as your career progresses.
In addition, the curriculum here complements academy training, which is often focused on tactics and procedure. Our bachelor's in criminal justice teaches critical thinking and working with diverse populations – as well as communication skills, which is why SNHU's program includes an embedded communication certificate.
Criminal justice refers to the system of law enforcement, courts and corrections, while criminology tackles the academic and research side of the field.
Those who study criminal justice more often are on the front line, dealing with criminals and unlawful behavior. Those in the field aim to both prevent criminal activity and punish criminal acts.
Students pursuing a criminology path may be more interested in profiling, data collection, analysis, psychology and environmental factors. Criminologists study crime and the who, why and how behind the criminals.
At SNHU, you can earn your bachelor's in criminal justice, but you can add a concentration in criminology.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
*According to more than 9,200 SNHU online students in survey responses from the fall of 2019.
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the Internet, at:
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.