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Most Affordable Online Criminal Justice Degrees

Discover the convenience and flexibility of earning your degree or certificate through a quality, affordable online criminal justice program. Explore the countless options offered by today’s top online criminal justice programs, learn about resources to help you pay for your education, and much more.

Author: Shannon Lee
Editor: STEPS Staff

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Working in the criminal justice system can be a highly rewarding career, whether it’s protecting your community as a police officer, ensuring the smooth functioning of courtrooms as a court administrator, or pursuing one of many other occupations. Many jobs in this field require or benefit from a college education, and obtaining a degree in criminal justice provides specialized training and knowledge needed for these careers.

Due to the popularity of criminal justice degrees and the demand for flexible learning options, many schools are now offering them partially or fully online. To help students find quality programs that are affordable, we’ve compiled a list of accredited schools with the most affordable online criminal justice degree programs. Additionally, we provide tips for lowering the cost of your degree and an understanding of what factors impact the overall cost of your education.

Most Affordable Online Criminal Justice Degrees: 2024 Rankings

There are many factors you should consider when picking a criminal justice degree program, with cost likely being the most important (and often the deciding) factor. The following rankings of the most affordable accredited criminal justice degree programs can help you choose an affordable school without sacrificing things like flexibility, student support, and quality instruction. In creating our rankings list, we examined data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Click the “About the ranking” button below to learn more about how we ranked our online criminal justice degree programs.

About the ranking

College Ranking Methodology

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
  • Career placement and academic counseling services.
  • Maximum tuition of $15,000 per academic year

Assign Weightings

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on their performance in a variety of key categories. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.


  • Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on in-state tuition for undergraduate students per academic year.
  • Percentage of students who receive institutional financial aid (directly from the school)
  • Average amount of institutional financial aid awarded.

Online Learning

  • Number of online programs in subject area self-reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Percentage of students at the school taking at least one class online.

Academic Quality

  • Student-to-faculty ratio
  • Percentage of full-time, first-time students graduating within 6 years.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: August 2023

Accreditation Glossary

ABHE: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

ABHES: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

ACCJC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

HLC: Higher Learning Commission

MSCHE: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NECHE: New England Commission of Higher Education

NWCCU: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WSCUC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

At the University of Tennessee Southern (UT Southern), students can increase their knowledge and hone their skills through the Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree. It's available entirely online in a synchronous format, which requires students to sign on at certain times during the week. Students can choose to complete the degree on a full- or part-time basis and have the option to choose from two different concentrations — Business or Homeland Security. Students studying full time can complete the degree in four semesters. Near the end of the program, students will be expected to complete both a capstone and applied research project. Admission requirements include a completed application, letter of intent, a bachelor's degree, an interview, previous college transcripts, and three letters of recommendation.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 36-37
  • Length: 4+ semesters
  • Cost: $10,200/year
  • Mode: Online (synchronous)
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 13:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation SACSCOC
Online Students 37%


NM State's Global Campus funnels relevant education and flexibility into its online Bachelor and Master of Criminal Justice degrees. Both programs balance theoretical inquiry with applied knowledge, so students can prepare for careers in fields like law enforcement, corrections, victim services, nonprofit organizations, and forensics. The graduate degree can be pursued on a part- or full-time basis with plenty of synchronous opportunities scheduled to allow students to interact with classmates and their professors if they so choose. Both degrees have scholarship opportunities for which students who live in New Mexico or out of state can apply. Topics discussed in both programs include ethics, research methods, law, and historical takes on past criminal justice systems.

Program Highlights:

Bachelor of Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $395.40/credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: HLC

Master of Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 1.5-2 years
  • Cost: $444.40/credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: HLC
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation HLC
Online Students 76%


The University of Alabama at Birmingham provides two degrees in criminal justice — a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science. Courses are available entirely online, though students can choose to take them in a hybrid or on-campus format if they so choose. Throughout the programs, students will be trained in corrections, criminology, forensic science, juvenile justice, law, policing, and computer forensics. During the final year of the bachelor's program, students will be set up with an internship at an agency such as the FBI, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, or the Jefferson County Family Court. Students continuing on with their graduate degree will be required to pursue a thesis track, which is better for students hoping to continue their education, or a non-thesis track, which is more geared toward working professionals.

Program Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $458/credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

  • Credits: 30-33
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $555/credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $