Online Criminal Justice Degrees and Careers

The BLS estimates a 4% growth in job opportunities for individuals in the criminal justice field through the year 2024.

Earning Your Criminal Justice Degree Online

With an increased national focus on law enforcement, immigration, and public safety combined with major advances in distance-learning technology, earning a criminal justice online degree is now more attractive than ever. Online criminal justice degrees are perfect for those who are interested in pursuing a career in the field, but need the flexibility to take classes at their own pace — and on their own schedule. For professionals already working in the field and seeking to pursue an advanced degree, enrolling in one of the many criminal justice online schools allows professionals to balance work and school.

Featured Online Programs

Most online criminal justice degrees can be completed almost entirely online, but some institution's programs require a short internship or shadowing component. Coursework mirrors that of traditional programs, and is taught by the same instructors as the brick-and-mortar school alternatives. Students also take part in discussions in online forums, watch live and recorded lectures, and take exams online. Distance learners can expect classes in topics such as criminology, security and police administration, juvenile justice, and law.

The Best Online Criminal Justice Programs

Rank School Student to
Aid Rate
Description Cost Address School Logo Websites  

Rowan University

17 to 1 49% 84% 44% 44% 57% 5%

Rated 19th best northern university by U.S. News and & World Report and one of the best northeastern colleges by the Princeton Review, Rowan University is nationally recognized for its academic excellence. The main campus is located in Camden, New Jersey, just across the river from Philadelphia. Rowan’s BA in law and justice features coursework in international terrorism, law and human rights, and theories of crime and criminality. Rowan places students in internships with a criminal justice agency or social services.

Rowan’s online criminal justice degree prepares you for a career in law enforcement, security services, court services, corrections, or human services. Students must complete 120 credits to graduate. Transfer students must take a minimum of 30 credits at Rowan University. Most students finish in four years, but the program can be completed in three. Applicants should have a minimum GPA of 2.0 and they must also have at least 24 hours of transferable credits or an associate degree. Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state students. Alumni of partner schools receive a 15% tuition discount.

201 Mullica Hill Road
Glassboro, New Jersey 8028
Program Page

King University

11 to 1 43% 76% 57% 35% 69% 8%

Located in Bristol, Tennessee, King University offers a bachelor's of science in criminal justice. The degree can open doors to careers in child and family law, state and federal law enforcement, and in the prison and probate systems. King offers a course on restorative justice that focuses on repairing and restoring relationships between victims and criminals.

Students must complete 48 credits in the major with a total of 124 credits to graduate. Students can complete the degree in as few as 16 months. The online program has specific start and end dates and is not self-paced. To apply for the major, students must have 45 hours of prior college coursework completed. All students must pass a general education exam before graduating from King and receiving a diploma.

1350 King College Rd
Bristol, Tennessee 37620-2699
Program Page

Norwich University

10 to 1 46% 71% 66% 33% 64% 5%

Norwich University is well-respected in both the military and in the public sphere. The school ranks as one of the top online schools in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. The online bachelor of science in criminal justice gives students the flexibility to attend class and complete coursework at their own pace each week. Students can pursue a concentration in intelligence and security management or choose electives that support their desired career path. Students conduct field work and complete a capstone project that highlights legal and ethical issues in the field.

Norwich offers three program start dates a year. Applicants must have 30 credits of prior college work to be accepted into the major. Students with significant college coursework may transfer up to 90 credits. Upon review, admissions will consider military training and achievements for credit.

158 Harmon Drive
Northfield, Vermont 05663-1035
Program Page

Dallas Baptist University

13 to 1 41% 72% 46% 38% 63% 8%

Dallas Baptist University takes a Christ-centered approach to education. All students receive a well-rounded liberal arts education coupled with leadership and service to Christ. DBU’s online bachelor of arts and science in criminal justice features coursework in homeland and organizational security, multicultural perspectives, and juvenile delinquency. Students participate in interactive online classes comprised of chat rooms, emails, and discussion threads.

Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate from the online criminal justice program. For students interested in transferring into DBU, at least 30 credits must be completed at the school with a minimum of 12 credits specific to the major. To graduate, students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.

3000 Mountain Creek Parkway
Dallas, Texas 75211-9299
Program Page

Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

12 to 1 44% 75% 49% 68% 69% 18%

Keiser University located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, offers an online criminal justice bachelor degree at more than 20 campus locations in Florida and online. Students take exciting courses, such as victimology and deviant behavior. The criminal justice curriculum at Keiser prepares students for careers in the court system, law enforcement, and private security.

Students must finish 120 credits to complete their degree. There are no prerequisites for entering the major. For transfer students, the school accepts an associate degree or previous credits from regionally accredited schools. Students who attended non-regionally accredited schools will need their class credits evaluated by a faculty member for potential approval.

1500 NW 49th St.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309
Program Page

Philadelphia University

13 to 1 44% 79% 64% 22% 72% 5%

In 2017, Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University merged to create Jefferson. The history of this academic institution spans more than 300 years. Students work together in an educational atmosphere inside and outside of the classroom environment. Their online program takes into account the ever-changing job market and worldwide marketplace. Jefferson's online BS in law enforcement is designed for students who want leadership roles in law enforcement and corrections. Students take classes in police administration and planning for law enforcement organizations.

Jefferson accepts students on an ongoing basis and offers several times throughout the year. Most students complete the BS in law enforcement in two to three years. The degree requires distance learners to complete 120 credit hours. Each course lasts eight weeks.

4201 Henry Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19144-5497
Program Page

Mercer University

13 to 1 43% 80% 67% 28% 65% 5%

Located in Macon, Georgia, Mercer University is rated one of the best 382 colleges by the Princeton Review. The online criminal justice leadership degree covers classes in forensic behavior, victimology, and cybercrime. Mercer’s program features field-based learning so that students can apply classroom study with hands-on experience. Prerequisites in this major include introductory classes in psychology and sociology.

Mercer requires 120 credits to graduate. The university runs on semesters and online students follow a similar calendar as on-campus students. Mercer accepts transfer credits from regionally accredited schools. Applicants should have a 2.5 GPA or higher. Mercer offers on-campus information workshops for interested students as well as online webinars for distance learners.

1501 Mercer University Drive
Macon, Georgia 31207
Program Page

Buena Vista University

9 to 1 42% 73% 68% 24% 82% 7%

Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa offers an online bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice. Graduates from this program seek jobs in the judicial system, criminal justice system, and in law enforcement. Classes in criminal justice include criminal justice systems, modern social problems, judicial process, and criminological theory. Online classes start every eight weeks.

BVU accepts transfer students with an associate degree or 60 credit hours from an accredited school. Admission staff also consider CLEP exams and life and work experience for credits. BVU provides students with financial specialists that can help them calculate costs of tuition and choose which program is the best for their lifestyle. Applicants are encouraged to work with an advisor when going through the application process. Students will continue to work with an advisor throughout their schooling to plan a course of study to complete the program.

610 W 4th St
Storm Lake, Iowa 50588
Program Page

Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion

16 to 1 69% 84% 95% 45% 70% 7%

Indiana Wesleyan University is a Christian college nestled in the Indiana town of Marion. The 100% online bachelor of science in criminal justice degree includes courses in forensics, constitutional law, probation and parole, cybercrime, and restorative justice. Classes meet once a week. Professors have both professional and academic experience. The online bachelor’s in criminal justice culminates in a capstone project based on an ongoing challenge in the modern-justice system.

Students must have 60 credits before starting the degree. IWU offers a bridge program students that have 36 to 59 credits but have not already completed an associate degree. The program can be completed in approximately 18 months.

4201 South Washington Street
Marion, Indiana 46953-4974
Program Page

Saint Joseph's College-New York

11 to 1 52% 83% 71% 24% 54% 6%

Located in Brooklyn, St. Joseph’s College offers a comprehensive online BS in criminal justice practice and policy. Students receive a well-rounded liberal arts education as well as in-depth courses in law and criminal theory. Notable classes include crime analysis, criminology, and race, class, and gender in criminal justice. Students learn from expert criminologists and apply their knowledge with hands-on experiences.

The school conducts rolling admission so students can be accepted year round. The online criminal justice degree requires 120 credit hours for completion. St. Joseph's accepts up to 90 transfer credits.

245 Clinton Ave
Brooklyn, New York 11205-3688
Program Page

Hampton University

9 to 1 41% 80% 29% 16% 75% 12%

Hampton University’s accelerated BS in criminal justice allows students to complete their bachelor’s degree in a short amount of time. Students in this major take diverse classes such as homeland security, terrorism & national security, and forensics crime scene investigation. The program requires 120 hours to graduate. Students who complete an approved internship receive three credits towards their major.

Classes run on an eight-week schedule and students can take up to six credits per cycle. Students do not have to attend class at a specific time, but must adhere to assignment submission dates. Timed exams are taken online and submitted directly to the professor. Most courses do not require students to visit campus.

E Queen Street
Hampton, Virginia 23668-0099
Program Page

Loyola University Chicago

14 to 1 52% 86% 63% 18% 61% 5%

The criminal justice online degree at Loyola University is designed for current criminal justice professionals seeking greater responsibility in their organizations. The BA in applied criminal justice leadership features coursework in investigation management, advanced criminal procedure, organizational leadership in criminal justice, and conflict management. Since the program was created for working professionals, classes are asynchronous so students can complete coursework on their own schedule.

Classes are offered in five eight-week sessions per year. Transfer students can apply 15 credit hours from an approved school towards their major. In order to receive transfer credit, students must have received a GPA of 2.0 or above. Any required class meetings are scheduled for the evenings or weekends.

1032 W. Sheridan Rd
Chicago, Illinois 60660
Program Page

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

17 to 1 65% 93% 50% 32% 50% 7%

Penn State’s World Campus serves nearly 18,000 online students. Established in 1998, the World Campus offers 150 online certificate and degree programs. Penn State’s online bachelor of science in criminal justice has received numerous accolades, including the prestigious Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) certification. Distance learners take courses in ethics in criminal justice and alternatives to incarceration. Students have the option to add a minor in homeland security by completing an additional 18 credits. This minor provides students with more job opportunities due to the increase in terror concerns.

To graduate, students must complete 120 credits. Transfer students must earn 36 of the final credits at Penn State. In order to receive credit for previous college courses, students must have earned a “C” grade or above and hold a 2.0 GPA. All credit transfers from other colleges are subject to approval by the academic admissions.

201 Old Main
University Park, Pennsylvania 16802-1503
Program Page

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

16 to 1 26% 74% 33% 71% 74% 13%

The online criminal justice degree program at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas, was created in 2006 after an increase in demand for jobs in the field. The BA in criminal justice prepares students to pursue careers as homicide detectives, FBI agents, crime scene investigators, DEA agents, or state troopers. What sets SAGU apart from other schools is its unique approach to blending criminal theory with a biblical point of view on justice.

SAGU offers an experiential learning credit program for students with relevant work experience. Students can earn up to 45 credits by demonstrating their expertise and knowledge during a three-hour course. Online programs are more affordable than on-campus classes. SAGU requires students provide evidence that supports they are born-again Christians living a biblically based lifestyle.

1200 Sycamore
Waxahachie, Texas 75165
Program Page

Midway University

15 to 1 51% 80% 58% 35% 71% 11%

Located in Kentucky, Midway University offers a 100% online bachelor of science degree in criminal justice. This program features a strong foundation in psychology, with students taking courses in forensic psychology, psychopharmacology, and abnormal psychology. Students also complete coursework in criminal organizations, interviewing, and terrorism. The college employs faculty with real-world criminal justice job and career experience. Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate.

The University Career Readiness Service Center assists students with finding job opportunities. The center also helps students research additional qualifications they may need to obtain those positions. Midway offers competitive tuition costs and payment plans. Courses follow an eight-week schedule with five start dates each year.

512 E. Stephens St
Midway, Kentucky 40347-1120
Program Page

Ashland University

13 to 1 43% 77% 73% 26% 58% 5%

Founded in 1878, Ashland University has a long history of providing students with a strong liberal arts education. The online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice instructs students in both theory and practical skills. Students take courses in criminal profiling, gangs and cults, ethics, and the role of police in modern society. Classes are offered in eight-week cycles.

Students who already work in law enforcement or corrections in the State of Ohio may be eligible for work-related credits. Incoming freshmen should have a 2.5 GPA or above and transfer students should have grades of "C" or above. Transfer students are welcome at Ashland. The school hosts events called “Transfer Thursdays” where prospective students can meet with admissions and do a full transcript review. Ashland also offers online and on-campus tours for potential students.

401 College Avenue
Ashland, Ohio 44805
Program Page

University of Mount Olive

13 to 1 34% 70% 47% 28% 74% 8%

Founded in North Carolina in 1951, the University of Mount Olive is a private school with a Christian heritage. UMO’s bachelor of science in criminal justice and criminology covers foundational coursework in theory, justice systems, law, and research methods. Students also learn about contemporary issues such as drugs, crime, and society. Faculty and instructors have practical on-the-job experience in the criminal justice field. Distance learners can watch class videos, complete assignments, and participate in group discussions on their own schedule.

UMO is one of the most transfer-friendly schools in the country, accepting up to 94 prior credits. The school also accepts credits earned through CLEP/DANTES exams and Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET). Applicants must be at least 21 and have a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

634 Henderson St
Mount Olive, North Carolina 28365-0919
Program Page

Pfeiffer University

12 to 1 37% 66% 47% 30% 75% 8%

Pfeiffer University is a small, liberal arts college located in Misenheimer, North Carolina. Pfeiffer’s online programs are geared towards working professionals. The online bachelor of science in criminal justice allows students to choose from a concentration in pre-law, financial fraud and fraud examination, or homeland security. Notable courses include ethics in criminal justice, white collar crime investigation, terrorism, emergency management, and constitutional law. Before graduation, students will need to take exit exams, including an educational proficiency test and a test within their major title.

Pfeiffer welcomes transfer students and grants credits for life experiences. The university offers a “Partnership Program” through several employers that provides employees with a 20% discount on tuition. Pfeiffer operates on a rolling admissions basis, so students learn if they are accepted into the program within weeks of applying.

48380 US Hwy 52N
Misenheimer, North Carolina 28109
Program Page

Florida State University

26 to 1 53% 92% 55% 36% 47% 6%

A top research university, Florida State University offers 351 degree programs. FSU’s online bachelor’s degree in criminology was rated one of the best online criminal justice programs by U.S. News & World Report. Students take classes in victimology, religion and crime, crimes against humanity, violence in America, and crime victimization and the media.

Prerequisites for the program include an associate of arts from a Florida school or completion of FSU core requirements. Students may select a minor or internship. Transfer students may only apply nine prior credits to the major. Transfer students must have earned a 2.0 GPA and must have a grade of "C" or higher in certain core classes.

222 S. Copeland Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32306-1037
Program Page

SUNY College at Oswego

18 to 1 38% 80% 48% 27% 69% 7%

SUNY College at Oswego offers 110 majors and minors to its 8,000 students. The school’s online bachelor’s degree in public justice focuses on the social sciences behind the criminal justice system. The faculty members have extensive experience in forensics and the justice system. Students in this online bachelor's in criminal justice program can choose from a concentration in criminal justice, human services, or legal studies.

Online courses operate on a semester schedule and start on the same date as on-campus classes. Instructors may require students to log in and submit work a certain number of times each week. Most students in the program complete a practicum, applying what they’ve learned in the classroom to a real-life setting. SUNY at Oswego provides an excellent internship program for students that can be applied for college credit. The school offers both paid and non-paid internships.

7060 State Route 104
Oswego, New York 13126
Program Page

Concordia University-Wisconsin

13 to 1 35% 74% 75% 33% 67% 6%

Closely tied to the Lutheran church, Concordia University has been providing a Christian education for more than 125 years. Concordia is based out of Mequon, Wisconsin and has locations throughout Wisconsin and Michigan. The online bachelor’s degree in management of criminal justice is designed for students who wish to take on leadership roles in law enforcement agencies. The 128 credit program includes coursework in procedural criminal law and criminal investigation. The faculty at Concordia are experts in their field and provide a real-world learning environment for students.

Concordia offers an online orientation that teaches new students how to use the program’s technology platform. Classes take 8-10 weeks to finish. Concordia accepts transfer students and allows them to apply up to 80 credits from an approved college. The university also considers real-world experience for credit and accepts military credit. A GPA of 2.0 is necessary to enter the major.

12800 N Lake Shore Dr
Mequon, Wisconsin 53097-2402
Program Page

Bushnell University

15 to 1 33% 70% 72% 30% 81% 5%

Bushnell University offers an online degree in interdisciplinary studies that allows students to customize their education based on their unique interests and experience. The interdisciplinary degree features an area of study in criminal justice for students interested in law enforcement. Courses offered in the program cover subjects such as terrorism and counter-terrorism, corrections in the 21st century, and criminal law and procedure. Graduates from the criminal justice degree online may find jobs in law enforcement, corrections, courts, or private security.

New learners can choose from six enrollment dates each year. Classes run on an eight-week cycle. Transfer students should have a GPA of 2.0 or higher. BU has rolling admissions so students can find out whether they are accepted in a matter of weeks. Once admitted, all learners are assigned an enrollment counselor.

828 E. 11th Ave.
Eugene, Oregon 97401-3745
Program Page

Liberty University

18 to 1 24% 69% 22% 47% 66% 7%

Liberty University is a Christian college located in Lynchburg, Virginia in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The school opened in 1971 and has offered distance learning programs since 1985. Liberty’s online BS in criminal justice features coursework in crime scene photography and computer and cyber forensics. Students can choose from cognates in juvenile justice, homeland security, criminal psychology, crime scene investigation, business administration and management, strategic intelligence, or public administration.

Liberty University offers a 25% discount to employees that work in public service. The school also has military discounts. To graduate, students must accumulate 120 credits. Liberty accepts up to 90 credits from previous college work.

1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, Virginia 24515
Program Page

Westfield State University

17 to 1 44% 77% 75% 32% 62% 5%

Westfield State University is a Massachusetts state-run college that has been in the business of education for 175 years. The school is historically known for being one of the first colleges to accept people of all races, religions, and financial backgrounds. The online bachelor’s of science in criminal justice is a degree completion program for students who have already completed two years of college courses. Criminal justice classes online include theories of crime, American judicial system, and law enforcement and society.

Westfield has a compact with local Massachusetts community colleges allowing students to finish their last two years of school online through Westfield. Classes run on a 15-week semester for fall and spring. There are also two six-week summer sessions and an accelerated two-week winter class. Westfield provides an online orientation for all students participating in the completion program.

577 Western Ave
Westfield, Massachusetts 01086-1630
Program Page

University of Central Florida

31 to 1 35% 88% 50% 39% 45% 7%

The University of Central Florida is located in the often-visited, bustling city of Orlando, Florida. The school has been named one of the nation’s most innovative universities by U.S. News & World Report. UCF offers the online criminal justice degree as both as a bachelor of science and a bachelor of arts. Notable courses include careers in criminal justice, prosecution and adjudication, and crime in America. The program culminates in a justice ethics capstone.

Applicants should have a 2.0 GPA or higher. Transfer students are welcome and must submit proper records from accredited schools. UCF accepts up to 60 transfer credits from other schools. The school has a rolling admissions policy. UCF’s low tuition, financial aid programs, and assistance for military and veterans make it one of the most affordable criminal justice colleges in the nation.

4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, Florida 32816
Program Page


Job Outlook for Criminal Justice Graduates

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates a 4% growth in job opportunities for individuals in this field through the year 2024. However, as the field of criminal justice encompasses many areas (including law enforcement, corrections, the legal system, and criminal investigations), some careers within the field are seeing even higher growth numbers. As national security, border protection, and globalization continue to be frequent topics of discussion and debate, the profession is likely to continue to grow.

This job growth, coupled with increasing interest in the field and a growing need for trained criminal justice professionals, might be a factor in the increased enrollment in degree programs. Last year, Missouri Southern State University reported a 27% increase in enrollment in their criminal justice degree program.

Steven Brancazio, faculty chair for Capella University's Criminal Justice Undergraduate Studies, believes that advanced degrees in criminal justice are crucial, and will continue to become more common. "Policing is changing," he said. "It used to be authoritative, reactive, a very strict hierarchy and chain of command. Today, officers are given more authority and are more involved in the community. They need better critical thinking skills. More decision-making responsibility at lower levels means a law enforcement officer needs to know what's involved."

"The bottom line is that a criminal justice degree can improve your prospects in law enforcement," Brancazio said. "Education is probably the most powerful weapon any officer carries."

Types of Criminal Justice Careers and Salaries

Criminal justice is a wide and varied field, with concentrations and careers to meet every professional's area of interest. These areas include law enforcement, forensics, criminology, corrections, and even social work. Each comes with its own specific job functions and payscale.

Forensic Science Technician

No doubt in part due to the rise of popular television shows focused on the field, crime scene investigator positions are on the rise. Professionals in this field gather evidence from crime scenes, and then conduct research in labs and write reports on their findings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job growth will be high through 2024, increasing by 27% and boasting an average salary of $56,750.

Police Officer

Police officers enforce laws, patrol neighborhoods and assigned areas, and respond to emergency situations. This is a job many people probably think of when hearing "criminal justice," and it's a demanding and stressful position. The median salary for a police officer is $61,600.

Probation Officer

Probation officers work with released probationers to ensure they don't commit new crimes. They set up frequent evaluations to make sure probation violations aren't occurring, and help probationers find a place of employment. Probation officers make an average of $50,160 every year.

Pretrial Service Officer

Pretrial officers work with defendants from the moment they are booked in jail until they enter the courtroom. They ensure their legal rights are protected and process all of their items and information. This position's average salary is $59,024.

Correctional Officer

Professionals working in this area of criminal justice focus work in jails or prisons, where they perform a variety of tasks. For example, they supervise inmates and ensure order is kept at all times. A correctional officer's average salary is $42,820.

Featured Online Programs

Types of Criminal Justice Degrees

Research shows that police officers and criminal justice professionals perform better on the job with advanced training and degrees. Those who receive their bachelor's, master's, and even doctorate enjoy better opportunities for job promotion, and are better equipped to handle the potentially stressful and demanding functions of their profession.

Individuals in criminal justice fields receive a considerable amount of on-the-job training, but additional degrees can work to the professional's advantage as they advance in their careers, providing them with more expertise in management, human behavior, and criminal justice ethics and policy.

Degree Level Definition Possible Concentrations Median Annual Salary
Associate Two-year program providing students with a basic understanding of law enforcement and similar fields. Security
IT Security
Bachelor's Typically a four-year program focusing on the broader issues of criminal justice, crime control, and the law. Forensic science
Mental health counseling
Business intelligence analysis
Master's Pursuing a master's degree in the field allows students to focus on a specific subsection of criminal justice and involve higher levels of research and theory. Homeland security
Emergency management & preparedness
Forensic science administration
Certifications Notable certifications include the Criminal Justice Awareness and Terminology Certification, Certified Criminal Justice Professional (CCJP) certification, and the Professional Peace Officer Certification. Entry-level criminal justice
Drug enforcement
Local law enforcement

Criminal Justice Certifications and Licensing


A variety of criminal justice certifications and licensing options are available for practitioners in the field. First, the Criminal Justice Awareness and Terminology Certification is crucial for learners seeking an entry-level criminal justice position. An excellent resume-enhancer, individuals receive this certification by simply passing a test.

Many online criminal justice degree programs also offer the Criminal Justice Certificate, which is intended as an add-on to an individual's prior coursework or criminal justice degree. The certificate is perfect for professionals interested in specializing in a specific criminal justice area, like juvenile crime, policing, and criminal behavior.

The Professional Peace Officer Certification is for those officers seeking a position in law enforcement. They must take a curriculum of courses in criminal justice, complete their local law enforcement department's training program, and pass the final written and physical exams. Varying from state to state, this certification is often required to become, for example, a police officer.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

In an effort to build a pipeline of committed and prepared criminal justice professionals, organizations and memorial funds offer numerous scholarship opportunities for those interested in entering the profession. While criminal justice online degrees are an affordable alternative to in-person programs, the scholarships are still helpful in making the cost more manageable.

Criminal Justice Scholarship Award

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Offered by Crimcheck (a private company specializing in background checks), this scholarship provides financial assistance to students interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice. High school senior or undergraduate enrolled in criminal justice program with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: August 1
Ronnie Williams Foundation Criminal Justice Scholarship

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This scholarship was made in honor of Ronnie Williams, a Delaware police officer, and is awarded to students majoring in criminal justice. High school seniors in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania with a GPA of at least 2.5.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: May 1
My Alarm Center Scholarship

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Awarded by home security company My Alarm Center, this scholarship is intended for students studying law enforcement. Graduating high-school senior or freshman or sophomore in college, must not be related to any My Alarm Center staff (or extended family), must meet formatting requirements

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: July 1
Brian Terry Scholarship

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Awarded in honor of Brian Terry, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent killed in the line of duty, this scholarship is intended students interested in careers in law enforcement. Students accepted or currently enrolled in college and interested in criminal justice (see site link above for details)

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: May 31
WIFLE Scholarship Program

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Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) offers scholarships to individuals interested in law enforcement. Must be currently enrolled and completed at least one year at a postsecondary institution, majoring in criminal justice or related discipline

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: May 2
The Harold Johnson Law Enforcement Scholarship

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Founded in memory of Police Chief Harold Johnson, this scholarship is awarded to students who want to pursue a career in police work, corrections, or criminal justice. Minimum 2.5 GPA and graduating senior or graduate from the San Francisco Bay Area

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: February 22
Sheryl A. Horak Law Enforcement Explorer Memorial Scholarship

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The scholarship is awarded in honor of Sheryl A. Horak, a Law Enforcement Explorer. 12th grade students or above, based on a variety of requirements, including their personal statement on "Why I Want to Pursue a Career in Law Enforcement."

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: March 31
Martin Luther King Jr Scholarship Award

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Applicants must write a personal essay on the ideals and philosophies of Martin Luther King, Jr. Minority students with demonstrated need in assistance toward obtaining education in criminal justice field.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: June 1
Captain James Regan Memorial Scholarship

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This scholarship is awarded to students interested in programs in law enforcement, forensic activities, and technical surveillance. Must be a 12th grade student planning to attend a criminal justice program or currently enrolled. Applicants are judged based on academic history and personal statement.

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: March 31

Professional Organizations

Jobs in the criminal justice sector can be taxing and demanding, and finding a group of individuals who understand exactly what you are going through can be a great way to stay connected to the mission of your work. Professional organizations can help you network and learn from others in your line of work, and are a particularly great resource when looking for new positions and hunting for the most up-to-date information in your field.

And when you're just starting out, it can be important to connect with veterans in the field, who can provide helpful mentoring and guidance. Professional organizations are a treasure trove of continuing education information and provide an array of opportunities to link up with others.

Below are a few great criminal justice professional associations for newcomers and experts alike.

  • Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS): Perfect for those just starting out, the ACJS promotes education, research, and policy analysis for those in the criminal justice field. Membership is $75 a year ($30 for students) and includes a subscription to the ACJS's bi-monthly journal, Justice Quarterly, as well as opportunities for field focus in areas such as Corrections, Minorities and Women, and Restorative and Community Justice.
  • International Association of Women Police (IAWP): International Association of Women Police members receive a subscription to the quarterly magazine WomenPolice, reduced fees for IAWP's annual training event, and opportunities for professional development. Student members gain access to IAWP's international network of women and job board.
  • National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA): The NCJA represents local, tribal, and state governments in matters involving crime control and prevention. Membership ($95 for professionals, $40 for students) provides access to the NCJA's weekly newsletter, free webinars, discounts to trainings and conferences, and justice funding opportunities.
  • American Correctional Association (ACA): Focused on matters of corrections and correctional effectiveness, the ACA is the oldest criminal justice association in the world. ACA members receive professional development opportunities, a subscription to Corrections Today Magazine, discounts to conferences, and discounts from national companies. Professionals can join for as low as $35 and students can join for $25.
  • American Jail Association (AJA): The AJA is the only criminal justice professional association that works specifically on issues of correctional facility operations. Members ($48 for professionals and $15 for students) get discounts to the AJA's annual conferences and events, access to the AJAlert newsletter, and discounts at national retailers.

Open Courseware

The most successful criminal justice professionals keep up with changes in law, procedure, and protocol. Educations helps professionals learn how to handle the difficulties inherent in the field. Additional training aids in keeping criminal justice professionals safe on the job and primes them for promotions.

Diving right into the jargon and fundamentals of your online coursework might be a bit overwhelming, especially if you're just starting out. Fortunately, there are a variety of free criminal justice courses online that can help prepare students before they take classes for formal credit. In this demanding field, it's important to stand out, and additional training through available online classes can do nothing but help your chances for getting a job when you graduate.

Fundamentals of Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice Cultural Competency

Advanced Criminal Justice Studies

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