Earn an Online Criminal Justice Degree
- $320/credit (120 total credits)
- Transfer up to 90 credits
- 24/7 online access to the classroom
- No application fee or SAT/ACT scores
- Online CJ club and events
- Get up to 12 credits for law enforcement training
Online Criminal Justice Bachelor's Degree Overview
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:
- Current criminology theories
- Discretion in decision making
- Emerging national and global trends
- Effective communication strategies
The bachelor's degree in criminal justice includes the option of earning a communication certificate, which can help give you the tools to write and speak effectively in situations where every detail matters.
Learn how to:
- Evaluate the impact of technologies and trends on criminal justice agencies
- Promote community relations and partnerships
- Communicate effectively and professionally to diverse audiences
- Apply laws, regulations and ethical standards to decision-making practices
- Develop research-based solutions to complex problems
- Examine human motivation and behavior
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.1
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:
- Correctional administrator
- Correctional case manager
- Correctional officer
- Correctional treatment specialist
- Parole officer
- Probation officer
- Public safety officer
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.1
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:
- Cultural Awareness in Criminal Justice
- The United States Correctional System
- Offender Rehabilitation
- Correctional Administration
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:
- Criminal Law
- Judicial Administration
- Legal and Justice Research Methods
- Criminal Psychology
Homeland Security & Counterterrorism
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.
Courses may include:
- Intelligence and Counterintelligence
- Terrorism in the United States
- Security Management
Police Administration & Operations
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.
Courses may include:
- Effective Patrol and Community Policing
- Crisis Intervention for Police
- Leadership/Management in Criminal Justice Organizations
Human Services & Advocacy
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 2028.1
Courses may include:
- Public Policy and Advocacy
- Family and Community Systems
- Ethics and Laws in Child Welfare
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).1
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 employers2 like:
- Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers
- Individual and family services
- State, local and private hospitals
- Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities
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.
Courses may include:
- Foundations of Addiction
- Substance Use: From Screening to Consultation
- Pharmacological Factors in Substance Use Treatment
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:
- Advocacy and law: Victim advocates help victims navigate the criminal justice system and connect them with the support services they need.
- Corrections: Within the correctional system, there are many careers, including probation and parole officers, corrections officers and case managers.
- Law enforcement: Positions in law enforcement, for both sworn officers and civilian employees, exist at all levels of government: federal, state and local.
- Security: Security management professionals focus on protecting businesses from threats to people, property and assets.
Careers as police and detectives are projected to see 5% growth through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 The BLS also sees 3% growth for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists during that same timeframe.1
"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.
Start Your Journey Toward an Online Criminal Justice Degree
Why SNHU for Your Criminal Justice Degree
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:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
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.2 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.
How to Apply
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:
- Completing a free undergraduate application
- Providing previous institutions attended – so SNHU can retrieve transcripts for you at no cost
Test scores are not required as part of your application.
Courses & Curriculum
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 David 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 build to an optional 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:
- Atlanta Police Department
- Chicago Police Department
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Homeland Security
- Houston Police Department
- Miami Police Department
- New York Police Department (NYPD)
"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
- General education program: All online bachelor's degree students are required to take general education classes. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, giving you the edge employers are looking for.
- Technology resources: We provide cloud-based virtual environments in some courses to give you access to the technology you need for your degree – and your career. Learn more about our virtual environments.
- Earn math credits for what you already know: Save time and tuition with our Pathways to Math Success assessments. Show your knowledge of the materials in your program's math courses, and you could earn up to 9 math credits – at less than $50 for each course assessment.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|BS in Criminal Justice|
|Courses May Include|
|BS in Criminal Justice Online|
|CJ 112||Introduction to Criminal Justice||In this introduction to the criminal justice program learners will begin to understand the major components within various professions at the state, local and federal levels and how they are interconnected. Communication skills, career prospects, and an overview of the core components of the United States government will be reviewed to provide learners with a holistic view of sworn and civilian roles within the criminal justice system.|
|CJ 205||Policing in the United States||Learners will explore the historical evolution of policing to better understand its current structure and function within criminal justice. The value of positive community relationships and partnerships will be covered, as well as how sworn and civilian positions work together to maintain public safety. Various types of communication such as internal reports and documentation will be practiced.|
|CJ 207||The United States Judicial System||Learners will examine the structure and function of the United States court system through the lens of both sworn and civilian professionals. Learners will focus on the different levels of the federal court system, roles and responsibilities of criminal justice professionals and allied organizations, and common processes and procedures in the United States judicial system.|
|CJ 210||The United States Correctional System||Learners will examine the function of corrections in the United States criminal justice system to develop an understanding of the structure, function, and relationships with allied professions. Systemic issues impacting incarceration, ideologies of punishment that influence sentencing, and the role of public policy in corrections will be analyzed.|
|CJ 305||Technology in Criminal Justice||Learners will analyze how technology is leveraged by criminal justice professionals and used as a tool to commit crime. Legal aspects of using technology in the field as well as positive and negative impacts technology has had on the criminal justice field will be discussed.|
|CJ 485||Problem Solving for Criminal Justice Professionals||Knowledge of criminal justice theory and practice will be applied to develop creative, evidence-informed solutions to identified professional problems. Learners will evaluate potential solutions for feasibility before presenting recommendations to various audiences.|
|Total Credits: 120|
Tuition & Fees
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.
|Online Undergraduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 30 credits|
(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)
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get a criminal justice degree online?
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.
What is the best online college for criminal justice?
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:
- An emphasis on cultural literacy, problem solving and decision making, as well as exposure to new technologies in criminal justice and developing research skills
- A criminal justice communication certificate that’s embedded in your online program
- Field authentic learning experiences
- Prior learning assessment opportunities for police academy and corrections academy training, saving you time and money
- Faculty members who bring experiences from law enforcement agencies ranging from big city departments – like Houston and New York – to federal agencies – like the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security
How long does it take to get a criminal justice degree online?
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:
- CJ-112 Introduction to Criminal Justice
- CJ-140 Communication Skills for Criminal Justice
- CJ-207 The United States Judicial System
- CJ-205 Policing in the United States OR CJ-210 The United States Correctional System
What job can I get with a criminal justice degree?
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:
- Homeland Security & Counterterrorism
- Human Services & Advocacy
- Police Administration & Operations
- Substance Abuse
Will a criminal justice degree help me become a cop?
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.
What's the difference between criminal justice and criminology?
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.
Sources & Citations (1, 2)
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm (viewed May 19, 2020)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm (viewed Oct. 15, 2019)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm (viewed Oct. 15, 2019)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm (viewed Oct. 15, 2019)
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
2According to more than 9,200 SNHU online students in survey responses from the fall of 2019.